art

Sculptures by Zach VanBecelaere

We’re glad to present Sculptures by Zach VanBecelaere in the Post Reading Room inside Joplin Public Library from Sunday, May 1st – Thursday, June 30th.

Working primarily with steel and stainless steel, Zach VanBecelaere uses a variety of metalworking techniques to manipulate materials into new forms. He incorporates welding used for harsh texture, high mirror polished finishes, and patinated rusted finishes to create contrast and duality in his work. His work stems from a fascination with the natural processes of growth and decay while exploring the relationship between the two.

For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

EXHIBIT INFO

Sunday, May 1st – Thursday, June 30th

 

The Thought Knot by Zach VanBecelaere (with PAL Director Jill Sullivan for scale).

Book Review: Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Pity Comic Sans, the font that people love to hate. Developed by Vincent Connare in the mid-1990s, Comic Sans is what author Simon Garfield describes as “type that has gone wrong” in his book Just My Type, an engaging history of type (which, these days, the average person refers to as a ‘font,’ but more on that later).

Connare designed Comic Sans as a reaction against the perceived formality of Times New Roman. Specifically, as a new typeface for Microsoft Bob, a user-friendly software program designed for people who didn’t use – or were frightened of – computers. Connare believed that Times New Roman didn’t mesh well with other elements of the software, such as its “accessible language and […] appealing illustrations.” Ultimately, Connare’s new type couldn’t be worked into the package. Guess what? Microsoft Bob failed. Not long afterward, Connare’s Comic Sans was released in another software package that indeed became popular.

Then, after being included in Windows 95, Comic Sans was everywhere. So much so that people got sick of it. Like, really sick of it. Garfield tells us of Holly and David Combs, a couple who made an anti-Comic Sans website and sold “Ban Comic Sans” merchandise. It’s not necessarily that the Combs thought Comic Sans had no place in the world, but that it needed to be put back in its place. This seemingly ubiquitous hatred of Comic Sans is not unlike how people love to hate Merlot–they know little about its complexities, nuances, and when it is, in fact, a smart, or dare I say the right, choice.

Not only does Garfield give us the history of type/fonts, but, in some cases, the histories of their creators. One such case is the grisly history (that I definitely won’t mention here) of Eric Gill, whose typeface Gill Sans appeared in 1928 as “one of the twentieth century’s earliest and classic sans serif fonts” and is still widely used today.

Speaking of Sans Serif fonts, what’s the difference between that and Serif? I’ll tell you, but Garfield will tell you better with one of the fantastic visuals that accompany the text throughout his book. Serif fonts have feet and tips, which are the serifs. Remove those and voila! You have Sans Serif.

So what about this whole typeface and type/font thing? While typeface is a certain style of lettering, fonts refer to variations of a typeface, including size, weight, and so on. Garfield writes: “Fonts were once known as founts. Fonts and founts weren’t the same as typefaces, and typefaces weren’t the same as type.” He highlights this and many other more technical aspects of typography that, admittedly, readers without a keen interest in type may not find interesting. For example, typographers once had typescales (depth scales) for measuring not only the type, but the space between it, both of which are referred to as the point size, or, for typographers (and printers, as in printing presses) these measurements are grouped into picas.

“DIY” is one of my favorite chapters because it introduced me to the John Bull Printing Outfit, a DIY typographic kit released in the 1930s. It was both creative and educational and, to me, looks and sounds like loads of fun (Hello, eBay!). Garfield goes on to discuss other methods of personal printing, from Letrasets to typewriters to floppy disks, ending the chapter saying that “well-printed” materials are “fast becoming heritage,” yet “typefaces – both their preponderance and ingenuity – have not suffered a similar decline in fortunes.” He writes further that perhaps we have too many.

I particularly appreciate how easy-reading this book is. Although I didn’t learn this till 250 pages in, the book is set in Sabon, which is known for its readability. Perhaps my sharing this with you is somewhat of a spoiler, but I have good reason for doing so. That I thought the book was easy-reading before knowing a particular font was chosen to achieve just that illustrates how much of a connection we have between text – not just what it says, but how it looks – and the way we process information and, more generally, the world.

