Jonah, the Whale, and Paul Johnson
September 22, 2014
Yes, this sculptural construction is a book. Ed was setting up this piece at Paul Johnson’s show at North Main Gallery in Salem, New York (up until October 4) when I questioned him, because I just didn’t see how this piece could possibly “close.” So he closed it for me. It’s many thick pages long –here, below is a peek of some of the inner pages…
… which includes a magnificent view of the whale’s tail–and I couldn’t fathom how this undulating, many layered, detailed piece could be shut. In the interest of showing off as much of this book as is reasonable in a blog post, here’s another view of the book with the explanation that I needed in order to structurally understand what’s going on to support the visuals.
The thick spine of this book doubles as the whale that is about to consume poor Jonah. The alternating right and blue stripes on the pole, which are on either side of the whale/spine are hinges, known in the bookmaking world as piano hinges, which allow the book to open and close. Enough said about that. Now for a closer look at the artwork.
These pages, I’m told, are constructed out of heavy weight watercolor paper.
Here’s poor Jonah, just before the decisive moment. I’ve noticed the house-like structures in many of Johnson’s books: the sweetness of these little structures resonate with the homebody part of me ( I love my home).
Here’s another piece in the show with a little house. The writing up top identifies this a Johnson’s mother-in-law’s garden. The writing to left says ” In total contrast to the brilliant colors in my unique pop-up books, my editions are softer in tone comprising pencil crayon and delicate penwork illustration. The laser printed originals are hand cut and hand assembled.”
One more view of Jonah before I sign off on this post. I doubt I will ever again have the opportunity to see this extraordinary piece, so I want to keep these images of it around.
If you are happening to read this post on the date that I’ve written it, and you are within driving distance, this message is for you:
ART PARTY at North Main Gallery, Salem, NY on Tuesday September 23, 6-8 p.m.
You are invited! Paul Johnson will be in the building, giving a talk and showing us books that have never been seen before. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Ed Hutchins assures me that there will be plenty of Saratoga water, local cheeses and other gastronomic delights on hand to round out the evening. You can take it on my word that there will be lots of good company.
If you aren’t nearby, I have some good news for you, too. I have a handful of catalogs that I would like to give away. I will send out copies to up to eight people who request one. I don’t expect I will be inundated by requests, but if I am I will give preference to anyone who has previously left a comment on this blog at any time before today.
I will be attending Johnson’s workshop on Wednesday, so expect one more Paul Johnson post soon!