Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 8: Olympic Gate

   This week marks the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics... officially titled the XXII Olympic Winter Games. Held every 4 years (with some exceptions and revisions) since 1924, the Olympics have always symbolized sportsmanship and excellence. The first Olympic games occurred in 776BC on the plains at the base of Mount Olympia in Greece. They continued for twelve centuries until 393 AD when they were banned for being pagan by Emperor Theodosius. Though linked with festivals for the god Zeus.. the games were not really religious; but were to showcase the physical prowess of the competitors and to promote good relations between the cities of Greece. That sense of community through non-violent competition is what marks the Olympics as a sort of gate. The book-of-the-week for week 8 is inspired by this year's Winter Olympics. It is titled Olympic Gate.
front view: gatefold covers, beads, and maps
   The front cover of Olympic Gate is  two gate-fold coverboards which are faced with two sections from a 1957 National Geographic World Map. Tiny glass beads, serving as door knobs, are sewn onto the coverboards. Inside, more sections of the map are used to cover the back wall and the three cut-out gate-shaped panels... The two sides, made of of accordion folded heavyweight black Fabriano paper hold the gate panels in place.

a tunnel book of gates
When the front cover gates are swung open, the 88 nations competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics are revealed as placards glued to three tunnel-book panels

open the gates...

   Looking down, one can clearly see how the panels fit in place and make up the whole book. The circular arches at the top of each panel are like some figure skater's arms reaching to the heavens. As the first Olympic games were centered around religious festivals, but not rites in themselves.. the archways allude to the godliness of striving for excellence.

from above...
   ...Still, these games are held on Earth.. in a place this artist had never heard of until these games.... Sochi, Russia. Sochi is a small resort area between the eastern edge of the Black Sea and the base of the Causasus Mountain Range. Seeing the area around Sochi on an antique 1957 world map puts things in perspective, and brings the heavens to earth.

Sochi is south of Tuapse...
Population in the area of Sochi dates back over 100,000 years to early peoples of Asia Minor migrating north from Colchis (early Georgia.) Ancient Greeks sailed to the area via the Black Sea in the 5th and 6th century BC and found tribes of people including the Maeotae, Cercetae,  and Sindi.  During the reign of the Roman Empire, the Zygii people lived in Smaller Abkhazia under the Kingdom of Pontus, an extension of the Roman Empire. From the 6th to 11th centuries AD, the region was ruled by the kingdoms of Lazica and Abkhazia, who built a dozen churches within the city walls. Ruins of the Loo Temple, a Byzantinesque basilica, built in the 11th century AD, still stands.

Between the 14th and 19th centuries, the area was controlled by the Abkhaz, Ubykh, and Adyghe tribes. In 1864, with the victory of the Russians over the local tribes in the Caucasian Wars, these peoples were deported... primarily to Turkey... at great hardship. As the Russians settled into the Sochi region throughout the late 1800's, agriculture was the primary source of income... with a considerable effort directed to tea plantations. During the 20th century the area was promoted as a dedicated area for hospitals and sanitariums and eventually become known as a resort area... Now, it is famous for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

ruins of the Loo Temple near Sochi, Russia

Like the Loo Temple wall, the Olympic Gate, is a combination of many parts. The countries participating in the games are the building blocks...
all the participating countries

Though the majority of the competing countries are located in Europe and Asia, there are three countries from the continent of Africa... Morocco, Togo, and Zimbabwe. 

There are three countries from the continent of Australia... Australia, New Zealand, and Tonga. 

The 18 Asian countries competing are... China, ROC Taiwan, Hong Kong-China, India, Iran, Japan,  Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Uzbekistan. 

The 15 countries from the Americas are... Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Dominica, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, USA, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (Brit.), Virgin Islands, (US). 

And the 48 countries competing from Europe are... Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rep. of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

All there... country-by-country... making up the Olympic Gate.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 7: The Three Gates

   The book-of-the-week for Week 7 is a pop-up book titled The Three Gates.  The book of three photographs, three poems, and three accompanying pop-up structures is inspired by three aspects of the Loire region of France... the vibrant gardens, the magical forests, and the finely crafted architecture. A colorful pastepaper cover seemed to best set the mood... The text was printed on the Pearl letterpress with white ink and 14-point Caslon type.

Cover of Japanese silk bookcloth and pastepaper
The first poem, Bounty, is letterpress printed over a photograph of a backyard garden that this artist espied (beyond a gate) in western France.

Beans, broccoli, beets, brussels-sprouts, and basil;
Leaks, limas, lavender, lentils, lettuces, and lovage;
Swiss chard, spinach, snow peas, and squash;
Tomatoes, thyme, tansy, turnips, and tarragon;
Potatoes, pumpkins, persimmons and parsley; 
Peas, parsnips, petunias, and peanuts;
Cauliflower, cabbage, collards, and chives, 
and corn, corn, corn, corn, corn, corn, corn.
The bounty goes on and on, beyond the pretty 
----------------::::iron gate:::------------------

a garden and a box pop-up of a gate...

The second poem is called St. Peter Was Out to Lunch. It has a sliding pull tab which moves a cut paper gate across a photograph of a serene forest this artist came upon unexpectedly.. while walking about a mile from the Loire River. 

St. Peter Was Out to Lunch

Morning walk
I found myself
in a place of Grace
some heaven on earth
golden and peace filled
I walked right in
the gate wide open
St. Peter was out to lunch

tab pushed in...

tab pulled out... come in!
The last page has a photograph of the lovely Chateau du Pin (, where this artist visits whenever possible. The V-fold pop-up of another cut paper gate accents the poem, Behind the Gate...

Behind the Gate

Turrets and gables
gargoyles and ghosts
the elegance of decay.
Window panes catching 
reflections of clouds 
are really just pages
of the stories 
of the house
behind the gate.

opening the page, the gate lifts up..

fully open, the gate is upright and the house in full view
So, this week's book is a sort of trinity of threes... three places, three poems, three pop-ups... of The Three Gates.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 6: The Door in the Wall

   Week 6  book-of-the-week is The Door in the Wall. It's inspired by an old door seen in western France, in a place called Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. 

Marbled paper mirroring the colors of the old stones, the muddy Loire River, and the mossy countryside covers the outer boards. A photograph of the door in the wall that borders the park beside the old cathedral at Saint-Florent-le-Vieil is the title piece.

The accordion style book is sometimes referred to as a panel book...this artist likes to call it a swinging panel book. 

The backside of the panel book is paper made from a collagraph print. Silk brocade bookcloth in aqua forms the page attachments of the accordion pages. When stretched out, the little 7 inch by 4 inch book is 6 feet long. 

Gray paper, chosen to frame the photography, is the background of the front side.

This is the poem...

A tall gray wall
stones stacked and cracked
mottled moss
a mummified cast
cuts the hill in two

This side mown green,
plaited, path'd jardin pittoresque
of primever'e and jonquille,
and coiffed trees scattered about
reach for the grayish sky.

Leading to the eastern edge,
cobbled plaza crusts the rim,
and across the hazy lazy Loire
mirrors of the patchwork brim.

Spired cathedral rises up
and looks across the way
the long stone wall
 a line of gray
horizon broken midway

pale blue-green door
once thick hardwood
now pealed and splintery
hangs mute and shut a mystery
as gates can sometimes be.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 5: Gate Transform'd

   The book-of-the-week for Week 5 is titled Gate Transform'd. The book is a sort of word map, starting with the word gate.   The words meander along like a path, but instead of the landscape changing, the words change... little by little.

The cover... mono- and relief prints with letterpress
The pages are folded into a structure called a Turkish Map fold... how appropriate for a book about change... and are glued to each other front-to-back. This forms a sort of reticulated chambered structure. The surface of each page is a mono-print in shades of blue, green, and yellow; which is then overprinted in red with a celtic knot pattern. The text was printed on the Pearl letterpress with 24-point Brush font.

The hard covers are the only stable part of this wiggly book...
Unfold the pages to read the book...
It begins with the word gate...
...and eventually becomes the word we.
The gate...
This is the book Gate Transform'd...









When the book is opened and viewed from above, it's appearance changes to a sort of flower or complex sea creature... and the words inside are hidden within its many folds.
from above...
a slit opening and a reticule of compartments

Looking at Gate Transform'd from above, the book looks benign yet mysterious... much like the ancient burial grounds of the Native Americans. In Scotland, Britain, Ireland, and throughout Europe there are chambered cairns which were used for burial monuments in Neolithic times. Some are even termed passage graves and certainly are linked with the folklore of gates and the myths of transformation to the afterlife.
the Unstan Chambered Cairn near Orkney, Scotland
   Though not specifically related to this book, cairns are fascinating structures with a gate-like connotation. Cairns are found all over the world and date back to prehistoric times. They are interesting.. mesmerizing... physical entities, which have a range of purposes. Basically, a cairn is a manmade pile of stones... but the reason and symbolism for piling the stones can vary. A cairn may have a religious purpose, such as a burial monument; or be a landmark and used to guide travelers along a route or trail. A cairn may be a self portrait of sorts, and left as a calling card along a trail or path. The beauty of a delicately balanced pillar of stones with only gravity holding them in place is always breathtaking to this writer.  

...When the little book, Gate Transform'd, is turned on it's side, it morphs again. This time it resembles a pillar or arrow...the sort of cairn used to guide travelers... Or perhaps it is a self portrait.

Rotate it and it resembles a pillar... an arrow... or a person
beautiful and breathtaking...
Gate Transform'd