‘Library Foliage’

Artists butcher books, transmogrifying them into sculptures lovely and deep

'Tree of Wisdom' by John Mark Sager
'Tree of Wisdom' by John Mark Sager

'Library Foliage'

Studio2Gallery,
1700 S. Lamar #318, 326-9102

www.studio2gallery.com

Through Jan. 22

Butchery is an art, or at least a bladed craft, that can lacerate whatever membrane separates the realm of art from the quotidian world.

Writing is an art, and about that declaration there is little argument. Another craft that might be considered art: making books. Novels, collections of short stories, volumes of verse or prose or more prosaic palaver lovingly locked into concrete existence with paper and ink and diverse methods of binding.

There are butchers loose in the library, my darling. Butchers, yes, and not even St. Francis de Sales can stay their vorpal blades. Count this among your blessings: These butchers are true artists. See their new creations, deconstructions not of texts but of the physical objects themselves, at Studio2Gallery's "Library Foliage" show: books carved and compromised, fractured and framed, transmogrified to sculpture at least as deep and beautiful as the narratives they once offered.

John Mark Sager is the curator and featured artist of this show, and, though many of the other artists' works are superlative, it's not difficult to see why. The largest of Sager's works in this show, Hagia Sophia, is a complex structure of surpassing beauty, composed of books, cast iron, printing blocks, toy blocks, bits of calcite, and more; it's like some ancient gravestone marking the death of printed wisdom with a skill that brings printing's disparate elements to new life. Sager has a suite of much smaller works, too, including The Voice of the City, in which he's taken an eponymous collection by O. Henry and, with the addition of steel, turned it into a curving urban landscape upon which stands a small, lone figure. It's simple and breathtaking.

Damian Priour, he of the Global Chair Project, hasn't wielded his cutting tools on a standing volume of paper and glue but has employed his signature combination of glass and limestone to create a new book object. Key, Volume 1 is composed of thin pages of glass encompassed by thick covers of native stone – the sort of thing, we imagine, used as a guest book where Bifröst, the rainbow bridge, enters the Norse gods' home of Asgard.

The assemblage called Bad Idea, by James Michael Starr, is a tiny book, its dark cover and grimy pages spread as if midflight, placed in exile, imprisoned in the middle of a tall and delicate cage of iron.

There are many more works here – by Jessica Maffia, Kathy Van Torne, James B. Campbell, and others – and they may well lock you in a cage of fascination for long pleasurable minutes, providing food for thought as you wander, like a character in a compelling story about the meat of literature, this bookishly holy abattoir.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Arts Reviews
Exhibitionism
'The 2012 Drawing Annual'
Don't let Tiny Park Gallery go without experiencing this exhibit of depth and meaning

Wayne Alan Brenner, May 18, 2012

Arts Review
'Memento Mori'
The three artists showing here exhibit so much sentience, mystery, and grace

Wayne Alan Brenner, April 13, 2012

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

March 22, 2019

"Stella Alesi: Journeying" at Prizer Arts & Letters
The artist extends her protean skills toward the bold and minimal

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Library Foliage, Studio2Gallery, John Mark Sager, Damian Priour, Global Chair Project, James Michael Starr, Jessica Maffia, Kathy Van Torne, James B. Campbell

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle