Archive | Reading Room

Michelle Ray and the Sea – Part 2

Michelle Ray Three Ships 4Three Ships
published by Michelle Ray in 2012, in an edition of 35.

With Three Ships, Michelle uses a more sculptural, or display book, format than she has with previous editioned works. This sets it apart from her earlier work, and lays the foundation for her subsequent book God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue so We’d Feel Good On It . . .

The piece is housed in a double tray drop-spine box, but rather than housing a book that can be removed and examined outside of the box, the box itself is the book. The right hand tray has all four walls intact and presents an image of the sea, layered front to back with cut out, printed components. The physical layering assures that the uppermost part of the image, which is, in this case, the horizon line, is physically further away from the viewer than the immediate foreground. The image includes bright yellow silhouette forms of boats on which text appears.

Michelle Ray Three Ships

Michelle Ray Three Ships

The left hand tray, with the spine side one, has a four flap wrapper with a tab and slot closure affixed to the back of the box. Opening the envelope reveals both a 6 panel, map-folded page and a small Errata card. The folded page is printed both sides with imagery and text, and includes the colophon.

Michelle Ray Three Ships

Michelle Ray Three Ships

Three Ships exemplifies once again Michelle’s ability to convey an abundance of thought and relationship with few images and words presented on so few surfaces.

This piece was created in response to a specific text as part of the BookArtObject Edition #4. BookArtObject is an informal group of book artists that uses their blog as vehicle discussion and as an arena to make small editions of handmade artists’ books in response to various texts. The text for Edition Four comes from Sarah Bodman’s book An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen, in which 100 short story titles were provided as starting points for the participating artists.

Three Ships is the title Michelle chose to work with, giving he opportunity to explore an ongoing theme – the sea. In a continuation of her choice to present relationships from a broad range of sources, this work draws from the memory of the three life boats from Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition: Stancomb Wills, Dudley Docker and James Caird, Shackleton’s stash of rare and old Highland malt whiskey, and the safety and foolishness of that expedition. The book also explores through mnemonic devices this relationship between time, memory and seeing.

My favorite bit is the Errata card:

We suffer terribly from snow blindness. In the end, none of us could remember why we came to this place.

Michelle Ray Three Ships Errata

Casey Gardner – Books, Printing and Process

Casey Gardner Abecedarian
Casey Gardner, whose work is featured in the Reading Room through June 8, is the recipient of the 2012 Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award.

Gardner is a relative newcomer to the artists’ book field, having begun her study in 2006 at the California College of Art and Craft where she studied with Betsy Davids, Julie Chen and Macy Chadwick. Gardner hit the ground running and has been the recipient of several awards, her work held in dozens of private and publication collections throughout the US. She brings to her personal playing field a varied history, including downhill ski racing, extensive travel (supported by a variety of jobs, such as working in book stores), and a long stint in journalism. She now supports her book arts habit with work as a graphic designer at C+O Design.

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Books, Printing and Process includes copies of all of her letterpress printed book editions to date, including her very first A Brief Encounter with Etiquette. Three of the ten books on display have garnered awards (Body of Inquiry, 2nd place SanDiego Book Arts Competition; I Wondered What it Might Ignite, Stephen Corey Award, Pacific Center for Book Arts and Why Go, Beyond Question, Winner of California College of the Arts Book Arts Award). In 2012 she was given the University of Washington’s Emerging Artist Award.

During Casey’s visit last week, I reveled in the chance to learn more about her multi-layered process. I learned, for example, that the spark for Body of Inquiry came decades before she had any inkling that she would enter the book arts field . While working as bookkeeper at a community school, she met and was enchanted by Edmund Scientific’s Torso Woman. She bought a Torso Woman of her own and carried it with her from that point forward. A version Torso Woman now lives front and center in Body of Inquiry – in Gardner’s version, she holds a codex that tells the story of a scientific journey inspired by her Edmund models.
Casey Gardner Torso woman

