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Archie Rand illustration for “movies as a Form of Reincarnation,” a book of poems by John Yau

Thanks to a friend from many years past (she used to live next door) who insisted I was missing something, I made it yesterday to Bound/Unbound: The Dialogue Between Printmaking and the Art of the Book, an exhibit at the Central Branch of the Free Library, curated by Philagrafika’s Robert Wuilfe.

It’s an exhibit with surprises and highlights that pop out of the vitrines on the library’s main floor, with several nods to some of the book-making centers in Philadelphia’s art world, including the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts of the University of the Arts, and digital printmakers Silicon Gallery.

Coffee, by Alice Austin

Some highlights included several small books by Alice Austin, including “Coffee,” and a laddered fold-out arrangement of fortune-cookie messages.

White Sands, by Jill Timm

Another pair of fold-outs of note, in the same vitrine, were Jill Timm’s salutes to travel photo books and slides and fold-out picture-postcard sets. The little glass-slide-like front covers held samples of sand–tiny real-world dunes in front of photographic backdrops–from the places she photographed.

The caption reads “Don’t pick a model who’s much greater,” under James Engelbart’s illustration for Susan Viguers’ translation of Aesop’s Fables

James Engelbart’s illustrations of Aesop’s Fables, translated by Susan Viguers, were charming (Addition 06/09/06: see comment from Viguers at bottom of post for correction), and Archie Rand’s hand-colored transformation of a digital print (by Silicon) for “Movies as a Form of Reincarnation,” a book of poems by John Yau. The print is voluptuous and funny and disconcerting all at once. The sheik’s (John Barrymore’s?) draped headgear is replaced by waterlily-like blots of color that isolate the black-and-white face like a transsubstantiating icon.

The fold-out book installation by Katie Amelia Baldwin, “Lucky,” included Japanese woodblock prints and combined images from the news and the neighborhood and string to tie it all together. The blocky, fuzzy heads of the news image portraits reminded me of William Kentridge. The fuzzy man hugging a flat little white pig with hard edges seemed so unlikely that it made me laugh.

And the installation “In Search of the Great Sea Serpent,” by Caitlin E. Perkins, who also has a Philagrafika connection, was more like a scholarly collection of artifacts and books and old posters, plus a porthole with an indecipherable image. The rubber serpent grabbers were my favorite artifact, but it was the whole combo that added up to tell the story of fears that have created and embroidered sea monster legends.

Others in the exhibit were Ellie Brown, April Flanders, Rebecca Gilbert, Jesse Goldstein, Neila Kun, Enid Mark, Lindsey Mears, Katie Murken, Claire Owen, Natasha Pestich, Maria G. Pisano, Diane Podolsky, Anabelle Rodriguez, Patricia M. Smith and Justin Myer Staller.

Usually, exhibits in vitrines are inaccessible literally and figuratively, but this one floated right out from the glass walls. The exhibit will remain up until June 16.