Angee Lennard

March 6, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest post by Thea Liberty Nichols

Email interview conducted with Angee Lennard

Angee Lennard is the founder of Spudnik Press Cooperative, and currently serves as the Executive Director. She has participated in group shows at Green Lantern, Heaven Gallery, Butcher Shop, Beverly Art Center, and Chicago Urban Art Space. She has been an Artist in Residence at AS220 in Providence, RI. She currently teaches at Marwen, Spudnik Press, and through Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), and has previously taught at Rumble Arts and Paper Source. She has been a panelist at Zygote Press’ Collective INK and moderated the panel “Printmaker as Distributor, Collaborator, and Facilitator” at DePaul University Museum through Nomadic Studio. She is a member of the Chicago Printers Guild and Southern Graphics Council. She received her BFA with an emphasis is Print Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005.

Angee Lennard

TLN: I’ve read before, in your own words, about your inspiration for opening Spudnik Press, and since printmaking by nature is a very communicative medium, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about how you communicate with the public? And online? And in print? Is their a particular tone or house style that you’ve developed over time?

AL: I think the communicativeness of printmaking affects the visuals that go along with what I write more than the words. Or rather, I have more confidence and experience in tweaking aesthetics and design than I do language. I spend a great deal of time with every mass e-mail I write because I am acutely aware that through the words I use, I am presenting Spudnik Press as a certain type of community. But my lack of editing experience leaves me guessing at the impact of my words. We do have standard fonts we use for all of our literature. It took me awhile to settle on “Fuse Green” for our 2011 Brochures.

There are a few tiers of people I communicate with. The broadest being “the public”. I try to put together as professional of a package as possible for this crowd. People won’t take you seriously until you take yourself seriously, and we need to earn peoples trust that we are a stable organization that is well-run with clear goals. Next, we have a google group for members. This is a group that I am in more communication with about donations we need, classes that have openings, volunteer opportunities, etc, and I’m a little more conversational with. Lastly, we have the inner circle of keyholders, monitors, and teachers. This is the group that gets e-mails full of slang and at times gripes (“Squeegees don’t clean themselves!”) 

Maintaining a conversational tone is important to our mission of remaining approachable. With printing being derived from industry, we use a great deal of terminology and can often slip into exclusive conversations about extraneous topics like ink viscosity. We forget how unwelcoming this is to non-printers. I use the all-inclusive “we” so often that my family has been confused about if I had a business partner or not.

I also try to clearly communicate exactly what Spudnik’s needs are, which requires a little bit of subtle education slipped into e-mails, press releases, facebook posts, etc. It also requires a great amount of transparency. A few years ago, I couldn’t with words clarify how drastically we needed people to conserve ink, pay rent on time, etc, so I started prominently displaying our bank statements. About a month later our situation started to improve. We also had a member offer to be our first Treasurer. People can only pull their own weight when they are made aware of what their share of responsibility is.

TLN: Asking for help is really hard sometimes—on that note, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the Space Race!

Maureen Cooper documenting artwork at a recent Spudnik fundraiser

AL: Space Race is a moniker we are using for the fundraising we are doing to allow us to move into a larger home. Everyone who has worked at Spudnik knows that we are crammed in our current location and the quicker we can procure the needed funds, the faster we can breath a little and add resources like letterpresses and an offset press the better. We are approaching it like a capital campaign – we’ll keep having fundraisers until our monetary goal is met. Our first fundraiser was an Art Documentation Day where donors were able to bring in a portfolio of work and have it documented. Next is The Hashbrown, a Chili Cook-Off between many of Chicago’s biggest printers. Another component is selling Subscriptions. For $250, up to 12 people can receive a package of prints every quarter throughout the year. The prints included in the subscription will be the best of the best that is made here, posters for our events, collaborative projects, work from Artists in Residence, artwork we publish, and the like. We are planning on using Kickstarter for the tail end of our fundraising, and have already had friends of Spudnik offer to teach relief printing, screenprinting, and harmonica to backers pledging at different tiers. I am also keeping an updated list of materials, equipment, and furniture that we are seeking donations of online.