Literally every printed word was someone’s decision to use a particular typeface or font. The newspaper (or screen, if that’s your style) that you’re holding in your hand to read this review is but one example. Whether we realize it or not – or like it or not – the way that things look impact the way that we interact with them and fonts are no exception. Have you ever been put off by some fonts and not others? Made choices as a consumer based on fonts and labels? Sure you have, as have I.

Garfield reminds us that, like anything else, fonts have rules. Though he’s not necessarily opposed, he wonders “to what extent do rules stifle individuality and creativity?” (Good question.) I’ll leave you with a few so-called rules mentioned by Garfield, though he attributes them to Paul Felton: “Thou shalt not apply more than three typefaces in a document;” “Remember that a typeface that is not legible is not truly a typeface;” and “Thou shalt not use only capitals when setting vast body copy.”

As always, happy reading.

Book review by Jill Halbach Sullivan, Post Art Library Director.

Queer Space by Luke Blevins

We’re glad to present Queer Space by Luke Blevins in Joplin Public Library’s Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery from Sunday, October 10-Friday, December 31, 2021.

In this work, Blevins explores the tangential relationships between boyhood, social expectations, queer culture, and heteronormative assimilationism. He uses fantastical imagery to illustrate the shifting relationships we have with space and community as we grow and develop into our own persons. Through digital manipulation and processes, he creates imagery that proposes narratives without conclusions. Blevins was born and raised in Southwest Missouri. He studied art at Missouri Southern State University before earning his Master of Arts at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He teaches at Crowder College in the evenings and works in Admissions at Missouri Southern during the day.

The exhibit is open during the library’s regular hours of operation. An Artist Talk with Luke Blevins is scheduled for Saturday, November 6, 2021 in the Community Room at Joplin Public Library. This is a FREE, public exhibit/event. For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org.

Space Boy, digital photography, 2020

Peter and Jamie, digital photography, 2020

Seaman Abroad, digital photography, 2019

Transients Unwelcome, digital photography, 2018

Artist’s Statement

Nostalgia is most commonly related to the idea of longing for the past or, more appropriately, a past sense of self-identity.  It is a tool to reference and re-contextualize the past through a personal lens. Nostalgia lends itself to fantasy as our memories are unreliable. We create gilded moments to revisit as escapism. Looking back on my childhood, I see the gaps between nostalgic memories and the events that shaped me. It is in these in-between moments that fantasy and reality intersect. Also, it is where my work originates.

As children, everything seems magical. As we age and understand more of the world, that the magic lessens. The in-between, the habitation of time when the world is not quite magical anymore, but not a stagnant reality, expands.

My work explores the tangential relationships between boyhood, social expectations, queer culture, and heteronormative assimilationism. I use fantastical imagery to illustrate the shifting relationships we have with space and community as we grow and develop into our own persons. I have felt isolated in my life. What was once a safe warm home can become alien and cold and the abandoned places we avoided as children seem more and more welcoming. The history we want to connect to becomes more and more elusive as we struggle to also connect with the people around us. I make art to better understand how society has shaped me and how I will allow that to affect my present representation.

Through digital manipulation and processes, I create imagery that proposes narratives without conclusions. Snap shots of the in-between. This is achieved via layers of information combined in Photoshop: color, shadow, and object that work to obscure reality and paint my experience of the world in all its falsity.

BIO: Luke Blevins was born and raised in Southwest Missouri. He studied art at Missouri Southern State University before going on to get his Master of Arts at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He teaches at Crowder College in the evenings and works in Admissions at Missouri Southern during the day. When not juggling his numerous jobs he enjoys drawing, painting, and a good book.

My Missouri 2021 Photo Project Exhibit

In celebration of its 200th year, Missouri 2021, an initiative of The State Historical Society of Missouri, coordinated the My Missouri 2021 Photo Project and we helped bring it to the Joplin Public Library!

In 2018, Missouri 2021 invited professional and amateur photographers from across the state to capture and share unique and meaningful aspects of place in Missouri. Of the nearly 1,000 photographs submitted, 200 were chosen for a traveling exhibition – including several of Joplin and surrounding areas!

