University celebrates unique art form: “book arts”

6/19/2009 - By: Claudene Wharton

Can a book be a work of art, as well as a literary work? Absolutely. The book as an art form is being featured this summer at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Book arts" are handmade books, each unique, constructed from various materials in shapes that enhance the knowledge and ideas presented in the book. The University's celebration of this art form, "Book Arts: A Fusion of Words and Visual Imagination," kicks off on June 26, and on July 6, 3 to 7 p.m., highly acclaimed book artist Charles Hobson will present his work and discuss book arts at the University.

Hobson's exhibit, titled "Experiments in Navigation," will be on display in the University's Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center beginning June 26 in the Whittemore Tower Entry and Reception Gallery. Hobson's exhibit, along with other artists' book arts featured in the Knowledge Center's Special Collections Gallery, will be on display through Sept.16.

Hobson's artistry is recognized worldwide and has been exhibited across America, Europe and Japan. His work is on display in galleries such as the California Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art.
A lawyer for more than 15 years, Hobson is also a gifted artist. While obtaining his bachelor's degree in history at Lehigh University, he won
the McClain Meritorious Painting Award. While pursuing his law degree at the University of Virginia Law School, he also studied painting and was the cartoonist for the law school student paper. In the early 80s, he began studying various art forms at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he earned his bachelor's in fine art. He now teaches there and has his own publishing company, Pacific Editions, which produces limited edition artists' books.

At the University of Nevada, Reno, students also have the opportunity to study book arts and printmaking with Bob Blesse, art professor and director of the Black Rock Press at the University.

"The Black Rock Press is dedicated to the practice and teaching of the arts and crafts associated with the creation of finely printed books," he explains. "Bringing Charles Hobson and his work to campus presents a unique opportunity for students and the community to enjoy the work of a true master of this art form."

In conjunction with Hobson's visit, the Black Rock Press will offer tours and printing demonstrations 3 to 5 p.m. on July 6. The University's Black Rock Press has a national reputation for its publishing of artistic books and well-crafted limited editions. It also has become a museum of traditional printing technology.

Book arts created by some of Blesse's students are also on display this summer at the University's McNamara Gallery in Church Fine Arts. All of the book arts exhibits and the July 6 events are free and open to the public. The July 6 events include:
3 - 5 p.m. Black Rock Press tours and printing/bookbinding demonstrations, Jot Travis Building
3 - 5 p.m. Hands-on book arts display with commentary by visiting artist Charles Hobson, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, Special Collections Department
5 - 6 p.m. Reception to honor Charles Hobson, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, Whittemore Gallery
6 - 7 p.m. Lecture by Charles Hobson, "Cultivating Artists' Books: Experiments in Navigation," Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, Wells Fargo Auditorium

For more information, call the University of Nevada, Reno, (775) 682-5665. Please RSVP to 782-6012 or kdharris@unr.edu if you plan to attend the Hobson reception or lecture.

The Book Arts Celebration is a collaborative effort of the University Libraries and the Art Department's Black Rock Press and is made possible in part with support from the College of Liberal Arts' Hilliard Endowment in the Humanities, the Friends of the University Libraries, and Nevada Humanities. These events are part of the City of Reno's 14th Annual Artown Festival.

Art

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