Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Book Club of California

The BCC opened the year with a delightful exhibition curated by Bruce Shyer, current vice-president of the Ephemera Society of America. Design for Modernity: Art Deco Ephemera From the Collection of Bruce Shyer filled our exhibition cases with everything from matchbooks to menus—all arranged by color scheme—documenting the remarkable variety and creativity of the Art Deco aesthetic.
In February, BCC staff, board members, and volunteers welcomed visitors to our information booths at the San Francisco Book, Print, and Paper Fair and the California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena.
Meanwhile, our In the Library series continued with more intimate presentations, including a tribute to our beloved late librarian, Barbara Land. The Treasures of Barbara Land was followed in subsequent months by a discussion of the Club’s 1972 publication, California as an Island with John McBride and Leonard Rothman, and a Bloomsday event showcasing the Club’s particularly exciting copy of Ulysses—the 1935 Limited Editions Club version with illustrations by Matisse. Our copy was bound by Florence Walter and came to us as part of her Grabhorn Collection (donated to the Book Club by Paul Bissinger).
The Book Club’s annual Oscar Lewis Awards ceremony took place on March 31. This year’s recipients were San Francisco historian and bestselling author Rebecca Solnit, and book artist, academic, and writer Johanna Drucker. Within a week of announcing the Awards, the response from members was so enthusiastic that we needed to secure a larger venue to accommodate the 150+ crowd of fans, students, and avid readers who wished to help honor the remarkable achievements of these two women. (View pictures from this event and listen to Johanna Drucker’s wonderful acceptance speech on the Club’s website).
April’s offerings ranged from a Bay Area Book Arts Student Showcase, during which young book artists from Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Academy of Art University shared their work, to a fascinating presentation later in the month by historian Leonard Marcus, who discussed the trail-blazing contributions of Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott to the art of the picture book, tracing Caldecott’s influence on subsequent masters of the genre, including Beatrix Potter, Robert McCloskey, and Maurice Sendak.
On June 9 we celebrated BCC Publication #232, The Woods Were Never Quiet: Stories by Monique Wentzel. Our first publication of contemporary fiction in decades, this book resumes a tradition of publishing the contemporary literature of California. (Recall, for example, the 1937 keepsake, Contemporary California Short Stories, which included the work of Gelett Burgess, Gertrude Atherton, C.C. Dobie, and others.) The party featured remarks by Wentzel, printer Jonathan Clark, and illustrator Jessica Dunne. 
President Anne W. Smith and QN-L Editor Peter Koch convened a Bookmakers’ Congress on June 30 as a trade discussion for printer and bookbinder members and interested others. A three-hour discussion provided significant input for the Club’s next strategic plan. Attendees proposed advocacy strategies, and programs that BCC should adopt to maintain or enhance the state of bookmaking skills as well as high business standards for the trade. A master bookmaker himself, Dominic Riley will present Design Matters: The Creation of Contemporary Fine Bindings, an illustrated talk on July 28.
On Monday, August 18 we will raise our glasses and warm up the Book Club’s Colombian hand press to celebrate 100 Years of BCC Publications (1914–2014) with another broadside printing party.
Finally, please don’t miss our 2014 symposium, A Feast for the Eyes: Gastronomy & Fine Print, in San Francisco on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25. Bibliophiles and foodies everywhere are invited to attend the two-day event, which will feature an array of talks and panels examining West Coast gastronomy and the connections many of the pioneers of that tradition have had with California fine printing, publishing, collecting, and writing.
Kicked off with a keynote address, “The Origin of the Modern Cookbook,” by Anne Willan (who has over fifty years of experience as a teacher, culinary historian, and food columnist, and is the author of more than thirty cookbooks), the symposium will cover topics such as “California Fine Printing in a Culinary Context”; “Contemporary California Food Writing and the Future of Culinary Publishing”; “MFK Fisher, California, and the Genesis of Food Writing”; and “Spirited Ephemera: An Overview of Cocktail and Booze History Through Paper.” Contributors include Gary Kurutz (Executive Director of the California State Library Foundation), Joyce Goldstein (author of Inside the California Food Revolution), food editors Bill LeBlond (Chronicle Books), Margo True (Sunset Magazine), and Jenny Wapner (Ten Speed Press), as well as Michael Carabetta (Creative Director at Chronicle Books), Ben Kinmont (artist, publisher, and antiquarian bookseller), Patricia Curtan (author of Menus for Chez Panisse), David Lance Goines (artist, author, and printer), Darra Goldstein (founding editor of Gastronomica), and many more. The symposium, which coincides with the Club’s fall exhibition, Food & Wine & Good Design, and the publication of our 2014 Annual Keepsake featuring twelve California recipes that highlight significant points in the state’s culinary and cultural historywill also include a pop-up bookshop of cookbooks and related ephemera, and cocktail receptions for all presenters and attendees. Details, information, and tickets available HERE.
Our calendar of Monday night programs will continue into the fall and winter with events such as John Crichton’s illustrated talk, “Henry Evans, the Porpoise Bookshop, and the Peregrine Press” (co-sponsored by the ABAA); a talk by Christian DuPont (presented by the California Rare Book School); an illustrated talk by member Andrew T. Nadell, M.D. on traditional book collecting in the 21st Century, and a presentation by Chris Loker about the highly anticipated Grolier Club publication, One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature.
Also of note, on November 17 we will celebrate the release of BCC publication no. 233, Poetry at the Edge: Five Contemporary California Poets, edited and designed by Carolee Campbell and printed by Norman Clayton of Classic Letterpress. The book includes poems by five poets—Michael Hannon, Martha Ronk, Kay Ryan, Joseph Stroud, and Gary Young—all of whom will read at the event. 
Details and information about all Book Club of California programs, exhibitions, and publications can be found in the website. To receive announcements and information about our activities, or for additional information about membership, please contact or call 415-781-7532.  Membership is open to all, and visitors are welcome to visit Club’s exhibition space and bookstore on weekdays, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. To schedule a library appointment, please call 415-781-7532.

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