#11/16: Jerry Uelsmann

May 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

It was at the International Design Fair in New York that Jerry Uelsmann walked up and introduced himself. With white hair, horn-rim glasses, and accompanied by his well-known wife, artist Maggie Taylor, Jerry proposed that we do a project together. I explained to Jerry that because of the unique nature of how his images were made we would require that he personally print and sign each of the prints in order for us to produce a Silver Edition project with him. He immediately said he would. I then said that they would have to be 16×20 inches, not a common size for him. To that he said “yes” again.

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During a trip to Jerry and Maggie’s home in Florida and after two days of looking at his life’s output, which totaled roughly 5000 prints, we selected ten images. Five prints were included in each of the two 20×24 inch volumes. The set was accompanied by an additional portfolio volume of 20 poems by Harvard’s Steven Brown, each inspired by one of Jerry’s photographs, as well as an introduction by John Wood which discusses Uelsmann’s and Brown’s work and their intersections.

With Jerry and all those who make up 21st Editions, we produced the most ambitious project in our 16 year history. The brilliant brushed aluminum bindings by Daniel Kelm and his bindery incorporated Kelm designed special hinges that allow for the aluminum pages to be removable so that the signed silver-gelatin photographs mounted to them could be exhibited individually. The final result was both architecturally and bibliographically stunning.

Jerry labored for four solid months over the prints to produce a small edition of only 25 numbered and two Publisher’s sets. Each week he would call me and tell me that it was the most difficult printing job he had ever done. He would then sometimes follow with an email that would contain a limerick. Jerry loves limericks and shared them with us so often that we got used to looking for them.

We announced Moth and Bonelight (Silver Edition, 2010) and it sold out in the course of 24 hours. We were astounded and pleased, since this was our most expensive production to date.

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In addition to the Silver Edition, there was a smaller 14×18 inch Platinum Series portfolio of the same images that were printed by 21st Editions under the direction of Jerry Uelsmann. Each of the ten unbound prints were signed and dated by Jerry and in an edition of 55, plus 15 Artist’s sets. The set also includes the 20 poems by Steven Brown printed letterpress.

#10/16: Something new for 21st

May 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen emails we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events, and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy them.

In 2006, Andy Conway approached me with the idea of publishing a book celebrating the upcoming 30th Anniversary of the men’s 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s gold medal win. He understood and articulated that it was an event burnished in the minds of our generation, and that of our parents, as important as man’s landing on the moon. Sports fan or not, most remember that very important event during the Cold War era, and the significance of the United States eliminating West Germany, Russia, and finally Finland, for the gold.

Since a book like this was unlike anything we had ever done and since the entire 1980 team was still alive, with the exception of its coach Herb Brooks, we contacted the team. This became Andy’s project and it was up to him to bring it all together, as he so skillfully did. Working closely along side Andy was Pam Clark, both of whom are avid sports fans and who turned themselves into magicians to pull all of the pieces together. Andy tracked each of the players down and asked them, “What did it mean to you then?,” “How did it change your life?,” and “What does it mean to you now?” The text is compiled from their answers. Concurrently, Andy convinced both Al Michaels and President Carter to write the Introduction and Afterword, respectively. He also managed to collect thoughts and reflections from the players themselves. Pam tracked and followed all of the colophon pages for three months in order to be certain the books had all 20 players’ signatures. That page alone is a thing of beauty!

In the end, we published Gold: a Celebration of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, a celebration in book form surely unlike anything that has ever been produced in the sports arena, and perhaps that ever will be. As every year passes, this book becomes more important.

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Chris Pichler and Maya Ishiwata of Nazraeli Press have been Michael Kenna’s publishers for years. Chris and I have known each other for some time, so out of courtesy and respect for a man I hold in high regard, I asked Chris if he minded if I approached Michael with a proposal. Without taking a breath, Chris said, “No, not at all.” Nazraeli and 21st Editions specialize in very different productions and neither of us saw any conflict, only benefit to one another, and Michael as well. Michael accepted and we soon were at work on it.  In fact, after Mont-Saint-Michel, Michael enthusiastically accepted a second invitation to work together with us on Huangshan: Poems from the T’ang Dynasty. Both Platinum Series titles focused on projects that Michael had been working on for years. Together they make up a rare set of books from one of the most important landscape photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is also one of the most gracious and pleasant artists we have had the pleasure of working with.

