Archive for March, 2010

Beyond the Text

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I had the privilege to attend the opening reception to a wonderful artist book exhibit last night and the Grolier Club.  The inventive book artist, Shawn Sheehy invited me to join him at the event where we met up with the always cheery, Ed Hutchins and Ellen Rubin, the popuplady.  The gallery was packed wall to wall with artists, book collectors and book lovers but I was able to squeeze off one photo of Sheehy next to his work.

Sheehy_Grolier Club

“Beyond the Text: Artists’ Books from the Collection of Robert J. Ruben,” includes over 60 examples of accordion books, codices, scrolls, box books, pop-ups and tunnel books, in every variety of mixed media. Some are by artists of international renown, others by new artists forging their creative paths. Some of the books have previously known texts, others new texts or no texts at all, and the subject matter ranges from political, argumentative, ironic, lyrical, to tragic.

In speaking with the very pleasant Dr. Robert J. Ruben, I learned that this show represents about ten percent of his notable collection, which he has been amassing since he picked up his first artist book in 1952. Ruben has two intellectual centers to his life: medicine and books. A leader in the medical field of Otolaryngology, Ruben has also been an ardent student and collector of artists’ books for twenty-five years, and a similar exhibition of his artists’ books, “Beyond the Text”, was held at Adelphi University a few years ago.

This exhibition is accompanied by an impressive catalog with beautiful full-page color illustrations of each book. The catalog is a joint effort of the art historian, Yvonne Korshak, PhD and the collector, Robert Ruben, MD and is available for purchase at the venue.  The show will be on exhibit at the Grolier Club, Second Floor Gallery, 47 East 60th Street, New York, NY, 10022, from March 25th through May 28th, 2010, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. The exhibition is free of charge and open to the public so you have no excuse not to see it for yourself.


Friday, March 19th, 2010

I like odd things, even more so when they are made out of paper.  This should not be too surprising by now.  So I was really pleased when I came across these little oddities shown here.


These rubber band-activated paper toys come in four bizarre flavors, which I have dubbed clown, devil, yokel and shrew.  I’m guessing these are not the original monikers nor the first stereotypes little boys and girls clamber after at the toy store.  I’m also guessing they are from the 1970’s based on the artwork and original packaging.


In some ways, the box is even better than the toys.  I don’t know if I’m more scared by the heavy lidded children or the “new-astonishing” pop-up Pop-ettes.  Needless to say, I could find no information on these little critters or the manufacturer on the Internet, but maybe that is just as well.  I can’t imagine these being a big seller or that many sets survived the ages.  Which is a pity as there must have been a second “animals” version with the coveted tiger Pop-ette.  So in the interest of posterity I introduce you and the rest of the web to these unique pop-up toys.  “They snap! They Pop! They Chatter!” boasts the packaging for these four puppets.  These Pop-ettes do more than that…they totally freak me out, and I love them for it.


Thomas Allen

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I don’t write fan letters often.  In fact, I can count them on one finger.  Yet, a few months ago, I visited Foley Gallery in Chelsea for the latest exhibit from Thomas Allen.  I was so blow away by his latest and (final!?!) series that I had to let him know how much I appreciated the art.  He mentioned that his creations are inspired by pop-ups so I thought it only fitting to take a piece of his full circle and make a pop-up out of one of his images.


Allen is one of my favorite artists and it’s not hard to see why I’m head over heels for his work.  He cuts and manipulates old pulp book covers into arresting compositions and then photographs them with selective focusing and great lighting.  I first learned about his work when the studio received a copy of the great Uncovered book from Aperture in 2007, and I have been following the artist ever since.

The cut paper…the dime-store detective novels…the clever arrangements…it’s like the work is genetically engineered to appeal to many of my diverging interests.  I cannot wait to see what Thomas Allen decides to do next!