Geographies: New England Book Work

Currently on display in the Fleet Library is a traveling exhibition organized by the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. We are delighted to showcase these works featuring the talents of regional book workers. The exhibit runs through May 31st, 2014.

Spring Tides, by Julie Stackpole

Wildflowers Around Tufts Pond, by Penelope Hall

From the NEGBW press release:
“This exhibition displays a wide range of work from our chapter members, who come from all the New England states and beyond. Members were asked to submit work on the exhibition’s theme of New England, with entrants interpreting that theme as they wished. Works range from historic to modern, and include those with a broad view of the New England region to ones with a closer look at flora, fauna, or other facets of these six states. The 26 works in this exhibition span a range of contemporary book work— fine and design bindings, traditional and creative bookbinding, artist books and calligraphic manuscripts, and incorporate a variety of materials and production methods. Some members have created both the content and structure, while others have used an existing text as the basis for their work. There are pieces bound by members with long experience in the field, as well as books bound by students currently studying within a bookbinding program or on their own. From either end of the spectrum these books show a rich selection of creative bookwork from our members, and we are delighted to exhibit them in all the New England states.”

The exhibit is located in the exhibit cases in the main library, and on the second floor.

Geographies will travel to the following venues:

Wishcamper Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME    June 16 – Aug. 22, 2014
Bailey/ Howe Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT    Sept. 8 – Dec. 12, 2014
Williams College Library, Williamstown, MA    Jan. 12 – March 20, 2015
Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, NH    April 6 – Aug. 21, 2015
Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT    Sept. 16 – Oct. 9, 2015

posted by Ariel B.

Richard Floethe’s Summer Holiday

Summer Holiday by Richard Floethe is a story told in twenty-eight images. The story begins with an artist standing in his studio, staring out the window … and as the title suggests, he soon drives out to a cabin on the beach and takes a holiday.  He suns on the beach, goes sailing, hikes around the dunes … and meets a woman. With just a few masterful strokes and a limited palette of pink and blue wash on brown lithographic line work, each image suggests volumes of emotion and dramatic possibility. The boy-meets-girl story outline is as simple as can be, and yet, like the great wordless novels of Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, its openness invites the reader into the experience and allows for endless extrapolations. The beachy setting brings to mind any number of coastal towns in or around New England, but is most reminiscent of Provincetown, Massachusetts, a town on the outer tip of Cape Cod famous for its artist’s colony.

This book was hand printed and colored by the artist in an edition of 150 copies. Richard Floethe printed a small number of other books himself (The Star, The Man From Everywhere, Ten Fables by Aesop, John Peel and Bacon in the Smokehouse), but Summer Holiday is unique in that it is a wordless graphic narrative. There are a few other books illustrated by Floethe in special collections, including a gorgeous Limited Editions Club edition of Pinocchio (RISD Special NC 975.5 .F56 P5 1937).

Richard Floethe studied with Klee and Kandinsky at the Bauhaus, taught at Cooper Union and the Ringling  School of Art, and was a renowned graphic artist and book illustrator. Over the course of his career he illustrated close to one hundred books, many of them written by his wife, Louise Lee Floethe. Between 1936 and 1939 he ran the New York City poster division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project (FAP). In 1939, when Summer Holiday was published, Richard Floethe was at the end of his tenure as art director and administrator of the poster division. The WPA/FAP employed thousands of out of work artists during the Great Depression, and from an essay about his WPA work, Floethe is often quoted as saying, “the Government unwittingly launched a movement to improve the commercial poster and raise it to a true art form”. It seems that Richard Floethe himself played a very key role in elevating the status of the American poster, as he was known to have encouraged creative expression and experimentation in the artists who worked with him.

Summer Holiday may be viewed online in a short film created by Richard Floethe’s son, Ronald Floethe here. The website is maintained by family members includes an extensive portfolio of Floethe’s work, spanning the length of his career from the 1920’s to 1980’s. My thanks to Ronald Floethe for graciously answering my questions!

As with all of our resources, Summer Holiday may be viewed at any time during our open hours – appointments recommended.

-posted by Ariel Bordeaux

We’re open!

Woodstock; Life magazine, August, 1969

On this gorgeous, sunny and seventy-eight last day of the spring semester, as the throng of students and traffic jam of big orange bins crowds the halls at 15 West … Special Collections is (ahem) evidently not the first thing on the minds of most. However, we’d like to humbly remind students, faculty and members of the community that summer can be an excellent time for uninterrupted research! Why not spend a cool, peaceful afternoon exploring the collection? We’re air conditioned!

We keep regular office hours, Monday – Friday, 8:30 – 4:30, until mid-August, when the library closes for the last two weeks of the month.

For the globetrotters, the image below is a map of “Art Forms of the Pacific Area” by Miguel Covarrubias, part of a large format set of maps of the Pacific region called “Pageant of the Pacific” completed for the San Francisco International Exposition in 1935. At first glance this looks like a standard elementary school map, but these have infinitely more character than most due to the jazz age styling of Covarrubias.

-posted by Ariel Bordeaux


Covarrubias map