Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Club of California

Over the past six months, The Book Club of California has hosted a series of collegial events, including an illustrated talk on Bodoni, a “reappearance” by Ambrose Bierce, and a broadside printing party marking the 200th anniversary of the Columbian Hand Press.

Our spring exhibition, Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of The Center for Book Arts (NYC), coincided with February’s CODEX Book Fair and featured artist books and broadsides by Julie Chen and Clifton Meador, Kiki Smith, Claire van Vliet, and countless others.

The summer exhibition, The Legacy of Florence Walter, celebrated the San Francisco-native bibliophile and bookbinder extraordinaire. Walter’s bindings of Joyce’s Ulysses, illustrated by Henri Matisse, and Henry Miller’s Into the Night Life, personally inscribed by the author to her, were among the works displayed. Walter’s family donated the bulk of the exhibition material to the Club and then exceeded their own already exceptional generosity with the amazing gift of The Walter Grabhorn Collection, the most complete Grabhorn collection in private hands. We are overwhelmingly grateful.

In February, the Club published its 231st book, The Sierra Nevada Suite: Thirty-One Wood Engravings by Richard Wagener. Printed by Peter Koch, it is the companion volume to Wagener’s sold-out California in Relief (BCC, 2009). At a publication party in June, Wagener spoke eloquently about his artistic process and his path to becoming a master wood engraver. A limited number of copies of the book are still available and may be ordered through our online bookstore, or at (415) 781-7532.

We congratulate Carolee Campbell, of Ninja Press, who received our 2013 Oscar Lewis Award for Book Arts. Founded in 1984, Ninja Press is focused primarily on contemporary poetry, and all books, broadsides, and keepsakes are designed, handset in metal type, printed letterpress, and bound by Carolee. A former actor and recipient of an Emmy Award, Carolee thanked the Club for awarding her “her first Oscar”.

Finally, in June the Club said a regretful goodbye to its Executive Director of seven years, Lucy Rodgers Cohen, who left to pursue new interests and opportunities. In the words of Dr. Anne W. Smith, Club President:

Speaking for all of us, I am grateful for Lucy’s many achievements and dedicated service to the Book Club. Since joining as Executive Director in 2006, Lucy modernized our accounting systems; hired our excellent office staff; supervised the development of our online presence; managed our move into elegant, expanded quarters; materially aided the Publications Committee; and led the Club’s superb 2012 Centennial celebration…

Additionally, Lucy managed the expansion of the Club’s public profile.  She developed donors and sponsors, rented the Club’s rooms, encouraged membership, and helped to introduce new programs that entertained and informed more members and guests than ever before.  Lucy’s vision, energy, experience, and love of the book and the book world invigorated the Club.  We will miss her.

A search for a replacement is under way.

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