August 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Priscilla Juvelis

Catalogue Review: Priscilla Juvelis, #53 Contemporary Book Arts

P-J-catalogue53.pngPriscilla Juvelis of Kennebunkport, Maine, specializes in literary first editions, especially women authors; nineteenth- and twentieth-century reform movements, especially suffrage and temperance; and contemporary book arts. She has her hand on the pulse of contemporary book art and stocks the work of the finest artists and private presses, such as Donald Glaister, Julie Chen/Flying Fish Press, and Walter Hamady/Perishable Press.

Indeed all three can be found on the pages of her short but incredibly sweet new catalogue. From Glaister, she has an artist's book, one of ten copies, of A Few Questions, among others ($3,500). From Chen's Flying Fish Press and Barbara Tetenbaum's Triangular Press (a collaboration), a brand new artist's book in a modified flag book structure, one of one hundred copies, titled Glimpse ($975). And from Perishable Press, a scarce 1964 title, The Disillusioned Solipsist, written, printed, and published by Hamady ($2,650). There are also several books from Cheloniidae Press (now Press of the Sea Turtle).

Book art is, more so than other areas of book collecting, about subjective tastes. What appeals to the heart or the eye, rather than one more title from a specific author or genre. For me, Bad Girls, a 2011 unique artists' book by Mary McCarthy and Shirley Veenema, is one such piece ($6,000). It is made up of six "dos-a-dos" titles--Seductress, Promiscuous Actress, Rich Man's Mistress, Miser, Mass Murderer, and Robber Plunderer--in which a saint is produced twice, first as a "bad girl" and then as a converted saint.

The other that draws my attention is Remember the Ladies, a 2008 artist's book in a custom box, one of ten copies, by Sande Wascher-James ($1,200). The image of Abigail Adams sitting on Liberty Lawn fabric of red roses with the hand-printed admonition to her husband, John, "Remember the Ladies..." has a traditional look to it, and yet contains layers of meaning. Inside, the pages contain postage stamps of famous American women, such as Georgia O'Keefe, Margaret Mitchell, and Eleanor Roosevelt, that have been digitally printed onto fabric in a collage with text, ribbon, lace, and other fabrics. I love the idea and the execution. When stood on its "spine," it is truly a compelling book object (you must see the catalogue picture to understand how it works).

Go ahead, download catalogue 53 and take a look.