Last night I went to an art exhibit featuring the works of Sandy Tilcock of lone goose press. During her career, Sandy has worked with visual artists and authors such as Barry Lopez, William Stafford, David James Duncan and Terry Tempest Williams to create limited edition books and broadsides. The exhibit was titled “It’s Not About Me” to reflect the collaborative process between printer, author and artist that resulted in these stunning works of literary art.
Every piece felt fresh and relevant, even those created back when Reagan was president – it felt as though she had been creating timeless work from the moment she acquired a printing press.
Of course, it was the books that drew my attention: prosaic, everyday objects presented as works of art. I collect books like some people collect bird figurines (who would do that?) or baseball cards, and I consider most of them a commodity, valued for their contents more their physical artistic merit (unlike the birds, which are pure art). But think about it: every book you read is the end product of a collaborative effort. The author is the heart of it, writing the prose or verse, a designer creates cover art and a pleasing, readable interior, a printer binds the work into a whole readable object. (Any author who has battled their publisher over cover art might say it’s more like full-on combat, but still…)
A book that’s done right won’t announce this process; when you spot a compelling cover, pick up the book for a measure of its heft and size, paper weight and texture, then turn to the first page and find yourself drawn in by the opening chapter, you’re the lucky recipient of a successful collaboration. I appreciate the fact that Sandy chose to call attention to the intertwined nature of her art; I’ve seen it for year, but this exhibit added a new dimension.
If you’re in Eugene, get on down to the Jacobs Gallery to see this exhibit, which runs through May 12.