If you’re unfamiliar with book art, do yourself a favor and check out candcpress.com.
The images are nothing short of striking, especially the collection of three-dimensional poems by the beloved late Santa Cruz poet Morton Marcus. Credit goes to the founders behind C & C Press, Matt Cohen and Sher Zabaszkiewicz. Recently, I had a chance to connect with Cohen and learn about his craft as a printer and book artist, as well as learn about this remarkable small, private press that puts out limited edition artists’ books.
Cohen, a graphic designer by trade became initially curious about
this medium when he took a book-arts class at UC Santa Barbara in 2003. “It satisfied my deep interests in both art and art history,” he says. “As a cultural object, the book is among the most important inventions in human history. As an art object, it represents a unique and relatively unexplored opportunity — a portable sculpture.”
Cohen is exploring that opportunity by way of C & C Press which was established in 2005. The press went on to create artists’ books and broadsides. “Rather than approaching these as a traditional publisher, where economic concerns largely influence conceptual and aesthetic decisions, our approach has been more attuned to that of an artist,” Cohen explains. “We’re concerned with creating an effect. Papermaking, printmaking and bookbinding are acknowledged as traditional arts of the book, but we chose the artists’ book because of its capacity to include any medium.”
I’ve never had good handwriting. Perhaps it’s all these years spent at my keyboard as a journalist, but my penmanship is illegible.
When I saw the work of Carl Rohrs, I was reminded of what an art it is to have lovely cursive, as well as how beautiful calligraphy and lettering can be.
The 61-year-old CabrilloCollege instructor took his first calligraphy class at HumboldtState back in 1973. “It felt great from the first moment,” he says. “I learned the classic hands but was also exposed to the idea of following your own path inside this world that can be quite tradition-bound.”
Eventually, Rohrs became a lettering artist, which is essentially an artist who works with letterforms. “When I got out of college, I started painting signs to make a living, expecting to move towards fine art eventually,” he says, “but then it turned out that making letters was enough—way more than enough—to satisfy my creative urge, and that has never let up. All this time later and I can see that there will always be lettering mysteries to solve for the rest of my life.”
Within his craft, Rohrs uses flat pens and pointed brushes, explaining that they offer completely different ways of writing. Style-wise, his is a modern approach with an Asian influence and a little bit of psychedelic flavor from his youth thrown in.
“There are no boundaries with what you can do with lettering,” says Rohrs. “I’m a sucker for the way a line moves, and it’s kind of an amazing thing that there is this opportunity for a graceful line in every stroke of every letter. On top of that, it can carry the meaning for every thought that’s ever been written down.”
Readers of this column have probably figured out by now that I’ve got a soft spot for fashion, beauty, design and any artists that work in those fields. So, I was especially pleased and excited to hear about a cool event happening at the Museum of Art & History on Feb. 15 coined “Fashion and Digital Art.” This event for the fashionably inclined will stretch from 5 to 9 p.m. and will feature a host of stylish activities. In addition to such things as games, multimedia performances, and interactive art installations, there will be a runway show at 6:30 featuring designers and artists including Rachel Riot.
Riot is the creative force behind Manic Designs, a local independent fashion venture. Take a look at her work at etsy.com/shop/manicdesigns.
The 23-year-old moved to Santa Cruz from the Oakland/San Francisco area three years ago after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She launched Manic Designs in 2010 and took the company to the next level in 2012 by teaming up with others in the local fashion community.
“Manic Designs is inspired by heavy metal music and timeless vintage fashion,” says Riot. “As a designer, I have taken it upon myself to show the world the misunderstood beauty of metal music by conveying the complexity of the compositions through intricate garment details that are fashion forward, yet wearable for the everyday woman.”
Check out a sneak peek of Riot’s spring 2013 line, which is inspired by the 1930s, during the fashion show. Also see her designs at her Etsy store, or at shopmanicdesigns.blogspot.com.
Also, yours truly will have a booth at the Fashion and Digital Art event from 5-6:30 on behalf of www.thepennyrose.com, a local fashion and beauty blog.
This month and until March 15, there’s an art show that you can’t miss. “The Harrison Studio: On Mixing, Mapping, and Territory,” is on display at the Sesnon Gallery at UC Santa Cruz. The show features
the work of husband/wife artists Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison who are recognized as “internationally known environmental artists.”
“The subject matter that we are most concerned with is how ecologically based thinking and ecological justice issues can manifest themselves in digital media-based work,” says the couple.