Book Arts Program Open House Feb 26

On Saturday, February 26th St. Ambrose University will be hosting an Open House for its Book Arts Program as well as discussing its future as a community space and unveiling our imprint (oddly enough yet to be titled), a letterpress imprint that will focus on creating artist’s books, broadsides and chapbooks of visiting artists, poets and writers.

I’m incredibly interested in developing a relationship with all of the regional printers and binders in Iowa, Illinois and the surrounding states. In the future I’d like to visit/tour local shops with students and bring in visiting printers and artists to tour the shop and provide stories and advice for the next generation of letterpress fanatics.

Here’s what is happening during the Open House.

St. Ambrose University Department of Art is pleased to announce a night of events celebrating and showcasing the burgeoning Book Arts Program. On Saturday, February 26th 2011 from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm at Galvin Fine Art Center please join us for an evening of exciting activities highlighting the multifaceted capabilities of printmaking and book arts. These activities include

· Print demonstrations by St. Ambrose students, alumni and community members of various printmaking techniques including intaglio, letterpress, lithography, relief, and screen printing.

· Bookbinding demonstration and workshop with students and alumni.

· A Silent Art Auction starting at 6:00 pm and ending at 8:30 pm with donations from over 40 national artists and counting. This auction will raise money to invite Visiting Artists to the program and to fund various art presentations that will benefit St. Ambrose students as well as the community. Pre-Buy auction begins at on February 12th.

· Exhibition Closing of “Social Commentaries” in the Catich Gallery featuring the work of nine nationally recognized book artists

· A brief presentation by Visiting Artist Mari LaCure about her work.

· A brief presentation on Book Arts and the future plans of the Book Arts Program by Visiting Assistant Professor Joseph Lappie

· Free print keepsakes and art.

· Music

· Of course there will also be food and drinks.

The book arts major and minor at St. Ambrose officially rolled out in 2006 and continues to expand. A recurring question is “What are the Book Arts?” This question, delightfully, has no definitive answer. What can be said is that the form of the book, its time-based presentation, tactility and intimacy all have roles to play. Book Arts incorporates various processes – sculptural, painterly, print-based, conceptual and textual to name a few – to form a “book,” something that is not a container for art, but art alone. The Book Arts Concentration is ideal for students who want to become proficient in technical skills such as bookbinding, letterpress, graphic design and printmaking while learning to develop critical dialog and growth within their own creative process. The Open House will provide students and community members the opportunity to be introduced to many of these processes as well as hands-on examples of the form itself.

St. Ambrose University has an invested history of printing that stems from Fr. Edward Catich (1906 – 1979). Alongside founding the Art Department at St. Ambrose, Catich formed the Catfish Press in 1941. Through this press he published many of his own books, including seminal calligraphic works “Origins of a Serif” and “Letters Redrawn from the Trajan Inscription in Rome” as well as pamphlets, posters and other writers’ work. In 2005 the Art Department received a generous donation that consisted of the majority of our current letterpress equipment and type from Ron Black, a man whose father had taught graphic design throughout the 40’s and 50’s at the University of New Mexico, with the intention of continuing the tradition that Father Catich began. Shortly after this acquisition Kat Anderson, former professor at St. Ambrose and current professor at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, conquered the monumental task of uniting all of the pieces in the beginnings of a cohesive effort at restarting the press. In honor of these three people we are proud to announce the creation of a yet to be titled Letterpress Imprint. It will work to continue Catich’s legacy by creating limited edition letterpress printed broadsides, artists books, and other works in collaboration with various St. Ambrose Departments, local and regional poets, writers, and artists. The hub of this activity will be the St. Ambrose printmaking shop with student and faculty printers. During the Open House for the Book Arts Program visitors are encouraged to interact with our presses and enjoy the free prints made by demonstrators on the presses.

One of the many goals for the Book Arts Concentration is the continuation of knowledge towards contemporary book arts and printmaking in the region. We strive to serve the community through an active and hands on learning environment that is beneficial for the beginner and professional alike. We hope soon to provide affordable partnered educational opportunities in conjunction with the Figge Art Museum, public presentations, lectures and workshops from visiting artists, and much more.

Thanks for the time and please consider visiting this weekend,

Joseph Lappie

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