TLN: Wow! So this is a really big push to make Spudnik bigger and better. Can you tell us how this speaks to Spudnik’s mission? And let us in on how you crafted that statement in the first place please.

Liz Born sharing her work with guests at Internal Dialog, a show Spudnik had featuring the work of 3 of their interns.

AL: Moving to this new studio speaks to our mission in a few ways. Although it will take us some time to get our offset press up and running, access to this type of printing is practically non-existent, affordable or otherwise. Even though offset printing can produce higher volumes of prints faster and cheaper than other mediums, artists often cannot experiment with it. The more people using the studio, the more the overhead costs are divided among all users, allowing us to either lower rates or offer more free or discounted services to the community. I am also hoping that once we have a few more people using the studio, it will be easier to expand our regular hours. We currently are only officially open two nights a week, and Saturday afternoons.

I did not initially sit down to write a mission statement. Our goals slowly became evident to me as Spudnik developed. I knew I wanted to create a studio that encouraged open dialog and a supportive environment, but I didn’t know what that would look like or how it would function. I looked at other models, but until I started the shop it wasn’t clear to me what would end up striking a chord and becoming our mainstays. Our official mission statement, to me, is pretty dry and concise, developed for grant writing and our tax-exempt application. I feel our mission is actually much broader, complex, and intangible; something in the vain of enabling individuals, both those who identify as “artists” and those who don’t, to contribute to the visual culture of our city and use art as a means for communication and building community.


Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer.

Laura Fox

March 5, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest post by Thea Liberty Nichols

Email interview conducted with Laura Fox

Laura Fox is interested in the ways that art builds community, whether through local artists and organizations, urban (re)development plans, and nation-building efforts. Besides for writing about art and teaching at 826CHI, she works full-time in marketing and is on the board of directors at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, among lots of other pursuits. Her friends sometimes call her ’20 Questions’ for her insatiable curiosity, and she loves good conversations and adventure.

Laura Fox

TLN: As a freelance writer for both a print publication (Newcity) and an online web magazine (Flavorpill), can you tell us if or how the format impacts the form of your writing? Does the ability to edit after deadline or hyperlink things with digital pieces, or the chance to isolate and retain a copy of your columns with print ones weight them differently in terms of importance and impermanence?

LF: Nothing can beat the thrill of seeing a piece in print, or hearing from friends that they read your work while flipping through Newcity on the El. But digital forms—for both Flavorpill and Newcity—are especially empowering when trying to capture visual art. I have an education-oriented bent when I write, and online content allows me to better contextualize work for readers by hyperlinking to more images of the artists’ work or relevant articles. Especially when the word count is limited, this helps me narrate the bigger story.

TLN: I’m always interested in how the ‘comments’ section of a digital publication can spark dialogue– have you gotten any feedback on pieces you’ve written this way? Do you participate in this type of dialogue by commenting on other things yourself? How do you think the anonymity of the comments section impacts their tone, if at all?

Laura Fox

LF: I started writing because I was seeing so much work and discussing it with friends, but wanted to engage in a larger conversation. The ‘Comments’ section is certainly an area confirming that dialogue is two-sided—people have given me some great feedback, and I love to post comments on others’ writing as well. I’ve had the most sustained, interesting conversations through forms of social media, though. A few months ago, for example, I wrote a piece on a national issue—the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s work from the Smithsonian (and Chicago’s response) for Newcity. Not only did I receive an influx of comments, recent news, and insightful postings from people I know, but also from interested students, activists, and academics. It was inspiring to participate in a dialogue that anchored the arts so firmly in our civic consciousness.

TLN: Why don’t we wrap up by you telling us a little bit about your work with 826CHI please?

