FAU Jupiter Library Presents 'Long Ways to Travel'
Lake Worth Printers Create Handmade Books and Broadsides
JUPITER, FL (November 8, 2007) – Florida Atlantic University’s John D. MacArthur Campus Library Gallery is hosting “Long Ways to Travel” through Thursday, January 3, 2008, on FAU’s Jupiter campus, located at 5353 Parkside Drive.
“Long Ways to Travel” is an exhibition of handmade books and broadsides by Lake Worth printers John Cutrone and Seth Thompson, who are also employees of the Arthur and Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts at FAU’s Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus.
“Today’s books are mass produced overnight by the thousands,’’ said Diane Arrieta, exhibition chairman. “‘Long Ways to Travel’ is a great example of the craft of book art. Each one is a treasure.”
Cutrone and Thompson create letterpress-printed limited edition books and broadsides at Convivio Bookworks, a small studio in their home in downtown Lake Worth. Before settling into the studio, their work was done in the spirit of the itinerant printers of yore, working at presses and book studios across the country.
The exhibition gathers 20 of their print works, including Psalm for Cordie, which was Cutrone’s first book, and some of Convivio Bookworks’ most recent productions: Works on Paper, a book of poems by Shin Yu Pai and two pieces that came about from their participation with the Mutanabbi Street Coalition, raising money for humanitarian relief agencies in Iraq. One of these is the broadside From Occident to Orient by Iraqi poet Zaid Shlah.
“The Mutanabbi Street projects are particularly important to me,” said Cutrone, programs coordinator for the Jaffe center. “Especially in knowing that by doing what we do, we are perhaps helping, somehow, people in a desperate situation.”
Mutanabbi Street, the centuries-old center of bookselling in Baghdad, was devastated by a car bomb attack on March 5, 2007. The Mutanabbi Street Coalition, a group of some 60 letterpress printers, was formed soon afterward with the goal of printing the work of Iraqi poets and supporting Doctors Without Borders in Iraq through the sale of these broadsides.
One of Thompson’s favorite pieces is Putting Up Mangoes. “It was one of our first truly collaborative pieces,” he said. “John wrote the story about the over-abundant mango tree that sits outside our studio, and I carved the linoleum for the illustration… we designed the book together.”
“We work really well together,” said Cutrone. “We have a similar design aesthetic, but different enough that the sum of the two is usually better than either of us might come up with on our own.”
In organizing the first retrospective of their work, it became apparent that books by Cutrone and Thompson, a collections specialist at the Jaffe center, involve not just type and paper, but also miles and wanderlust. The exhibition takes its name from a shellac disc recorded in 1945 by Woody Guthrie. “Long Ways to Travel” seemed a fitting title for a show of books and broadsides printed in many far-flung places.
“We’ve worked in the most interesting settings,” said Cutrone. “Academic settings, working print shops, haunted basements… even at the last active Shaker Community in the United States. And we’ve met some really wonderful folks along the way — not just fellow bookmakers, but authors and artists, as well.”
This exhibition is presented in cooperation with the Jaffe center, which is home to thousands of artists’ books and limited editions. More information on the center can be found at www.jaffecollection.org. More information on the work of Cutrone and Thompson and their press, Convivio Bookworks, can be found at www.conviviobookworks.com.
The McArthur Campus Library hours are Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 561-799-8530 or visit www.library.fau.edu/npb/npb.htm.