Casey has generously put on display various project notes, models and maquettes for her three most recent projects, Threshold, Body of Inquiry and HereSay (a collaboration with Nancy O’Banion). So although gallery visitors won’t have a chance to be charmed by Casey ‘in the flesh’ they will at least have a glimpse of the processes that take a small pencil sketch through multiple models and iterations and results in the finished Body of Inquiry.
Casey Gardner Body model
Casey Gardner Body models

Another maquette, for Threshold, shows how Casey works out the writing for her artists’ books. The maquette is accompanied by a hand-written note that states:

This maquette of Threshold shows a good example of HOW I write. In write in space. I don’t really begin to put words down until I know the context they will live in. Then I get all my ideas into that space and see how they feel and look and get along, and I distill and root around for the right words and clarify until I understand what it is I am trying to say. It’s a geographical process for me. I realize now why Journalism didn’t quite suite me: because all the words were always in columns.

Casey Gardner Threshold writing
Regarding process Casey states:

When I see the drafts and tentative models I have made for a project, I am curiously reassured. I see that though there isn’t a map to follow, eventually I arrive at my destination, and along the way, I visit regions never imagined. It is liberating to see the vast veering and experimentation as I search for a way to convey my ideas in book form.
In my work, I pursue pathways that may lead nowhere. Yet, as I try various trajectories, I experiment with the capabilities of materials, the evocations of form, the moods of language, and the interactions of color. This process distills my vision and tells me in tiny increments, where I am going in the work.
There are words everywhere on my drafts: notes to myself and questions about the story, the content, movement, sequence & desires. Language offers many divergent paths of meaning; its abstract and concrete qualities suggest borderlines to explore. My work is often instigated by the mutability of language+interpretation in various spatial contexts and frames of reference.
As I work, I search with uncertainty for some envisioned, yet unknown territory. This is why I make art — for the discoveries that occur amidst the journey of making. In my work, I desire to leave space for the reader to make their own discoveries.

Also on view are prints from Body of Inquiry, Threshold and HereSay. Click here for a partial listing of available works. Other works are available; please contact the gallery for details.

Don Frank – The Qtip Project

During this years’ MOP (Month of Photography), Abecedarian is exhibiting The QTip series by Portland, Oregon photographer Don Frank.
Don Frank - QTip Project
For the series Don photographed fellow artists, each in front of the same back ground, and each diligently cleaning out their ears with a Qtip. As Don notes,

this is a private task that is advised against by people who know better than us.  But we do it anyway.

In the words of Katherine Head, writer/editor,

Everyone is photographable.  Everyone has a story to tell, and it can be relayed without words.  But sometimes there needs to be a distraction for the person to share the truth.  Hence, the Q-tip.  
Frank chose fellow artists to sit for the Q-tip project, 26 in all.  Despite the near identical setup, the resulting portraits are as different as each artist.  Some are whimsical, some are contemplative, some are mysterious.  But they are all interesting.  A seemingly banal task, a simple part of many people’s every day routine, yielded surprising art.

Don’s work was exhibited in the 2010 Biographic exhibition, curated by Denver’s Master Mind and Action Figure series host, Katie Taft.

Don and Katie will be hosting Musical Chairs, a participatory performance and discussion on photography, at Redline on March 24, 60pm.

Don will be at Abecedarian on Saturday, March 23. So please, come by and meet the artist, from 2-4pm. Light refreshments will be served.

Jim Johnson in the Reading Room

Folios and Other Open Books

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The career of Jim Johnson is one of diversity of approach with specificity of purpose. Trained as a painter, early in his career he began to experiment with new media such as video, collage, photocopies, correspondence art and books. From his first exposure to the international Concrete Poetry movement in the late sixties, Jim’s work has consistently moved in the direction of discovery and away from expression.

Visitors to the Denver Art Museum have likely seen his book/installation, A Thousand Words is in the Denver Art Museum’s Permanent Collection.

He has created numerous one-of-a-kind books as well as limited and open editions, a selection of which is on display in the Reading Room this fall. The exhibit includes a selection of books using the versatile folio format. Jim works with the versatility of the folio, the notion that each collection of folios (or ‘book’) exists as both multiple sheets and a single object. He treats the form as a collection that can be read in sequence or disassembled and viewed or framed together or individually.

