The Soul of the Artist

March 1996 - opened resizedArtists know there is more than one way to see.   We sketch what is immediately in front of us, which can be interpreted in infinite ways, leaving us open to criticism from others who state emphatically, “That’s not what it looked like at all.” Or, we practice the alternative, sketching with something vaguely known as the “mind’s eye”, in which case most people walk away without saying a word, as if what we have on our minds is just too strange to address.

Walking along the beach or sitting on a patio, we see a composition, a pattern, or perhaps even a moment. Like everyone else, we see what is in front of us. Unlike the vast majority, we feel compelled to set it down on paper before we forget, or lose the image forever; or maybe not. What if the vision is simply stored away, only to be reincarnated with the smallest provocation, days or maybe even years later, but now, slightly askew? Is the mind’s eye simply the culmination of a lifetime of experiences and memories that are just now finding their way back from where ever they have been stored patiently waiting for just the right moment for us to see them again?

Drawing from multiple sources, Kate Kern, obviously, has found her own way to see.  It is as if Kate is seeing what is in front of her and her mind’s eye simultaneously.  Whether walking around an installation titled, Red Animals, created from A Golden Nature Guide, or looking at a sketch titled March 1996-Opened, one appreciates the serendipity of the mind’s eye, combined with a lifetime of experience. Or perhaps we are just seeing the soul of the artist.

Red Animals Installation by Kate Kern

Red Animals Installation by
Kate Kern

Mother,s Day Mitten by Kate Kern

Mother’s Day Mitten by Kate Kern

Kate Kern is a visual artist who makes drawings, artists’ books, and installations. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she received a BFA from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio and an MFA in drawing from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. Kern has been the recipient of grants from the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Arts Council, Arts Midwest and Summerfair. She was a finalist in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s inaugural 4th Floor Biennial Award for Contemporary Art.  Her work was included in the exhibition in print, International Drawing Annual 6, published by Manifest Drawing and Research Center. Solo exhibitions include: Small World, Aisle Gallery, Cincinnati, OH; Always and Everywhere, Springfield (OH) Museum of Art; Attract Year Round Beauty, Weston Art Gallery of the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Cincinnati, OH. She is a visual artist in the Ohio Arts Council’s artist-in-residence program. In 2011 she was a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, VA.  Recently she curated and had work in the collaborative exhibition Wounded Home at the Lloyd Library and Museum and had an etching in Clay Street Press’ Cincinnati Portfolio IV, published in 2013. Her work can be found in collections including: The Akron Art Museum, The Cincinnati Art Museum, The Getty Research Institute, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Franklin Furnace /MOMA Artist Book Collection, MOMA library, and the Artists’ Book Collections of Carnegie Mellon University, University of Cincinnati, Brown University and others.

To find out more about Kate Kern and her work, visit her website at

Blog by Mark Hoppmann
Photo Credits: Kate Kern
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Carpe Librum

Carpe Librum Display Banner

   Puget Sound Book Artists invaded the small town of Winslow, Washington last Friday evening to celebrate the opening of Carpe Librum, at one of Bainbridge Island’s most respected galleries, Bainbridge Arts & Crafts.  Several of our member’s works were on display along with many local book artists.  The display was a feast for the eyes, with a diverse display of books including ones with metal covers, made of spools and fabric, a faux 19th century journal depicting the life of a young naturalist and beautifully leather bound books.  Advocates for the book arts, Cynthia Sears and Hidde Van Duym curated this show that represented a broad cross section of artists from the Northwest.

Mother's Measure Catherine Micaelis Sewing Notions, Hand Embroidered Text

Mother’s Measure
Catherine Micaelis
Sewing Notions, Hand Embroidered Text

As a book artist, my mind is constantly challenged by the almost bewildering display of versatility and resourcefulness other book artists utilize in their never ending quest to expand on the question; What is a book? Carpe Librum, the current exhibition at the Bainbridge Island Arts and Crafts Gallery is no exception.   Perhaps Susan Jackson, the Executive Director of the gallery summed it up best during the evening of the exhibition opening April 3rd, she was struck by not merely the amount of collective creativity the artists molded into their works, but also the exhaustive research behind the creation of each work.

Not content to be merely a stack of pages between two covers, the scope of the work in the exhibition entices the visitor to explore, contemplate, and enjoy. Carpe Librum makes us want to pick up each book and peruse them lovingly until we’ve coaxed their secrets out of them. In other words, to seize the book!

Carpe Librum: The Art of the Book

Curated by Cynthia Sears and Hidde Van Duym

Bainbridge Island Arts and Crafts Gallery

 April 3 to April 26. 

151 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA (206) 842-3132,

Artists in the Exhibition:

Sam Garriott Antonacci
Mare Blocker
Lou Cabeen
MalPina Chan
Julie Chen
>Maralyn Crosetto
Elsi Vassdal Ellis
Timothy Ely
Jules Remedios Faye
An Gates
Donald Glaister
Mari Gower
Deborah Greenwood
Marsha Hollingsworth
Mark Hoppmann
Diane Jacobs
Roberta Lavadour
MJ Linford
Susan Lowdermilk
Dorothy McCuistion
Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shane Miller
Suzanne Moore
Chandler O’Leary
Carol Inderieden
Margaret Prentice
Chele Shepard
Donna Snow
Jessica Spring
Carolyn Terry
Barbara Tetenbaum
Sandy Tilcock
Jill Timm
Carolina Veenstra
Sande Wascher-James

Blog: Jane Carlin & Mark Hoppmann
Photo Credits: Jane Carlin
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Title: Fathoming. A book incorporating vintage tobacco cards. Courtesy the Artist: Jessica Spring

Ephemera; what an useful word.   A paradox of sorts, that one word can mean trash or treasure depending on your point of view. Meaning transitory, meant to be thrown away, trivial, here today, gone tomorrow, trash to many, much of it over the course of time, can become quite valuable, or at the very least, interesting.

That matchbook, advertising Art Instruction Schools (Draw Winky) , those free movie passes for Bambi meets Godzilla, a bus ticket from Firenze to Fiesole, the valentine you received from your sweetheart in kindergarten; all ephemera, meant to be used and discarded as trash after they are no longer useful; the jetsam of the printed world. Destined to be picked up by the Monday morning garbage truck, some of it nevertheless ends up in scrapbooks, in haystacks secreted around the home waiting to become useful, while a small part of it defies all odds and actually ends up in collections that will one day be trotted up to the attic, waiting to be discovered yet again; Or perhaps, as in the case of Jessica Spring, never needing to be rediscovered in the first place.

Matchbooks:  From the collection of Jessica Spring

Matchbooks: From the collection of Jessica Spring

Book artist Jessica Spring often incorporates ephemera in her work, provoking viewers to reconsider the treasures they’ve squirreled away as potential fodder for artwork. Her new artist book, Fathoming, incorporates vintage cigarette cards and antique nautical maps bound in a variation of a flag book with miniature ropes.

A recent exhibition, reCollection: An Ephemeral Exhibition of Exquisite & Eclectic Ephemera utilized both Jessica’s and her father’s collections to create an installation in Tacoma’s old post office building downtown. Hundreds of vintage milk bottle caps and matchbooks from the 30-50s lined the walls, and also provided inspiration. Jessica based a series of prints incorporating linoleum cuts and handset type to reproduce the ephemera at 400% of the original size, capturing the palette and design sense of the glory days of advertising.

In her own words, “When used by collectors, the term ‘ephemera’ describes materials, often paper, that have little value beyond their intended use. Matchbooks, postcards and milk bottle caps are examples. These objects serve to light a cigarette, send a message, or protect a bottle of milk, but they also provide a glimpse of another place and time.”

Milk bottle caps from the collection of Jessica Spring

Milk bottle caps from the collection of Jessica Spring

Jessica’s work and the collections of her father, encourages us to begin our own accumulations, if we haven’t already. Not all ephemera is printed; The sea glass found on Ruston Way, small pieces of driftwood found on Case Inlet, even those rocks and pebbles found in last year’s vacation at La Push, come to mind, to name only a few. Whether it is mementos from a sunny day strolling on a beach, the old baseball cards in a shoebox, the cut-out dolls in an old McCall’s magazine, or postcards from long ago, it becomes obvious, the ephemera found in our own homes, defines who we are.