LF: Teaching creative writing workshops to students at 826CHI really connects me to the pure joy of creative expression. The students express themselves with unfettered enthusiasm, and it’s so energizing to help them learn about different ways to channel that creativity, whether through writing, performance, or art. I love taking students to art galleries or small museums for art-based writing workshops, or inviting interesting people as interview subjects for ones focused on narrative non-fiction. On one workshop field trip to the Roger Brown Study Collection, a student said, “This art is so cool. Can I just talk about it all the time?” I couldn’t agree more.


Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer.

James Connolly

March 4, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest post by Thea Liberty Nichols

Email interview conducted with James Connolly

James Connolly is a new media artist and the Assistant Curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection. He received his BFA with an Emphasis in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from SAIC in 2010.

James Connolly in the Roger Brown Study Collection

TLN: Roger Brown had such a hilarious, ferocious and well documented repartee with art critics and writers over the course of his career– can you tell us a little bit about some of that work, and how, if at all, that’s impacted the writing you do in your role as Assistant Curator?

JC: Roger Brown had a very unique relationship to art critics. Rather than passively allowing their words to cast judgment, he would often invert the relationship of artist to critic by aggressively responding in the form of incredibly potent, strongly worded letters and even works of art that directly depicted, always in a mocking manner, writers he thought were unfairly critical of his art or that of his friends. The best example of this might be his depiction of a Chicago art critic on a freak-show-banner-style painting bent over shoving his head up his own ass.

Roger Brown. Alan Artner, Ironic Contortionist of Irony, 1993, oil on canvas, 20" x 24"

I think a lot of Brown’s actions of this sort were influenced heavily by his interest in incredibly outspoken artists—artists such as the sign painter Jesse “Outlaw” Howard and others who, in his own words, gave him “the liberty to express [his] own deepest and most secret inner voice” through his artwork.

As the assistant curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection, I feel the need for the writing I do to adhere to or at least be based in Brown’s own words and/or the collection itself. Yet the personal, outspoken nature of many of his writings and artworks, coupled with the nature of the collection—the way that it lacks hierarchies or a set method of interpretation and engages the viewer to create their own experience—means that I’m also empowered as a writer to interpret, engage with, and conceptualize the collection from my own point of view. In fact, I feel obligated to do so.

TLN: I know typically a lot of the writing that arts administrators, such as yourself, do is from the 3rd person omniscient point of view, so I really like what you’re saying about serving more as equal parts medium and maverick. Aside from strictly writing, how much of what you do is based more in an oral tradition, or involves interviewing or interfacing with your audience?

JC: Because the Roger Brown Study Collection is a special collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the majority of my time is spent interfacing with an audience—usually students—in a manner that encourages an exchange of ideas and critical engagement with the space as collection, archive, and museum. This is something Brown did often. He was always willing to open the doors of his home to show his collection to any audience, and his gifting of it to SAIC is a testament to his desires to see it used in a creative and productive setting. RBSC curator Lisa Stone and I work to continue Brown’s tradition, always beginning a class visit with a slideshow contextualizing the collection in a manner that conforms to the audience’s interests. Whether the students are painters, curators, writers, performance artists, sculptors—the list could go on—there are endless ways of maneuvering through and interpreting the collection, and we attempt to provide visitors with the information and setting for them to find such paths on their own. As assistant curator I do have many ways of talking about the collection formed by my own perspectives and I often share these during tours, but I don’t view my role as being one that tells a visitor exactly how to navigate the space. A visitor’s experience of the Study Collection comes about through the spontaneity of their looking combined with the ideas they bring, and I attempt to supplement that by answering questions and sharing my own knowledge.

TLN: I remember an RBSC slide lecture being offered accompanied by 3-D glasses and also those kids View-Master slide reels being made for the zine publications that accompanied the Calif USA show— can you tell us more about the not so run-of-the-mill materials you’ve pubilshed since you’ve been there?

