When life gives you books, make art

Recently I saw a posting on the Bay Area Book Artists (BABA) discussion board from a publisher with a large quantity of books they were looking to donate. I contacted them inquiring what a large quantity actually was and it turns out it’s about 10,000. Well, I don’t think I need that many (although it is tempting) but they were willing to give me what I wanted. So I headed up to SF not knowing what I was getting myself into. I didn’t really ask any questions about size, color, topic etc. I generally have a que sera sera attitude on these things.

It turns out the writer and self publisher of the book passed away 10 years ago and his family has a mountain of books and wants them to go somewhere useful. They were such friendly and warn people and were so excited that some of the books were going to an artist.

From across a courtyard and down a basement I slowly transferred 21 boxes of books to my car. Neither my back nor my car was happy with me, but these are the sacrifices an artist must make plus the books were free.

So now I have 756, ½ inch 5×7 paperback books titled Understanding Kanji charters by their Ancestral Forms by Ping-gam Go. Initially I only intended to take a couple hundred books but after I saw how small and compact the boxes were I decided to fill my car.

So now what to do with my loot? I promised the family I would turn their loved ones books into something special and give them a new life. I have some thought rolling around in my head. More specifically a site specific installation for Phantom Galleries vacant storefront exhibit. I really don’t have much time to figure this out and work on the project. Actually, I install in about 17 days, just thinking about it is freaking me out a bit.

I am sure I will figure it out and along the way I thought it would be fun to document the process. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting pictures of how it’s going.