Sunday, July 31, 2016

John Hiltunen | Collage

John Hiltunen
Oakland, USA: Creative Growth, 2016
6.5 x 9 cm.
Edition size unknown

The Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland California serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities. The Center provides a professional studio and gallery, as well as a social atmosphere where artists can work among their peers. Founded in the early 1970s by Dr Elias Katz and his wife, artist Florence Ludins-Katz, it is the oldest and largest art center in the world for people with developmental disabilities.

We're not art therapists or a provider of social services," says Tom di Maria, who has served as the director of the Creative Growth Art Center since 2000. "We just say: Come here, find your way, find your voice and tell us your story. Take as much time as you need. There are now over 150 artists per week working with us."

Matthew Higgs calls the Center "without reservation the most important cultural organization I have ever encountered.”

Born in Sturgis, Kentucky in 1949, artist John Hiltunen has attended Creative Growth since 2003. He initially made rugs, wood work and ceramics, but began producing collages in 2006. After participating in Paul Butler’s Collage Party in 2007, his collage work became a "consistent artistic pursuit." Using mostly fashion and natural history magazines, Hiltunen creates images of absurdly well-dressed animals.

In 2012, John’s work was the focus of a major group exhibition curated by Higgs at Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco. He has also exhibited at White Columns, Rachel Uffner Gallery, the San Francisco International Airport, and had his work represented at contemporary art fairs like NADA Miami, the Independent, and Frieze New York. In 2013, he was honored as a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award.

In addition to stand-alone collages, Hiltunen produces collaged books as part of his practice. In September Books for All Press will release a 96-page title by the artist.

These poker size playing cards feature 53 images of original collage works by Hiltunen, housed in a plexi card case. They are available here for $15.00 US.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Linda Montano, Tehching Hsieh | Art/Life One Year Performance Poster

Tehching Hsieh/Linda Montano
Art/Life One Year Performance Poster
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1983
43 x 28 cm.
Edition size unknown

A poster announcing a year long performance during which the two artists would be tied together with a rope. Available from Printed Matter for only $25.00 US, here.

Yesterday it was announced that Tehching Hsieh will represent Taiwan at the 2017 Venice Biennale:

“This exhibition is a rare opportunity to show previously unseen early works that I made in Taiwan, and to develop new understandings of my One Year Performances in New York,” Hsieh said. “I am grateful for the support of the nominating committee, the director of TFAM Ping Lin, chief curator Chaoying Wu, and for the opportunity to collaborate with curator Adrian Heathfield.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Jenny Holzer turns 66 today

Chris Marker

Chris Marker was born on this day ninety-five years ago, and (in a kind of fitting loop) died on this day four years ago. Above is a tribute I produced for the British magazine Blue Notebook.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tristan Perich | Noise Patterns

New release by composer Tristan Perich. Read today's Pitchfork review, here, and see his previous chip-based release, 1-bit Symphony, here

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Victor Burgin | Family

Victor Burgin
New York City, USA: Lapp Princess Press, 1977
14 pp., 15,2 cm x 8 cm., softcover
Edition of 2000

Co-published by Printed Matter, the second Lapp Princess Press booklet borrows the format of a child’s primer to comment on contemporary family life.

"Burgin makes photographic work like no other artist, but his themes and motifs are drawn from experiences common to us all – the modern city, the structures of family, language as something that forms and reforms us, the power of images, principles of government, memory and history.  And yet, encouraged by the media to look to art for quick messages, some audiences and critics have found his work ‘inaccessible’. Actually Burgin’s work is among the most accessible I know, if by that we mean ‘easy to get into’. It’s the getting out that’s tricky. To be truly challenged and changed is to find yourself unsure, slightly lost, forgetting where you came in but pleased you did. As Roland Barthes once put it, ‘To get out, go in deeper.'"
- David Campany, Aperture Magazine no. 210, 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ed Ruscha Books & Co.

Ed Ruscha Books & Co. Press Release:

"Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Ed Ruscha Books & Co.,” an exhibition of artists' books by and after Ed Ruscha. The exhibition is organized by Gagosian director Bob Monk.

