Portraits of Books from the
American Academy in Rome Collection
by Laura Migliorino
Opens Saturday, June 8th, 12 – 8 pm
Reception: 5-8 pm
Saturdays & Sundays 12 – 6 pm
On view through July 28th
469 Main St., Beacon, NY 12508
In 2017, Laura Migliorino was an Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome where she photographed books from the Rare Book Room, and the general library collection.
Her project, The Hidden Life of Books offers portraits of volumes rarely seen and accessed, but are nonetheless vital, significant carriers of knowledge and culture. Not merely artifacts, they remain useful resources for scholars who search the antiquarian volumes for insight, a solution, or an answer for questions asked in these times. Indeed, the printed word in the form of these books were central to The Age of Enlightenment, a century of the dissemination of ideas and explorations that resulted in the development of knowledge that we take for granted today.
The book is a simple yet complex idea that has had a profound influence on culture,
society, and religion that transcends time and civilization. The book is a platform
or foundation for the studies of Humanities because it has so much power on the
course of the human life. The impact of books, and the knowledge contained
dictates human history, influences religious and political policy, supports the
powerful and inspires the repressed. In early book creation the relationship
between word and image was essential. The word spoke to the privileged, the
educated and the image informed the poor and illiterate, yet both groups needed
books to guide their lives.
I grew up with books; my mother was a voracious reader, and raised her children
to cherish books. The book is a living memoir, a repository of memory and
meaning that goes beyond the story that lay within. My work captures the
physical body of the book as if it is a living figure with a spine, the leather cover is
skin, and the pages flesh. The physical traits reflect the life of the book, both
good and bad, exposing bumps, bruises, withering age, or a child’s scribble. How
often have you found a special memento in the pages of a book that floods your
senses with memories? –Laura Migliorino
We live in an era when many old volumes have been withdrawn from libraries to be dismantled, scanned into a digital format, then discarded. They’ve become disembodied ghosts, sacrificed for online access and convenience. For many of us, the books that survive have become more than the printed matter they began their lives as. The volumes in these photographs could rightly be considered the ancestors of our intellectual origins. Not just a body of knowledge, but a body with a life and a presence that we cherish. The warm touch of the book in the hand and its home in the archive, library or reading room is an intimate and even sacred space of transformation and growth that forms a bond unlike any other. Books are still significant, treasured objects and it’s lovely to have these portraits to remind us of the care and tending given them, after what they have given to us. May they remain for many years to come.
Also on display and available for reading will be books on papermaking, book design, printing, binding, librarianship and collecting. Please visit the Reading Room for a full immersion into the art of the book.
Works on Paper
Opens: Saturday, March 9, 5-8 pm
Reception: Saturday, March 23, 5-8 pm
Artists Talk: Sunday, March 24, 2 pm
Space is limited, seats are reserved, please RSVP.
A catalog of the exhibit is available for purchase
Sunday March 10, 12-5 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12- 6 pm
Through April 28
The Reading Room will be closed on April 20 & 21st for Passover and Easter
Working overtime. Working over time. They sound the same, but connote different temporal states. Both apply to the painters and their works in this exhibit.
What does it mean to make a painting over time? What does devotion to one’s practice extended over a lifetime entail? To painters Clarence Morgan and David Rich, each in their sixth decade, time has become compressed, with a degree of urgency about its limitations and passage.
Yet both are known to, without reluctance or hesitation, revisit work done decades ago, to pick up their tools and search within both dimensions of painting and of time, of then and of now. Nothing is fixed, everything is up for grabs. Time collapses and the dialogue commences. As one day merges into the next, as each year melds into another, their work in the studio continues overtime and over time, yet is enacted in the here and now.
And in time, the paintings will be all that remain. Within the abstraction, the residual marks add up to signs and signals, visual occurrences and references. Old hands painting alongside younger selves, trains of thought picked up, clarified, informed and strengthened by years and years of working- a form of talking to one’s self, over time.
The resultant images become meditation devices, bold assertions or quiet murmurs of being, resolved, but not static, forces with lyrical movement residing within a compressed space, offering room for thought and for eyes to wander and explore. Within these paintings, time operates on its own schedule in relation to the viewer, offering first the immediate read, and then the slow reveal that rewards durational looking.
Clarence Morgan and David Rich are painters who have worked for decades in both the studio and the classroom. Their devotion to painting and teaching brought them together decades ago in Minneapolis where they both arrived to work, teach and raise their families.
Longtime colleagues, Clarence and David were co-founders of what was known early on as the Painter’s Group, formed in Minneapolis in 1993 along with other local painters of various persuasions to generate dialogue exploring issues in contemporary painting. The purpose was not to critique each other, but to discuss the questions raised by their work and the possibilities for painting to address a range of concerns. Meeting in each other’s studio amongst peers, the ongoing conversations evolved organically and became a crucial source of discourse that was lacking outside academia at that time. It was an environment that was counter to the isolation of the studio and offered painters a space for the paintings to exist in a larger context.
The various aesthetic and ideological points of view were united by a commitment and willingness to share opinions, enthusiasm, arguments and reading materials. Despite the various approaches to their work, the common bond was the sustained visual engagement involved in making and reading the work. This gave rise to the Painter’s Group taking on the name Necessary Differences on the occasion of a group exhibition at Katherine Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1995.
It also reinforced a strong practice of personal inquiry around the work that remains central and ongoing to participating artists’ practice. Despite the eventual hiatus of Neccesary Differences, Clarence and David continue to check in with each other around the work, while keeping their own counsel with that of their paintings. In other words, the act of painting is, for each of them, a solitary conversation between and within the paintings they continue to wrestle with over time.
Of his work, Clarence states:
The latest drawings are a composite of older works from thirty years ago and a matrix of new linear structures layered over the surface. The results are complex compositions that randomly juxtapose blurred organically drawn elements that reside underneath with sharp geometric linear configurations that suggest a suspended diagram. Without knowing if the two different linear languages would connect, I decided to experiment to see if a visual conversation was possible. I was interested in the unexpected aspects of this confluence of marks and if there was something compatible. I am specifically referring to the always-negotiable formal decisions that direct the path of each drawing right up to the very end.
Of his paintings, David states:
These paintings take shape over time, in both making and seeing them. This involves decisive changes made quickly, but also a slow aspect. Both require different kinds of fearlessness. This attitude is not about aesthetic refinement. Rather, it remains rooted in urgency, making the changes necessary to bring out the implicit underlying content more clearly.
Improvised in the present-tense space of abstract painting, they evolve organically, unpredictably, yet according to very specific content. Not literal, but specific. The visual decisions are often out in front of any fixed or pre-determined image. Improvisation combines with intention, the resulting painting taking on something of the density of lived experience.
Seeing is a durational process, linked with thinking, breathing, walking, working, struggle and dance. The paintings appear to shift as implied connections and ghost images assert an alternate read. They become like elemental bits of compressed time. Contemplative places, rooted in experience. Evocative and provocative, work to be with, upon the slow read.
This exhibit continues the ongoing dialogue between these two painters as well. Old hands conversing since younger selves, trains of thought picked up, clarified, informed and strengthened by years and years of working and visiting with each other over time. It’s time to share this conversation beyond the studio walls for those who want to listen, can see in the paintings what has been said over time.
Clarence Morgan’s website: www.clarence-morgan.com
David Rich’s website: www.davidrich.net
Traffic Street Press presents Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands
the sixth title in the Trafficking in Poetry series.
Exhibit extended through February 24, 2019
Saturday, February 9, 12-6 pm
Sunday February 10, 12-5 pm
Saturday/Sunday February 16/17th 12-6 pm
Saturday/Sunday February 23/24th 12-6 pm
Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands, is a collaboration between the visual artist Greg Slick, the poet Seán Monagle and the book artist Paulette Myers-Rich. The poetry is letterpress printed, with pigment printed illustrations on Zerkall book paper and handbound in paper covers in an edition of 30. There will be a limited number of copies available for purchase at the book signing at No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works on Beacon’s Second Saturday, January 12, from 3-8 pm. Greg Slick’s original artworks will be on display, along with supporting materials and books accessible for study, including earlier titles in this series.
Of her project, Paulette Myers-Rich writes:
“I began Traffic Street Press as an artist and poet striving to produce strong personal work, yet along the way I decided to also publish chapbooks for poets I admired whose work was bypassed by gatekeepers. I founded the Trafficking in Poetry series after years of frustration with the distinct lack of representation of poets within mainstream and academic publishing who speak on behalf of marginalized people without condescension. I am an artist and poet from the working class. Blue collar and steel toes. I make these books by hand, using my skills to bring beauty and meaning into the world through voices not typically heard in such forms. Beauty and radical voices are not mutually exclusive- indeed, truth and beauty work hand-in-hand with integrity and respect to offer power and presence to the words. And when certain words hit a nerve with me, I’m willing to set each one, one letter at a time in metal type, print the pages on my No.3 Vandercook cylinder press and bind them all by hand, working long days and late nights to do so. I do this as a labor of devotion to these poets and their readers. “Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” is the sixth publication in the Trafficking in Poetry Series and the first to be published in Beacon, NY.
Of his images, Greg Slick writes:
Let us consider “Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” as both art object and as activism. This project, through its carefully chosen content, composition, papers, and type is an aesthetic encounter. It beckons to be experienced in a time signature suggested by the hand of the paper, the poems’ meters and music, the images’ lines and objects. The form of the book-object itself holds meaning, and in doing so reveals the specifics of that meaning. As activism, Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands raises uncomfortable questions about workers’ rights and employer abuse. In the stanzas and images the nature of work itself comes under scrutiny as we the authors remind ourselves that human life and dignity are at stake.”
Of his poems, Seán Monagle writes:
“Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” is intended as both an invitation and a provocation. In suggestive relation to their neighboring images, the poems represent the feelings and thoughts of speakers in the mesh and grip of human relations determined by capitalist values and regimes in voices ranging from transparent and compelling to obscure, suggestive and/or repellent. As the images and poems together in this volume suggest, labor is no less fundamentally and profoundly a subjective experience than a social one, obviously of those who have labored, certainly though less obviously even of those who have not. These images, these poems, this book, stand as a challenge to our faculties of sympathy no less than of discernment: that we begin to see the sights and to hear the sounds of human suffering.
In the poem Beck and Call, which opens the volume, a seemingly benevolent voice is offering comfort, but it’s true aim is grooming workers to have full faith in the enterprise with the result that they learn to be satisfied with their compensation despite the tremendous gains reaped by their “superiors.” Within this clear and stated hierarchical structure, cynicism pervades the relationship. The form of buy-in that keeps workers happy with their situation regardless of how exploitative, keeps them passive. Yet when these workers are cut from the ranks, they feel blindsided when they learn their loyalty isn’t reciprocal.
Beck and Call
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.
They have betrayed you. Whom will you trust?
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.
Great is your toil, praise of it cheap.
Find here your rest; abide as you must.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.
With humble demand, your innocence deep,
You offer with heart what is taken with lust.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.
Yours the Lord’s bounty, a bounty I reap:
your following constant, your numbers not least.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.
Like the spring lamb trusting its keep,
Graze where I lead you, prepare for the feast.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.
If not you, for whom shall I weep?
My arms are open to first and to last.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.
Of course there are workers who clearly understand the terms of their employment. They know that they’re entirely dependent upon the benevolence of their boss for stability, safety and income. And they know this is a voice not to be trusted, that the relationship is fraught with betrayal and exploitation despite one’s hard work and loyalty, yet they are trapped. The worker is quite aware that, on a whim, one could be cast out, losing everything while their skills and hard work have enriched someone who sees them as expendable.
Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands exists through work ranging from writing, artistic practice and design that incorporates hand skills and simple manual labor. The range of voices and images reflect the ways individuals provide for their needs on levels from working-class to management and attempts to make visible the instability and diminishing returns for those who labor in what we’re calling “the new feudalism.” We, the authors count ourselves among those who have endured these conditions. As artists, our most important job is “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” We present this work as a critique, with hope that these conditions will change.
To see more of Greg Slick’s work visit his website: http://www.gregslickart.com
New Poetry & Photobooks for Winter Days
Opens Saturday, December 8th, 12-8 pm
On view Sunday, December 9th, 12-5 pm
Saturdays and Sundays, noon-6 pm
Wednesdays, 7-9 pm by appointment
Fridays noon-6 pm
Through January 6th, 2019
December is the darkest month, when we dwell indoors and search for comforts against the cold. We begin to miss our dear ones and other habitats, so by the time the holidays arrive we are quite ready for outings, contact and news.
Of news, what is poetry but that which brings insights and truth, even if imaginary? What is a photobook but illuminations of places you’ve never been and the faces of total strangers that become increasingly more intimate and familiar with each reading?
This month’s selections include rare and out-of-print books, along with new selections from independent presses producing fascinating works that take you out of place and time, or illuminates the time and place you find yourself in. And, as this is the gifting season, there are an abundance of new and rare poetry and photobooks available for purchase at all price points, including local presses and international publishers.
If you get cabin fever this month, come visit the Reading Room and browse. If you need something extraordinary and luminous for yourself or a loved one, there are many new experiences waiting for you and yours. It’s cozy and warm and the lights are on in the darkness. And for the month of December, I’ve added extra hours, especially for locals who don’t have to travel very far to get far away.
Recent Small Press Poetry & Photobooks in Close and Unexpected Proximity
Passengers by John Schabel
Opens Saturday, November 10, 12-8 pm
On view Sunday, November 11, 12-5 pm
Saturdays and Sundays noon- 6 pm
Fridays by appointment.
Through December 2nd, 2018
An overheard bit of conversation, a glimpse of a face on a passing subway car, words exchanged with a stranger on an elevator, or in line. We are placed in random proximities with others on a daily basis, yet how often do we stop to consider them beyond the moment, or allow a deeper connection? Sometimes, when we do, these encounters lead to life altering relationships. Other times, we never see that person again despite being left with a deep impression and possible longing. So much of what we experience of others happens at a distance.
Take for example the photobook Passengers by John Schabel (Twin Palms Publishers, 2011). There is no text except for acknowledgements and publishing information at the very end. About this book, the writer Laura M. Andre writes:
“John Schabel’s series of photographs depicting anonymous airline passengers effectively captures the curious blend of impersonal efficiency and poignant humanity that pervades the experience of contemporary commercial air travel. Like products on an assembly line, the planes carrying Schabel’s subjects churn down the runway; and with the same regularity the individual passengers emerge, identically framed, from his camera and onto the gallery wall. Interestingly, it is precisely this mechanized process that lays bare the active, but often overlooked, emotional and intellectual relationship between human beings and flight.”
As a reader, however, the book creates an intimate space in which I become closer with each individual presented. They must have no idea their image exists in this body of work and the photographer doesn’t know who these people are, so anonymity is nearly assured. Because of this, my gaze- indeed, my stare, is not imposed on them in real time which permits me a voyeuristic, but also sympathetic human connection as I look at each face framed in an airplane window. In flight and on their way somewhere unknown, the image offers up all kinds of speculation, which can be based simply on their expression, or on my projection of all the feelings I’ve had when traveling, which allows me to make that leap to a bond with a complete stranger. Our shared humanity makes it possible to develop the empathy that, in times like these is an important condition made possible through viewing this book.
Another book of random portraits is the unusual and disconcerting Unspeaking Likeness by Arne Svenson, also published by Twin Palms in 2016. Compiled as “a series of images of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures … (made) shortly after an unidentified corpse (or part thereof) is found, a forensic artist constructs an artificial face made of clay or plaster to better aid in victim identification.”
The proximities of each person in this book are arbitrary. Their only common bond is their death, probably through violence, with names unknown and remaining anonymous until a reconstruction of their remains produces a face in a state of frozen animation waiting for someone to recognize the approximation and return its selfhood. Chilling and deeply moving all at once, gazing at these faces engenders a sadness and pain, as each likeness is a story with a fatal outcome and the hope of a prolonged mystery solved for loved ones, or justice for the victim by those charged with seeking it. It’s not easy to view, but I find it profound when considering the meaning of existence.
The photo and poetry books on display in the Reading Room offer numerous chance encounters through various combinations and readings. Curation is given over to instinct and the seeming randomness of the piles of new books on my archive table. Some photobooks contain portraits, some are of landscapes, some are conceptual, some are documentary. The poetry selections are some old favorites with new discoveries to be read and considered in proximity and relationship to each other.
Consider the poem Dear Sir or Madam by Dessa in relation to the above two books:
We changed your name while you were sleeping,
you’ll find your new one on the form that you’ll receive at lunch.
You’ll be given a numbered pound of steam
and a tool which may reveal its purpose to you
in which case it is a handweight.
Please mind it,
we regret that we cannot issue another
in the event that you misplace it.
There will be other people seated at your table,
we ask that you cultivate a fellow feeling.
Toward the people seated at the other tables
you may develop any attitude you like.
Sensation will be almost constant.
Patterns will emerge, some significant, some by sheer and simple chance.
You’ll receive the full agenda at the end of the conference
at which point, you’ll be asked to exit through the second door
and hang your pound of steam on the hook provided.
( From the volume A Pound of Steam, Rain Taxi, 2013)
There are many other possible connections to be made between works published by A Brother in Elysium Press, Gnomic Books, Doublecross Press, Ugly Ducking Press, Rain Taxi, photographers Ronnie Farley, Kate Orne, Raymond Meeks, Tim Carpenter and others. One actual connection is the Hudson Valley, home to several of the presses, writers and artists on display. Come in and take a chance- read, discover and make some new connections of your own.
A collaboration between artist Melissa McGill
and writer Sam Anderson
Opens Saturday, October 13, 12-8 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm
Fridays by appointment, through November 4th, 2018
Eridanus (a-RID-a-nuss) The river constellation 2016 (detail)
No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to present works from Melissa McGill’s Constellation project, a large-scale sculptural installation that was installed around the ruins of Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island in the Hudson river near Beacon from June 2015– October 2017.
On view will be five works from the Reverse Punctuation Constellationsseries, a collaboration with the writer Sam Anderson who responded to Melissa’s public art project via typewritten quotes and original pieces. McGill marked the verso of the typewritten pages with graphite, pastel, watercolor, Sumi ink and charcoal, then punched out the periods, punctuation, pauses and/or spaces in the written works with a Japanese hole punch, creating new constellations resulting in two-sided pieces that are illuminated when light shines through the work.
Four of the series are framed with the painted side facing, yet the presence of the text and the “constellation” offer a strong presence with the text telegraphing in relief from behind, as though through clouds. There will be one piece that is specially framed to reveal both sides, along with full color postcards and votives of the island and castle ruin with laser-cut stars of Constellation transforming the two-dimensional image into a luminous experience when lit from behind (all are available for viewing and purchase).
Also available will be limited copies of McGill’s book Constellationby Princeton Architectural Press. A reader’s copy will be on hand, as well as books by several writers who have contributed to the text. Poets Richard Blanco, Tracy K. Smith, Edwin Torres and Jeffrey Yang, along with other authors who have contributed to, inspired or informed the Constellation project will also be available for viewing in the Reading Room.
Come celebrate the opening day of this new exhibit on Beacon’s Second Saturday, October 13th, open from noon- 8 pm, up through November 4th.
Photo compositions by Donna Turner
also featuring photo books, digital video
& concrete poetry by various artists.
Opens September 8, 12-8 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm and by appointment
through October 7th
September will be devoted to pattern in photography. Inspired by the kaleidoscopic images created by Donna Turner for Beacon’s Windows on Main St. project, we’ve brought her work into the reading room where individual elements of her larger construction can be viewed in detail.
Also on view are photo books by several photographers who employ or present pattern in their image making. Whether it’s observations of patterns in nature, random aspects of the built environment that give way to patterns, or patterns constructed by various mechanical means, the visual connections between these artists are fascinating and poetic.
And despite my “no screens” tendencies in the Reading Room, I’m delighted to present a variety of digital videos I’ve collected over the years that relate to the analog books on display. I was once a young experimental filmmaker on a similar path and am thrilled to see the sophisticated visual work done by contemporary media artists and how this new digital visual experimentation and its analog predecessors have strong correspondences. A revelation, and relevant to be viewed in context with these photo books.
There are some hands-on, interactive offerings to enjoy and supporting materials available for deeper dives into the world of pattern on display, so give yourself extra time to fully engage with this installation devoted to this special form of visual poetry.