Sun / Sill

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A Selection of Sun Drawings by Rosaire Appel

 

No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Work’s physical site in Beacon closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak on February 29th. In retrospect I’m very relieved that I did so, although at the time I was thinking, perhaps I’m being too cautious, as I was offering visitors hand sanitizer so they could handle books without concern. As it turns out, there was no way to sustain this. As it turns out, being in such intimate proximity with others, looking over a shoulder at book pages, or sitting beside one another sharing space in this way was quite dangerous and we didn’t yet know how bad it was to become. And now, here in mid-May, here in NY, we are still waiting for the time when it’s safe to resume.

I set up No.3 Reading Room as a site where readers can experience handling limited-edition, handmade and innovative book projects by artists and small, independent presses that are not widely found in traditional bookstores or galleries. The exhibits integrate books, works on paper, photography and poetry in installations that encourages visitors to spend time holding, reading and exploring these selections. So, now in the time of social distancing and sheltering at home, the physical has given way to the virtual. That makes it impossible to experience many of the works on display and in the archives in the way they are intended. Yet there is also a great deal of material that I can share that works well online.

As a case in point, in the recent exhibit Reach, A Selection of Drawings and Artist’s Books by Rosaire Appel, several unique books from her Sound Pages series were available to be handled. The forms and materials activated work that was designed not just for the eye, but for hands, ears and nose. Pages are not simply a surface or conveyor of information, but are a significant part of the content, offering a sensational, interactive experience to the reader. To show an image of a page or a spread online is to sever the piece from it’s context in such a way that it denies the viewer any real sense of it, and it denies the work its complexity. Some things must be experienced in person. Rosaire’s books are made to be handled. The exhibit title Reach implies this and she rewards the viewer’s effort to be present in a most satisfying way. I so enjoyed watching visitors slowly turning the pages, remarking about how satisfying the sound, how soft the feel, how full it felt in their hand. And I miss this very much. Sharing space and objects in this intimate way is a deeply meaningful experience. And I am sad that I had to cut short what was to be a two-month long exhibit with a presentation by Rosaire in late March at the closing of her show. 

However, Rosaire is a prolific, adventurous artist who uses all manner of tools to capture the world as she experiences it. I’ve seen her near daily sun / sill images online the last few months and invited Rosaire to present them here in place of her physical works. These are meant for the screen and are delightful to look at in a dark time. They are no less substantial than her physical work. They exist thanks to the sun, to binary code, to the magic of the virtual and to Rosaire’s tremendous vision and sense of play. They are perfect for this moment. Below is her statement about this body of work that I am so honored to share in celebration of a truly inspiring and generous artist. Many thanks Rosaire, for bringing in the light.  -PMR

 

Sun / Sill

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In mid-January the sun comes in the window of my study at a particular angle in the morning, briefly. This happens every year. There’s a ledge directly in front of the window and anything put there immediately exhales its shadow.  By May the sun’s hour of arrival has shifted, and its light has acquired a glare that lasts all summer. Thus this light situation is temporary – which makes me work quickly and without a lot of calculation. Work? It is more like play: there is no goal. Put something in the sun and see how it is transformed. It’s a game that started over 10 years ago. In those early sessions I used small objects  (miniature bottles, hardware, plant-life, pins). Then at some point I came across some Lee filters from my photographic days – these are 1”x 3” strips of colored acetate, every color you can imagine. The color shadows were truly delicious – and the simple strips, creased once or twice to stand upright, pushed the compositions toward architecture.

This year  I discovered a cache of  my ‘negatives’ from the 1990s. These are 3×4” laser prints and drawings on acetate. In the darkroom, I would slip them into the enlarger and project light through them onto light-sensitive paper. Much of this series involved line-screens and moire patterns, but I also drew on the acetate. I experimented with this for several years. Few of the results survived but several notebooks of ‘negatives’ did, and this year I began re-using them.

I think of this sun-inspired activity as practicing, the way a musician practices, but visually. Some of the things I come up with influence other projects, sometimes in ways that I don’t recognize until years later.

As the sun moves out of range each year I feel I’ve had enough and sort of resolve that the project has ended. But so far, every year when that shaft of sun inches into the room some object catches my attention and the interrogation begins anew.  -Rosaire Appel, 2020

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Closed for Now…

RR #1 12x12 print @20

Like many other organizations that are cancelling or postponing events, No.3 Reading Room will be closed until further notice in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Please email photobookworks@gmail.com if you have any questions, and check back for updates on when we will reopen. Thanks for your patience and stay well.