Jessica Spring is a Tacoma artist and owner of Springtide Press.  Read about her recent exhibition, reCollection: An Ephemeral Exhibition of Exquisite & Eclectic Ephemera, at the Spaceworks Artscape in 2014.  Learn more about Jessica, her father’s collection of ephemera, and how she incorporates the collection into her work, by visiting Jessica’s Tumblr site.

blog: Mark Hoppmann
Photo Credits: Jessica Spring
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Altered States

James Allen

James Allen and Chrysanthemum Growers Treasury

Offering a true sensory experience, every book is a work of art. A bibliophile inhales the scent of the book as they feel the texture of each page and pore over the rich text and illustrations over and over again.   As I sit typing, I glance over at my library. It is small, just under 500 books, none of which are rare or even particularly valuable, but I treasure each and every one, nonetheless. Why would I think to desecrate such a treasure by marking in the margins or cutting out a page? And yet, what if it means reincarnating an old book into a new form to be both admired and enjoyed?

Combing through garage sales and other sources, James Allen does exactly that, discovering old books and creating a provoking new work of art. To James, the process is as rewarding as it is thoughtful.   Using a reductive process, he carefully wields a scalpel, cutting away pages until the heart of the book is exposed.   As I look down into the depth of a book James has excavated, I see an old discarded book transformed into a work of art to be treasured once again. I glance again at my books on their shelves and wonder, what if……?

James Allen (Portland) finds inspiration in the ephemera of the common objects we encounter everyday altering objects such as books, magazines, photos, and postcards to create new experiences through existing media. He earned a BFA in 2000 from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and was featured in the book, Art Made from Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed. For more information about the artist, visit his website at:

Universal History The Modern World II

Universal History The Modern World by James Allen

Closely Related Movements of Birds II

detail: Closely Related Movements by Birds by James Allen

Blog by Mark Hoppmann
Photo Credits: Mark Hoppmann, Jane Carlin


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Thank You!

DSCN7259Like fine wine slowly poured into a glass, the Tahoma Room on the University of Puget Sound campus filled with book artists arriving for the annual Puget Sound Book Artists members meeting .

Those attending the event, find it creates an ambience not found anywhere else. Add a new location, a new date and time, and the anticipation almost takes on a life of its own.   We came to enjoy a Continental breakfast and to peruse the silent auction table in the hopes of placing the winning bid for a new found treasure. We came to listen to Yoshiko Yamamoto of the Arts and Crafts Press speak about her work, and we came to learn what we, the Puget Sound Book Artists had accomplished in 2014 as well as our goals for 2015. I think most importantly though, we came to share with friends, both old and new. Like that glass of fine wine, it was a day to savor, and I can think of nothing more enjoyable than sharing a glass with good friends.

Everything the Puget Sound Book Artists accomplishes is made possible by our members; through membership dues, volunteer work, support of our Silent Auction, and of course attendance of our lectures, presentations, and workshops throughout the year. Thank you to everyone for making our organization such a success.

blog: Mark Hoppmann
Photo Credit:  Mark Hoppmann
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Everyone Has a Story to Tell

MalPina Chan Image revised     Everyone has a story to tell. I am not speaking about a simple tale, a joke, or about something that happened yesterday on the way to the forum. I am speaking of those personal narratives which make us different from one another. We may choose to write about ourselves, a person of interest, or we choose as MalPina Chan; to create a narrative about our ancestors and their journey to America. Creating a book as a work of art using a personal narrative is not an easy task but MalPina proves it is possible. Using original documents including original certificates of residence, certificates of identity, passports, immunization certificates, visas, photographs, or something as obscure as a head tax receipt, MalPina weaves not just a story of her ancestors journey but a book as an intricate work of art. Viewing her work, we get the impression they are more than a work of art or a personal narrative.   We are looking at history.

MalPina Chan was born in California and received her BFA from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Her work is a continuing investigation of the transitory nature of the human condition, our connection to each other and to the natural world. Her portfolio includes works on paper, glass, mixed-media, and artist books. She is a graduate of the Artist Trust Edge Professional Development program and a recipient of an Artist Trust GAP (Grants for Artist Projects) in 2012.

