Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels

Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels


I have appreciated Lauren Scanlon’s work since I first saw a presentation given by her at a conference several years ago. When I began the curatorial process for the Drawn and Quarto exhibit at Abecedarian Gallery I contacted Lauren to see if any of her current projects might fit the theme.

After some consideration Lauren agreed to create a body of work specifically for this exhibit. Lauren pulled it off even though she married, honeymooned, moved across country, then temporarily relocated to Canada, all during the brief time she had available to create this work. In addition to all of these complications, her camera and many studio supplies were stolen while she was on the road. Her perseverance paid off with a wonderful body of work that includes drawings on pages taken from books alongside a series of ‘shrouded’ books.

Lauren Scanlon Group of Books for Drawn and Quarto 2

Here is what Lauren has to say about these works:

My recent work uses bedsheet designs as an entry point for investigating the pattern, structure and impact of a specific line of romance novels that I read when I was very young (10 years old). These novels were published as a more highly sexualized line of romance reading (than was currently available at the time).

In structure, the novels are thinly veiled recreations of classic fairytales such as Cinderella, Snow White or Bluebeard. Familiar situations and characters are present including cruel stepmothers, frightening husbands, and disenfranchised heroines in need of rescue. Having read them so young, my perception of them as fairytales is even more pronounced.

In many ways, these romance-novel-fairy-tales are much closer to the stories told by the Grimms Brothers than those told to us by Disney. Both the Grimms Tales and these romance stories contain truly frightening imagery – sexuality, violence and cruelty – that has largely been removed from recent fairytale incarnations as presented to us by contemporary narrators (in films like Cinderella Man or animated works by Disney).

The drawings presented here highlight the fairytale elements of the books while at the same time leaving the text available for you to read. Where possible, the images reflect some aspect of the narrative.

The objects are shrouded books. They are the exact romance novels that I read as a kid. They have been carved (eviscerated) with an exacto knife and shrouded for burial using domestic fabrics and gold thread. The use of bedsheets, pillowcases and curtains connects the text to the domestic realm and the specific location of a bedtime story. The decorative, often floral, patterns distract from the dark revelations of the text. This renders them relatively harmless and is an attempt to – figuratively speaking – put them to bed.

More details about these pieces as well as works by other artists included in the exhibit, available here:


Jim Johnson in the Reading Room

Folios and Other Open Books


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.


Ann Frellsen – bookish jewelry

Ann Frellsen

miniature wearable books

An open view of one of Ann’s pins

Abecedarian now offers book jewelry by PlayHouse Press to the online store. We have pins and earrings that are fully functioning miniature books handcrafted by Ann Frellsen.

Ann Frellsen is a book conservator at Emory University Libraries with a studio arts degree in sculpture. From her home in Atlanta, Georgia, Ann combines these talents and interests in the creation of book arts jewelry.

Each piece is a fully functioning miniature book, hand stitched and cased in to the cover. Ann uses high quality findings, papers, and cloth. She uses both vintage and contemporary marbled and paste papers. These charming accessories, created under her PlayHouse Press imprint, are visually fun and well-crafted.

Although there are others creating similarly wonderful book arts jewelry, Abecedarian carries Ann’s work because of the consistently high quality of both materials and production and the affordable price range. Abecedarian Gallery is the only online market carrying these pieces.

Check out what we have in stock here


Pati Scobey – subscription print series

Pati Scobey Inside the Song

In 2004 Pati Scobey began an on-going project titled “A Chronicle of Images”. Using a letterpress, she has been making a series of prints which combine linoleum cuts, collagraphs and sometimes typographical elements. Rich and varied in color and design, the prints involve multiple runs through the press. Produced in a rural section of Michigan, where Pati has lived for many years, they are inspired by her ongoing observations, connections and readings, stemming from an active commitment to ideas and impressions that are energizing yet quietly felt.

