The Palo Alto Art Center will host Bibliophilia, an exhibition featuring drawings, paintings, and sculptural works by artists who are united by their love of books and libraries. Bibliophilia showcases the work of fourteen artists who use discarded books as raw materials, make and illustrate their own books, and photograph books and libraries. Featured artists include Laurent de Brunhoff, Ginger Burrell, Patricia Curtan, Robert Dawson, Adam Donnelly, Ala Ebtekar, Lisa Kokin, Tony May, Emily Payne, Christopher Reynolds, Scot Velardo, Catherine Wagner, Belle Yang and Xiaoze Xie, inviting us to share their fascination with books as hand-held, printed objects.
“The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to present Bibliophilia—timed perfectly to commemorate the temporary location of Palo Alto’s Main Library in our building during their renovation,” says Palo Alto Art Center Director, Karen Kienzle. “At a time when digital devices have become ubiquitous and when the act of reading is more likely to happen on a screen than on a page, artists in these exhibitions extol the myriad creative applications of physical books. The Art Center is also pleased to be collaborating with the Fine Arts Gallery at San Francisco State University on their concurrent exhibition The Illuminated Library. With the collaborative presentation of The Illuminated Library and Bibliophilia we hope to present our audiences with all of the promise one finds in a new book or an undiscovered library—an opportunity for learning, dialogue, surprise, and inspiration.”
The exhibition encompasses everything from works found between the covers of books, to the books themselves. Emily Payne creates assemblage collages using discarded books and their covers, while Christopher Reynolds coats cookbooks in monosodium glutamate (MSG) and preserves them in epoxy. Robert Dawson’s photographic series Public Library: An American Commons considers the interior and exterior function of public libraries, from the grand to the humble. Laurent de Brunhoff shares two original watercolors from the children’s book, Babar’s Yoga for Elephants. Patricia Curtan, longtime collaborator of Alice Waters, offers a taste of her ink and charcoal drawings of locally grown fruits and vegetables, soon to be published in an upcoming Curtan/Waters cookbook. Belle Yang offers an autobiographical glimpse into her life through illustrations from her graphic memoir, Forget Sorrow. Ala Ebtekar’s Coelestis (after Hafez) repurposes pages of the 14th-century manuscript written by the Iranian poet Hafez into a Persian celestial atlas. Photographer Catherine Wagner’s trans/literate series investigates braille books as they fade from use in favor of digital audio books. Discarded books become Scot Velardo’s canvas as he imagines new covers for old texts. Adam Donnelly transforms books into pinhole cameras, which he uses to create photographs that reveal ghostly traces of the words printed on pages from within the camera. Tony May’s installation, Variable Book Construction (Bookmobile) Maquette, plays with transforming spaces between books and their surroundings.
Bibliophilia is presented in collaboration with the Fine Arts Gallery of San Francisco State University, whose concurrent exhibition, The Illuminated Library, features works by artists including Clare Rojas, Jason Jägel, Nina Katchadourian, and Tauba Auerbach. The Illuminated Library is open between September 21 and October 17, 2013.
Opening Celebration & Reception for Bibliophilia Friday, October 11, 6-9 p.m. Palo Alto Art Center FREE View the current gallery exhibition and meet some of the featured artists! Join artist Emily Payne for artmaking activities inspired by the love of books and libraries that unites all fifteen artists in the exhibition. Experience a live musical performance by San Francisco a cappella and Leonard Cohen tribute group, Conspiracy of Beards, featuring exhibiting artist Scot Velardo. Cash bar provided by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. Cultivating Collaborations Saturday, November 9, 2 p.m., reception to follow Palo Alto Art Center, Studios Co-sponsored by the San Francisco Museum Studies Program at San Francisco State University and the Museum Studies Special Interest Group FREE This landmark collaboration between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Fine Arts Gallery at San Francisco State provides us with an opportunity to discuss the value of partnerships in museum settings, between our institutions and with our colleagues as part of our professional development planning. Representatives from the Fine Art Gallery and Palo Alto Art Center, as well as alums and current students will have a chance to share their experiences, feedback, and advice for structuring strong and sustainable partnerships.