In the 1960s, Ruscha was credited with reinventing the artist's book, producing and self-publishing a series of slim volumes of photography and text. By turning away from the craftsmanship and luxury status that typified the livre d'artiste in favor of the artistic idea or concept, expressed simply and in editions that were unsigned and inexpensively printed, Ruscha opened the genre to the possibilities of mass-production and distribution. “Ed Ruscha Books & Co.” presents Ruscha's iconic books together with those of more than one hundred artists from all over the world—from Russia to Japan to the Netherlands—who have responded directly and diversely to his lead. Many books are installed so that viewers can browse their pages. After presentations in New York, Munich and Paris (2013–15) the exhibition run will conclude in Ruscha's home city of Los Angeles. The exhibition will be presented in conjunction with “Ed Ruscha Prints and Photographs.”

Inspired by the unassuming books that he found in street stalls during a trip to Europe, Ruscha published his first artist book in 1962, Twentysix Gasoline Stations under his own imprint, National Excelsior Press. Priced at $3.50, it is exactly what its title suggests: twenty-six photographs of gas stations with captions indicating brand and location. Initially, the book was received with indifference, and was even rejected by the Library of Congress for its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” However, over time it acquired cult status, and by the 1980s it was hailed as one of the first truly modern artist books. Ruscha followed this up with a succession of similarly self-evident and deadpan photographic books chronicling aspects of Los Angeles, or his round-trip drives between Los Angeles and Oklahoma, including Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968), and Real Estate Opportunities (1970). Their use of photography as a form of map-making or topographical study signals a conceptual, rather than documentary, thrust.

2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)—the 25-foot long, accordion-folded book. One of his most iconic artist books of all time, the past half-century has seen the importance and meaning of this book expand and evolve, pulled into new light by changing historical contexts, yet always retaining an enigmatic influence over new generations of artists. His artist books have been deeply influential on peers and followers—from Bruce Nauman's Burning Small Fires (1968), where Nauman burned a copy of Ruscha's Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) and photographed the process; to Julie Cook's Some Las Vegas Strip Club (2008), which turns the lights on nocturnal haunts.

In Rew-Shay Hood Project XIV (2008–11), the British artist Jonathan Monk airbrushed a car hood with the image of Rimmy Jim's Chevron, Rimmy Jim's, Arizona, borrowed from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, remaking the book-based photograph in an industrial form. For the first time in this exhibition, nine works will be shown from Amy Park's Ed Ruscha's Every Building on the Sunset Strip, an ambitious series in which the entirety of Ruscha's original artist book is enlarged and rendered delicately in watercolor, refining and refracting the images, fifty years after the fact—watercolor having been widely used as the preferred medium to document building elevations and topography pre-photography. Mark McEvoy has created Utopian Slumps, a suite of seven prints that are “foxed,” or distressed book covers of Ruscha's books, the titles having been changed to plays on the originals—Some Los Angeles Apartments becomes Some Loser's Apartment and Nine Swimming Pools is changed to Pissing in Pools. This irreverent homage carries over in John Waters's 12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot and Louisa Vanleer's Fifteen Pornography Companies. Theo Wujcik, meanwhile, has created etchings of lounging figures who have fallen asleep reading Ruscha's books—and Dave Dyment made a painstakingly researched book called Every Building in the Sunset Strip, using Ruscha's accordion format, which chronicles stories about the history of every location photographed in Ruscha's original. As this celebratory exhibition attests, the pace at which working artists continue to pay homage to Ruscha, and the intimacy of the book and print medium as he defined it, continues to grow. At play here is not just Ruscha's long legacy, but also the continued impulse of young and contemporary artists to produce works that are tactile and immediate: in many cases hand-made and unique books, in the face of the pervasive presence of mass produced and distributed images. Ruscha's magnetism intensifies as artists from different generations and cultural contexts discover his books, outspreading into related areas of artistic endeavor.

Opening reception: Thursday, July 28th, from 6:00 to 8:00pm

456 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

T. 310.271.9400 F. 310.271.9420

Summer Hours: Mon–Fri 10-6pm"

Monday, July 25, 2016

Every Building In The Sunset Strip in Gagosian exhibition opening Thursday

Dave Dyment
Every Building In The Sunset Strip
Toronto, Canada: MKG127, 2015
54 pp., 14 x 18 cm. [book], accordion fold
Edition of 95

Ed Ruscha’s classic book Every Building On The Sunset Strip, remade twice: as text and with scenes from television and cinema.