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Reach

Any Afternoon

 

A Selection of Drawings and Artist’s Books

by Rosaire Appel

 

Opens February 8th 12-8 pm

Reception with Artist: 5-8 pm

Hours: Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm

and by appointment

On view through March 29, 2020

 

 

Visual Sound Drawings 1

Visual Sound Drawing Rosaire Appel

Light reaches into the dark and the dark absorbs it — or throws some of it back – which is what we read, which is how we are able to read… reading = seeing.

Sound reaches across a room, weather reaches down from above, waves reach toward a shore. These gestures/ actions of reaching culminate in a reception of some kind — acceptance, absorption, rejection, destruction…. 

Words reach toward each other — magnetic attractions. The mind itself reaches out through the voice, through the hand… Reaching itself is a form of magnetic attraction,  with or without conscious motivation.

My books distill many reachings – are records of reaches, both out and into.  And I note: without at least some small shred of hope, of possibility for some kind of plus/ some increment of satisfaction –  it is impossible to reach.  -R.A.

 

For the next few months, No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is giving itself over entirely to Rosaire Appel’s artist books and works on paper. Her prolific and imaginative works encompass the acts of listening, seeing and notating sensory experiences, translated into untranslatable pages that defy conventional reading.

Appel is a well-known and respected practitioner of Asemic writing, which, simply put,  is “writing” or a script that has no discernable content or meaning which is left to the viewer to determine. Despite being open to its viewer’s interpretation, Rosaire Appel has concrete and specific sources for the generative aspect of her work. But once completed, it is free to be interpreted by anyone who wants to take the time to respond.

Asemic writing has a deep tradition, practiced by many artists and writers in versions and variations too numerous to mention here. So for a deeper dive in a rather concise description, this link provides definitions and examples, including Rosaire’s.

https://wikimili.com/en/Asemic_writing

There will be many of Rosaire’s artist’s books on view and available for purchase, as well as rare and unique works that can be viewed up on request. Reference works on Asemic writing and books by various practitioners of this form are also on display. On view through March 29 and by appointment, we’re here to engage and share this fascinating practice of image and text in poetic forms where you decide what it means.

 

“Projection Lamp Catalog”, a visual, non-buying publication, is a selection of drawings  that focus on the distribution of information on a page.  The information is asemic – it has no semantic value.  The drawings consist of (analog and digital) marks deployed as signals rather than symbols. Patterns, echoes, vibrations, pulsations and waves suggest sound and motion in this exploration of non-verbal language.   -R.A.

 

In this book, both story and locations are disturbed – interfered with – disarranged. The result is a sequence of pages that are like rooms unhampered by customary furniture through which a non-verbal story is woven….

This is a colorized and edited hardcover version of my 2016 black and white book: Manual of Disturbances. -R.A.

 

Rosaire’s books can be purchased from her directly: https://www.rosaireappel.com/

And you can find her blog here: https://rosaireappel.blogspot.com/

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Winter Break

Winter break 2019

The Reading Room will be open by appointment only, through January. Wishing you the very best in the New Year and many thanks for visiting in 2019. Stay tuned for more events and programs to come in 2020.

Please email me at photobookworks@gmail for more information or appointments.

 

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Winter is Coming in (and so are the books)

PBW holiday night detail

No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works, 469 Main St., Beacon, NY 12508

Hours: Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm

Fridays by appointment only.

 

November in the Reading Room brings new and rare poetry and photography books just right for these early, dark evenings. Perhaps you’re tired of screens and screeds right about now. Or you may be on the lookout for a special gift for a special person. Something meaningful, something beautiful, something full of light. It’s what we long for. So I’ve filled the Reading Room with dozens of very special books for the long winter ahead.

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Of What Is by Edwin Torres (CBA/NYC)

New titles include Beacon resident Edwin Torres’ book of poetry, XoeteoX: the infinite word object, published by Wave Books, as well as the limited edition handmade artist book, Of What Is (above). Published on the occasion of Edwin’s reading at the Center for Book Arts on October 16, 2019, this multi-colored accordion book was printed with hand-set metal type that incorporates die-cut popups. Designed and printed by Roni Gross at the CBA/NYC in an edition of 100, each is signed and numbered by the poet. Edwin will be featured in a solo exhibition in Spring 2020 in the Reading Room, but meanwhile his books are available to be read or purchased here throughout the year.