JC: We put together a lot of non-traditional materials using low-tech methods and somewhat obsolete technologies for the Roger Brown: Calif. USA exhibition. In that show we were engaging with a series of works Brown referred to as Virtual Still Life paintings: landscape-painted stretched canvases inside constructed frames with shelves at the bottom holding found ceramic objects. Nick Lowe, curator of Calif. USA, brought in the artist Matt Bergstrom who works with 3-d photography to train us on photographing objects for View-Master reels and images viewable in 3-d with the classic red and blue framed glasses. The idea for making these images occurred to us originally because of the three-dimensional nature of the California object paintings, but in the end I think the process fits perfectly into the aesthetic of the Study Collection in general. The View-Master as object and toy corresponds nicely to the nostalgic nature of many of the items in Brown’s collection, as does the practice of having 20 students stare at a screen while wearing 3-d glasses from Uncle Fun. Nick also put together miniatures of the complete La Conchita collection, and I’m currently working with him to recreate miniature versions of each Virtual Still Life painting. In the end, we’ve realized that, as it exists somewhere in between being a domestic space, artists’ museum, and cabinet of curiosities, run-of-the-mill exhibition materials just don’t do justice to the RBSC’s unconventional nature.

Roger Brown Study Collection (Photo by Leland Meiners)



Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer.

Susannah Ribstein

March 3, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest blog post by Thea Liberty Nichols

Email interview conducted with Susannah Ribstein

Susannah Ribstein is the director of Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery in Wicker Park. She is also completing an M.S. in Historic Preservation at the School of the Art Institute. Her thesis for that degree focuses on the origins and development of the late modern architectural style known as Brutalism. She received a B.A in art history from the University of Chicago in 2005.

Roger Brown Home and Studio, exterior view. Courtesy of the Roger Brown Study Collection.

TLN: Congratulations on the recent unanimous acceptance of your historic landmark nomination! Can you tell us a little bit more about the nomination itself— what it is, what you were nominating and what went into writing it?

SR: Gee, thanks Thea! I’ll try to be as concise as possible here, but it’s a long process and one that’s probably pretty unfamiliar to most BaS readers. I think that anyone with an interest in fine art could benefit from a better understanding of how preservation can be used to support investigations into all kinds of cultural history. Although this project required a lot of art history, I’m going to talk more about the preservation-specific parts because that might actually be news to someone.

In the summer of 2009 Lisa Stone, the curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection, asked me to nominate the collection’s building (Brown’s former home and studio, now owned by the Art Institute) to the National Register of Historic Places. I was in the middle of SAIC’s master’s program in Historic Preservation, and I’m the gallery director at Corbett vs. Dempsey (specializing in modern and contemporary art from Chicago) so I thought writing the nomination would be a good way to combine my interests in architectural preservation and Chicago art history.

The Study Collection is one of Chicago’s greatest architectural, art historical, and cultural landmarks. The building, which dates from 1888, is located in Lincoln Park, at 1926 N. Halsted Street. Brown bought the building in 1974 and with his partner, the architect George Veronda, converted it from a rundown storefront with 3 apartments to a modern studio for him on the first floor and an apartment for both of them on the second floor. Over the years the apartment filled with Brown’s incredible collection of art and artifacts, which is now preserved in one of the best house museums you’ve ever seen. All of Brown’s great Chicago Imagist colleagues are represented in the collection (Jim Nutt, Christina Ramberg, Ed Paschke, Philip Hanson, Karl Wirsum, etc. etc.) as well as work by self-taught artists like Joseph Yoakum and Jesse Howard, vintage toys and ephemera, and modernist furniture. The building and its contents are still essentially as Brown left them when he moved out in 1995, two years before his death in 1997. (Read more about the collection here, and plan a visit!) As wonderful as the art collection is, it’s not technically part of my nomination, which is limited to the building itself, the backyard that Brown landscaped, and the frame garage he built out back to house his 1967 Mustang.