To learn more about MalPina and her work visit her website:

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Old becomes New

Book PressI think artifacts related to the book arts, fall into three categories.  (1)  Objects that don’t resemble books at all but are important, (2) Curiosities that look like books, but aren’t, and (3) Those items which aren’t necessarily art, but are books.  All are historically interesting if not intriguing.  As an avid antique hunter/gatherer, I am always scanning antique shops, estate sales, and antique shows for anything that falls into those three categories, usually without any clear idea of what I am looking for.  In other words, I will know it when I find it.  Unless of course it falls into the first category, in which case I had been looking for this particular item for some time.  It had haunted my dreams ever since I had found it unobtrusively sitting on a counter in the back of an antique shop on Antique Row in Tacoma, Washington.  Two months later, I walked out with my own 19th century cast iron book press which I subsequently found out was actually an antique copy machine which is now used by book artists worldwide as a book press.   Recycling can refer to more than just separating paper from glass.  At any rate, it now sits proudly in my studio happily pressing books as if it had its own personality, which of course, it does.

Brass PaperweightIn Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, one of Michelangelo’s friends states, “It’s the hunt that matters.”   I prefer to think it’s more enjoyable to find something when you are not searching for anything at all.  Something beckons from across the room, it’s brassy patina glinting in the dim light as it lies on a dresser almost hidden in the chaos of other items that have been placed out for an estate sale.  Holding it in my hand, I know it is meant for me; A brass paperweight in the shape of a book.  I had never known one existed, so how could I have been searching for one?

Nebraska MapAntique Shows are different.  The hunt is on.  I enter the glass doors of the pavilion at the Puyallup fairgrounds with the knowledge, I will walk out with something.  I just don’t know what it will be.  I pass on the 19th century, sterling silver, mechanical pencil for $100.  I open countless volumes of 19th and early 20th century children’s stories, not finding anything that really catches my eye.  I have filed a few possible items to memory but have found nothing that floats my boat so to say.  Is it possible that I will find nothing at all?  Oh, the horrors!  On one of the last tables, a small book beckons.  In gilded letters, it says, New Sectional Map of Nebraska, my old stomping grounds.  Franklin B Marsh is inscribed on the inside front cover, proclaiming ownership.  The book was printed by the State Journal Company in 1885 with a small index of county populations measured by the 1885 census.  Yes, there really was a census in 1885.  The map folds out to measure approximately 23″ x 40″ and folds back up into the hardcover book measuring 6″x 4″.  My heart sinks when I see there is no price as I think of the old adage, if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.  The proprietor turns to me as I hold up my find.  Hmm….he says.  I’ll let you have it for a buck.  I pull a crumpled dollar bill out of my wallet and hand it to him.

For more information on the history of copy presses, visit the early office museum
For more information on the history of the 1885 census, visit
As for the history or maker, of the brass paperweight, stay tuned………

Blog and photographs by Mark Hoppmann


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On The Surface: Expressing Your Ideas On Cloth and Paper

Lily & Carletta

Lily Richmond and Carletta Wilson work under the watchful eye of Lucia Harrison


705 Court C in Opera Alley had definitely changed from when I had last been inside some twenty years before. Remembering a large retail space, I was instead greeted by a long hallway bordered by artists’ studios and shops as I rechecked the address and opened the door. A figure silhouetted by light greeted me with a familiar voice from the doorway at the end of the hallway, before vanishing from sight. A murmur of voices beckoned me.

Dorothy McCuisiton

Dorothy McCuistion creates an imprint on fabric


Afternoon light poured into a spacious work area filled with just over twenty people, three of whom were busily facilitating a two day PSBA workshop.  Divided into three rotating groups, to generate interaction between participants, “On the Surface,” was actually three workshops conducted simultaneously by three different PSBA artists.

It was nothing short of remarkable. From MalPina Chan’s demonstration of paper lithography, allowing the transfer of images to paper or fabric using nothing more than photocopies and gum Arabic to Deborah Greenwoods use of gelatin plates and pressed plants to created designs emphasizing both negative and positive space, to Lucia Harrison’s tutorial on how to make book cloth backed with Japanese paper, as well as an introduction to fabric painting, it was all beautifully orchestrated

Shoshona Albright

Shoshona Albright hangs one of her impressions on the drying rack

Even more impressive was participants were encouraged and given the opportunity to experiment and to push boundaries by combining techniques and processes.   An Gates used plants and monoprinting to create fabric designs while Carletta Wilson used monoprinting techniques on antique handkerchiefs.   Maura Dunegan used paper lithography to print one of her grandmother’s recipes onto cloth, while Dorothy McCuiston chose to create lively overlapping designs.   Afterwards, as they drank in what they had accomplished over the last two days, resonate was a word Carletta Wilson used to describe the workshop.   It applied to how the instructors worked with the participants, to how the participants interacted with each other and most importantly how the finished work affected everyone in the room. Resonate; it’s a good word.

Blog: Deborah Greenwood, Lucia Harrison & Mark Hoppmann
Photos: MalPina Chan & Mark Hoppmann
Deb, Lucia, & MalPina

MalPina Chan, Lucia Harrison, and Deborah Greenwood, facilitators for the On The Surface workshop

Mari Gower

Mari Gower smiles as she creates an impression using dried plants.

Alan Harvey

Alan Harvy with his tools and materials in front of him as he prepares to make an impression.








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Cartonera Publishing Workshop Comes to Puget Sound

Cartonera I resizedMembers of PSBA had the opportunity to join visiting poet and scholar, Juan Armando Rojas Joo, at the University of Puget Sound on October 2nd for a workshop on Cartonera Publishing.  Juan, a Associate Professor of SpanishDepartment Chair at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio was on campus to share his poetry and the role of the cartonera in Latin America.

Cartonera II resizedAs a native of Ciudad Juárez, one of the most violent border towns in Mexico, Dr. Rojas Joo’s poetry offers a first-hand account of life on the border while examining the complex relationship between Mexico and the United States. His scholarly and literary work has been published in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies and he has been invited to speak at several universities both in Mexico and in the United States. In 2011, Dr. Rojas Joo spent a semester as the poet in residence at the University of Coímbra in Portugal and in 2012 he teamed up with the Spanish “cardboard” publishing house, Editorial Ultramarina Cartonera & Digital to publish a bilingual edition of his “trans-border” poems, titled Luz/Light, which will be presented.

Cartonera IIIThe Caroterna ( cardboard) movement offers poets the opportunity to disseminate their work while engaging students and entire communities during the process.  Using recycled cardboard, book covers are constructed and decorated in community workshops that promote poetry readings.  These cardboard books, colorfully hand-painted and assembled by workshop collectives, are now bought and sold in nearly every major Latin American city.

This movement has been growing for years and has been popular in Argentina where The Cartoneras project aims to promote the celebration of language, culture, and creativity through a collaboration between writers and cardboard collectors.  They produce and publish beautiful books with hand-painted cardboard covers that speak of the wonderful literature inside.

These projects inspire us to think of ways we could bring literature and art to the public!  After all, creative play is critical thinking.

blog and photos by Jane Carlin

To find out more about Cartonera as an art form, visit the links below.

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The Power of the Book

Best of Show Award:  My Little Book of Suicides by Susan Collard

Best of Show Award: My Little Book of Suicides by Susan Collard

It is often said there is nothing new to create. I don’t believe that. Not for an instant.  Beginning as young artists we are sent out with the missive, paint your world. But too often we become jaded or cynical of that world, or worse complacent.   We paint, we sketch, we create, but something is missing.  Perhaps there are times when we must use our art to make a point. Goya created his body of work, Los Desastres de la Guerra.   Picasso was moved to paint his masterpiece, Guernica after the bombing of the village by Franco, aided by the German Luftwaffe in 1937.

Can books make a difference? The obvious answer is yes, of course, but it is more difficult than is seems. We already know it takes creativity to make a work of art. Add color, contrast, and composition to catch their eye. And above all courage. To an artist, their work is an extension of themselves. It takes a particular type of courage to put your work in a public forum. It takes an even greater amount of courage to expose yourself in public forum and take a stand at the same time regardless of whether that stand is controversial or not.

Just because our battles may seem smaller, they are no less important.  Our world evolves with or without us, but perhaps the book as art can help accelerate those transitions for the better. After all, the purpose of art is not just to enjoy.  It is also to make us think, to contemplate, and to understand. Add to that, the power of the book, and you have a powerful means to initiate change. We just need more courage.

To learn more on how books can be instruments of change, visit the Book Power Redux exhibition  currently at Collins Memorial Library, The University of Puget Sound, through October 15th, 2014. To find out more about the exhibition, visit the University of Puget Sound website.  The complete online catalog of the exhibition can also be viewed on the 23 Sandy Gallery  website.

Blog by Mark Hoppmann
Photo: courtesy of the 23 Sandy Gallery
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