In Pati’s words:

I can feel the first part of my life rub against the last part. Both, however, meld in my work as a visual artist. Being raised in an Air Force family, my early environment continually shifted and allowed me glimpses of other cultures and landscapes. In contrast, for the past 17 years I have been tied to one piece of land in Michigan and have developed a deep connection to place. Approaching my work in printmaking and bookmaking with an attitude of exploration and experimentation, I balance discovery with planning and I work through ideas in a spirit as akin to drawing as to printing. My printing process is comprised of combining plates depicting narratives and patterns in nature with stencils which are a vocabulary of shapes and characters. Through the manipulation of these elements, I produce layers and levels of form and color on the page or in the book which evoke a sense of movement, geography, and journeys. I view the work as an attempt to answer questions I ask myself.

The prints are distributed to Pati’s subscribers (those who sign up in advance to receive the years’ prints when they are published for a reduced price).

The idea of subscription prints is not unique to Pati, but most of the subscriptions series I’m aware of involve letterpress printing. Shereen LaPlantz conducted an ambitious series of subscription how to books in the late 1990’s. Long out of print, some of those titles are still available here.

Pati’s subscription prints are printed in edition sizes ranging from 125 − 150 depending on the number of subscribers and are published twice annually. Abecedarian is pleased to offer single prints from the series for those who have missed a print from the series, or want specific prints without subscribing. Click here to see current inventory.

Artists Book Cornucopia III – Casey Gardner

Body of Inquiry by Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner - Body of Inquiry

This is a work that succeeds on every level: the text, both humorous and pithy, is engaging, the craft and material selection superb, the design and layout a balance of image, information and space.

The presentation is such that one is informed, enticed and amused before even getting to the ‘insides’ of the work – a corporeal codex, the inside story.

We read that the work was inspired by Torso Woman, a genuine anatomical model of serene evisceration. Mounted on the interior central panel, appropriately placed on a brush worked depiction of an armless, legless female, who does, however, have a head), wearing a stoic (or is it serene?) expression is an organically shaped book that includes overlapping shapes reminiscent of the human anatomy books of the fifties.

On the exterior of the central panel is a diagram depicting “How to approach something”, as well as Gardner’s dedication to many inspiring teachers, one in particular who made ‘learning an immense fantastical tale.’

This book is produced in an edition of 57 and sells for $1200.

Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here

Casey Gardner is the recipient of this years’ Gallery Director Award.

Her work will be featured in a Reading Room exhibit during Artists Book Cornucopia IV in 2013.


Artists Book Cornucopia III – Cynthia Nourse Thompson

Artists Book Cornucopia III – Cynthia Nourse Thompson


Cynthia Thompson - Grievous 2

Cynthia Thompson - Remorse 1

The physical and historical path the two girdle books, Grievous and Remorse, by Cynthia Thompson follow make them highlights of the exhibition. 

Each has pages of handmade paper made from historically significant rag fibers (Grievous from unblessed purificators and corporals and Remorse from an unblessed cappa). 


Bound in goat with nickel clasps made by Thompson, the associations and presentation are clean, pure and ordered. 


That they are so rich with content while visually so spare and elegant is a noteworthy accomplishment.


Both books are produced in editions of 5 and sell for $3200 each.


Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here  


Artists Book Cornucopia III – Servane Briand

Traces by Servane Briand


Servane Briand - Traces 2

A favorite attribute of this book is how lovely it smells. The book’s flexible yet sturdy covers are infused with beeswax, which means the book smells good and also feels wonderful in the hand. It is a palm-sized book, easily held while being read, and intended to act, in Briand’s words

as a daily companion and a reminder of the passing of time

I say read even though the book hasn’t any text. It does have narrative qualities. The pages progress through a series of color and tone shifts and each page has a variety of marks and symbols that resemble a partially faded pictographic alphabet. Each signature has a double gate fold, adding to the narrative aspect.


Servane Briand - Traces 1

This book is a one of a kind and sells for $300.

Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here


Artists Book Cornucopia III – Sun Young Kang

In Between Presence and Absence – Sun Young Kang


Sun Young Kang - In Between Presence and Absence, 2



This is the 2nd in a series of shaped page book objects created by Korean artist Sun Young Kang,  and is a continuation of her ongoing exploration of absence/emptiness and presence.


Using limited text


The presence only exists when the absence is recognized


and meticulous craft, Kang brings a meditative aspect to her work. Additional wonder comes when one recognizes that these works are crafted from quiet, repetitive work processes. 


Although the abstract Buddhist  philosophy of ‘emptiness’ is difficult to grasp, Kang succeeds in presenting the non-visual concept as a tangible object that has both presence and absence.


Viewing this work is quiet pleasure. 


This book is produced in an edition of 10 and sells for $600


Artist statement, images, descriptive details and ordering information here  


Artists Book Cornucopia III – Linda K. Johnson

Seasons of Winter by Linda Johnson 


Linda K Johnson - Seasons of Winter


This book makes use of an everyday, low-end material, papertoweling, to create a book perfectly suited for Randy L. Mayes’ musings on winter. Johnson handset the type and printed on slightly translucent papertowels. That each is carefully  torn at the bottom edge creates a series of soft edge layers very evocative of falling snow. 


For Johnson the 

torn fore edges . . . connote the sense of time passing and the observationsof winter changing as the season progresses and ultimately gives way to spring. 


The book is stab bound at the top, the cover a cool tone Amate paper.


This books is produced in an edition of 25 and sells for $125.


Artist statement, images, descriptive details and ordering information here


Celebrating National Poetry month with Jan Owen

CalmSoDeep detail1

Celebrating National Poetry Month by showcasing works at Abecedarian Gallery that present poetic form in an interactive format.

Maine artist and musician Jan Owen works with poetic form; combining words with her own sense of rhythm. Captivated by the gestures found in handwritten letters, she often works with texts written by others. More than marks made on specific surfaces, Owen’s work integrates surface with mark. To this end she often works on translucent materials that are layered, such as in Silence of the Night, Brush Palimpsest or Binary Code.

Jan Owen - Brush Palimpsest

Not only is the material used for these works translucent (Hollytek) it is lightweight and has an ephemeral quality. Whether hanging, as the scroll books do, or presented in bound book form, when these works are on display, the slightest breeze causes a lovely shift in the relationship of the uppermost layer to the partially obscured layers underneath.

Jan also integrates mark with surface by using materials woven back into the surface. For her series of hanging accordion books, she weaves with Tyvek to which she has hand-applied surface colors. Using other paste-paper techniques, this rich surface then holds the words of a variety of poets (one reason I am so taken with these works is that she uses words by poets I resonate with – Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, Rilke, John Muir, Thoreau and Whitman.) Rather than presenting one poets entire text, she often weaves and layers words from these different sources and presents a new way of interpreting her selections.

A stunning example of this weaving is evident in Sunflower

I love the gestural lines and pattern of hand lettered text which now faces the seductive, shiny beauty of technology. We trust binary code and the web for our communication and interaction with others. The poems included in this book remind us there are things we should do while we are young and not virtually.

Jan Owen - Sunflower, detail

Sunflower, So Calm So Deep and Each Day are hand lettered on paste paper with woven Tyvek; the form a hanging accordion fold book with case.

Each Day

Jan Owen - Each Day

When we’ve hardly begun summer, the days grow shorter. The poems selected for this hanging book are about words and writing in the darkness.

Silence of the Night uses several layers of white and black painted Hollytex to create a sense of layers of silence that Thoreau describes. It includes text by Thoreau, Neruda and Rilke.

Writing on translucent pages of Hollytex with brushes and pens allows a beautiful layers of marks and lines. The words seem permanent and fragile.

Jan Owen - Silence of the Night

Jan’s work was included in Hand Lettered, Transparent/Opaque, the Beautiful Book and will be featured in Transparent/Opaque 2 during summer of 2012. Her works are available at Abecedarian Gallery’s online shop.