The Pop-ups Are Coming! The Pop-ups Are Coming!
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Kyle Olmon, MBS Board member, instructor of pop-ups at Pratt Institute, and former PE at the studios of Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, ventured his overview of his favorite artist books, the ones that “move” him. He acknowledged he was “doing a dangerous thing by trying to represent their work.” This survey of a dozen artist books was partially sponsored by Ken Soehner, Chief Librarian at the Met Museum’s Watson Library in NYC where Kyle had been an intern. The survey will appear as a Fall journal article in Parentheses.
Kyle started with Julie Chen’s Praxis  and Dorothy A. Yule’s Memories of Science, which won MBS’ first Meggendorfer Artist Book Prize. He showed us books by several artists in the room: Collette Fu, Emily Martin, Shawn Sheehy, Kevin Steele, and Marianne Petit. Several others had been previous conference lecturers, or in the case of Paul Johnson, a keynote speaker. This was a feast for our eyes. Kyle quoted Romanian book artist Andrea Dezsö who said, “A nice piece of paper doesn’t fail to inspire me.” Ms. Dezsö has an exhibition at the Pucker Gallery in Boston until December 4, ’16. Thanks for sharing what inspires you, Kyle!
Kelli Anderson gives herself several descriptive titles, like “paper programmer” and “tinkerer.” It’s the “tinkerer” part that is especially fascinating. Noting that we take “paper for granted,” Kelli has created functional books such as The Book is a Planetarium and This Book is a Camera. Each really works and expresses what Kelli strives to demonstrate, “all the things that paper can do.”
When contemplating whether she should take on a new job, Kelli created an “Existential Calculator,” actually a volvelle of her employment options. Did she tap into the future? Was she channeling Ramon Llull? The volvelles helped her weigh her “work happiness vs work conditions vs is it good for the world? vs is it good for me?” Her current project, one she has been working on for 2 years, is What Can Paper Do? It combines paper and technology making a record player into a book. The stylus/needle pop-ups up and you hand crank the record. It reminded me of the old jukeboxes. While Kelli had the Planetarium book to show us, I didn’t ask her why Amazon has been sending me emails giving me yet later and later publishing dates. I know good things are worth waiting for!
I retired to my room to count the ballots for the Meggendorfer Prize. When I emerged back into the ballroom, it had been transformed into a book sale, abustle with paper engineers, book artists, and collectors demonstrating and selling their wares. I only had time for my 15-minute interview with Candlewick editors who graciously had agreed to talk to prospective writers, paper engineers, and illustrators. I had two books I wanted them to weigh in on. While I didn’t leave with a contract and an advance, I did garner precious insight into my children’s books, Where Are Grammy’s Glasses? and The ABC of Safety. Time could not be stretched for me to wander the tables and discover what was for sale or get to handle books I had seen on the screen during some presentations. Time is a precious commodity!
After a brief rest, we were ready for our formal banquet. As it was at our conference in San Diego, ours coincided with a ballroom dancing competition. That meant throughout our time here we shared the hallways and elevators with be-spangled and be-feathered women of all ages and men with shiny patent leather shoes and gelled hair to match. We, as a group, were decidedly underdressed in comparison. But we glowed continually with excitement. Scotsman paced the banquet hall this night in tartan kilts and sporrans [pouches].
Shawn started the evening by showing us the video of Bestpopupbooks.com, a relatively new website that has taken on displaying and reviewing pop-up books. Web-mastered by Jean-Paul and Denice, Shawn called them, “hard-core.” The first book they had reviewed was Transformers by Matthew Reinhart. The site is easy to navigate and covers new books to be published, Kickstarter campaigns, and interviews. The video we saw this night was made especially for the MBS conference. They wanted to be the first to know who won the Meggendorfer Prize. [I let them know right after the banquet!]
Before continuing on, Frank Gagliardi thanked those who really did need to be singled out for their efforts in making the Silent Auction such a hit, namely, Ed Centeno, Rob Kelly, and Ed Zigorski, and Olli and Kang for helping where needed. He also thanked Olli and her friend, Pete for providing donuts one morning, and Roz Fink, Marie Oedel, and Denise Price for covering the registration desk. Almost 200 items were donated. The Silent Auction raised $4500!!! This will allow more scholarships for paper engineers to attend our next conference.
