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.
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.