The 6 Foot Drop

“I always assume that the person unpacking/re-packing has never worked in a gallery before, that they are an 18-year-old trainee and it's their first day on the job.” 

An artist’s response to my query on packing and re-packing works of art for an exhibition.

In the recent past, I received an artists' book back from a show. It was in its original box, bravo! for matching the box to the artist’s work. Here, the problem was inside the box. The book sat atop a very thin sheet of bubble pack with no protection for its top or sides. I have no qualms in mentioning that the bottom had no protection either. I phoned the gallery and their response was “The gallery ships the books the same way they arrive! 

Of course, for security measures, I pack my books with no protection to survive USPS or UPS delivery. SURE!

Who oversees the procedures for return shipping? Anyone?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

I don’t believe my book would have survived the six-foot drop the Saskatchewan Craft Council recommends for shipping artwork. If damage had occurred to my artists’ book, who would have been responsible?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

“Do you feel a gallery should have insurance for damage, theft, and return shipping conditions”?

In my opinion, the gallery is also responsible for how it takes care of books/work while in their possession.

An experienced binder like Monique Lallier insists on having her bindings and boxes exhibited under glass. Even with her demand one of her gorgeous boxes got a corner banged up. How do we limit these type of accidents or carelessness from happening?

Artists, librarian, curators, and staff should read the article Proper Care and Handling of Books by the Library of Congress.


This brings us to insurances! “Who should pay the insurance costs?

This year I made a conscious decision to no longer exhibit my work in galleries without the artists work insured for the duration of a show. According to a Boise gallery, an invited artist should not refuse to exhibit hundreds of dollars worth of work for lack of insurance on the gallery’s part. Most galleries make sure with their contract that they are not responsible for any stolen/damaged artwork. I realize we always take a chance when exhibiting, but the galleries/curators need to take responsibility. How, would galleries survive without us?

One can’t place all galleries in the “I will never exhibit there again” category. 

A few galleries are superb at taking responsibilities, I have found 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland and the MCBA in Minnesota, both respectful of book artists and their work.

© 23 Sandy Gallery

© 23 Sandy Gallery

Food for thought! Make sure you are content with the understanding between the gallery and the artist. Read the contract carefully; if you don’t like what’s written, say no to the invitation. Better not to exhibit than to be sorry. 

“Don’t forget during your decision-making that there is a tendency for the artist to be the last person considered when people are thinking about money and art”—Cathryn Miller

Be aware and make good decisions... Enjoy your exhibitions without regrets!

 

"Amoché"

Was a book/binding/artwork of yours ever damaged or stolen while on display as part of an exhibition?

As an artist, one has to deal with exciting situations and some not so nice experiences. Lessons learned have jaded me from exhibiting. It is difficult to let go of your prized possessions for a month or more. One never knows what happens on the premises of a gallery.

Are you responsible for your books while alone in the darkness of a gallery?

I had an acrylic painting damaged back in 1984. I won my case in court and the city paid for the damages. If the gallery took serious responsibility for the artwork while dismantling an exhibition, they could save time and money for everyone involved.

I saw the inside of a courtroom for the second time when an owner of a Toronto gallery stole nine of my collages and drawings and shipped them to Korea while in his possession. I don’t know what happened to these pieces. Did he sell them? If you can’t trust the gallery owner, who can you trust? I won my case in Small Claims Court, but retrieving the money was another matter—never did, since jurisdiction did not extend to Korea!

By 2005, I picked up lots of information on how to do business—I thought—till I took part in an ARLIS conference after being invited to display a volume of City Shields in New York City. Several phone calls later and an amazing response to my inquiry, I found the reason for the un-returned book.

"The bad news is someone stole your volume of City Shields from the exhibition hall.
What was the good news, I asked?
It was loved enough to steal."
What the... is this for real?
The organization felt it was a great compliment!!! WOW! For me, it was a financial loss!

Not too long ago on the BookListServ, I read about similar experiences other artists have gone through. I communicated with them to find out their account. Some stories were positive and others were costly. Lucky or sensible?

Preparing for a show demands you ask many questions and more questions!
Who's responsible for the insurance costs?
Are galleries responsible for the art work displayed in the space?
Who should pay for damages during the show?...


Mary Kritz is an artist in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Exhibiting her books were positive experiences until showing a book in a private gallery. This disappointing situation happened when her book was damaged during the exhibit set-up. At the vernissage, the owner, (while in front of the crowd), embarrassed Mary by informing her that the book had “fallen apart”. As if Mary exhibited a book with an already damaged page with a detached corner. Mary mentioned she would repair the book the next day. At her return to the gallery, Mary learned the owner himself repaired the book without permission. Was he a binder? Did he use the proper materials? What right did he have to touch this artists’ book?


“I think the situation has happened to all of us artists at one point or other,” says Cathryn Miller from Saskatchewan.