Other books in the exhibition are unbound, boxed or loose pages in envelopes that can be displayed in any number of ways. Several of his books are available as free online PDF files or are available on demand from SPOD publishers such as Lulu or his own site Discopie., Lulu and Printed Matter

Jim was a a member of the Painting and Drawing faculty of the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1970. He developed the department’s Integrated Media and Computer Imaging programs and was instrumental in developing the Center for Arts, Media and Performance for the ATLAS Institute and served as it’s first Director.

Abecedarian will host an informal talk and reception for Jim on October 19, from 6-8pm.

Alice Austin – The Rome Project


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The Rome Project – on view in the ReadingRoom February 17 – April 7.

It is a pleasure to be featuring the work of Alice Austin in The Reading Room this spring. Alice is one of the artists who sent work out for the first show at Abecedarian, and her ongoing support of this project has been steady and is appreciated. For this exhibition, Alice came for the installation and opening night. During the reception she captivated visitors with details her most recent body of work.
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Alice Austin has been traveling to Italy each fall for the past several years. Although she has spent time in Venice, her favorite Italian city is Rome, where she has been a visiting artist at the American Academy. She takes with her only what will fit into her bright red suitcase; once there strolling through the city examining historical documents, public buildings and attractions.

As a library conservator (Alice works at The Library Company of Philadelphia, a rare book library founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin), her appreciation for historical records is well embedded, her comfort with historical documents a fact of her life. By all accounts, Rome is rich with history, and because Alice visits as an artist with a particular project in mind her visits take on quite a different aspect than were she traveling as another sort of visitor. Indeed, the night of her reception for The Rome Project at Abecedarian, a gallery visitor was telling me that her experience of Rome is that it is corrupt, noisy, expensive and difficult to navigate. This is hardly the Rome that Alice presents in her most recent body of work The Rome Project.

alice w map rp

This project began in September 2008 when Austin was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Her project was to study the 1748 Giambattista Nolli map of Rome and synthesize the character of the historic map with modern Rome. She set out into the city to record the patterns, geometry and textures of the Nolli map sites through photos, drawings and paintings made at prominent sites from the map. The first result of her work was a limited edition bookwork, Nolli, a map-book exploring the textural layers of Rome produced collaboratively with designer/photographer Jon Snyder.
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This modestly scaled book, presented in a what is sometimes called a meander book format, presents details that are later referenced in the large scale drawing suite and series of artists’ books. The front and the back covers show elements from the originally Nolli map, which was executed in 1748 as twelve copper plate engravings, each about 22 x 30 inches. Nolli had papal permission to enter all buildings in Rome in order to make accurate measurements, a project which took him over ten years. The back page of the book is a photograph of a litho plate of the Forma Urbis, the Roman map which was executed in stone. The red line that continues throughout the book depicts the shape of the city wall, taken from the handmade paper, and is shown on the reverse side of the map in white. The book also includes a detail photograph of the Nolli map, a watercolor of Bramante’s Tempietto, on which the design for St. Peter’s is based, photographs and prints of the Campidoglio pavement designed by Michelangelo, and a rendering of the first century pyramid of Caius Cestius, built when the Romans were interested in all things Egyptian. The back side of the map unfolds to reveal a drawing of historic Rome and Bramante’s architectural plan for St. Peter’s.
Alice-Austin-Rome04 Alice-Austin-Rome06Nolli was offset printed in an edition of 60, in collaboration with the Borowsky Center at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, 2010. Copies are available at this link ($150 each).

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On stunning display in the Reading Room is the installation of Austin’s suite of 9 drawings of Rome, each 22 x 30 inches, arranged in the same manner as Nolli’s Pianta Grande di Roma to make one large drawing measuring 66 x 90 inches.

