Wednesdays #13

Oh boy, I’m back!  Back writing this blog, back in Florida, and back at the Jaffe.  It won’t be actual Wednesdays any more (this week it was Tuesday), but it’s still in the spirit of W. with A. because there’s no way it can’t be.

Yesterday I went hoping to meet the book artist Marshall Weber who was supposed to be bringing new works from Brooklyn [sic], a splendid resource for artists books.  I was pretty psyched to be included in a showing of new works for purchase; I once sat in on one with Tatana Kellner, my first book artist hero, from the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY.  Just now when I couldn’t remember all the details (I remember the event, just not the names, hello, I’m old), I realized that it was so important to me that I had the catalogue right here in my desk.  I do not save things, honest, so that’s a clue.

Anyhow, Marshall didn’t show up, but I relished the rare hiatus in the busy-ness of the department because everyone got together to wait for him:  Helen Edmunds, the super department intern who publishes this blog, John Cutrone and Eric Bush, the excellent overseers, and the delightful artist Merike Van Zanten, about whom I wrote in Wednesdays #7.  (Remember I said I was old?  For about twenty minutes I thought she was Jeannie Jaffe, Arthur’s daughter, both petite elegant blonde women, until she graciously corrected me.) 

I mean there is so much going on there it is amazing to have everyone at a table at the same time; in fact, when I came in, everyone was busy schlepping chairs for some kind of presentation today, and an interesting-looking kid wearing a huge backpack appeared in my peripheral vision – he uses the copier there to make a zine.  I’m going to check that for future blog material.

When Marshall didn’t appear, they left one by one to get back to work, but not before we had discussed everything from Artificial Intelligence (happening in the library) to Helen’s first foray into ceramics and figure drawing. (I asked her if she needed a model, but she sweetly demurred.)

Merike paid me a grand compliment: when Helen and I visited her last year, we talked about the source of “cochineal,” one of the dyes she uses, and I told her of the Emily Dickinson poem that mentions it, #1489

A Route of Evanescence,

With a revolving Wheel –

A Resonance of Emerald

A Rush of Cochineal –

And every Blossom on the Bush

Adjusts its tumbled Head –

The Mail from Tunis – probably,

An easy Morning’s Ride –

  (Do you see the humming bird?) And now, she told me, she has created a book using the poem.  It’s not finished yet, but I am elated. 

“Figure Study” by Sarah Bryamt and David Allen

A few minutes before I had to leave, Eric brought me some new books that I had admired when he showed them last week to a visiting artist from Ireland.  One of them, titled “Figure Study” by Sarah Bryamt and David Allen, that uses population data to create images was so gorgeous and abstruse that I will need a lifetime tutorial in statistics to understand it.  (Eric promises to help me.)  One beauty named “Finnish News: Guns” by Robbin Ami Silverberg had pocket parts in Finnish, so I have to get back to that one too to figure it out. 

“Finnish News: Guns” by Robbin Ami Silverberg

But I did take time to play with the late artist Nance O’Banion and celebrated book creator Julie Chen’s collaboration “Domestic Science: Idioms” a book that plays with both language and the form of the book with wit and artistry.  In defining and illustrating “domestic” words, the book stretches definitions literally through the use of half-page inserts and figuratively by covering all the possible ways common household words expand into the imaginative world of idiom: gate opens up to “give someone the gate” and even metaphorically wider to “admission for athletic events”; and wall, that static noun, gives us lots of movement, from “climb the walls”  to “drive someone up the wall” and on beyond.

I whine about leaving Boston because I forget about riches like these.  Tonight at an auditorium five minutes from my apartment, I will get to hear a reading by Joy Harjo, the Poet Laureate of the United States. Go ahead, grandson Tim, laugh at “Florida Woman,” but here I’m a happy, lucky example.

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