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#9/16: Alternative Processes

May 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen emails we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events, and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy them.
As John Wood admits “The leaps in computer technology since 1989 have been astounding, and their impact on photography has been the most revolutionary event in photography’s history.” John’s insistence on publishing Baldridge with pigment ink prints had to do with the fact that his art could not have been created any other way. So, in 2008, with Jamie Baldridge as our guide, 21st Editions published the first of two books that incorporated this new technology in, The Everywhere Chronicles.
 

Like other poets we have published, John Metoyer studied at McNeese State University under John Wood. His diverse range of interests and his ability to synthesize them into a work of art, whether a poem, photograph, painting, or sculpture, exemplifies this rare and unique find. John Metoyer is unique, not only because he is a very fine and accomplished conceptual artist and printer of many old processes, but he is equally as fine a poet. It is because of our great respect for this unique artist and poet that Blood Migration (2008) was selected to celebrate 21st Editions’ 10th Anniversary title.
An ancestor of John Metoyer’s migrated from France, married a slave, and through grants and purchases, she and her children amassed some 13,000 to 15,000 acres of land and became one of the richest African American families in the country. Yucca Plantation was the first and possibly the only plantation owned by a freed African. It is now a National Historic Landmark, noted not only for its classic plantation home but also for the African house, which is the oldest building in the U.S. of African design. Blood Migration, with a collection of autobiographical poems, is unlike any other book we will be able to create again in large part because of the nineteen 15×22-inch photographs that are hand coated and printed in platinum, palladium, kallitype, and cyanotype.

#8/16: New York

May 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen emails we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events, and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy them.

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New York was an obvious theme that John Wood, 21st Editions Editor and co-founder, gravitated toward. Our previous collaborations with Sheila Metzner in The Journal of Contemporary Photography, Volumes II and V, helped us to understand the life-long and very close connection that Sheila had with Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, and New York, not unlike Walt Whitman and Hart Crane, poets of the two greatest epic poems on America ever composed. It was with Sheila’s great enthusiasm and excitement that she accepted John’s  proposal to be paired with both in New York (2000) and The Bridge (2007). New York was the very first Platinum Series title for 21st Editions and became even more significant a year later, since many of the images were taken from the top of the World Trade Center. After 9/11 and out of respect, we chose not to show the book publicly for quite some time. Now a very rare and hard to find title, it set the stage for New York as a reoccurring theme for the press.
 
John Wood calls MacLean Gander’s The New City (2008) the greatest epic poem on America since those by Whitman and Crane. In his introduction, John writes that “Hayman’s images and Gander’s words are a perfect pairing, not that the photographs illustrate the poems or that the poems describe the pictures. In fact, neither of these artists knew each other prior to this book, but they both create a sensuous, beautiful, yet realistic and contemporary meditation on New York and on the larger American experience that New York suggests…”

We met Jefferson when he was an aspiring artist and frame maker in New York at one of his earlier showings in the middle of an antique car gallery. We were immediately sold and knew we wanted to work with him at some point in the future. Jefferson Hayman’s images of New York in The New City not only capture the spirit of the city but they bring us back in time and revisit the New York of Coburn, Steichen, and Stieglitz. Hayman’s photographic style is synonymous with the artist himself – refined and respectful, creating economical compositions that leave the viewer completely satisfied.

 
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Greg Gorman first approached us in 2000 at Photo LA when we first were showing a prototype of New York. In 2003 Greg worked with us on creating a set of large gum-over-platinum prints of two of his iconic images, Rex and Gregory and Tony. It wasn’t until 2007 that the timing seemed to be just right for a Platinum Series book/print set, at which point John Wood saw the perfect match with The Odes of Pindar. Greg’s persistence and enthusiasm led us to this book and for that we are eternally grateful. Mac Holbert of Nash Editions was part of the proofing process with Greg for the 11 platinum prints that would be included. After Mac saw Greg’s book and loved it, he suggested to Graham Nash that we work together, which then led to Love, Graham Nash (4 years in the making). 
 

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