My Missouri 2021 is oriented around the four seasons and showcases the geographic and cultural landscape of the state. They provide an opportunity on the occasion of Missouri’s Bicentennial to reflect upon and increase the understanding of the state’s rich diversity while recognizing the many things its people share. My Missouri 2021 will be in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery (off of our lobby) from Saturday, September 4, 2021, through Sunday, September 26, 2021.

Shelter Insurance® is the platinum sponsor of the My Missouri 2021 exhibition. The exhibition was designed by PRO Expo Exhibits, the gold sponsor for the show, and supported by contributors to The State Historical Society of Missouri. Exhibits in the library are curated by Post Art Library. For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

Photographer George Haubein shows a library patron which of his photographs are among the 200 selected for the My Misosuri 2021 Photo Project exhibit.

 

 

FREE Mail Art Take-Home Kits!

We’re giving away Mail Art Take-Home Kits! Starting Thursday, July 1, 2021, you may pick up your kit from one of three places inside Joplin Public Library:

  • The Reference Desk (adult/teen kits)
  • The Teen Department (teen kits)
  • The Children’s Department (children’s kits)

Although the kits differ slightly, each contains everything you need to create one piece of mail art to mail in for the Post Mail Art Projekt: Show Me Mail Art exhibit, including a self-addressed stamped postcard.

Post Mail Art Projekt 2021: Show Me Mail Art (PMAP2021) is a collaboration between us, Connect2Culture, and Joplin Public Library. PMAP2021 is endorsed by Missouri 2021, an initiative of The State Historical Society of Missouri. For more information, contact Jill at 417-623-7953 x1041.

MAIL ART KIT CONTENTS

Adult Kit (collage postcard kit):

  • Five pages of magazine paper for collage material
  • One postcard with postage
  • One pair of travel scissors
  • One glue stick
  • One “Happy Mail” sticker
  • An instruction sheet

Teen Kit (watercolor postcard kit):

  • One watercolor postcard with postage
  • One set of washable watercolor paints
  • Extra watercolor paper
  • One “Happy Mail” sticker
  • An instruction sheet

Children’s Kit (hand-colored postcard kit):

  • One postcard with postage
  • One package of crayons
  • Exhibit coloring sheets
  • One “Happy Mail” sticker
  • An instruction sheet

Book Review: Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler

In 2014, we put out a call for entry for mail art. The idea was to create a one-off exhibit of mail art received from all over the world to introduce locals to the medium and encourage their participation. At the time, I was myself somewhat new to engaging with mail art and my experience with the world-wide mail art Network – yes, that’s a thing – was limited at best. Yet there I was, helping to coordinate a mail art call for entry and co-curate the resulting show. Enter Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler’s Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art.

This book differs from other mail art books that I’ve read (such as Mail Me Art by Darren Di Lieto and Correspondence Art, edited by Michael Crane and Mary Stofflet, both of which are wonderful) in that it’s not only a gallery of mail art, but a sort of mail art workshop, as the authors offer oodles of advice for how to make mail art, start a mail art project, and navigate the mail art world. Plus, it introduces readers to mail art terminology and, perhaps most importantly, mail art etiquette.

But what’s mail art? A basic, common definition of mail art (a.k.a. correspondence or postal art) is that mail art is when people send small-scale works of art to one another through the postal service, often with the package itself being considered the work of art. Frankly, that definition falls flat and fails to describe the vibrancy of this decades-long movement. In my experience, the best way to describe mail art is to hand someone a stack of it. The only sure thing about mail art is that it is, as Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler write, for everyone: “Anyone can be a mail artist, regardless of skill level or style of artwork.” The mail art itself is all over the place and all mediums are welcome. (The authors remind us, however, not to send anyone anything that we don’t want to deal with in our own mailboxes, such as perishable items.)

Although mail art is for everyone, the Network, like any other, has some basic rules. Namely, that “every piece of mail art that comes into your mailbox should receive some sort of acknowledgement in return.” That is, send something back! In the mail art world, this reciprocity is known as documentation. “No returns” is another tenet of mail art exchanges, meaning that each piece you receive is yours to keep, just as each piece you send out is someone else’s to keep. I appreciate that Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler tell us the rules and “Time-honored Traditions” of mail art culture at the start. It’s as if they’re telling us that if we cannot respect those rules, then we needn’t read further or participate.

Of course, there are non-Network rules that mail artists must abide by, such as those of the postal service (or services, when mailing internationally). As such, we’re reminded to become familiar with our local postal regulations and to keep in mind that mail is categorized based not only on shape, but on thickness and weight. For example, if an envelope exceeds the maximum dimensions or thickness, then it may be categorized as a package and, accordingly, require more postage. The chapter that touches on regulations also includes “The Ten Commandments of Mail Art,” “The Seven Sins of Mailing,” and “Seven Suggestions for Shepherding Your Mail Art Safely to Its Destination.” You’ll also find tips on wooing your mail carrier and becoming friends with those who work in the post office.

The bulk of the book isn’t about defining mail art or mail art rules, but about having fun and making mail art. A few pages cover turning everyday objects, such as produce stickers, wrappers, leaves, and bird feathers into mailable mail art. What to do with those old dryer sheets? Mail them! As the authors discovered, they make for durable mail art. The point is that you may creatively make use of whatever you have nearby and whatever you find laying around, like found objects, old catalogs, junk mail, etc.

Ideas for decorating and illustrating envelopes, whether ready-made or those you create yourself, are included in this title, as are other techniques, such as paper-folding, texturing, and creating patterns, as well as stenciling, faux postage and artistamps, refining your handwriting, finding pen pals, and developing your postal personality.

My old friend, Chapter 10, details how to start a mail art project of your own, including writing a call for entry, creating documentation, and developing a correspondence register, which is more involved than keeping a list or address book of mail art contacts because it has more information. For example, a correspondence register might have columns for name, address, what you received, when you received it, what you sent back, when you sent it, and any other tidbits that you’d care to include. Trust, when coordinating a mail art project, which involves sending documentation (i.e. mail art thank yous) to those who send to you, a register is handy!

“You Can Take It with You: The Traveling Mail Art Kit,” is one of my favorite chapters. In the chapter, the authors emphasize that “mail art can happen anywhere, at any time, and in any place.” Think a waiting room that you’re stuck in, when you’re on hold making a phone call, or utilizing public transportation, or some such situation. The idea behind the mail art kit is that it’s possible to make mail art even when time is limited. The “Suggested Items for a Well-stocked Mail Art Kit” list is great, though your kit may contain whatever you like. What’s in my kit varies from time to time, though at minimum it includes stamps, stationary, and a few envelopes.

Peppered throughout the book are mini-interviews with mail artists from around the world, as well as great visuals, with the book ending with a mail art gallery followed by a contributor’s list, further resources, and an envelope template. Interestingly, the authors became friends when getting to know one another through mail art after meeting at a book arts event. Thus, the mail art that they’ve exchanged is a visual account of how their friendship developed—so cool!

So, is Good Mail Day a good primer for aspiring mail artists? Indeed, as it continues to guide me through what started as a one-off mail art project in 2014 and has since turned into an ongoing project for our growing collection. At the time of this writing, we have 300+ pieces of mail art from around the world in our collection and we’re about half-way into our third mail art exhibit, which is accompanied by an active call for entry. Visit us at www.postartlibrary.org to learn more about Post Mail Art Projekt 2021: Show Me Mail Art and check out Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler’s Good Mail Day to learn how to get started.

As always, happy reading. And happy mailing!

Book review by Jill Halbach Sullivan, Post Art Library Director.

Art Exhibit: “C is for Color” by Connie Miller

We’re glad to present Connie Miller‘s “C is for Color” exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library from Saturday, June 12-August 31, 2021. Although enjoyed by people of all ages, “C is for Color” is an exhibit especially for children, as it’s hung at their eye-level and consists of a series of colorful acrylic paintings of animals–just in time for the Tails & Tales summer reading challenge! Starting Saturday, June 12, 2021 artist-provided take-home kits will be available in the Children’s Department on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last. For more information, contact Jill at 417-623-7953 x1041.

Artist’s Statement

Color is all around us, but not everyone sees color in the same way. One person might see a very loud red, while another person will see the same color as pink. Color comes into your eyes as light. All eyes accept the light and allow it to travel to the brain and be seen as color. Since some eyes accept more or less of the light, color will appear differently in each brain.

Studying the Color Wheel and how the colors work together will help you understand how color is used in Contemporary Art.

Colors can represent feelings and be associated with different feelings according to how each person has experiences that color. Cool colors are thought to be calming, but sometimes they can also feel like sadness, anxiety, or fear. Most people think warm colors represent feelings of love and kindness, but sometimes they can look like anger and danger.

Color choices are always uniquely your own. If you love the color green and you love your cat, it is perfectly acceptable to use a green paint to represent your cat. It is also okay if your cat doesn’t look like a cat, but just feels like a cat to you. The best color choices are the ones that feel right to you.

When I do artwork I begin by exploring colors, seeing how they work together. Some colors will make other colors seem brighter, while other colors will stand back and let the color next to it do all the work. The best way to experiment with color is to begin with one color, then choose another, and continue choosing colors until your space is covered. Finally, stand back and look at your art to see if it feels right to you. Each person will make color choices depending on how they have experienced color in their life.

Like any other creative activity, working with color requires practice. I’m still playing with colors, shapes, and forms and learning something new everyday. I hope you will be encouraged to experiement with colors to create Contemporary Art for yourself.

Connie Miller | forconniem@gmail.com | Connie Miller’s Art on Facebook

Photos: “C is for Color” exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library.

 

2021 Summer Reading Art Challenge

It’s time for our Summer Reading Art Challenge (SRAC)! This year, the theme for summer reading is Tails & Tales. In keeping with that theme, the prompt for SRAC 2021 is:

“Tell Your Tale with Art! What’s the story of you?!”

Starting June 1, 2021 you may pick up your artboard and entry form from any public service desk inside Joplin Public Library. Entries will be accepted for three categories: Adult (ages 18+), Teen (entering 6th-12th grades), and Kids (birth-5th grade). Entries must be returned to any public service desk within the library by 5pm on Sunday, July 31, 2021.

All SRAC 2021 entries will be exhibited in the Genealogy, Local History, and Post Reading Room wing inside the library from August 14-September 25, 2021. People’s Choice ballots for each category will be collected in the library during the exhibit. People’s Choice winners will be announced on October 1, 2021 and those winners will receive a prize when they pick up their artwork.

Participation is FREE and open to the public. A library card is NOT necessary. SRAC is an annual art challenge and show meant to encourage exploration of the visual arts through creating art based on Missouri’s state-wide theme for summer reading. For more information, contact Jill at 417-623-7953 x1041.

Art Exhibit: The ABCs of Folklore and Slang

The ABCs of Folklore and Slang, an exhibit featuring 26 linocuts by artist Deby Gilley, is open now through Sunday, May 30, 2021 in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library .

Inspired by positive feedback about the titles she gives her works, this series is based on an alphabetical sequence of key letters of the words within the titles. Gilley created these works, which reflect an Ozark heritage, using the relief-printmaking process.

“I am hopeful that my chosen images and titles offers a new and refreshing experience to the use of the slang and familiar sayings. Some of the images are people and animals that I know very well,” said Gilley.

Her book, The ABCs of Folklore and Slang Told in 26 Linocuts, was released in 2020. For more information, contact Post Art Library director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org.

 

Display: BOOKBINDING by Sullivan Book Arts

This display features the steps and tools of bookbinding as practiced by Sullivan Book Arts, a bindery based out of Pittsburg, Kansas.

Olive Sullivan is obsessed with books. She is a writer as well as a bookbinder and recently opened her own Little Free Library. Her poetry collection, Wandering Bone, was published in 2017 (Meadowlark Books, Emporia). She began bookbinding with Sharen May in 2011 and is now training her own apprentice, Angel Abshire, in this art.

Sullivan Book Arts specializes in restoration, custom bookbinding, art books, and more. For more information, visit them HERE.

Bookbinding is on display inside Joplin Public Library now through November 15, 2020.

Click HERE to see a news feature about Sullivan Book Arts’ Bookbinding.

Above: Bookbinding by Sullivan Book Arts
Above: Restoration In-progrss
Bookbinding by Sullivan Book Arts