Alice Austin - installing Rome ProjectLimited in palette, the mixed media drawings include ink, crayon, relief printing and transfer drawings on sheets of linen paper hand made at the Dieu Donne Paper Mill in New York City in 2009 especially for this project. During Alice’s informal gallery talks at the opening I learned that the name Dieu Donne means god given, which, given the scope and references of this project, seems appropriate. The paper incorporates a stencil pulp painting of the Aurelian city wall colored with dry pigments from Rome. Linoleum prints inspired by the Cosmatesque patterns of marble floors of Roman churches were inlaid during the paper making process. Cosmatesque takes it name from the Roman family Cosmati who made the inlaid marble floors in many of Rome’s churches using salvaged columns from the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. The ink drawings on the maps are of the historic center of Rome. The blue transfer drawings are of St. Peter’s basilica, designed in the Greek cross pattern by Bramante in 1506, inspired by the Roman temple, the Pantheon. The plan for the Pantheon is relief printed from a linoleum cut.Alice Austin - installing Rome Project

The final phase of the project to date is the production of several artists’ books in which Alice presents in various book forms several of the repeating elements from both the Nolli book and the drawing suite. A series of three unfolding map books, folded into pamphlet bound paper cases were made using sheets of the Dieu Donne paper. The covers are of handmade flax paper from Cave Paper Mill. They are either printed from linoleum and sewn, printed on vellum and sewn, or pierced to create a pattern.
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Rome is filled with patterns that have delighted Alice for years, such as an interlocking circle pattern. Alice uses this pleasing and well balanced pattern in several instances in The Rome Project, notably on the covers of the map books and on the interior pages of several of the books. The pattern seems to be a universal response to geometric repetitions. It exists all over the world, in Egyptian cloth from 2000 b.c., as well as in the mosaic designs in Rome.
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Also on view, are Austin’s Rome Panorama books, a series of five accordion books with cut floating panels printed and painted on Rives BFK.
Alice-Austin-Rome09The cover of each is inset with a linoleum print on vellum, or paper. These are individually available ($500 each).

Alice-Austin-Rome03Alice-Austin-Rome01Alice has also graciously lent two of her sketchbooks, bound in traditional limp vellum style, for the exhibition. These sketchbooks provide a detailed history of the project generally and her work methods more specifically.

It is an honor and a delight to be hosting this first presentation of The Rome Project at Abecedarian Gallery.

Look Again: Artists’ Books and Prints by Deborah Bryan

nine blocks

An exhibition of recent books and prints by Tennessee artist Deborah Bryan. Bryan is on faculty at Tusculum College, Greeneville, Tennessee. Ms Bryan’s work was first exhibited at Abecedarian during the RE: (rebound, recycled, repurposed, reused) exhibit when she was awarded the gallery director’s exhibition award. Her work for this exhibition involves using plates, whether copper or wood engraving, as covers or pages, and involves presenting prints in an alternative format.

 

On display are both prints and books; the books, although created from a medium usually associated with multiplicity, are not editioned but are one of a kind books, using retired copper plates and woodblocks.

portable art experience

Cercium

 

 

For me, the artist’s book provides an opportunity to present my work in a different      format, hence the title “Look Again.”  As a printmaker, I regularly find myself with a  completed edition and used, but beautiful, copper plates or endgrain maple blocks.  These matrices can become pages or covers.  Proofs can be recycled and  reconfigured as content for books.

 

Detritus series Indian PipesDetritus series Stems & Shreds

Music Bo(o)x exhibition in the Reading Room

Music and art. Music and books.

curated by Lynn Sures and John Risseeuw

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above: Duke Ellington by James Todd

 

on display in Abecedarian Gallery’s Reading Room, Denver, CO  US through August 6

 

on online here: http://bit.ly/jCzHLw

 

Several years ago, Lynn Sures and John Risseeuw realized that they both had created artist’s books based on jazz artists and compositions. Lynn’s VARIATIONS on the Dialectic between Mingus and Pithecanthropus erectus responded to the seminal work by Charlie Mingus and John’s TM

was a tribute to Thelonious Monk and his song Thelonious. John’s Modal is a response to Miles Davis’ classic Kind of Blue album. John also had prints on Monk, Gillespie, and other jazz greats, so they mused on having an exhibition of artist’s books and prints solely based on jazz and blues.

