Book 'Em

Early versions of the codex were handwritten on paper or vellum and usually stacked between covers, or folded into a concertina-like pullout. Replacing the endless Roman scroll, the codex was our first chance to quickly access precise points of information. These days, we can type a phrase into a digital window and find its location within a sprawling work such as Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. In the digital age, we must be reminded that book-making is an art form, and one day it might be treated solely as such, appreciated by some and collected by few. When that day comes, Mary Austin will be far ahead of the game. In the 1980s, as the first curator of Houston’s Museum of Printing History, Austin refined her appreciation for the printed word. After moving to San Francisco, she worked with the Printing Industries of Northern California, started the Underground Press, and co-founded the San Francisco Center for the Book, collecting rarities along the way. "Exploding the Codex" delves into Austin’s discerning collection. It features things such as shimmering glass pages of Maureen CumminsGhost Diary as well as Robbin Ami Silverberg’s one-of-a-kind burnt flax paper scroll titled Black Torah. Astonishing in its breadth, this exhibit reveals the book in its many permutations, from minuscule to massive, from sculptural to ephemeral, from garish to austere.
Fri., June 15, 6 p.m.; Saturdays, noon; Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m. Starts: June 15. Continues through Aug. 31, 2012

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