Anglim Gilbert Gallery presents VISUAL ANTHOLOGY: Artworks & the Book, an exhibition coordinated with the annual San Francisco Art Book Fair taking place at the Minnesota Street Project July 20 -22. Featuring artworks by the gallery’s artists, the pop-up exhibition provides a broad range of creative responses to the experience of reading and the symbolic cultural object, the book.
The exhibition VISUAL ANTHOLOGY includes tributes to writers, like Terry Allen’s homage to Antonin Artaud’s journey of self-discovery to Ireland and Mexico, and John Zurier’s abstract musings on the writings of Miyazawa Kenji and Anne Carson. The show also pays tribute to specific books and book forms, as in Enrique Chagoya’s satirical recreations of the indigenous pictogram folding books of pre-Columbian Mexico, banned, destroyed and reworked to promote Christianity by the conquering Spanish. Xiaoze Xie continues work on his photographic series chronicling famous banned books. Here he documents pages from The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu from the Ming Dynasty as if it were a scientific specimen. Xie is well known for exploring the history of the book in paintings and film, and two of his signature paintings of book spines are on view.
Several featured artists use found book pages to create collages, or to incorporate in a mixed-media painting. Since the 1960’s Jean Conner has teased our sense of reality with her playful collages from the printed page. Ala Ebtekar uses book pages to reference architecture and the image of a portal to the ideal. Colter Jacobson adds to found papers (book endpapers, letters, printed pages) repurposing the information with drawing, paint and collage. Dean Smith uses cuttings of antique black-and-white engraved reproductions from books as modulated forms. The scraps were given to him by mentor Bruce Conner, and the resulting collages evoke spatial environments. Mildred Howard’s series of chine-collé collages use book reproductions from the life of Casanova to collapse history and contrast today’s discussions of seduction to those of the literary legend.
Howard has also created a sculpture from two re-purposed volumes of “The History of the United States”, adding holes in reference to the absence of information on the history of African Americans. Additionally, the show presents her recent volume of photographs with text, XYZ, that juxtaposes quotes from African American youth with their portraits in silhouettes. Addressing our reliance on literacy, Veronica deJesus substitutes schematic drawings for a written narrative.
Works in photography offer interesting counterpoints within the exhibition: Catherine Wagner’s work, Beloved, Toni Morrison, is a crisp portrayal of a braille volume of the famous book. From her series, trans/literate, this work examines unique systems within our cultural archive used to transfer knowledge. Hannah Collins created another series, The Interior and the Exterior - Noah Purifoy, to present the work of the noted African American sculptor in the context of a cultural document, referencing Walker Evans seminal portrait of American habitat, Message From The Interior. Where Walker Evans made a lasting document of the American common people through place, Collins created a portrait of Noah Purifoy through the sculptural environment he created as it is subject to change by the elements. From Ken Graves’ sharply witty series of Americans in their everyday, the exhibition selects works of people with their books. Carter’s modified polaroids deal in artifice and his faux portraits imply information through text.
Richard Shaw (in trompe l’oeil ceramics) and John Buck (in carved wood) play with informational systems and the book icon. Several published volumes will also be on display including a complete copy of Wallace Berman’s series of mail-art volumes, Semina, and Jess’ collaboration with Michael McClure, The Boobus and the Bunnyduck.