It took two hours to repair her piece In Winter after being damaged in a touring exhibition. Cathryn was paid for the repair by the Saskatchewan Craft Council who insure all work while in their possession. The work is still salable which is great!

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter damaged during exhibition

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter damaged during exhibition

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter with smudge marks

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter with smudge marks

The Saskatchewan Craft Council ships touring exhibitions by commercial transport, the Council recommends that all works be packed so that the container can be dropped upside-down from a height of six feet without damaging the contents. What a risk factor!

Cathryn insisted on being paid for books damaged when a commercial gallery returned books with non-removable price stickers that adhered to the back. Who thought of that one, I wonder?

“I have exhibited at galleries who do not provide insurance but in those cases, I exhibit work I can afford to lose, comments Cathryn”.
“Very few galleries cover stolen work, so one has to think about what security measures are provided (vitrines, staffing, location, etc.) and we need to make a case-by-case decision.”

Cathryn writes long and descriptive directions for unpacking and re-packing art work for shipping. How difficult can it be to re-pack a book with its original box and filling? But, wait can they find the same box? What is the gallery’s best practices for keeping boxes and fillers connected to the book?

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and re-packing In Winter

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and re-packing In Winter

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 2

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 2

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 3.  These instructions are fantastic, every artist should be this dedicated to their work!

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 3.

These instructions are fantastic, every artist should be this dedicated to their work!


Alice Simpson who brings her ability of drawing and brush skills to paper talks about her experience with a damaged book. Alice’s books are hand-painted and mostly unique books, they are colourful and whimsical, and are of interest to international dance collectors.

BALLROOM, (a one-of-a-kind hand painted book Alice created in 1994), was damaged somewhere along the recent past. The gallery’s signage description had been carelessly Scotch-taped on the back cover, attached to the delicate paper used to bind the book.

When I attempted to remove the tape, it pulled the paper off. Unfortunately, I have no memory or record of where the book was damaged. It was returned a while ago, and I never opened the wrapping. If I had, I would have immediately notified the curator, and complained. What would they have offered to do? I have no idea. The book, the basis for my novel of the same name, is not for sale but now is damaged forever.

Forever is a long time! This subject matter is too important not to write more.

To be continued...

Congratulations!

This week, I’m sending my congratulations to Cathryn Miller and Thomas Parker Williams for their participation in the Pop-Up Now II exhibition on view through December 17 at 23 Sandy Gallery. 

Pop-Up Now II, is a juried exhibition of pop-up and movable artists’ books that pop-up, move, slide, twirl, whirl, and even light up.

Cathryn submitted her book entitled I Love My Love. The book is just beautiful!!

© 2016 Cathry Miller

© 2016 Cathry Miller

Thomas, surprises us all with a fantastic sculpture in paper and steel, entitled Spiral Dome. This is worth a closer view online.

© 2016 Thomas Parker Williams

© 2016 Thomas Parker Williams


It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole when researching “stuff” on the internet! Obsessed with the Incessant Journey lately—for the last 16 years. I found articles on the web that conveyed information on the manhole cover I thought would be of interest to those of you whom have never looked down to the streets.

A fun article by Andrew Emond who has explored the underground systems of Montréal and Toronto, Canada. Andrew put together a guide for the most common manhole covers in Montréal in his article "Everything You Probably Never Cared To Know About Manhole Covers."

Another article that caught my eye was by Andrew Guilbert entitled “The Art of Calgary's Manholes.”  Andrew gives us a glimpse of history, new manhole covers and call to artists. Calgary's manhole covers are some of the most prevalent artworks in the city, says Andrew.

Abraham Piper’s article “Misplaced manhole covers to drive you crazy”, might be disturbing for all obsessive compulsive driven people. The photos were a good laugh for me, I often wonder—”Why, two more minutes!” It only takes two more minutes to reposition the manhole covers properly. Do these photographs force you to cringe?


Now, I’m pump-up to create eight new volumes of manhole covers I photographed on my trip across Canada...

'jamais deux sans trois'

I’ve been busy getting my family prepared for our annual trip across the country to my home town of Gatineau, Québec, Canada. We are leaving next week and for the first time in eight years, we will travel the Trans-Canada Highway from Alberta to Québec.

This is the snail way across the country. The slow driving gives me the opportunity to photograph manhole covers along my journey. With the intention of publishing an artists’ book of Canadian anecdotes, I will collect photographs that catch my eye along this 10-day trip.

In between preparations, I’m trying to finish phase seven and eight of City Shields by printing and cutting inserts, collating and packaging.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, front and back of inserts ready to cut

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, front and back of inserts ready to cut

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, phase seven, cutting the inserts

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, phase seven, cutting the inserts

©2016 Louise Levergneux, probably the last 10 pack of Iomega Zip disks jewel cases in the world!

