The book was always something of a divided concept, a creature dwelling with one foot in the physical realm and the other in the world of endless thoughts and possibilities. Is it not strange to pick up a book, to feel it’s solid weight in your hands, and know you’re holding an idea? That ink on pulped trees is your quiet link to another person’s thoughts? No?
Today, however, these two realms are splitting; the creature’s legs are getting longer. While the Internet, Kindles and eBooks seem in endless pursuit of the rapidity and weightlessness of the idea—while the spirits of books, shedding their dusty bodies, fly through the air from one device to another—the book-as-object begins to accrue value for its physicality, the assurance of its actual presence: its smells, its textures, its aesthetic beauty, the miracle of its weight in your palm.
It’s the virtues of the latter that artists Melinda Forbes, Marylu Weaver Meagher, Lesa Smith, Beryl Reichenberg, Sally Joyce-Higgins, Julie Frankel, Rachael Winn Yon, Ann Gill Kellog, and Meryl Perloff espouse. In an exhibit titled “The Art of the Book,” this talented group explores new definitions and interpretations of the book as artwork. Paper, cardboard, fabric, wax, and other media are shaped into intriguing new configurations, playfully pushing the boundaries of the written and the bound.
“The book can become a visual work of art in addition to being a source of information, interest, and pleasure,” said Perloff of the exhibit, organized by fellow book artist Forbes. “The creative endeavors of book artists take many forms and give voice to the various ways we interpret information and communicate ideas.”
See “The Art of the Book” at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library (where else?), during regular library hours through Sept. 21. The library is located at 995 Palm St.