 

Speaking of Wave Books, a limited number of copies from their Fall Bundle of poetry books are in stock. It includes titles by Timothy Donnelly, Prageeta Sharma, Rachel Zucker, Dorothea Lasky, a brand new edition of Maggie Nelson’s definitive work, Bluets, as well as one of my favorite poets, Mary Ruefle.

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Wave Book Fall Bundle

You can read all about the books here: https://www.wavepoetry.com/pages/fall-2019-bundle

Speaking of Mary Ruefle, she was just appointed Poet Laureate of the State of Vermont, and her 2019 Wave title Dunce, was long listed for the National Book Award in Poetry. She is also known for her amazing erasure poetry projects that are executed in old books altered to create new verse and image/text relationships. A facsimile copy of her An Incarnation of the Now, published by See Double Press, 2015 is also available.

 

One of my favorite photographers is Ronnie Farley of Beacon, and she has her photobooks stocked here, including signed copies of Women of the Native Struggle: Portraits and Testimony of Native American Women, and Cowgirls: Contemporary Portraits of the American West. Other titles in stock are her wonderful NYC street photographs in Diary of a Pedestrian: A New York Photo Memoir; New York Water Towers; and Ghost Plane, which documents the trails left behind in the atmosphere by jets flying over the Hudson Valley. There are various theories about them, but regardless, the plumes of vapor that mark the sky make an impression on anyone who sees them overhead. It’s a compelling little book.

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Ronnie Farley

You can read more about Ronnie and her work here: https://www.ronniefarley.com/index

And keep your eyes open around these parts for news of her upcoming open studio event at Beacon Lofts in December, where you can buy prints and perhaps get your portrait taken.

 

If you missed, or miss Melissa McGill’s site-specific Constellation project that was installed on nearby Bannerman Island from 2015-2017, you can revisit it in the companion book published by Princeton Architectural Press. It’s an extension and artifact of the project that allows us to experience this site through “a visual and literary dialogue between Melissa McGill and several celebrated writers and poets, using the artwork as a springboard for inspiration and collaboration.” If you’re not familiar with Constellation, this was a large-scale sculptural project that was installed around the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River. “Every evening, as the sun went down, starry lights emerged one by one with the stars of the night sky, creating a new constellation, connecting past and present through this light-based public art project. There were 17 points of light using solar powered LEDs installed on the top of aluminum posts ranging in height from 40 to 80 feet, giving the appearance of each light floating seamlessly in the night sky.”

You can read more about Melissa’s projects here, including her recent Red Regatta, set in Venice Italy: https://www.melissamcgillartist.com

Constellation

Princeton Architectural Press

 

For those seeking unusual poetry or photography books for their collection or as a gift, a number of noteworthy rare and out-of-print books are in stock. There are titles from from England, Spain, Japan, and our own back yard in New York State. Published by small and indie presses that took a chance on a great project, most are now sold out and rare. I always keep my eyes on these publishers and take a chance too, by acquiring a few copies each in early support of a project I admire, and end up holding copies of what has become a beloved and valuable book. I have one or two each to sell, so if you want to view some of these special editions, come in and ask me to show you what’s available. There are too many books on the shelves to list, so visit and browse. And don’t forget that there are always books about poetry, book arts and photography that are not for sale or circulation, but are available for anyone who wants to take the time to read. You’re always welcome to do so and thank you for visiting.

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HATCHED IN THE DRIFT

 

Works on Paper by

Mariam Aziza Stephan

&

Poetry by

Julia Johnson

 

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Installation shot from Swing Shift – Barrister’s Gallery, New Orleans, LA 2016

 

Opens Saturday, September 14, 12 – 8 pm

Reception with Artists: Saturday, October 12, 5 – 8 pm

Exhibition catalogue available for purchase

 

Hours:

Saturdays & Sundays 12 – 6 pm

On view through October 27th

469 Main St., Beacon, NY 12508

THE READING ROOM WILL BE CLOSED SATURDAY, OCT. 19
AND WILL REOPEN SUNDAY, OCT. 20, 12 – 6PM

 

On view in the Reading Room are 18 works on paper selected from the larger body of work by Mariam Aziza Stephan. Small, intimate 6 x 18” drawings; India ink on paper, but paper that has been cut open and reassembled with additions and deletions, like the sacrifice zones they represent. Presented directly on the wall without framing, the surfaces evoke the land in an unmediated display. Each poem by Julia Johnson is numbered to accompany its corresponding image, presented on printed pages to be read by the viewer. Also on display and available for reading are books that have informed, or relate to the artist’s and poet’s work. Novels, photobooks, poetry and essays on the notion of place and displacement are featured.