©2016 Louise Levergneux, probably the last 10 pack of Iomega Zip disks jewel cases in the world!

If any of you know where I can purchase more of these Iomega Zip Disks Jewel Cases, please email me. They have been discontinued by the manufacturer.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, fresh off the press Vol US 26 : No 1 Dakota

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, fresh off the press Vol US 26 : No 1 Dakota


Last week, I posed the question “Has the manhole cover become a point of interest for other artists?”

I received a link to Raubdruckerin Printers’ website. They print t-shirts, hoodies, tote and gym bags inspired by banal urban street manhole covers. People who buy the garments and bags become themselves a part of their project. So, the project is a refinement of the everyday culture as well as a permanent consciousness-changing connection with our surroundings. 

The video below demonstrates Raubdruckerin using a manhole cover at the Centre Pompidou in Paris to print a t-shirt. 

Raubdruckerin continue their journey to Berlin. The t-shirt prints are taken directly from a manhole cover using water based ink without solvent, flexibilizer, PVC or heavy metals. 

What a fabulous idea! What I found even more interesting, believing in the French expression—'jamais deux sans trois' ("never twice without a third [time]"), is that I received not two but three emails with the same link. Three of my regular blog readers are thinking alike! Peggy Seeger and Cathryn Miller must hang out in the same places on the web. Betty Mallorca, a friend and painter based in Nampa, Idaho, seem to frequent the same circles as Peggy and Cathryn since she sent me the same link to this project.

How should I respond to this phenomenon? The never twice without a third is a sign, I’m sure! Do I contact this group based in Berlin? Do I start a dialogue of my project City Shields with Raubdruckerin? Do any of you know the group? 

Back to packing!

City Shields, Phase Four

Sometime during the week I lost a day. Today is Sunday, and I still have not finished the tasks at hand for City Shields.

I’m entering my detail work phase before printing. I find it necessary to pay attention to details—titles and text—to avoid mistakes. Je dois mettre les points sur les I et les barres sur les t, (I’m required to dot my i’s and cross my t’s).

Since I’m doing the volumes as an assembly line, it's a long process. Did I say boring, noooooo! Not at all, my obsessive-compulsive disorder is in full force and I don’t mind repetitive tasks. According to my key job list, I’m at phase 4, this is where I verify every individual elements of my templates.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, transcribing addresses and intersections from the original file names of my photos in Bridge to a template in InDesign.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, transcribing addresses and intersections from the original file names of my photos in Bridge to a template in InDesign.

Details, details... I felt I needed to clear my mind to better focus. I took two days to clean my studio or should I say purge it of unwanted documentation—paper, paper... Who needs to continue carrying that stuff around! Last year I decided going digital was best, but the job never got finished with the move and other artists’ books in progress.

By scanning and copying the original paperwork to DVD. I created a stack of paper, this stack will be very useful for glueing books and boxes. Binders know what I mean. 

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

I took an hour to review my inventory of Aspen, Inkpress and Generations G-Chrome papers for the completion of two copies of 18 volumes, maybe more. The list grows as I work! A copy for me which will be part of the installation. The second copy is for the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives / Bibliothèque et Archives du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada. Peter Trepanier my contact, an avid collector of City Shields will be purchasing a copy of these volumes for the library. I will need to communicate with the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, Québec, in case they want to keep their collection of City Shields complete.

I resume my detail work... To assure myself that the metadata transcribed is correct, I take the time to check the addresses and intersections from my journal in Google Maps. Street signs don't always indicate the cardinal directions, I love details!

© Google Maps, according to my journal we should have been on 2nd Ave N, it was necessary to determine which cardinal direction was the proper one for the location of a manhole cover

© Google Maps, according to my journal we should have been on 2nd Ave N, it was necessary to determine which cardinal direction was the proper one for the location of a manhole cover

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, detail of my journal with corrections indicated with red circles

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, detail of my journal with corrections indicated with red circles

This task brings me back to the location in question. The city, the heat of the day, the rain, an elaborate design, a city named manhole cover, the surprise, the hooray! moment even the make my day moment... 

After googling an intersection, I had to check for the location of an exact manhole cover I had photographed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The address information in my journal was incomplete, yet again, those cardinal directions! I needed to find the exact location of this manhole cover. Was it a North or South street, East or West avenue?

© Google Maps, on September 6th, 2013 at 7:36am I was standing at the corner of E St Paul Ave and N Broadway in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

© Google Maps, on September 6th, 2013 at 7:36am I was standing at the corner of E St Paul Ave and N Broadway in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I found the manhole cover as I browsed in street view in Google Maps. It's circled below in red. 

© Google Maps

© Google Maps

© Google Maps

© Google Maps

As I navigated my mouse around and around the intersection in Google Maps, I noticed a new manhole cover. How could I have missed this cover while standing at the corner of N Broadway and E St Paul Ave? I searched on the internet till I found the manhole cover designed by Melanie Ariens, an environmental artist in 2015.

