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Article- Center for Books at Hampshire College



Center for Books at Hampshire

By Anna-Maria Goossen, Staff Writer

Hampshire Daily Gazette Tuesday, March 23, 1999 --  (AMHERST) - A series
paper triangles bearing signatures and well wishes folds together on
tiny wire hinges. A piece of a sheet metal "dead end" sign riveted to
another chunk of metal flips open to reveal a series of photos. A box,
once unlatched, contains a jigsaw puzzle and Lewis Carroll's "Hunting of
the Snark."

None fits the traditional image of a "book," but each creation is one.
They are all part of "Book Arts in the Pioneer Valley," an exhibit
currently on display at Hampshire College's Film and Photography
Gallery.
The exhibit invites people to judge these books by their cover - and
typeface and paper.

The show is a kick-off event for the college's brand-new Center for the
Book. At this point, the
center doesn't have a physical space, says James Wald, a professor of
history who is among a thus-far loose conglomeration of college faculty
and local book artists dedicated to taking a closer look at the place
books hold in society.

The examination is prompted in part by the questions raised about the
future of books in the electronic age, said Wald. For their part, he and
his compatriots don't think the book will be replaced by more advanced
technological media.

To create a center for book arts in this valley makes perfect sense,
notes fellow historian Vivek Bhandari. The region has an impressive
array of book artists and archives within easy reach.

Later in the month, on March 28, the new group will host a symposium
that will offer the public the chance to hear local experts discuss the
history of book arts and the craft of the book, as well as a talk by
local illustrator Barry Moser on his work illustrating the Bible.

Meanwhile, people can get a preliminary introduction to the topic at the
exhibit, which was actually the impetus for forming the center. It was
book artists and adjunct Hampshire professor Steve Daiber who realized
last year, as he was surfing the Web, that although this area is rich in
book artists - binders, printers, paper makers, woodcarvers,
illustrators  it wasn't promoting itself nearly as well as it could.

The works he's chosen for the exhibit make his case quite well.
Northampton bookmaker Michael Richardson's ingenious packaging of the
Lewis Carroll story creates a book that is as fanciful and clever as the
story it tells.

Barbara Blumenthal, also from Northampton, created tiny whimsical
volumes of Richard Wilbur's Disappearing Alphabet using nothing fancier
than copy shop technology. Carl Sesar used simple rubber stamps to print
hundreds of volumes of his own spare poetry, an intimate mingling of
style and substance that enhances both.

If the Center for the Book aims to make a case for the vitality of the
medium, this show is a fine first step toward that aim.

"Book Arts in the Pioneer Valley will be on display until March 31 at
the Film and Photography Gallery at Hampshire College. There will be a
reception today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The symposium is Sunday from
12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the National Yiddish Book Center on the
Hampshire College campus, and is free of
charge.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to midnight, Saturday
1-6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free. Call
413-559-5575 for more information.


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