Terminal New York, Artists’ Library, 1983: a bit of History
January 29, 2011
While trolling around the internet a couple of nights ago I came across an offering by Robin Bledsoe, Bookseller, for a collection of pages that I had put together in 1983 to accompany a show of books in Brooklyn. Since the bookseller put a $150 price tag on the item (we sold about 80 copies for $5 each) I went in search of the one copy I still have.
This book is a companion to a small part of the Terminal New York show, an ambitious gathering of about 400 unknown and established artists.
Now, thinking about that show, that experience!, in 1983, I started poking around the internet. Googling , I found that the event is listed in scores of resumes.
The Terminal NY show had many sections to it. It was wild and fresh. My little part, a room with artist books, the Artists’ Library, showed the work of 29 book artists. It was an awesome undertaking. I knew a few book artists at the time, but a connected, generous, and smart guy, Norman Colp, advised me on who else to ask. I met with Grand Dame of artist books Stella Waitzen in her large, dim, overrun-with-art apartment in the Chelsea Hotel. I met and visited with Stephanie Brody-Lederman when she lived outside the city. I had the opportunity to show the work of people who had been by teachers, such as Hedi Kyle, Barbara Mauriello and Mindell Dubansky. People who I was just beginning to know, such as Susan Joy Share and Michael Bartalos exhibited here. (BTW, links posted here are not what was shown by these people in 1983).
The pages of the book were not meant to be a catalogue to the show. Instead they were a collection of original pages made by the 29 artists. This became a work apart from the show, to accompany, not document the exhibition. I explained this in the second page of the book.
Now, remember, this was back in 1983, before making good copies of images was an easy thing to do. Most of the pages were in black and white, and, by today’s standards, inferior quality. But the artists each gave me pages that were fun and well thought out. Hedi Kyle, and some others hand-colored their pages.
This page, by Martha Carothers, was done with letterpress, as well as hand-coloring. People collaged images, some did rubber stamping: a couple of people played with different levels of opacity with their pages.
As unbelievable as it seems from my current perspective, I don’t think I took even one photograph of the show. The few photos I have were taken by Phyllis Bilick, who, thankfully, put her name on the back of the photos that she gave to me.
Putting together the Terminal New York was an audacious undertaking. It took place in an old Terminal deep in Brooklyn, before artists had moved into that part of the world. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which in 1983 was just beginning to be colonized by artists. The Terminal was another 10 miles deeper away from Manhattan. It was so inaccessible by subway that I would bike there daily as we were putting it all together. It is my memory that it was Barbara Gary, a brilliant and gutsy twenties-something artist, who was the driving force that got the ball rolling and held it together.
By the way, this post is not meant to be an incentive to buy the catalogue from the bookseller who is advertising it. Like I said, most of the pages in the book are low quality B&W copies that look like they were done in 1983, so anyone paying $150 might be disappointed.
That said, there is no amount of money I would sell my own copy for.