A conversation with Patricia Curtan Friday, November 15, 7 p.m. Palo Alto Art Center, Main Gallery Offered in collaboration with the San Jose Museum of Art’s Around the Table: Food, Creativity & Community exhibition and festival FREE Patricia Curtan’s pen-and-ink drawings and colorful linoleum block prints of fruit and vegetables may be familiar to fans of the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, and its founder, Alice Waters. For more than forty years, Curtan has created menus for the restaurant, as well as designed, illustrated, and co-authored Chez Panisse cookbooks. View her elegant new drawings on view in Bibliophilia (featured in the soon to be released cookbook, The Art of Simple Food II) and join us in conversation with the artist as we talk about her work.
Holiday Family Day Saturday, December 7, 2-4 p.m. Palo Alto Art Center FREE Get into the holiday spirit with a festive range of hands-on art activities for children ages 5 and up. Book-related projects will be offered in conjunction with the Bibliophilia exhibition.
Public Library: An American Commons, a presentation by Robert Dawson Wednesday, December 11, 7 p.m. Palo Alto Art Center, Main Gallery FREE Robert Dawson has been photographing public libraries in the United States since 1994. Join us as he shares insights about this body of work. Robert Dawson's photographs have been widely exhibited and are in the permanent collections of many institutions across the country. Dawson has served as a member of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Camerawork and later, of the Friends of Photography, and is a founding member and still serves on the Board of PhotoAlliance. He is an Instructor of Photography at San Jose State University and Stanford University. Dawson’s book, Public Library: A Photographic Essay, will be published by Princeton Architectural Press in April, 2014, with a forward written by Bill Moyers and an afterward by Ann Patchett.
Bibliophilia Related Classes at the Art Center We are pleased to offer an array of art classes related to Bibliophilia for children, teens, and adults throughout the Fall. To view and register for one of our arts programs, visit: http://www.enjoyonline.cityofpaloalto.org/
PARALLEL PROGRAM: Bell’s Books Since 1935, a video by Lessa Bouchard (22 minutes) November 8 through 16, screening on loop daily during business hours of operation Bell’s Books, 536 Emerson Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301 FREE View artist Lessa Bouchard’s 2010 prize-winning documentary short video about Bell's Books, a cherished independent bookstore in Palo Alto. For more information, visit: http://www.bellsbooks.com/
Community partnership with San Jose Museum of Art in conjunction with their concurrent Around the Table: Food, Creativity & Community exhibition: Two of the participating artists in Bibliophilia, Christopher Reynolds and Patricia Curtan, were selected not just for their connection to books, but because each is inspired by our relationship to food in a unique way. The selected works by Reynolds and Curtan are presented in collaboration with San Jose Museum of Art’s Around the Table: Food, Community and Creativity exhibition and festival.
This exhibition at San Jose Museum of Art and the accompanying festival of activities presented by 31 partnering organizations celebrate and explore the role that food plays in our lives. For a calendar and more information, visit: http://www.aroundthetable.org/.
Double Take by Patrick Dougherty: A site-specific installation
January 2011 -
Patrick Dougherty and detail of Ruaille Buaille (Hijinx) 2008, Parklands in County Offaly, Ireland. Photo: James Fraher
The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to present a monumental, site-specific installation by Patrick Dougherty, one of the nation’s most prominent environmental sculptors. The public may view the artist’s creative process during his three week artist residency, January 11- 28, 2011, on the grounds of the Palo Alto Art Center.
Identified as the Jackson Pollock of saplings by art critic John Perreault, Patrick Dougherty is a process-oriented artist whose lyrical, organic works are created specifically for each site. Made from local and renewable willow saplings, his works embody natural life cycles, changing over time as the sticks settle and decay, eventually returning to the earth from which they grew. Dougherty has created over 200 monumental site-specific installations on the grounds of major museums, universities, botanical gardens, and private residences worldwide. The resulting works evoke a wide array of natural forms, ranging from nests to objects with a transparent architecture, like woodland dwellings, or basketry.
Environmental sensitivity is a major concern for the artist. Saplings are gathered from maintained sources so that the branches grow back to make new sticks for future uses. Dougherty does not use any artificial supports in his constructions because the inherent properties of saplings cause them to snag and entangle easily.
While there is a signature quality to his work, each of his compelling sculptures relates specifically to the physical site in a unique way. Dougherty believes that ideas percolate at the actual venue and that “the success of a piece lies in capturing the essence of a place and then playing with what you make of that essence.” Unlike other sculptors, he initially conceives of his work by making a series of word associations on both the physical and social qualities of a site. He is conscious of drawing in space, as he weaves sticks with lighter and darker colors and varying widths and lengths.
This project is commissioned by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. It is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.