We had the pleasure of traveling to Portland last weekend for the opening of Book Power Redux at 23 Sandy Gallery. I’ve known Laura Russell, owner of 23 Sandy, since the beginning of my career as a book artist but had never had the opportunity, until now, to see the gallery. It is a lovely, light and airy space with a lot of good display opportunities and, of course, you get to chat with Laura, which is always educational.
I’ll tell you about the book show in a moment, but first I have to share a dining tip from Laura – The Screen Door restaurant. Laura was not exaggerating when she said they have “fried chicken so good it will make you cry.” Greg thought it was more than worth the hour wait and I guarantee that this will be a “must go” every time we are in Portland.
Speaking of Portland, we fell in love with it. I have several blog posts worth of art info to share with you but today I’ll start with the show:
Book Power Redux is an interesting and disconcerting combination of beautifully made artists books carrying difficult messages. It is one of the strongest shows I’ve seen in a while both in terms of content and artistry. I am honored to have two of my pieces, Sandy Hook and Assume the Position, included.
Laura has put together a full color catalog of the show and I encourage you to purchase and peruse it. At $25 it is far cheaper than a trip to Portland and well worth the artists’ statements and photographs. You can also purchase the individual works directly from the 23 Sandy Gallery website which is pretty darned slick!
Many of the works stood out for us (I went with my husband, Greg, and our dear friend, Steve, a photographer who lives in Seattle). I encourage you to wander through the website and experience each book. Here is a quick link to be able to access all of the books easily. Here are a few to get you started (Sorry there are no photos here, please click-through to see the imagery):
my not so ordinary life by Christine Wagner is delicate, elegant and painful to read. This artists’ book describes her experience with domestic violence and left me appreciating her willingness to share such a difficult story, her juxtaposition of delicate and pretty materials with brutal language, and with the sense that I am tremendously fortunate to not be able to relate directly.
Like most of the work created originally for the Al Mutanabbi project, Sunt Lacrimae Rerum by Amaranth Borsuk is powerful and moving. Her use of laser-cut text, that tears away each time the book is opened, is simple and just so.
Ten Little White Folk by Shawna Hanel had only one downside. It is a unique work and was already sold by the time the show opened. Greg and I would like to have this witty and well-done book in our collection.
Why You Can’t Get Married by Nava Atlas uses the format of a wedding album to “demonstrate how the very arguments used to oppose interracial marriage in generations past have been recycled for use against same-sex marriage.” While Greg and I can relate to this personally, as our marriage would have once been illegal, it is also the artist’s choices of imagery, text and format that really spoke to us.
Did you see the show either in person or online? Please feel free to post your recommendations in the comments.