© Google Maps, the new manhole cover references a cleaner environment

© Google Maps, the new manhole cover references a cleaner environment

Another visit to Milwaukee is in order!

I spent last Wednesday afternoon driving around Nampa, Idaho, eager to find an exciting manhole cover. I found a couple with the name of the city. That’s good, but I didn’t go wahoo!

While I continue my hunt, I receive manhole cover photos from different people interested in my project. Cathryn Miller sent these manhole covers taken in White Rock, BC.

© 2016 Cathryn Miller

© 2016 Cathryn Miller

Cathryn made use of the manhole covers in her book no skateboarding. This artists’ book is a book, a puzzle, a box, a photographic essay regarding surfaces. Text takes second place to visual images in no skateboarding as with City Shields. The visual takes precedent in the context of both artists’ books.

© 2005, Cathryn Miller, no skateboarding

© 2005, Cathryn Miller, no skateboarding

© 2005, Cathryn Miller, no skateboarding

© 2005, Cathryn Miller, no skateboarding

Many people are interested in manhole covers and lots of articles have been written on these items. My searches bring me to the conclusion that the manhole cover has made a name for itself by getting cities and artists working together.

I think I’m procrastinating the printing phase! Phase 5. I have to get past the impatience and get it done! Make it so number one!!

Paper and Folds

The snow is gone and the brown colours are back in Avimor. 

© 2015 Louise Levergneux, Avimor warming up.

© 2015 Louise Levergneux, Avimor warming up.

Time is flying by fast and since the start of January, I am knee deep in Tinkercad, typefaces, colours and design for my next artists' book. I thought it best to take a breath and visit the BAM, no, not the Brooklyn Academy of Music but the Boise Art Museum. 

Incredible how acronyms have become part of our language. When I moved to Boise, the locals asked if I had visited the BAM—what’s a BAM? For newcomers trying to figure out the lay of the land these abbreviations said à la queueleuleu, remind me of a song.

BAM BAM ROM MoMA,

CoCA GAM IMA,

MAMbo MASS MoCA,

MIA MICA MOCA,

SAM YAM OCMA

Everyone has danced à la queueleuleu, if not this video explains the term

Oops, I’m digressing!

Last Saturday, at the BAM, I saw the exhibition: Paper: the Infinite Possibilities of Origami. This exhibition explores the history of folding and origami as fine art. The pieces in the show were created by 45 master folders from around the world and showcased the power and potential of contemporary origami. Paper is endless creativity in these artists’ hands. I met Alexandra Monjar a friendly and dedicated docent able to give us lots of information on the exhibited works.

The koi by MichaeI G Lafosse caught my eye. The koi were delicate yet strong. Back at home I could not wait to explore more origami work on the Internet, I’m intrigued.

My search led me to the Swiss artist, Sipho Mabona. Here is a short documentary of Sipho's work. 

The next video is an introduction to Sipho’s project White Elephant–a life-size 3 metre high origami elephant. 

If you have time the 6 part video on White Elephant is worth it even though it takes nearly an hour to watch—all of them! I'm sure you can speed view at times!

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 1 (8:56 min)

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 2 (13:26 min)

 

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 3 (4 min)

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 4 (13:48 min)

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 5 (10:03 min)

WHITE ELEPHANT Part 6 Final (9 min)

 

These videos brought to mind other artists who create with paper. A good friend, mentor and artist, Francois X. Chamberland, gifted me the bible seen below at the end of the eighties. I still regard it as one of my favourite pieces in our home. I tried my hand at folding and never had the patience to continue.

© 1989 François X. Chamberland

© 1989 François X. Chamberland

Canadian artist Cathryn Miller’s altered books are sometimes filled with Froebel stars–a form of origami that combines folding with weaving. Cathryn’s love for paper can be seen in her altered book Universe / Starry, Starry Night inviting you to play and dream.

© 2008 Cathryn Miller, Universe / Starry, Starry Night

© 2008 Cathryn Miller, Universe / Starry, Starry Night

In Cathryn’s Universe: Foundation Trilogy, a series of altered books made from the pages of Life Nature Library volume "The Universe" pays homage to Asimov's iconic science fiction trilogy. The patience to fold several hundred stars for a project is amazing!

© 2012 Cathryn Miller, Universe: Foundation Trilogy

© 2012 Cathryn Miller, Universe: Foundation Trilogy

The Froebel stars make another appearance in Universe / A Hitchhiker's Guide.

© 2008 Cathryn Miller, Universe / A Hitchhiker's Guide

© 2008 Cathryn Miller, Universe / A Hitchhiker's Guide

You can help Cathryn’s The Wishing Star Project by leaving a wish.

While you are busy wishing, I’m going back to my thoughts and 3D printing ! !