Roger Brown in his studio. Courtesy of the Roger Brown Study Collection.

TLN: Can you tell us a little more about what the National Register is?

SR: It’s a program overseen by the National Park Service, created in 1966 at the dawn of the modern preservation movement as part of the National Historic Preservation Act. It’s intended to be a method for building an inventory of American architectural, archeological, and cultural landmarks, and anyone can nominate a property, or a collection of properties (as a district) for listing. Every state has a Historic Preservation Office with at least one staff member responsible for helping people with the listing process. It is in theory a very egalitarian program, but in reality the process is quite involved and requires a particular approach to writing the nomination that I think would be hard for a layman to navigate. Most property owners – both individual and corporate – hire historical consultants to do the nominations for them because they are so time-consuming and really do require a relationship with the preservation bureaucracy in order for them to go smoothly.

TLN: So tell us more about what comprises a nomination.

SR: The main written components of the nomination are a description and a statement of significance. The description is supposed to be detailed enough that you could re-create the place without pictures if it fell down. That’s a pretty rough task. Even with an undergraduate specialization in architectural history and (at that point) half of a master’s degree in preservation, I found I still had plenty to learn about building descriptions. As mind-numbing as descriptive writing can be, it’s also a kind of great exercise for a writer to really focus on how to create an accurate diagram of something using only words. Finding the right vocabulary, figuring out how to organize the parts in space – it’s like a puzzle.

The statement of significance is where you make your historical argument for the property’s significance. Coming from a family of lawyers made this a really delicious prospect for me. Using historical narrative and context to build a clear and convincing case for something’s significance is a pretty foundational skill for an historian. In the nomination process it gets stripped down to the essentials: use the facts, make your case, convince someone. It’s fun, especially when you think you’ve got a resistant audience, as I did. Several years ago, based on a much shorter submission, the Illinois preservation office said they didn’t think Brown was significant enough to justify pursuing the entire nomination. That really lit a fire under Lisa (Stone), and under me to prove them wrong. I think most of the problem with their initial understanding was that there are very few art historical landmarks in this state, despite its incredible art history, and preservationists generally don’t know as much about art as they do about architecture and political history. On top of that, the National Register is not friendly to landmarks that have achieved significance within the last 50 years. The period of significance for Brown’s home and studio was 1974 to 1995, which is absurdly recent to preservationists who are used to evaluating buildings that are a century old – and many of whom personally remember 1995 like it was last week. In order to list properties less than 50 years old you have to prove that they are exceptionally significant, either because they are a unique remnant or because the history that they represent is crucially important to American civilization. So I felt like I had my rhetorical work cut out for me with this project.

Roger Brown Home and Studio, hallway. Courtesy of the Roger Brown Study Collection.

TLN: So how did you make your case for the significance of the Study Collection within the larger historical, and specifically preservationist perspective, the Council was coming from?

SR: Preservation activism in general relies heavily on establishing historical context, and the statement of significance in a National Register nomination is a great example of this. The emphasis on contextualization is one of my favorite things about preservation writing. I love setting up an environment in which people can come to appreciate buildings and landmarks. It’s no use to try to appeal to taste and nostalgia – those things are too idiosyncratic to provide a solid foundation for the kinds of funding and legislation that support preservation work. You have to paint a picture of a moment in the past, and situate your landmark within it in order to give an objective view of its status and meaning.