 

In Spring of 2010, the 87 Florida Gallery in Washington, DC, agreed to host such an exhibit and soon like-minded artists were located, the gallery contracted a local jazz band for the opening, and the first Music Bo(o)x exhibition was held to great reviews and reception.

 

It was not possible to tour the exhibit immediately and the work was sent back to the artists at its conclusion. But now a new and enlarged show has been selected. This time, the work chosen has been expanded to include books and prints inspired by other musical forms in addition to jazz and blues. Six of the original 10 artists were able to show work again, along with 5 additional artists.

 

This is a most engaging exhibit, especially for the music lover. Visual art and book work, responding to music and making the aural visual. You’ll see woodcut portraits of jazz musicians, lost in improvisation, by James Todd. You’ll be All Shook Up with Elvis in Karen Hanmer’s book of the same name. Ed Colker and Dave Brubeck actually collaborated on Open the Gates in which Colker responded to Brubeck’s music The Gates of Justice. Lynn Sures made pulp-painted, watermarked and printed paper in response to her immersion in Mingus’ Pithecanthropus erectus to interweave with the text of Rick Potts. Robin Price’s beautiful tribute to the classical guitar of Pepé Romero is an award winner. John Risseeuw has combined his distinct handmade papers, intuitive placements of text and image, and lifelong passion for the music to bring fusion and astute observation to his books and prints. Intricately hand-cut, strongly-colored papers arrive at an exuberant tempo played out in cj grossman’s cascading accordion book Morning Jazz. Barb Tetenbaum used her characteristically innovative letterpress technique to illuminate the musical score for four voices in Gymnopaedia No. 4. Don Anderson, late UW-Madison professor, spent a sabbatical year listening to jazz and drawing portraits of the performers. Mary Hark’s beautiful boxed portfolio with books and CD honors the extraordinary work of Ghanian palm wine musician Koo Nimo. And Steve Prince’s vivid, alive drawing/relief style puts us in touch with issues as well as the music.

Libri Bianchi

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Libri Bianchi by Lorenzo Perrone on display at Abecedarian Gallery, in the Reading Room, February 18 – April 2, 2011 in Denver, CO

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Lorenzo Perrone, of Florence, Italy has been engaged with the process of creating white book objects for the past 7 years. His works are created by a initially stripping down the selected book and thus removing all content. Using materials such as metal, glue, chalk and white paint he rebuilds the book into an object. A white object without title, without author, without any words whatsoever. Yet the primary form, the book itself, remains intact. These works become in a sense, a blank page, existing in the world as iconic objects, perhaps waiting for completion.

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Elizabeth M. Claffey recipient of Emerging Artist Exhibition Grant

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Abecedarian Gallery is pleased to announce the result of the 2010 Emerging/Student Artist exhibition grant.

 

Elizabeth M. Claffey is the artist selected from the applicants  by gallery director Alicia Bailey. Her work considers physical deterioration and the relationship between medical science and life experience. Elizabeth is a photographer and book artist pursing an MFA at Texas Woman’s University.

 

She states:

 

I have great faith in photography and human nature.  I believe that a photograph can tap into the most protected part of a person, where the vulnerability lies and the barriers break down to give way to understanding.  I try to focus my camera on the moments “in between,” those everyday situations that, separate from life’s climactic events, make up the moments that we often overlook even while pushing through them.  These are the moments that can reveal the truths of our nature, nurture, and circumstance, that allow subject, viewer, and photographer to relate.

 

This work is inspired by the content of a found object, as well as by my folkloric inheritance, which often describes the physical experiences of family members and ancestors. Through personal narrative, this series comments on broader issues of physical intimacy, trends in medical science that can have permanent effects, and the meaning of the body in a familial context.

 

Merck’s Manual 2

 

Her work has been recognized by PDN Magazine, Project Basho Gallery and various other galleries and publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and The Kinsey Institute.