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#88

We once thought we could cross at the dock
Our hands bloody from the crawl
We swam until our skin weakened, pulled ourselves onto the shore  (JJ)

 

Darkened skies, shadowed craters in the ground, piles of rubble, pockmarked walls, bridges with railings turned into roadblocks, houses with the walls sheared off, boulders that block paths, slabs of broken concrete, rising dark water filled with floating debris, felled trees and sinkholes. The landscape itself is the threat. These works convey the chaos that war and environmental disaster brings to a place.

As we look around we wonder, where is this, what happened here, why? The once occupied landscape is a no-go zone. Streets are passageways that must be negotiated and scrutinized for dangers both underfoot and overhead, for hidden traps or threats. Water has become fouled and dangerous, air has become rank, mingled with particles of soil and poison. Where did everyone go?

Hostile territory, a ravaged landscape- the disasters of war, environmental degradation and man-made zones ravaged for resources then abandoned.

Of her project, the artist Mariam Aziza Stephan states: “This work is about loss. The drawings serve as mediations and records of both places and states that either no longer exist or are in the process of disappearing. These constructed landscapes piece together fragmented scenes of conflict, abandonment, and disarray and attempt to link ecological and psychological upheaval. Firsthand experiences of loss, as well as the residual affects passed down through family and community. How do we synthesize the felt, seen, or told narratives that continue as reminders and echoes of suffering or sacrifices?

 This work took its form in 2016 when I began to formalize my drawings in direct response to Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War etchings. The extent of the series currently consists of over one hundred individual works on paper in a 1:3 format to exaggerate an expansive horizon on which a drama unfolds.

Each time I returned to Goya’s images I felt their relevance and persistent contemporaneity. All of the distinct works consist of India ink forms collaged and/or fragmented into a disjointed simulacrum of contradictory natures and contrarian ideals. They reference both corporeal and emotive experiences that suggest displacement and the pervasive uncertainty that’s created while asking how the physical and psychological upheaval can take on similar shapes. These abstract spaces also act as visual metaphors emblematic of shifts in the social fabric and hybridization of our communities as well as ecological imbalances. They frame expansive spaces through landscape markers alongside quiet, removed isolated pockets in which the viewer can settle. 

Of her collaboration with the poet Julia Johnson, Mariam says: “I wanted to find a poet that complements and adds to the ambiguity of description and abstraction within my work through text…The sense of loss, polarization, and fracturing that I have attempted to construct in these images is meant to simultaneously reflect upon and memorialize the time we live in and recognize our shared accountability.”

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#60

Still life: Capture this on the table
Capture this in time and hold it there as if it once was breathing
There is a misshapen rule we guide ourselves by   (JJ)

 

About the Artists:

Mariam Aziza Stephan was born in Pittsburgh, PA and studied art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (BFA 1995) and the University of Washington, Seattle (MFA 2002). Her work has been exhibited domestically and abroad including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Mobile Museum of Art, Henry Art Gallery, and the Gezira Art Center in Cairo, Egypt, and is included in the permanent collections of the Raleigh Municipal Art Collection, Raleigh; the Mobile Museum of Art, Alabama; and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, Cairo, Egypt. Stephan has received awards including the 2018 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship Award and served as a 2010-11 Fulbright Scholar to Egypt, and currently serves as Associate Professor of Painting at UNC Greensboro.

http://www.mariamstephan.com

Julia Johnson, a native of New Orleans, earned a B.A. from Hollins College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. Prior to joining the faculty at UK, she taught at Hollins University, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Johnson is the author of Naming the Afternoon, published by Louisiana State University Press, which won the George Garrett Fellowship of Southern Writers New Writing Award, The Falling Horse, published by Factory Hollow Press, and most recently Subsidence. She served as editor of Mississippi Review, including a special issue on The Prose Poem, as well as an anthology, 30 years of Mississippi Review. She edited The Collected Poems of Jane Gentry. Her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Poetry International, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, jubilat, Tin House, and numerous other journals and anthologies. Julia Johnson is Professor of English and was the Founding Director of the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of Kentucky.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/julia-johnson

 

 

 

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Summer Break

PMR 14@72 adjusted this one rr

I’ll be taking a break beginning July 1st and will reopen for regular weekend hours in September. Reading Room access during this time is by appointment on the weekends only. To set up a visit, email me at photobookworks@gmail.com.

Have a great summer!  -PMR

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