The bookwork recounts stories about every property included in Ruscha’s original (which was titled The Sunset Strip on both the cover and spine), from Schwab’s Pharmacy at 8024 Sunset Blvd (the site of many Hollywood legends, a few of them true) to the Jaguar Dealership that remains fifty years later, at 9176 Sunset. The entries range from the banal (once a beauty salon, now a vacant lot) to the sensational (racketeering, murder, celebrity scandal, etc).

The book is housed in a silkscreened stiff envelope which contains a unique print. The prints couple close-up scans of Ruscha’s photographs with similar views found in film and television shows, ranging from Charlie’s Angels to Scarface.

Taken together, they form a portrait of the 2.4 km stretch of the famous boulevard, and how it has changed over the past half century.

The bookwork and several of the framed images are included in the exhibition Ed Ruscha Books and Co., which opens this Thursday night from 6 to 8 pm at Gagosian Gallery (456 North Camden Drive) in Beverly Hills. See following post for details.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Crown Point Press

Crown Point Press opened in 1962, with a mandate to "use traditional printmaking techniques for new art ideas”. Founded by printmaker Kathan Brown, it began in a storefront in Richmond California, moved to a basement in Berkeley, spent a few years in Oakland and in 1990 relocated to the building where they currently reside, at 20 Hawthorne Street in San Francisco.

Crown Point typically invites four or five artists a year to produce works in their large studio, assisted by their master printer, which are then sold in the adjacent gallery. Over a hundred international artists have participated in the program, including Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn,  Anish Kapoor, Sol Lewitt, Kiki Smith, Pat Steir, Wayne Thiebaud and Ed Ruscha (the subject of their current exhibition). John Cage, who had never worked with etching before, decided to produce prints using "earth, air, fire, and water”.

"It seems like the artists have selected us more than we selected them. I mean, it isn’t really up to us. I think that we got something going and one artist will tell another and they really appreciate what we did with somebody else and then the person says, “Oh well, I think so and so would like to come.” It’s kind of a snowball thing,” Brown told Katrina Traywick in 2011.

Valerie Wade, who showed us around, began at the press in 1988 as a sales representative. In 1993, she became Gallery Director, and in 2006 assumed her current position as director, overseeing day to day operation of the press and sharing the management of artist projects with Brown.

The store features a small selection of catalogues, artists’ books, and artists’ writings, with several titles from artist Tom Marioni, who has been married to Brown since 1983.

Marioni was the editor of the art journal Vision, which the press published in the mid-seventies. The store offers copies of the periodical, with issues two through five available. Vision #4 is a 3 LP box set record titled Word of Mouth, which features Cage, Burden, Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic, Brice Marden, Joan Jonas, Daniel Buren, and others. It’s available for $75 US. Vision #5, from 1982, is a boxed set of photographs Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Christo, John Cage, Joan Jonas, Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, Richard Long, and Dorothea Rockburne. It is available for $50 US. Both of these prices are well below secondary market pricing.

The store also stocked issues of View: A Series of Interviews with Contemporary Artists, including John Baldessari, Iain Baxter, Terry Fox, Al Held, Judy Pfaff and several others. They were priced at $5.00 US.

For more information, or to order online, visit the Crown Point Press website, here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Artist Book Talk tomorrow

I've spent an insane amount of time sourcing and editing photographs for my talk tomorrow, which has morphed into a narrated slideshow, with almost 600 images. The presentation focuses on the area where the artist book and monograph overlap, or the artist book and multiple hybridize, the periodical as artist book as multiple, etc. etc.

It takes place at 1pm at the SF Art Book Fair. Details here:

Please drop by.

871 Fine Arts

871 Fine Arts opened thirty years ago at 871 Folsom Street in San Francisco. When the building was slated for demolition following the 1989 earthquake, the bookstore/gallery moved to 250 Sutter, and then spent 13 years at 49 Geary. Their current location is 20 Hawthorne Street, in a building owned by Crown Point Press (who also have Gagosian as their tenant). It’s a few minutes walk from SFMOMA.

Specializing in books on contemporary art, 871 carries both new and out-of-print books, along with artists’ prints, posters,  drawings, ephemera, and multiples. Special sections include the Something Else Press, Fluxus, Conceptual Art, the intersection of art and poetry (several Kenneth Patchen titles), Ed Ruscha afters, and Artists’ writings. Their flat files include artists' books by Richard Tuttle, multiples by Cary Leibowitz, Tom Sachs and George Maciunas, publications from SMS, pop art and minimalism ephemera, buttons by Sol Lewitt and Yoko Ono, etc. etc.