 

On display are 4 of the 5 books in the Medical History series (the 5th is part of the traveling Photo Book Works exhibition which will be on view in 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon through February). A catalog of the exhibit is available here. The series utilizes medical texts and reference books to explore family history and folklore through the juxtaposition of words, photographs, and pre-existing text.

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Also included are 8 images and a 28 image artists book from the series Remember Me.

 

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Remember Me is a project that explores the deterioration of physical existence and the changing lines, shapes, and textures of the human body. The images are made clinically, creating a physical closeness that is not sexual or familial, but rather scientific, suggesting a detached intimacy most often known by doctors. Despite the clinical approach to the image making, the subject inspires thoughts and memories that survive and even transcend physical being.

 

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Selections from a larger series Medical Record are installed in the center of the Reading Room These works are human scale images printed on hospital gowns. Claffey’s choice to present these images in this way makes avoidance of the reality of the aging body impossible for any who wander into the Reading Room during her exhibition.

My personal favorite of the works are the series of 4 Petri Portraits, each a a photographic image with an additional splash of color presented in a Petri dish. The dishes rest on elegant white columns, lit from within letting these works glow with a diffuse but steady illumination.

Abecedarian Gallery will continue offering this grant to eligible student/emerging artists on an annual basis. To help support this project, the gallery is offering a wide range of hand-pulled artist prints created by artists throughout the United States for $15 each during the month of January. Those unable to visit the gallery are invited to peruse some of the online offerings available for purchase here.

Photo Book Works

in the Reading Room October 1 – 30, 2010

Merck’s Manual 2


Photo Book Works is an international exhibition of artists’ books incorporating photography as a primary element. Photo Book Works was juried by Mia Semingson whose exhibition 39+ is on view in the main gallery. For this exhibition, Semingson selected the work of 31 artists from the United States, Great Britian, Switzerland and Australia.
Images of the works in the exhibit can be viewed here

Included in Mia’s statement are the following remarks:

“The artists included in this exhibition bring their images back to the tangible realm and weave visual stories not just with images, but with the materials they have chosen and the structure that houses their work. All of these ingredients deliver the artist’s concept to the viewer.
As technology changes and upgrades, as we reach deep into our pockets to purchase the next version of Photoshop, one thing remains and will remain a constant – the book. And I will defend books to my death – they are a technology that is here to stay, a wonderful constant presence in a rapidly changing world.”

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Photo Book Works includes work by the following artists:

Adam Milner, Boulder, Colorado;
Aileen Bassis, Jersey City, New Jersey;
Al Rodríguez, San Diego, California;
Anna Mavromatis, Houston, Texas;
Bessie Smith Moulton, Falmouth, Maine;
Charles Hobson, San Francisco, California;
Cristina de Almeida, Bellingham, Washington;
Elizabeth M. Claffey, Denton, Texas;
Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Bellingham, Washington;
Ginger Burrell, San Jose, California;
Jill Timm, Wenatchee, Washington;
John Watson, Springfield. Oregon;
Judith Hoffman, San Mateo, California;
Kelly O’Brien, Alexandria, Virginia;
Laura Russell, Portland, Oregon;
Lauren Henkin, Portland, Oregon;
Lee Steiner, Pearland, Texas;
Louise Levergneux, Salt Lake City, Utah;
Mary Jane Henley, Tucson, Arizona;
Mary L. Taylor, Marshfield, Massachusetts;
Megan Adie, Basel, Switzerland;
Monica Oppen, Sydney, Australia;
Paula Jull, Pocatello, Idaho;
Philip Zimmermann, Tucson, Arizona;
Sabina U. Nies, Ashland, Oregon;
Sally Waterman, London, United Kingdom;
Scott K. Murphy, St. Joseph, Minnesota;
Steve Kostell, Chapaign, Illinois;
Thomas Finke & Jean Buescher Bartlett, Denver, Colorado & Ann Arbor, Michigan;
Victoria Bjorklund, Tacoma, Washington