The MBS Board and Marie Oedel, Shawn reported, selected the winners for the Emerging Artist Scholarship. The scholarship includes free conference fees and a stipend towards travel and hotel. This year’s winner not only won First Prize but “was his own runner up.” It was, Nicholas Danish, a senior at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI working towards his BFA in Illustration. His winning entry, Waterbirds of Michigan: A Pop-up Field Guide, was not his first pop-up. In the Spring of 2015, he started making pop-ups based on movie themes. Phantom of the Opera, from the 1925 movie with Lon Chaney, was a one-off. The pop-up told the whole story on a single page. It was the Runner-up for the Prize.
At the same time, a fellow student and avid bird-watcher, Esther Licata, was using screen-printing to make posters and accordion-style books of Michigan waterbirds. Marion Bataille’s ABC3D, a 2010 Meggendorfer Prize winner,inspired Nicholas to create a pop-up Waterbirds, saying Bataille’s pop-ups were “simple but no two were alike.” Using screen-printing, Danish created an edition of 30. He used a silhouette cameo die-cutting machine to cut out the parts. He also worked on a Christmas card series to be sold at the school for Detroit’s holiday celebration. “It was an interesting time,” he said sarcastically, working on deadline. We all laughed at his being surrounded on the floor by a flock of loons. It wasn’t hard to pick out Nicholas’ parents in the room. They were the ones with the prideful grins. Marie Oedel presented Danish with a check on behalf of the Ticknor Society who, as a group, wanted to participate in promoting emerging young artists.
Presenting the Meggendorfer Artist Book Prize was next on our program and Dorothy A. Yule, who had won MBS’ first prize in Philadelphia, and Monica Brandrup came to the podium. The more than 20 entries had been vetted down to 10 from which they would choose the prizewinners. They first announced the runner ups: 2nd runner up: Damien Prud’homme for Entomologie Origamique, a panorama of exquisitely cut insects; 1st runner up: Bryan Kring for Lunae Secutor [moon chaser], whose caterpillar is attracted to the light of the moon.
Dorothy recounted being “speechless” when accepting her prize. Since she “thinks” in verse, she recited this rhyme for the winner, Graham Patten and his winning book, Call Me Trimtab:
I'm passing the tiara
To another artist now:
Whose structure mirrors content, where meaning meets the "wow!"
And in this new tradition of the Meggendorfer prize:
I wish you many books to come,
All popping with surprise.
Graham questions “What will I do with my art?” but he doesn’t seem to obsess about the answer. Buckminster Fuller who believed that “small changes can change the whole path of society” inspired Call Me Trimtab. A trimtab is an extra rudder that changes the course of the trip. When opened, the wood-bound book unfurls like a multi-masted schooner; structure does mirror content.
Before the awarding of the Meggendorfer Prize, we were reminded to use smile.Amazon.com with the url given in our packets [see Additional Info] so that MBS will benefit from all our Amazon purchases. Also, Monica Brandrup of Up With Paper donated to MBS monies raised at the Auction for which we are very grateful. We were told we would hear more about a pop-up to celebrate MBS’ 25th year, probably an Abecedarian with contributions from paper engineers.
I was particularly grateful that Shawn did not call in the Scotsmen to carry me to the podium, as he was half-suggesting. As always, I am honored to be the one who announces the Meggendorfer Prize for the best paper engineered book in the previous 2 years. After thanking Ann and Shawn for their dedicated service, and proclaiming Shawn “a glutton for punishment” since he offered to be program chair for our next conference, I sang, by way of announcement, the paraphrased opening bar from Mr. Rogers, “It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborwood….“ The room exploded out in sustained cheers, whistles, and shouts. “I’d like Dorothy to come up and speak for me,” Shawn managed to say through his obvious emotion. With tears in his eyes, he acknowledged he is an artist who spans the artist book and mass-market worlds. “It is so exciting to see [these books] moving forward” as evidenced at this conference. He expressed his humble appreciation. The conference ended on this very high note with attendees flocking around an overwhelmed Shawn.
A tearful Shawn and a giddy Popuplady
People rose from their tables to mix and mingle. Books and pop-up spreads materialized from backpacks and bags as Show and Tell spontaneously erupted. Uncle Larry sat with Nicholas Danish, his parents, and others to display his unusual 19th century movables, the ones he had shown at the Ticknor dinner. I was not going to miss Rob Kelly’s newest creations especially since I looked forward to having Harold see them too. It was near midnight when fatigue overtook my legs and me. As I was about to leave the room, I took in the 17 young paper engineers crowded around a banquet table sharing, laughing, inquiring, inspecting each others works. Watching them, it reminded me of family holidays standing with my several siblings and witnessing the next generation assemble and coalesce. It was to me like “a lantern aloft in the belfry arch…as a signal light…All is well.” All is well.
The Happy Paper Engineers
Thanks to MBS member Dorothy Berman for these wonderful photos.