Page turners

1078 Gallery show has a bookish theme

BOOK ENDS <br>Judith Hoffman’s “Man Moon-Go” reveals his inner workings.

Judith Hoffman’s “Man Moon-Go” reveals his inner workings.

1078 Gallery

820 Broadway St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 343-1973

An interesting assortment of art objects—all created under a unifying theme—is featured currently at the 1078 Gallery. The theme of the show, Conceptually Bound, “refers to the idea that the content of the book is in part expressed by the form the book takes,” writes curator Nanette Wylde. Running with this concept, each of the participating artists brings his or her own particular spin to the book motif—from actual books utilized as “found” objects and altered as needed, to concertina-like codices and marvelous, nigh mechanical contrivances that open up in layers like pages. A few of the items are somewhat lame, some rather amusing, and many quite good. Four of the best follow:

“About Bookness” consists of six wall-mounted pieces by Kent Manske. There is definitely a religious theme here: Sacred and religion-related books are displayed in varying degrees of desiccation: one burnt, painted and imprisoned in wire fencing; another burnt, painted, bound on both sides, opening in the middle, with blood-red edged pages; one of musical staves, open, the left page a deep, ballpoint blue (staves still visible), the right page’s blue staves set against white, broken intermittently with thorny rose stems; one closed, black bound, Christmas parcel tied with a crude strand of rusty barbed wire; and one extremely weathered, nearly disintegrating paperback, which might be titled Autobiography of a Yogi …(that was as best as I could make out from what’s left on the page).

Dividing the six tomes is a small shelf with one of those old photo-cubes resting upon it—the one photo that still stands out depicts an open Bible, human head shapes cut out of both sides, a bloody stake cross-beamed like a crucifix, blood (presumably red paint) staining the bottom of the book and pooling on the ground. These pieces suggest that, while important books may reflect their environment, their culture and their readers—sometimes accurately, often distortedly—they can also capture one’s soul, like the photographs in that cube, or simply by being restricted by authority or lost to the ravages of time … beyond grasping.

“Imprisoned Words,” by Vincent Koloski, is a book formed of cut and welded aluminum and steel gate pieces, with bars for cover panels and word-bedecked sheets of glowing Lucite between for pages. On these primary-color-lit pages are quotes from Pasternak, Sacco, Biko, Hitler (on the center, red-glowing page), Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi (all of whom not only spent time there but also wrote while incarcerated). What’s most fascinating is contemplating how Koloski has lit these sheets of Lucite such that they glow the way they do. They’re quite cool.

The surreal book constructs of Paula Streeter, with their hollowed-out, compartmentalized centers filled with strange and wondrous objects—suspended doll torsos, web-thin gold filaments, false teeth, tiny bell jars containing peculiar items, and more—suggest an odd hybridization of the works of Magritte and Peter Blake. Curiously compelling, like images from a half-remembered dream.

One of a sequence of desiccated books by artist Kent Manske.

Photo by Tom Angel

Judith Hoffman’s elaborate and tiny brass, silver and copper constructs are easily the most fascinating objects on display. “Man Moon-Go” is a small metal man whose torso opens like a book, revealing layer after layer of his inner workings—watch gears juxtaposed with suggestions of organs. “Fish Messages” is a metal fish that folds, by a series of hinges, into a book; “The Fish Who Swims in the Stars” features flip-through layers revealing its inner organs and skeleton. This is such finely detailed work, contemplating it is most enjoyable (only the attendant may handle these; ask first).

Also of note are Enrique Chaqoya, Guillermo Gêmez-Peña and Felicia Rice’s pointedly humorous "Codex Espangliensis" and Ron Guzman’s "In Memory of Images." This show continues only another week; don’t miss it.