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
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Works on Paper by
Mariam Aziza Stephan
Opens Saturday, September 14, 12 – 8 pm
Reception with Artists: Saturday, October 12, 5 – 8 pm
Exhibition catalogue available for purchase
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great summer! -PMR
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