In the case of this nomination, I argued for its significance based on its association with Brown because he was an important and well-known American artist, and based on its connection to Chicago Imagism because that was arguably this city’s most important contribution to 20th century American art. Although detailing the history and proving the significance of Brown and Imagism took up most of my nomination, I also wanted to make a case for the importance of the building as representative of the historical evolution of Chicago’s industrial production. Like so much of this city, it began its life as a commercial and residential property built during the city’s population boom in the late-19th century. It then served a variety of retail and light-industrial purposes before (with Brown’s tenancy) becoming a focal point for the kind of cultural production that replaced manufacturing as this city’s most vital export. I love that this one building will always be a way for people to touch and feel the story of how Chicago has changed over the course of the century. Rather than being a pure, embalmed example of an architectural style, it’s a building that testifies to a much broader historical narrative. I think it’s an incredibly valuable place for that reason alone. Preservation is traditionally geared to value landmarks that have impeccable integrity to their original form. Valuing buildings because their alterations tell a story is a practice that is relatively new to the field, and I think one of the more exciting directions it is taking. (I have to also give credit here to Anthony Rubano, an architect in the state preservation office who was an indispensable resource to me throughout this process. He first suggested the idea of adding a discussion of this kind of evolutionary significance to the nomination – among a million other wonderful suggestions.)

The main surprise to me about this nomination process was that the writing was actually a relatively small portion of it, time-wise. I finished the bulk of the writing in the summer of 2009. Corresponding with the National Register coordinator for the state (in Springfield) and going through multiple rounds of editing took many months. Finally, in the fall of 2010, the nomination was presented to the City of Chicago Landmarks Commission. When you nominate a landmark in a city that’s big enough to have its own historic preservation office, like Chicago, they are allowed to weigh in first even though it’s the state that has the final say. The Chicago Commission was really enthusiastic. It was so gratifying to hear from these historians who perhaps didn’t know much about their city’s amazing art history. They really got how important Brown and the Imagists were to Chicago, and made great associations between the art and other social and cultural elements of the city’s history with which they were more familiar. One commissioner picked up on a mention I made of Brown and his colleagues Ray Yoshida, Christina Ramberg and Philip Hanson going to the Maxwell Street market to find artistic inspiration. He knew a bit about some of the Imagists already, and knew a lot about Maxwell Street, but didn’t realize that there was an important relationship there. Learning about connections like that is what makes being an historian in this city great.

Roger Brown Home and Studio, living room. Courtesy of the Roger Brown Study Collection.

After the Chicago commission, the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council votes on it in one of their quarterly meetings. Lisa and I traveled to the meeting in Springfield last December to make a short presentation and see the vote. I was still worried that the council would not understand how something that happened so recently (in geological time, anyway) and in an area of history with which they might not be familiar could be exceptionally significant. But again, they responded enthusiastically and favorably and all voted in support of the nomination (with the exception of one abstainer). Now it’s winding its way through the rest of the process with the National Parks Service, and will be officially designated in the coming months.

I do want to say something about what listing on the National Register actually means for the building. It’s a very common misconception that listing confers some kind of protection for a property. It doesn’t. If federal money is going to be used to demolish or alter a listed property, the responsible agency is supposed to go through a mitigation procedure in which they make some attempt to find an alternative to alteration/demolition. But they can always decide it’s not possible and go ahead with whatever work they want. And if it’s private money you don’t have to ask anyone before you knock the whole thing down. The Register is more of a carrot than a stick. The main reason that people pursue listing (apart from the prestige) is that it makes the property eligible for a variety of tax incentives.

Brown’s home and studio is already a prestigious site as a house museum and there is no danger of alteration or destruction since the Art Institute is a committed steward. So I saw the nomination process mostly as an opportunity to produce a piece of writing that made a case for the broad historical significance of Brown, his colleagues in Chicago, and the building as a cultural landmark. It was also important to me that my product would be available for study at the building and online (via the National Park Service, eventually. They’re in the process of digitizing nominations here. The database is incomplete and buggy, but still a gold mine of historical information). Preservation usually only comes onto the radar of the general public when there’s a heroic effort underway to save an endangered building. That aspect of preservation is of course really important. But I think it’s equally important for people to know that its mechanisms have the potential to support cultural investigations that are much wider, richer, and less desperately functional than architectural maintenance alone.


Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer.



Dee Clements

March 2, 2011 · Print This Article

Guest post by Thea Liberty Nichols

Email interview conducted with Dee Clements

Dee Clements is the founder and director of The Paper Crane.  She is a painter, book maker and art writer. Dee received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago a long time ago but still looks like she is 20. Sometimes her work can be seen here. Dee formed an acappella glee club once with her best pals and she loves the Midwest the most. She lives in Chicago with her boyfriend, dog and their two cats.

Dee Clements

TLN: As an artist with a background in painting and sewing, can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for launching the Paper Crane? Do you consider writing part of your art practice too?

DC: Yes, writing has always been part of my painting practice. Although with painting it has always been a way for me to articulate ideas to myself so that I can talk about my own work later. 

The Paper Crane started as a personal blog that I began in order to chronicle my studio practice on a regular basis. In 2009 I was laid off from my full time job at The Joffrey Ballet, at first I was worried and scared but then I saw it as an opportunity to stop doing something I didn’t care about just to make money and start doing something that was meaningful and important to me. So I started working in my studio every day, kind of treating it like I would a day job. Soon I started curating shows in my studio, then the writing I was doing on my blog evolved from writing about my own work to writing about other people’s work and the shows I was curating. I decided to start working toward making The Paper Crane legitimate. I got a domain name, asked my friend Eric Gallegos to help me design a better website for The Paper Crane, I rented a bigger studio and asked a long time friend Leslie Carlson to join up with me and start the space and started taking steps to become 501c3. The Paper Crane is now an artist books and works on paper studio and exhibition space. Presently, I am working on preparing for the first big exhibition of the year meanwhile developing an artist books pop-up library that will be permanently housed in the space.

Paper Crane space (Photo by Dee Clements)

TLN: I find it really interesting and exciting that your electronic, internet based blog in some ways birthed the real life, hard copy artists book and works on paper space. Can you talk a little bit about navigating the divide between digital and print? How does that enhance or inhibit your ability to communicate with others?

DC: The blog and the brick and mortar space kind of keep each other informed. The blog is a quick and easy way for people who are sitting in their office on a Wednesday at 2pm to check out what we are doing and thinking about over at the space. For me, I tend to use the blog to write exhibition reviews or post about an event or class we are hosting at the space. The internet can be such a wonderful tool that it has really enhanced our projects at The Paper Crane. I am curating a show that will be opening in March that features artist books by 26 artists. I put up a call for artists for this show and the amount of emails I received was overwhelming. In that sense it is great for getting the word out about what we’re doing. I work really hard at keep our posts constructive and positive and I think because of that we really have not experienced anything inhibiting as a result. I’m really fascinated by the internet and how accessible everything is because of it’s existence. Starting the Paper Crane would have been so much more difficult and slow going with out the help of having a website and social networking tools.

Paper Crane space opening (Photo by Dee Clements)

TLN: I know you gauge interest and enthusiasm of the Paper Crane gallery by the crowds at your openings and the students filling up your classes– how do you evaluate engagement with your blog? The comments section? Google analytics? And do you feel like one (real life) impacts the other (virtual reality) at all?

DC: I get a lot of emails from people telling me how much they like the site. This is really encouraging. We are starting an artist books library and I have gotten a lot of snail mail lately from people who read the blog and wanted to submit their work to the library. It never ceases to shock and humble me that people outside of my group of friends read the blog and are interested in what is happening at the space. The blog has a built in analytics that I track daily. It interests me to see what posts people are interested in reading. However I do not tailor the posts around this. I would like for the blog and the space to by synonymous however right now, they are still separate. The blog is obviously a lot more accessible and I hope it encourages people to come to our exhibitions and visit the space. It is a process integrating the two and it’s not easy. But the slow evolution of it is worth the time, effort and wait.

Flier for Artist Book Show (Design by Mike Domzalski)



Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer.