Happy 86th Birthday, Dad

My Dad, who turns 86 in a few days, published a book in January. My last blog post was celebrating still being creative, and creating, at age 85. But the beauty of creating at this late stage is that all the years’ of joy and sadness of life are also layered into the art. This is also true of my Dad’s book.

My parents were married for 58 years. And all the events described in Dads book were also a tribute to and love song for my Mom, who passed in 2013. She helped him start the book, but she didn’t see Dad finish it and get it published. Most times that I talk with Dad about his book, he comments that he wished Mom could have seen it published.

So I decided to create an art piece that visually demonstrates The physicality of Moms presence in Dads story. I took my favorite photo of them and created a piece of strip book art on the pages of Dads book. The picture is literally cut into strips and glued to the edge of the pages.

Mom and Dad circa 2005 (?)

I had to use two copies of the book in order to have enough pages to fully incorporate the image and to have enough strength and stability to hold the piece together. But I like to think I needed two books just like they needed each other to have the strength and wisdom to make it through their life together.

The gold button on the ribbon is a reference to old family stories. Though Mom and Dad grew up in the same town, they didn’t start dating until Dad was at West Point. Mom always claimed he was too much of a cut up in high school for her. Dad always said she was attracted to the gold buttons on his cadet uniform.

This is a deeply personal piece. On the surface, it’s a lovely, but perhaps more crafted than artistic, representation of an old photo. It’s when I explain the interconnected meanings of the parts that the depth of the whole comes into perspective. Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope you like it.

Book Art

I really am a book person. I love to read. (I want to write — I’m starting small-ish with this blog.) I find that very often when I’m drawn to art, if it’s not related to Home, the written word or books are involved. So, no surprise, the idea of creating art out of books really captivated me.

I started experimenting with the shapes and textures that I could create with just the repetition of very simple folds. There’s no pattern involved. As with making 1000 cranes, I just folded the same thing over and over again. The first one I made looked like a stacked cones. I marked the middle of the length of the book with a pencil and then folded the top and bottom corners of each page down until a point was formed at that middle marker. To keep the folds neat and lined up, make sure that the start of the fold is as close to the binding as possible.

I wondered next, ‘what it would look like if the shape was inverse?’ I alternated pages, folding one corner from the top down and the next page, folded the corner from the bottom up. I got ‘crazy’ and stacked the two shapes — gluing them to the back side of a canvas rather than the front. Just because I like the rawness and the wood and the staples framing the books.

The fun thing about this project is that no pattern is required. You don’t need a ruler. You just need an old book. The art is in the repetition of the folds and then the repetition of the shapes that are created by the forms of the book. My most recent attempt was a simple assembly of 4 of the very first type of fold — the stacked cones.

And then I hid a few treasures between the pages — just like we find when we read a good book.

I’m having such fun with re-purposing books. I think there’s some leftover from long ago sense of wickedness about ‘destroying’ a book — remember when we checked books out of libraries or were loaned school books for the year and you couldn’t mark in them or dog-ear the pages? Maybe I’m assuaging my child-like guilt over destroying books by saving them from the dump and recycling them into art? In any case, I’m still deconstructing an old dictionary I picked up off the kitchen counter at work. It’s turned into flower garlands, cranes, roses, butterflies . . .