The store is without a website, and owner Adrienne Fish shares a name with a Toronto comic, making Google searches that much trickier. But they can be reached at and are participating in the San Francisco Art Book Fair this weekend.

The store is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:30am to 5:30pm.

Instagram pics from the SF Art Book Fair

Lawrence Ferlinghetti talk today

Today at the San Francisco Art Book Fair: poet, painter, publisher, activist and San Francisco legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti in conversation with curator Kate Eilertsen. The talk is presented at the Rena Bransten Gallery from 2-4pm, inside the exhibition Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Love & War. 

Ferlinghetti (now 97) is the author of dozens of books of poetry, including the best-selling A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), which has been translated into nine languages and has sold over a million copies. But his biggest legacy is City Lights, a bookstore founded in 1953 and still active today. City Lights Publishing began the Pocket Poet series two years later, producing small affordable paperbacks by William Carlos Williams, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Anne Waldman, Kenneth Rexroth, Frank O’Hara, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Kenneth Patchen (the brilliant Poems of Humor & Protest).

"From the beginning the aim was to publish across the board, avoiding the provincial and the academic,” Ferlinghetti  said, “I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment.” The books are known for their distinctive black and white cover design, which was borrowed from Patchen's An Astonished Eye Looks Out of the Air (1945).

The fourth title in the series brought national attention to the project.

Ferlinghetti had heard Allen Ginsberg read Howl at the Six Gallery in 1955 and offered to publish it the next day. Released in late 1956, Howl and Other Poems (with an introduction from William Carlos Williams) was seized for obscenity in early 1957. In June of that year local police raided the bookstore and arrested store manager Shigeyoshi Murao on the charge of offering an obscene book for sale. Both he Ferlinghetti faced a possible fine of five hundred dollars and a six month prison sentence.

"When I got started in San Francisco it was the height of the McCarthy era – or error. Freedom of expression was really under attack. We were busted for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. I mean, we were just a little one-room bookstore with no resources for legal aid, and it would have sunk us if we hadn’t had the ACLU to defend us for free. Freedom of the press is a continuing battle in which every victory is temporary.”

Subsequently, the press has published a wide wide range of poetry and prose, fiction and social justice titles, including works by Charles Bukowski, Georges Bataille, Rikki Ducornet, Paul Bowles, Sam Shepard, Andrei Voznesensky, Nathaniel Mackey, Alejandro Murguía,Ernesto Cardenal, Daisy Zamora, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Juan Goytisolo, André Breton and Noam Chomsky.

The City Lights foundation has always resisted government funding ("I don’t see how one can take money from a government that has been killing millions of people overseas in illegal wars”) but was awarded historic landmark status in 2001 - not just the building, but the business. City Lights was cited as "playing a seminal role in the literary and cultural development of San Francisco and the nation...that attracts thousands of book lovers from all over the world because of its strong ambiance of alternative culture and arts”.

We visited yesterday, and the store retains much of it’s independence and personality. A wall of books falls under the heading of "Muckraking", for example. Other sections include "Surrealism", "Topographies", "Commodity Aesthetics" and "Oulipo" (the group of French writers and mathematicians who employed constrained writing techniques - Georges Perec et al). The store now has three floors and employs a staff of fifteen (with yearly proceeds in excess of a thousand dollars!).

Unfortunately, the art monographs are hidden away behind the counter, making them difficult to peruse. This is somewhat forgivable though, given that our during our lunch a few doors down a man familiar to the restaurateurs burst in the front door, grabbed a handful of food from the plate of a bewildered and frightened diner, and flung it across the room. Recently City Lights staff would regularly discover a woman sleeping in the basement. She would sneak in the staff entrance and slide down a wooden chute into the receiving room. "She had made herself a bed out of bubble wrap at the bottom of the chute" staff member Tân Khánh Cao told last year.

Staff pics are highlighted throughout the store, including this one from Khánh Cao, for Yoko Ono's Grapefruit ("Quiet it's a bomb") .

The Rena Bransten Gallery is located at the Minnesota Street Project (1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco) and City Lights is at 261 Columbus Avenue, on the nexus of North Beach and Chinatown in San Francisco.

For more information about today's talk and the San Francisco Art Book Fair, visit their website: