MCBA 30th Anniversary Oral History Project

201512100905531193-225
20151210090553119-225
201512100905531192-225

Minnesota Center for Book Arts
30th Anniversary Oral History Project

 

Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ 2015 Oral History Project commemorates its 30th anniversary in interviews with the artists, civic leaders and supporters who embraced its founding vision and carried MCBA forward into a thriving reality. Founding Executive Director Jim Sitter conceived of a book arts center in the late 1970s while running Bookslinger, a book distribution service based in Saint Paul. Over the following four years Sitter inspired local leaders from Minnesota’s book, art, and civic worlds — including former Governor Elmer L. Andersen — to embrace his vision of a comprehensive book arts center dedicated to nurturing artists engaged in creative expression through the book form. Those efforts resulted in MCBA’s first home in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. Located in the McKesson Building, MCBA’s 8,600 square feet consisted of artist studios as well as a gallery, library and shop. Over the ensuing thirty years MCBA weathered challenges and celebrated successes, highlighted by its partnering with two other leading non-profits — the Loft Literary Center and Milkweed Editions — to create the shared space of Open Book in Minneapolis’ Downtown East neighborhood, which opened in 2000. Today MCBA serves 70,000 visitors annually and is respected internationally for its leadership in artistic excellence.

This oral history project focuses on three periods: MCBA’s planning and start-up from the late 1970s to 1990; a transition period in the late 1990s that deepened MCBA’s engagement with its artist community, and culminated with its move in 2000 to Open Book; and, reflections on today’s book arts field, including future directions. The interviews explore the inner workings of an arts organization in its leadership, its civic and cultural collaborations, as well as in the hard work and creativity that enliven its space. The interviews also encompass larger contexts of MCBA’s story, including how efforts by Sitter and others helped to shift philanthropy to recognize the literary and book arts as endeavors deserving support, and how Minnesota’s commitment to nurturing creative capital has facilitated broad cultural repercussions which include widespread arts participation.

View interview clips and read transcripts below; access to complete video footage and other documentary materials is available upon request, or by visiting MCBA’s James and Marilynn Alcott Library and Archives.


James Alcott

Former Vice President of Cowles Media Company
First President of the Board of Directors
Recorded on August 26, 2015 at the Alcott Home in Wayzata

Interview details

James Alcott served on the founding board of directors from 1983 through 1988, including leadership as MCBA’s first Board President through September 1986. Cowles Media Company also hosted MCBA’s early board meetings as Alcott and other board members engaged in a site search. Alcott worked closely with Jim Sitter throughout the start-up years as MCBA identified a site in the Minneapolis Warehouse District, secured funds for the build-out of the space’s studios, and launched the non-profit organization.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

James Alcott’s book collecting first brought him notice of Jim Sitter through Sitter’s Bookslinger and Granary Books businesses. Alcott agreed to serve on MCBA’s board, and then to serve as Board President, and Cowles Media Company, where Alcott was Vice President, hosted the early board meetings due to its convenient location. Alcott recalls working closely with Sitter and the board throughout the very busy site search period; decisions included what components the space would hold (including studios for papermaking, printing and binding), and the selection of Jeff Scherer of Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle as the architect. Alcott then describes the Warehouse District neighborhood and MCBA’s finished space, and notes the first paper artist-in-residence, Amanda Degener, and the first printer-in-residence, Allan Kornblum (of Coffee House Press). Alcott and his wife Marilynn relocate to New York in 1997 but often returned on visits, and in 1991 MCBA names its library the James and Marilynn Alcott Library. Alcott returned to Minnesota in 2013.

While discussing transitions that organizations face when a founding director moves on, Alcott notes the leadership of his wife Marilynn Alcott, who chaired the board of Graywolf Press when its founding director left. He adds that Page Cowles also served Graywolf in that transition as Graywolf’s Acting Executive Director. Page Cowles is married to Jay Cowles, MCBA’s former Board Chair who similarly served during a transition period as MCBA’s Acting Executive Director before he co-chaired the campaign to create Open Book.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

MCBA Winter Book Winter Prairie Woman, by Meridel LeSueur (1991); and Gaylord Schanilec’s High Bridge (1987) and Farmers (1989).

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Other MCBA founding board members, who included former Governor Elmer Andersen, Kay Sexton of B. Dalton Booksellers, Mickey [Mildred] Friedman of the Walker Art Center, Greg Campbell, Gail see of the Bookcase, Paul Parker, David Speer and Joanne Von Blon. Hollis Stauber, who followed Sitter as Executive Director, and Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s current Executive Director.

 

Video: 39:09 minutes
Transcription: 11 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at the Alcott Home in Wayzata, Minnesota
Wednesday, August 26, 2015; 1pm

Kent Aldrich

Printer, Proprietor of Nomadic Press
Early Intern with Coffee House Press, First Printer-in-Residence
Recorded on July 7, 2015 at The Nomadic Press in Saint Paul

Interview details

Kent Aldrich’s participation in MCBA began in 1986 as an intern at Coffee House Press, working with Allan Kornblum who was MCBA’s first Printer-in-Residence. Aldrich founded the Nomadic Press in 1989, a letterpress jobbing shop, and continues to volunteer in MCBA’s studios should mechanical issues arise with the presses.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Individuals at MCBA in the early days. Aldrich discusses his brief internship to a position at production manager at Coffee House Press with Allan Kornblum, and reflects on Kornblum’s influence, as well as that of printer Gaylord Schanilec. Aldrich describes the Warehouse District of Minneapolis where MCBA resided, in the McKesson Building, and the atmosphere of working in MCBA’s studios in the early period preceding the founding of the Artists’ Cooperative (Co-op). Aldrich also describes the Downtown East neighborhood where MCBA currently is located, in Open Book.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Aldrich showed a variety of printed material, including a broadside produced for the University of Minnesota Biomedical Engineering Building (illustrated by Lynn Tanaka and executed by Aldrich in linoleum block); “Quarter Horse Towns,” a poem by Aldrich’s father, Brian Aldrich, that was illustrated and printed by Kent Aldrich; “Little Birds,” a broadside produced for the world’s smallest museum (measuring 1/2-inch by 7/8-inch); a donor acknowledgment for supporters of the conversion into a museum of the Robben Island Prison in South Africa; and another donor premium for those funding the refurbishing of gardens at the Palace at Versailles.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Richard Hicks, who taught Aldrich printing at the Renaissance Festival. Jim Sitter, MCBA’s Founding Executive Director. Betty Bright, MCBA’s Program Director in the early days. Amanda Degener, MCBA’s first Paper-Artist-in-Residence, and Bridget O’Malley, co-owner with Degener of Cave Paper. Michael Norman, bookbinder. Will and Sebastian Carter of England’s Rampant Lions Press.

 

Video: 38:06 minutes
Transcription: 8 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at The Nomadic Press in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 1:30 pm

Gregor Campbell

Proprietor of Campbell-Logan Bindery
Founding Board Member
Recorded on July 29, 2015 at Open Book in Minneapolis

Interview details

Gregor Campbell, proprietor of Campbell-Logan Bindery, served on MCBA’s founding board of directors from 1983 through 1988, including strong involvement during the planning and set-up of MCBA’s studios. His son Duncan, who is presently co-proprietor with Greg of Campbell-Logan Bindery, is a current board member of MCBA.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Campbell recalls his childhood working for his father, who started the family binding business. When Campbell assumed the business he describes moving Campbell-Logan bindery into a Warehouse District building in 1979 that he purchased—and later named, Inkunabula Arts. He recalls the artists, printers and booksellers who have rented studio space over the years. He first heard about MCBA in late 1982 from Jim Sitter in a meeting Sitter had with Campbell and printer Gerald Lange (Bieler Press). Campbell served on the founding board of directors and assisted with locating binding supplies and equipment as well as (with Lange) finding equipment for the printing studio. He discusses his longstanding involvement with the Ampersand Club that often serves as an entry point for book lovers. He recalls book fairs in the early-1980s, located at the University of Minnesota for a few years and then in Uptown at Calhoun Square, a less successful location.

Campbell describes early board meetings held at Cowles Media before MCBA’s space was complete. He describes the Warehouse District neighborhood where MCBA’s first site was located in the McKesson Building, and adds that he had encouraged publisher Harry Lerner, who owned the McKesson Building, to rent to MCBA. Campbell describes the interior of MCBA, and recalls that a group of artists were frustrated at not gaining as much recognition initially through MCBA as they had hoped. He describes an early event at MCBA where he helped to coax attendees to literally “get wet” in the paper studio, because the concept of working in a studio was unfamiliar and intimidating to the general public. Campbell recalls the Open Book neighborhood and the building’s raw space, and then contrasts the earlier MCBA to today’s active space in Open Book, and relates that in part to MCBA’s broader recognition.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Snares, by Will Weaver, 1992, MCBA Winter Book.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Former Governor Elmer L. Andersen. Inkunabula Arts tenants over the years have included booksellers Rob Rulon-Miller, Steve Clay of Granary Books, Ross and Haines Book Company, and Steve Anderson; printers Phil Gallo (Hermetic Press) and Michael Tarachow (Pentagram Press); artists David Rathman and Randy Scholes; and Norm Fritzberg. He mentions Ampersand Club President (and former MCBA Executive Director) Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, and an Ampersand connection with Bob Fleck at Oak Knoll Books.
Early book fair attendees included David Godine, Barry Moser and Leonard Bahr. Artists active in the Twin Cities who studied with Walter Hamady at the University of Wisconsin-Madison included Alison Circle and Mary Jo Pauly,.Others active in the local book community included Jim Thusen of Biblioteca Islamica and Jim Laurie of James and Mary Laurie Booksellers. Other founding board members include: Paul Parker, John Parker, Mildred Friedman, Gail See, Joanne Von Blon, Jim Alcott, David Speer, and a bit later, Peggy Dixon and Irving Kreidberg. Campbell recalls his fundraising approaches to Albert Mullerleile of North Central Press and Vic Stein of Typehouse Duragraph. He notes that Curt Johnson, a woodworker in his Inkunabula Arts building built a few display items for MCBA’s bindery.

Recalling the Warehouse District neighborhood brings to mind Matin Restaurant owner An Nguyen, married to lithographer Steve Andersen of Vermillion Editions. In the MCBA studios Campbell notes binder Michael Norman, printer Allan Kornblum (Coffee House Press), and paper artist-in-residence Amanda Degener, whose Cave Paper now resides in the basement level of Inkunabula Arts. Noting the challenges that the architects successfully met in the build-out of the Open Book space, Campbell recalls Peter Hall, who owned another historic structure in Minneapolis, Pracna on Main. Campbell also notes that books by respected printers Claire Van Vliet and Harry Duncan were sold early on by bookseller Steve Clay.

 

Video: 56:19 minutes
Transcription: 16 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Open Book Performance Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 7, 2015; 5pm

John (Jay) Cowles

President of Unity Avenue Associates
Co-chaired the Fundraising Campaign for Open Book
Former Chair of the Board of Directors
Former Acting Executive Director
Recorded on August 14, 2015 at the Cowles Home in Saint Paul

Interview details

Jay Cowles served on MCBA’s board between 1986 and 1998—a period which included a four-year hiatus from 1988 to 1991, when Cowles relocated to the Denver area. After his return to Minnesota, Cowles served as Board Chair from 1994 through 1997, leading MCBA through a transition period in the mid-1990s that included his serving as MCBA’s Acting Executive Director for a year’s time. Cowles left MCBA’s board in 1999 to co-chair the fundraising effort for Open Book, where MCBA and two other non-profits relocated in 2000. Cowles is currently President of Unity Avenue Associates.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Cowles traces his background, with both parents involved in the arts and in philanthropy, followed by his owning and running a small commercial printing company in his 20s, before returning to work at Cowles Media Company, the family business. Jay Cowles joined MCBA’s board in 1986, at a time when most of the founding board members were still serving. He discusses founding Executive Director Jim Sitter, as well as the Warehouse District neighborhood in Minneapolis where MCBA was first located.

Upon his return to Minnesota after time in Colorado, Cowles resumed his active board involvement, including (noted above) service as Board Chair from 1994 to 1997, as well as serving as Acting Executive Director during a transition period. Cowles discusses the pressures on the organization that contributed to challenges in the mid-1990s. He mentions Charles Alexander, MCBA’s Executive Director for a short period in the early-1990s, whom the board hired to combine artistic with administrative leadership. After Alexander’s departure, Cowles credits leadership from MCBA’s first Artistic Director, Amanda Degener, and the formation of the Artists’ Cooperative (the Co-op) as MCBA considered its future. That process included discussions to move MCBA under the auspices of Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). The transition period resolved in 1997 with the hiring of Peggy Korsmo-Kennon as Executive Director, and in 1998 Cowles leaves MCBA’s board in order to co-chair (with Chris Mahai, former Loft Board Chair) Open Book’s fundraising campaign, where MCBA, the Loft Literary Center and Milkweed Editions moved in 2000.

Cowles describes the period leading up to MCBA’s relocation to Open Book, including the search and eventual selection of the site in the Downtown East neighborhood of Minneapolis. He mentions key players during that time, including architect Garth Rockcastle, who designed Open Book (of the firm Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle—Jeff Scherer designed MCBA’s first space), developer Chuck Leer, Dave Cleveland at Riverside Bank, and the owners of the future Open Book building, the Tankenoff family of Hillcrest Development. Cowles discusses the successful fundraising campaign, followed by the efforts of the three distinct organizations as they cooperatively locate in Open Book. Cowles also served as the first Board Chair of Open Book.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Cowles showed Waterfalls of the Mississippi, by Richard Arey (1998), a book that Gaylord Schanilec designed and printed and which includes seven of his colored wood engravings; a pamphlet by writer Bill Holm, Chocolate Chip Cookies for your Enemies; and another pamphlet, this by a Cowles family member, When Attending Cowles Family Meetings.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Founding board members: Former Governor Elmer L. Andersen, Peggy Dixon, Mickey (Mildred) Friedman, Irv Kreidberg, Larry (Lawrence) Mitchell, Jack Parker, David Speer. Gail See, Kay Sexton, and Joanne Von Blon. Also noted are McKesson Building landlord, Harry Lerner (of Lerner Publishing Group); MCBA Executive Director Hollis Stauber, who followed Jim Sitter; Dorothy Goldie, MCBA Executive Director after Korsmo-Kennon, and Jeff Rathermel, who followed Goldie and is MCBA’s current Executive Director. Cowles mentions Mary Jo Pauly, who followed Amanda Degener as MCBA’s Artistic Director. Discussions of the Open Book move include comments regarding the representatives of the two other Open Book tenants, Emilie Buchwald of Milkweed Editions, and Linda Myers of the Loft Literary Center, including Nancy Gaschott, who coordinated the design process and managed related issues to Open Book. Discussion of the fundraising campaign for Open Book include mention of Neal Cuthbert, Vice President of Program of the McKnight Foundation. Cowles also mentions Karen Wirth, co-designer of spiral staircase at Open Book; and Tom Hoch of Hennepin Theatre Trust, who chaired the Open Book board after Cowles stepped down in 2003.

 

Video: 01:17:27 hours
Transcription: 15 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed in Cowles Home, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Friday, August 14, 2015; 10:30 am

Amanda Degener

Artist, Faculty, and Co-owner of Cave Paper
First Paper Artist-in-Residence, First Artistic Director
Recorded on May 19, 2015 at Degener’s Home Studio in Minneapolis

Interview details

Amanda Degener graduated from Yale University with an M.F.A. degree in Sculpture in 1984. Serendipitously, as Degener was preparing to move to Minneapolis to pursue a relationship, a conservator at Yale suggested that she contact MCBA. Degener did so, and in discussions with MCBA Founding Executive Director Jim Sitter Degener agreed to move her hand papermaking studio equipment into MCBA and serve as its first Paper Artist-in-Residence from 1984 to 1987. In exchange for studio space Degener agreed to teach, work with interns, and conduct papermaking demonstrations during MCBA events. Degener co-founded Hand Papermaking Magazine in 1985. In 1995 Degener founded Cave Paper, a production hand papermaking business that she runs with co-owner Bridget O’Malley. During a later period of transition at MCBA Degener stepped in to serve as MCBA’s first Artistic Director from 1997 to 1998. In that position she led the effort to found MCBA’s Artists’ Cooperative in 1997. Degener continues to teach, lecture and exhibit her work internationally.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Degener discusses her move to Minneapolis in 1984 as MCBA’s first Paper Artist-in-Residence, including collaborating with printers to produce handmade paper suitable for their book projects, including Gaylord Schanilec’s High Bridge. She describes MCBA’s first space in the McKesson Building, and recalls founding MCBA’s Artists’ Cooperative as well as joining the Co-op years later to produce, A Deep Blue Amen, by Stuart Kestenbaum. Degener recalls discussions that occurred during her tenure as Artistic Director concerning MCBA’s future. MCBA eventually moved to Open Book, thanks to a fundraising effort co-chaired by Jay Cowles, a former Board Chair of MCBA. Degener describes the raw space of Open Book in the Downtown East neighborhood and then notes the changes to the neighborhood in the last fifteen years.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Degener’s A Deep Blue Amen (2013), with poems by Stuart Kestenbaum and calligraphy by Jan Owen.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Theresa Fairbanks Harris, Senior Conservator of Works of Art on Paper at Yale University Art Gallery. Artists Fred Brian, Greg Campbell, Karen Kinoshita, Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press, Paulette Myers-Rich, Wilber (Chip) Schilling, CB Sherlock. Artistic Director Mary Jo Pauly, who followed Degener, and current Executive Director Jeff Rathermel. Former members of MCBA’s Board of Directors Elmer L. Andersen, and James Alcott, who served as MCBA’s first Board Chair.

 

Video: 47:42 minutes
Transcription: 12 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Amanda Degener’s Home Studio, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuesday, May 19, 2015; 1pm

Cindy Gehrig

President of the Jerome Foundation
Recorded on July 21, 2015 at the Offices of the Jerome Foundation, Saint Paul

Interview details

Cindy Gehrig served as President of the Jerome Foundation from 1976 through 2015. Since 1985 the Jerome Foundation has helped emerging artists push the boundaries of contemporary book arts by supporting the creation of new book works through fellowships and mentorships in partnership with Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Gehrig recalls early discussions with Jim Sitter, MCBA’s Founding Executive Director, about his vision for MCBA. She recalls their discussing the need for literary organizations and small presses—such as Coffee House Press, Milkweed Editions and Graywolf Press—to incorporate as non-profits in order to gain increased financial support. Gehrig notes the close fit of MCBA as an artist service organization with the Jerome Foundation’s support of emerging artists, and adds that Minnesota is home to several other artist service organizations, including the Playwright’s Center and the American Composers Forum. Gehrig describes MCBA’s first site in the McKesson Building the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, where it was located. She also discusses MCBA’s second home in the Open Book building in the Downtown East neighborhood of Minneapolis, where MCBA currently resides. Gehrig notes the importance of providing direct artist support to create new work, and suggests that this direct support helped to develop a broader book arts field rather than recognize a few key artists. She notes that the Jerome Foundation also participated in a broader sense in Open Book, through their support of the creation of “artistic enhancements” within the space. Gehrig describes Open Book as an important “cooperative model” that frees non-profits from the vicissitudes of rent and landlords, and she credits artist engagement at all levels of an organization as a hallmark of Minnesota’s lively arts community.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Jay Cowles, who led the fundraising effort for Open Book; and Garth Rockcastle, the architect of Open Book.

 

Video: 31:43 minutes
Transcription: 8 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at The Jerome Foundation, Downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 21, 2015; 1 pm

Peggy Korsmo-Kennon

Current Chair of the Board of Directors
Former Executive Director During Move to Open Book
Recorded on July 31, 2015 at Open Book in Minneapolis

Interview details

Peggy Korsmo-Kennon was MCBA’s Executive Director from 1997 to 2003, during a crucial period as she shepherded MCBA through a fundraising campaign and relocation to the Open Book building in 2000. Korsmo-Kennon returned to join MCBA’s board of directors in 2011, including her service as Board Chair from 2014 through 2015. Presently Korsmo-Kennon is Chief Operating Officer of American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Her hiring in 1997, during a challenging period for MCBA. Efforts at steadying MCBA as it regrouped, noted the Artists’ Cooperative [Co-op] had just started. Immediately she was brought into initial discussions about MCBA joining with the Loft Literary Center (represented by Nancy Gaschott) and Milkweed Editions (represented by Sid Farrar) to create Open Book. Details about the Warehouse District neighborhood where MCBA was first located, and the space of the Center. She discusses the site search, the very rough space of what became Open Book; discussions about the design for MCBA’s new space; the Downtown East neighborhood at the time that Open Book opened, the move into Open Book; the grand opening celebration at open book, attended by Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton; the determination of the name Open Book by Little and Company, which is owned by Monica Little (an MCBA board member). Korsmo-Kennon compares the two MCBA’s in terms of greatly expanded audience and facilities at Open Book; she discusses the excitement around MCBA’s Winter Book, which again began to be produced the year she was hired, after a hiatus during an earlier period of financial cutbacks. She also comments on MCBA’s longevity and its legacy.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Winter Prairie Woman, by Meridel LeSueur, an early MCBA Winter Book that Korsmo-Kennon had acquired while working at Minnesota Historical Society, and which deepened her interest in the book arts. Also, Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, a poem by Bill Holm, an MCBA Winter Book, the Center’s signature publication which was published after Korsmo-Kennon was hired as Executive Director and after a hiatus when MCBA had undergone financial cut-backs.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Jay Cowles, Board Chair at her time of hiring; artists Amanda Degener of Cave Paper, Mary Jo Pauly (Artistic Director), Richard Stevens, Regula Russelle, Gaylord Schanilec, Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, Denny Ruud, Jana Pullman. McKesson Building landlord Harry Lerner. Open Book architect Garth Rockcastle of the firm, Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle. Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press, who donated a press to MCBA when it moved to Open Book. Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s current Executive Director. Jim Sitter, MCBA’s Founding Executive Director, and his recruitment of former Governor Elmer L. Andersen to MCBA’s Founding Board of Directors.

 

Video: 54:11 minutes
Transcription: 12 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Open Book’s Performance Hall, Downtown Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota
Friday, July 31, 2015, 10:00 am

James P. Lenfestey

Poet and Journalist
Former Chair of the Board of Directors
Recorded on September 28, 2015 at the Lenfestey Home in Minneapolis

Interview details

James P. Lenfestey is a poet and journalist who served on MCBA’s board of directors from fall 1986 through 1992, including his leadership as Board Chair from 1989 to 1991. During his tenure, MCBA’s Founding Executive Director Jim Sitter left the organization in 1989, and Hollis Stauber was selected as MCBA’s second Executive Director.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Jim Lenfestey was recruited to MCBA’s board by founding board member Joanne Von Blon and founding Executive Director Jim Sitter. Lenfestey had visited MCBA previously since his office was nearby in the Savoy Building, and he immediately felt drawn to the Center. He soon accepted board membership, and served as MCBA’s third Chair of the Board after Gail See. Lenfestey describes the process of board member Eric Madsen’s design of the MCBA logo. He describes the Warehouse District neighborhood and the interior of MCBA. He recounts Jim Sitter’s persuasive argument for a book arts center being a part of the cultural landscape in Minnesota, and discusses the transition when Sitter moved on from the organization, and Lenfestey, as Board Chair, led the search that resulted in the hiring of Hollis Stauber as MCBA’s second Executive Director. Lenfestey discusses fellow board members including Ted Hall, Vic Stein and John Taylor; artists Gaylord Schanilec, Allan Kornblum and Kent Aldrich.

Lenfestey relates his decision to join the effort to fund Open Book. He was a supporter of all three organizations but having attended many readings he felt it was critical for the Loft Writers Center to find a better home. He discusses some of the strategizing behind the capital campaign that was co-chaired by Jay Cowles. He relates the inspiring story of former Governor Elmer L. Andersen’s childhood and later leadership, and recalls Martin Friedman, former Director of the Walker Art Center, and Mickey (Mildred) Friedman, Walker’s Design Curator and a founding member of MCBA’s board. Lenfestey notes Bob White of the Minnesota Star Tribune. He then refers to Kenneth Dayton’s speech (later a monograph), Governance is Governance (1986), and notes its continued relevance today regarding effective board service. He notes the move to Minnesota by Graywolf Press, which was founded by Scott Walker.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Winter Prairie Woman, by Meridel LeSueur, 1990 MCBA Winter Book, illustrated by Sandy Spieler, designed by Gaylord Schanilec. Lac des Pleurs, by Gaylord Schanilec, 2015. The Everyday Magic of Walter Lee Higgins, by David Haynes, 1998 MCBA Winter Book. Echoes, 2014, by Sue Bjerke and Georgia Greeley.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Artist Leonard Baskin. Artists Amanda Degener, Kevin Osborn, Susan Nees. Milkweed Editions’ Emily Buchwald and Randy Scholes. Robert Bly reading poetry at the Loft’s former space. Specific to the Open Book capital campaign: fundraising consultant Andy Curry, real estate developer Chuck Leer, lawyer John Scholl, Open Book building owners the Tankinoffs; David Unowsky, who opened a satellite location for his Ruminator Books in Open Book in the early period; architecture firm Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle; artist Karen Wirth, who co-designed the spiral staircase at Open Book with Garth Rockcastle; Joel Dowling of the Guthrie, which relocated to the Downtown East neighborhood after Open Book opened; John and Penny Barr, who visited Open Book while Chicago’s Poetry Foundation researched designs for a new building. Poets Jim Moore and Karen Hering. Lenfestey notes the retirement of the Loft’s Executive Director, Jocey Hale, and the hiring of a new director (Britt Udesen). Murray Harpole of Pentair. Founding board members, Elmer L. Andersen, Jim Alcott, Paul Parker and Gail See. Board member Lydie Hudson. Bookseller Rob Rulon-Miller.

 

Video: 01:25:14 hours
Transcription: 23 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Lenfestey Home in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Monday, September 28, 2015; 9:30 am

William Myers

Artist, Faculty, Jerome Fellow
Former Chair of the Board of Directors
Recorded on September 10, 2015 at Open Book in Minneapolis

Interview details

William Myers is presently a full-time book artist at Piano Press, which he established in 1994. A founding member of the Wood Engravers Network, Myers teaches and exhibits his wood engravings widely. His involvement at MCBA began in 1992, and over the years has encompassed a number of roles, including service on MCBA’s board of directors during a transitional period from 1997 through 2000 (and Board Chair from 1998 to 1999). Myers is a retired Professor of Philosophy at Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. Today he is often found in MCBA’s studios in yet another role, as a volunteer mechanic.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Myers notes that his interest in wood engraving was sparked by a Thomas Bewick exhibition at Bell Natural History Museum. He studied wood engraving at MCBA from Fred Brian, Gaylord Schanilec and Jack Malloy, then printing from Kent Aldrich. Myers describes the Warehouse District where MCBA was located, and recalls the atmosphere and activity during Tuesday evenings in the 1990s when he served as Open Studio Print Monitor. He describes the transition period in the late 1990s, which led to the Artists’ Cooperative starting in 1997, and how critical the Co-op was to provide an ongoing means for artists to develop their craft and participate in a community. While serving as Chair of MCBA’s Board of Directors, Myers discusses MCBA’s search and hiring in 1997 of Peggy Korsmo-Kennon as MCBA’s Executive Director. He describes the busy period that comprised the site search, fundraising, and design process for Open Book, including the need for the three organizations to resolve questions and meet varying needs in a shared space. He recalls the raw space of Open Book, and how the initial design changed over time. He notes the resolution of needs that led to the fourth entity of Open Book, and the process that led to the naming of the building. He contrasts the experience of teaching in the two MCBA’s, and recalls a challenging interaction with the older site’s security system. Myers then discusses the different situations that he has addressed as a volunteer mechanic working on equipment at MCBA, in particular his work on a board shear, the Washington Hand Press, and the Alexandra Hand Press.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Bill Holm, Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, MCBA Winter Book, 1997. Diane Glancy, The West Pole, MCBA Winter Book, 1994. William Myers, Alpha to Omega: On the Universe, work in process.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

printers and wood engravers Fred Brian, Gaylord Schanilec, Jack Molloy, Allan Kornblum, Kent Aldrich, Dale Kennedy; John Randle; paper marbler Dana Brumitt; paper Artist-in-Residence Amanda Degener; previous Board Chair, Jay Cowles. Mary Jo Pauly, MCBA Artistic Director. Larry Taylor, Joel Moline, Paul Granlund, Garrison Keillor. Sharon Sayles Benton, Minneapolis Mayor.

 

Video: 01:39:15 hours
Transcription: 23 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at At Open Book Performance Hall and in MCBA’s studios, Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 10, 2015, 10:30am

Paulette Myers-Rich

Artist, Faculty, Proprietor of Traffic Street Press
Early Intern, Artist-in-Residence, Former Board Member
Recorded on July 30, 2015 at Myers-Rich’s Home Studio in Saint Paul

Interview details

Paulette Myers-Rich heard a radio program about MCBA in 1985, and was soon working as one of MCBA’s first paper studio interns. Her roles since then have included artist-in-residence in the print studio from 1996 to 1997, ongoing teaching, and exhibiting work that she produces at her Traffic Street Press, which she founded in 1996. Myers-Rich also served on MCBA’s Board of Directors from 2005 through 2010 during a period when Jeff Rathermel was hired as Executive Director.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Myers-Rich describes her artistic practice and the blog she authors, Object Subject Matters. She recalls how hearing that MCBA had a papermaking studio attracted her for the possibilities it suggested for her photography, which comprised her artistic focus at the time. Myers-Rich recalls her paper internship with Amanda Degener, MCBA’s first paper Artist-in-Residence. She describes the Warehouse District neighborhood where MCBA resided in the McKesson Building, as well as the space itself. After a hiatus during which she pursued an advanced degree in Library Science and Creative Writing, Myers-Rich returned to MCBA as a printing studio intern to work on MCBA’s Winter Book, Meridel LeSueur’s Winter Prairie Woman, under the direction of Gaylord Schanilec, MCBA’s printer-in-residence. She relates the experience of learning printing while working collaboratively on the Winter Book, supplemented by learning about the wider book arts field from fellow artists and MCBA’s exhibitions. She describes that kind of education as holistic in contrast to a more structured program at a college or university. Myers-Rich discusses the launch of the Artists’ Cooperative in 1997 during a challenging period for MCBA, and the leadership of Amanda Degener, who was MCBA’s Artistic Director at the time. She notes discussions about MCBA relocating to Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), an option which MCBA did not ultimately pursue.

Myers-Rich discusses Open Book’s Downtown East neighborhood early on, and the raw space of the building that would become Open Book. She acknowledges the importance that artwork by Minnesotans was commissioned for permanent installation in the building, and that local artists were asked their opinions on the interior design. She discusses the impact on MCBA now that it resides in Open Book’s shared space, and the changes to the surrounding neighborhood in the last fifteen years. Myers-Rich then comments on the importance of artists serving on MCBA’s board. She followed Karen Wirth in the artist member position and was followed in turn by Regula Russelle. By that time expectations concerning the board’s profile had relaxed, and since then the board often includes multiple artists. Myers-Rich describes interning under Gaylord Schanilec on the production of Siah Armajani’s Bridge Book (1991), a co-publication of MCBA with Walker Art Center. She discusses the process of directing the printing of MCBA’s 1997 Winter Book, Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, by Bill Holm, and the fact that she met Regula Russelle as one of her interns on the project. Myers-Rich also discusses the planning and launch of the MCBA Biennial and MCBA Prize with Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s Executive Director, and Betty Bright, and the stronger international profile that has resulted for MCBA. She comments on MCBA’s mission over the last thirty years, whether there are aspects to MCBA’s story that may be viewed as characteristically Minnesotan, and her sense of MCBA’s legacy at this point in its history.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Two Poems by Jonis Agee, chapbook printed by Michael Tarachow, Pentagram Press, 1987. Winter Prairie Woman, by Meridel LeSueur, illustrated by Sandy Spieler, MCBA Winter Book, 1990. Bridge Book, Siah Armajani, MCBA and Walker Art Center, 1991. Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, by Bill Holm, MCBA Winter Book, 1997.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Thomas Dillon Redshaw, the editor who selected authors for Myers-Rich’s Irish poetry fine press books produced for the Center for Irish Studies at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul. Artist (and husband) David Rich. Barry Moser’s Alice in Wonderland, a book she saw early on at a book fair in Northampton, Massachusetts. Allan Kornblum, Jim Sitter, Kent Aldrich, Bridget O’Malley, Laura Migliorino (whose artwork was selected for the Open Book site along with work of other Minnesota artists), Karen Wirth, Jill Jevne, Mike Lazama, Mary Jo Pauly (MCBA’s Artistic Director after Amanda Degener), Bonnie O’Connell, Tomas Tranströmer, Harold Kyle (Boxcar Press).

 

Video: 01:39:15 hours
Transcription: 24 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at at Myers-Rich’s Home Studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 30, 2015; 1:30pm

Jana Pullman

Artist, Proprietor of Western Slope Bindery
Long-standing Faculty
Recorded on July 7, 2015 at Open Book in Minneapolis

Interview details

Jana Pullman is a longstanding member of MCBA’s artist community, as a teacher and operator of her Western Slope Bindery, which specializes in the craft of fine bookbinding, conservation and repair. Among other honors, in 2013 Pullman was recognized as Minnesota Book Artist of the Year at the Minnesota Book Awards, a program run by the Friends of the St. Paul Library.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Pullman relates her path to the book arts and to Minnesota, where she moved in 1997. She immediately recognized the potential of working artists’ books as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University, where the instructor in lithography took the class to the special collections library to show them the collection. Graduate studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Iowa-Iowa City led to her MFA. After completing her degree Pullman supervised the Repair Unit at the University of Utah Marriott Library and worked with Timothy Barrett as an Apprentice/Manager at the University of Iowa Oakdale Paper Facility. She recalls individuals involved at MCBA when she first arrived, and describes MCBA’s McKesson Building and the neighborhood of Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. Pullman talks about serving on a committee that was preparing for MCBA’s move to Open Book and to a shared facility. She describes the Open Book neighborhood (the Downtown East neighborhood) before renovation, and describes the MCBA community at Open Book today. Pullman then describes her work on several of MCBA’s Winter Books as a printer or as a binder.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Icewalk, by Judith Guest, MCBA Winter Book, 2001. The Mystery of the Jeweled Cross, by Larry Millett, MCBA Winter Book, 2002. Winter Reader, by Louise Erdrich, Winter Book, 2003. The Grammarian’s Five Daughters, by Eleanor Arnason, MCBA Winter Book, 2006. Distance from the Sun, Louis Jenkins, MCBA Winter Book, 2004. Bryan Thao Worra, Winter Ink, 2008. The War Between the Water and the Road by Will Alexander, Winter Book 2014.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Artists Rebecca Alm, Sue Bjerke, Amanda Degener, Mary Hark, Sara Langworthy, Chandler O’Leary, Bridget O’Malley, Mary Jo Pauly, Sally Powers, Denny Ruud, Wilber (Chip) Schilling, Julia Welles, Board member Jay Cowles, Former Executive Director Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, Former Artistic Director Mary Jo Pauly, Present Executive Director Jeff Rathermel, Architect Garth Rockcastle (of Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle).

 

Video: 48:35 minutes
Transcription: 11 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at At the Open Book Performance Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 6, 2015; 12:30pm

Charlie Quimby

Writer
Former Chair of Board of Directors During MCBA’s Move to Open Book
Recorded on September 24, 2015 at the Quimby Home in Minneapolis

Interview details

Writer Charlie Quimby served on MCBA’s board of directors from 1998 through 2006, a period encompassing the organization’s discussion, preparation and move from the McKesson Building to the shared Open Book building in 2000. Quimby served as board chair from spring 2004 through 2005, a period during which MCBA adjusted to its expanded space and audience in Open Book.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Quimby noted an early awareness of Jim Sitter through Sitter’s Bookslinger business, but his involvement started later, through former MCBA Board Chair Jim Lenfestey. Quimby’s marketing and communications company was in the Savoy building as was Lenfestey’s office, and the Savoy was located a block from MCBA’s original site in the McKesson Building.

Quimby describes the Warehouse District in the mid-1980s as a community populated by artists (including Doug Beasley, Jim Brandenburg and Darrell Eager, whose studios were in the Savoy). Quimby notes how the Warehouse District has changed since then, with artists migrating to northeast Minneapolis. He describes the original MCBA exterior and interior, and recalls that his first major purchase of work by a Minnesota book artist was by Wendy Fernstrum.

Quimby joined MCBA’s board in 1998, as MCBA, The Loft Writers Center and Milkweed Editions were in the midst of discussions that eventually led to Open Book. He relates memories of the planning process by the three organizations, as well as the leadership demonstrated by MCBA’s then-Executive Director, Peggy Korsmo-Kennon. In particular, Quimby discusses Korsmo-Kennon’s management of details related to space planning (both within MCBA and among the three Open Book founding tenants), and her adjustments to programs to serve the new space and a broader audience.

Quimby describes the leadership of Jay Cowles and others who secured funding for the Open Book project, and their creation of an organizational structure, the “fourth force” of an Open Book board to manage the building, including additional tenants whose rent would help subsidize operating costs.

Quimby shares findings from research he conducted on the history of the Downtown East neighborhood, and notes key roles by developer Chuck Lear and architect Garth Rockcastle in recognizing the potential of the rough site. He recognizes the leadership of Dik Bolger, who served as Board Chair when MCBA moved into Open Book, and recalls the excitement of opening night in 2000. He discusses the Downtown East neighborhood today, commenting on how it has changed over the last fifteen years since Open Book was launched.

Once in Open Book, Quimby recalls MCBA’s outreach efforts including a deepening involvement with the graphic design community and the launch of the By Design program, an arts initiative focused on involving teens. Quimby then discusses his tenure as Board Chair, including the hiring of Dorothy Goldie who followed Peggy Korsmo-Kennon as Executive Director, and Goldie’s hiring of Jeff Rathermel as Artistic Director.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Regula Russelle, You Reading This, Be Ready, by William Stafford, 2002. Karen Wirth, Spatial Geometries, 1991. Jody Williams, In Here / Out There, 1998. Chandler O’Leary, A Riddler’s Compass, 2004. The Faery Gardener: a Pagan Primer, 2006. Exhibition Catalogue: Designer Bookbinders in North America, Designer Bookbinders, 2000.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

MCBA board members Eric Madsen, Gail See, Bill Myers, Sandra Davis, Dick Crockett, Dan Leavitt, Ellen Breyer, Tom Hoch, Uri Camarena, Mary Lee, Diane Merrifield, Artist Julie Chen

 
Video: 01:21:01 hours
Transcription: 20 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Quimby Home in Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 24, 2015; 2pm

Jeff Rathermel

Current Executive Director
Former Artistic Director
Artist, Faculty, Former Artist-in-Residence
Recorded on July 7, 2015 at the Rathermel Home in Saint Paul

Interview details

Jeff Rathermel moved to Minneapolis after receiving a B.S. degree in Sociology and Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1987. He received an M.A. degree in Public Affairs and Non-profit Management from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota in 1989, and worked for the State of Minnesota as a Senior Management Consultant for the next nine years. During that time Rathermel continued his studies at the U.M. and received a B.F.A. in 1997 in Printmaking. He left state government in 1998 and worked as a studio assistant for artist Malcolm Meyers as he pursued his M.F.A. degree from the U.M. in Printmaking, Hand Papermaking and Book Arts, which he received in 2000. During his graduate studies at the U.M., Rathermel took classes from Jody Williams and Jana Pullman, both of whom were affiliated with MCBA. It was on a class field trip with Jody Williams that Rathermel first visited MCBA. After receiving his M.F.A. degree Rathermel taught around Minnesota, including at MCBA, where his involvement deepened as he served as an artist-in-residence from 2002 to 2004, and as MCBA’s Artistic Director from 2004 to 2010. Since 2010 he has held the position of MCBA’s Executive Director.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

After sharing how his own artistic practice eventually clarified around the book arts, and his discovery of MCBA while a graduate student at the U.M., Rathermel describes the MCBA’s first site in the McKesson building and the surrounding neighborhood of Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. He recounts his experience as a paper artist-in-residence in MCBA’s Open Book site, as well as a consignment artist for the Shop. He describes the raw space for Open Book before renovation, and then the finished space, especially the paper studios where he was working as an artist-in-residence. He describes the Downtown East neighborhood, where MCBA now resides, in Open Book, both before and following the site’s renovation and MCBA’s move.

Rathermel discusses larger artistic issues of the book arts field including definitions with his interest in exploring a broad definition of the book arts through his exhibitions, including, “We Too Are Book Artists,” “Face the Nation,” and “Fine and Dirty.” Rathermel notes the strong international response from his Open Call exhibitions, along with the growing international interest, including continuing strong relationships with colleagues in Australia, and in England he notes the continuing involvement of Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden from the University of the West of England in the Centre for Fine Print Research.

Rathermel also recounts how his concern with a lack of critical discourse contributed to his founding of MCBA’s Biennial Symposium, Gala, and the awarding of the international MCBA Prize. He talks about (and shows) MCBA’s 2004 Winter Book, Louis Jenkins’ Distance from the Sun, which MCBA published soon after Rathermel took the position of Artistic Director, and after the publication had not appeared for a year due to financial cut-backs. Rathermel explores his vision and how it has developed throughout his tenure as MCBA’s Artistic Director and then Executive Director. In particular he mentions the expansion of the James and Marilynn Alcott Library, discusses Minnesota’s vital arts community, and expands on his sense of MCBA’s legacy.

BOOKS SHOWN:

The 2004 MCBA Winter Book, Distance from the Sun, by Louis Jenkins.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, MCBA’s Executive Director during MCBA’s move and expansion at Open Book. Mary Jo Pauly, MCBA’s Artistic Director during that time. Dorothy Goldie, MCBA’s Executive Director after Korsmo-Kennon. Alexander Campos, Executive Director of New York’s Center for Book Arts, and Jeff Thomas, Executive Director of San Francisco Center for Book Arts. Artists Amos Paul Kennedy, Harold Kyle, Sara Langworthy, Chandler O’Leary, Erica Spitzer-Rasmussen, Regula Russelle, Richard Stephens, and Karen Wirth.

 

Video: 1:08:53 hours
Transcription: 14 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Rathermel Home, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 7, 2015; 5pm

Regula Russelle

Artist, Proprietor of Cedar Fence Press
Current Member of Board of Directors
Early Intern, Faculty, Former Artist-in-Residence, Jerome Book Arts Fellow
Recorded on August 13, 2015 at the Russelle Home in Saint Paul

Interview details

Regula Russelle’s broad-based involvement with MCBA dates to the early-1990s. Russelle participated in MCBA’s early Artists’ Cooperative, served as a printing intern and later as an artist-in-residence, and today teaches and exhibits work produced at her Cedar Fence Press, which she founded in 1999. Russelle currently serves on MCBA’s Board of Directors (since 2012).

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Russelle discusses her artistic practice and how an anticipated granddaughter prompted her to make her first book, with husband Michael. A second impetus arises from a request to letterpress print a keepsake for a retired librarian and printer. Russelle takes a weekend printing class at MCBA with Gaylord Schanilec, and, inspired, decides to pursue printing. Key individuals she mentions are Paulette Myers-Rich, who had recently become MCBA’s print studio Artist-in-Residence. Russelle joins the nascent Artists’ Cooperative, which brought her more deeply into the MCBA community. As a relatively new participant, Russelle was aware of discussions concerning MCBA’s potential move, but didn’t join in. She describes the inside and the outside of MCBA’s McKesson Building location in the Warehouse District, and then discusses the neighborhood and the raw space in the Downtown East neighborhood where MCBA would move, into the Open Book Building. She compares the working atmosphere in Open Book’s studios to those in the McKesson Building. She describes working as a letterpress printer with the Laurel Poetry Collective writers’ community, and she also relates her teaching approach. Russelle recalls working as a printing intern with Paulette Myers-Rich, who directed the printing of MCBA’s 1997 Winter Book, Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, by Bill Holm, and about co-teaching a printing class with CB Sherlock, which produced Putting Tomatoes By, by Paul Gruchow, in 2006.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, by Bill Holm, MCBA Winter Book, 1997. Russelle and CB Sherlock, Putting Tomatoes By, by Paul Gruchow, Accordion Productions, 2006. Russelle, Sheet Music for a Common World, Cedar Fence Press, 2011.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Writers William Stafford, Naomi Shihab Nye, Deborah Keenan. Artists Susan MacDonald, Wendy Fernstrum, Amanda Degener, Wilber (Chip) Schilling, Jill Jevne, Robert Johnson, Allan Kornblum, Erica Spitzer-Rasmussen, Kent Aldrich, Ellen Ferrari, Bill Myers, Mary Jo Pauly, Denny Ruud, Jeff Rathermel, Sarah Peters, Jenny Eisenman Anderson, Jennifer Bolanos, Fred Larson, Candida Pagan, Stephen Pittelkow, Jana Pullman. Russelle’s granddaughter, Anika. Hamline University teacher Colleen Bell and librarian (and printer) Fred Battell. Rusty Schweickart. Simon Goode, London Centre for Book Arts. Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian at Minnesota Historical Society

 

Video: 01:31:33 hours
Transcription: 20 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at the Russelle Home in St. Paul, Minnesota
Thursday, August 13, 2015; 9am

Gaylord Schanilec

Printer, Proprietor of Midnight Paper Sales
Jerome Book Arts Fellow
Recorded on July 31, 2015 at Open Book Performance Hall in Minneapolis

Interview details

Gaylord Schanilec’s involvement at MCBA is unique because it extends back before MCBA was founded, through his friendship with founding Executive Director Jim Sitter that was forged in a shared interest in literature during their high school days in North Dakota. After college Schanilec moved to Saint Paul where he worked as an illustrator of small press books. Schanilec founded his press, Midnight Paper Sales, in 1980. Once MCBA opened he won two Jerome Book Art Fellowships in the late-1980s, and refined his work in multi-colored wood engraving. He also served twice as artist-in-residence at MCBA, from 1988-1989, and in 1991. Schanilec exhibits his prize-winning work internationally.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Schanilec discusses growing up in North Dakota, meeting Jim Sitter in high school, and moving to the Twin Cities after receiving an art degree from the University of North Dakota-Grand Forks. Although Sitter attended Macalester College in Saint Paul the two had stayed in touch, and Schanilec notes that the Hungry Mind bookstore where Sitter worked was something of a focal point for them. Schanilec discusses the Five Colleges Writers’ Festival and his graphic work for a variety of clients including COMPAS (Community Opportunities and Programs in the Arts). He starts to print on a press owned by an artist friend, Gary Egger, and ends up sharing Egger’s Saint Paul studio in the Roberts Hamilton Building for five years. During that period Schanilec recognizes the potential for bookmaking. He relates the story behind his press name, Midnight Paper Sales and recalls artists he knew during that period. He credits Gerald Lange (Bieler Press) and Phil Gallo (Hermetic Press) as two mentors, and Pat Coleman at Minnesota Historical Society as an early supporter of his work.

Schanilec recalls the first time he heard about the vision for MCBA from Sitter and at a Milwaukee book fair; he thinks it was in 1982. Schanilec describes the Warehouse District neighborhood of MCBA’s first site in the McKesson building, and mentions that some local artists were concerned that MCBA was investing so much in building out the studio spaces. Once MCBA opens, Schanilec describes the design and production of his book High Bridge, which was funded by MCBA’s Jerome Foundation emerging artist’s fellowship; the book brought awareness of his work to a broad audience. He notes that sales of High Bridge helped support his move to rural Wisconsin, where he printed his second book, Farmers. He describes the book arts conference in New York City in 1990 where he met David Esslemont of Gregynog Press, who later brought Schanilec to Wales for a project. Just before leaving the U.S. and as MCBA’s artist-in-residence Schanilec was in charge of producing Siah Armajani’s Bridge Book (1991), which MCBA co-published with the Walker Art Center. He also mentions a memorable encounter with artist Leonard Baskin at MCBA. Schanilec then describes the Downtown East neighborhood before and since Open Book opened. He ends by describing his present work on a publication for the Minnesota Historical Society illustrating a book by John Coy that describes the movement of the Mississippi River’s Saint Anthony Falls over 12,000 years, from downtown Saint Paul over to where it is today, a few blocks away from Open Book. Schanilec is producing the book in MCBA’ printing studio.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Bridge Book (1991) with Siah Armajani, co-published with Walker Art Center. MCBA Winter Book Winter Prairie Woman, by Meridel LeSueur (1991).

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Joe Sitter, Jim Sitter’s brother. Christian Brother Don Byrne, who taught literature to Sitter and Schanilec in high school. Jonis Agee and Lon Otto, who were central in organizing the early writers’ festivals. Artists in Schanilec’s circle included Greg Kelsey, Sally Johnson, Kate Holmes, Mary Gripp, Archie Peltier, musicians Jay Johnson and Joel Holmquist of Zeitgeist. Walter Hamady is mentioned as a teacher of Gerald Lange, as are early Ampersand members Harold Kittleson and Emerson Wulling. David Wilke, who sold Truck Distribution Service (for small press books) to Sitter, who renamed it Bookslinger. Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press, the founding printer-in-residence at MCBA, and Kent Aldrich, Kornblum’s intern and now proprietor of Nomadic Press. John Randle of Whittington Press, who visited from England. Schanilec’s Stockholm, Wisconsin neighbor Joe Edlund. Book dealer Steve Clay. Hollis Stauber, MCBA Executive Director after Jim Sitter. Artist Ann Borman who was involved with the Armajani Bridge Book, and writer John Ashbery, whose poetry appears in the book. North Dakota poet Tom McGrath. Winter Prairie Woman illustrator Sandy Spieler, and artist Paulette Myers-Rich (now of Traffic Street Press), who worked on the book as Schanilec’s intern. Book collector Richard Arey. Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, a later MCBA Executive Director. Amanda Degener, whose paper was used for Schanilec’s High Bridge, and Greg Campbell, who bound the book at Campbell-Logan Bindery. Printers Peter Koch, Will Powers and Cheryl Miller, who bought High Bridge, and Gaylord’s brothers Rob and Clayton Schanilec, who also worked on High Bridge. Mary Narlock and attorney Hyne, who are referenced in the book’s newspaper excerpts from when the bridge was built. Jay Cowles, who co-directed efforts to fund Open Book. Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s current Executive Director. Emily Pressprich and Paul Nylander, who are assisting with Schanilec’s current project under production in MCBA’s print studio.

 

Video: 01:23:28 hours
Transcription: 24 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at at Open Book Performance Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Friday, July 31 2015; 1 pm

Wilber H. “Chip” Schilling

Artist, Proprietor of Indulgence Press
MCBA Faculty
Recorded on September 10, 2015 at Indulgence Press in Minneapolis

Interview details

Wilber (Chip) Schilling began his involvement in MCBA in 1987, when he came upon MCBA while working as a photographer and as a darkroom black-and-white printer in the Minneapolis Warehouse District where MCBA first resided. Schilling founded his Indulgence Press in Minneapolis in 1992 and relocated to Philadelphia, receiving an MFA degree in the book arts from the University of the Arts in 1994, before returning to Minnesota, where he continues to teach and exhibit nationally and internationally.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Schilling discusses his first MCBA class in wood engraving that he took after a serendipitous stop at the Center and noticing wood engraving prints by Fred Brian on exhibit. His second MCBA class was a mail art class taught by Scott Helmes. Schilling talks about his volunteer work photographing MCBA’s exhibited books for its slide archive, and recalls MCBA founding Executive Director Jim Sitter. Schilling discusses attending graduate school at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and upon his return to Minnesota he describes his role as the binder on Winter Book by Tom Rose, MCBA’s 1995 Winter Book. He talks about a challenging period at MCBA in the late 1990s, when the Center considered a move to Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), an option that ultimately was not pursued. Schilling describes the rough space at the Open Book site and that Minneapolis Downtown East neighborhood in previous years, when he was a high school student. He talks about a yearlong appointment at Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts in 2012, and from that experience comments on the national influence of MCBA, including its profile gained from the international MCBA Prize (since 2009).

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Wilber H. Schilling, Bartleby the Scrivener, a Story of Wall-Street, Indulgence Press, 1995. Schilling, A Reminder, Indulgence Press, 1994. Schilling, Surplus Value Books Catalog #13, by Rick Moody, Indulgence Press, 2004. Bill Holm, Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death, MCBA Winter Book, 1997. John Hassler, Staggerford’s Indian, MCBA Winter Book, 1988.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Writers Durs Grünbein, Patricia Hampl, Rick Moody, Norman Mailer. Artists Kent Aldrich, Ann Borman, Sarah Bryant, Will Carter, Joseph Cornell, Amanda Degener, Brad Freeman, Kent Kasuboske, Daniel Kelm, Allan Kornblum, Hedi Kyle, Bobbie Lippman, Aldus Manutius, Clifton Meador, Suzanne Moore, Susan Nees, Mary Phelan, Cole Rogers, Tom Rose, Ed Ruscha, Veronika Schäpers, Keith Smith, Steve Sorman, Minor White, Karen Wirth, Phil Zimmermann. Booksellers David Ford, Jim and Mary Laurie. Book collector Jack Ginsberg. MCBA former Executive Directors Hollis Stauber, Charles Alexander, Peggy Korsmo-Kennon. MCBA current Executive Director Jeff Rathermel. MCBA former Artistic Director Mary Jo Pauly, McKesson Building owner and landlord Harry Lerner.

 

Video: 01:11:25 hours
Transcription: 17 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at the Schilling Studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thursday, September 10, 2015; 2pm

Gail See

Former President, American Booksellers Association
Former Owner, The Bookcase in Wayzata
Second President, MCBA Board of Directors
Recorded on April 18, 2016 at the See Home in Wayzata

Interview details

Gail See served on MCBA’s founding board of directors during the Center’s start-up years, from the first board meeting in October 1983, through 1989. During that period she also served as MCBA’s second Board President, from 1987 through 1988, just preceding founding Executive Director Jim Sitter’s departure. See returned to MCBA’s board from 1995 to 2000 during another critical period for the organization that culminated with MCBA’s move to the Open Book building in 2000.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

See notes that it was through The Bookcase bookstore in Wayzata, which she owned, that she first knew Jim Sitter, who owned Bookslinger, a distributor for independent presses. See describes Jim Sitter’s vision for MCBA, and recalls her fellow founding board members, including former Governor Elmer Andersen, B. Dalton’s Kay Sexton, and Mickey Friedman, Design Curator of Walker Art Center, among others. She recalls MCBA’s site search, including the challenges of finding a space adaptable for papermaking. See also suggests that part of the reason that the idea of MCBA struck a chord when the book arts were generally unrecognized, may have been that it corresponded to a societal desire to counteract the effects of technology as expressed by the popular 1970 book, Allan Toffer’s Future Shock. See describes bringing people into MCBA’s rough space in the McKesson Building, and recalls founding artists-in-residence, printer Allan Kornblum and papermaker Amanda Degener, as well as other artists active in the early years. See describes MCBA’s Grand Opening in 1985, and MCBA’s designation as the Center for the Book in Minnesota for the Library of Congress.

See goes on to discuss her second period of service on the board during MCBA’s impending move to Open Book under the leadership of Executive Director Peggy Korsmo-Kennon. See recalls the site search and fund-raising for that move, including the generosity of the Tankinoff family, who owned the three buildings that were eventually merged into Open Book. See comments on organization building and in particular the challenges of fund raising, site searches and organizational renewal from her background at The Bookcase, her experience as a former President of the American Booksellers Association, and her board service at the Loft Writer’s Center, in addition to her MCBA involvements.

See discusses MCBA’s two-level space in Open Book that can simultaneously accommodate working artists and public programming such as school tours. She shares stories from MCBA’s reopening at Open Book in 2000, and how the Downtown East neighborhood has changed over Open Book’s 15-year tenure. See ends by reflecting on MCBA’s longevity, its legacy, and how MCBA’s history can be described as Minnesotan.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Two MCBA Winter Books, Meridel LeSueur’s Winter Prairie Woman (1990), designed and printed by Gaylord Schanilec with wood-engraved illustrations by Sandy Spieler; and Diane Glancy’s West Pole (1994), designed and printed by Inge Bruggeman, with wood-engraved illustrations by William Myers.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Chloe Ackman, whose father once had an office in the McKesson building. Harry Lerner, a book publisher who owned the McKesson building. The architecture firm of Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle, which designed MCBA’s spaces at McKesson and at Open Book. Fellow board members Greg Campbell, Irv Kreidberg, John Parker, Paul Parker, David Speer, John Taylor, Joanne Von Blon, Karen Wirth (whom she mentions in the context of Wirth’s design of the Gail See Staircase at Open Book). Jay Cowles, who served as MCBA board member and Board President, MCBA Acting Executive Director, and then as part of a team that raised funds for Open Book—Chris Mahai is also mentioned as part of that team. Artist Kent Aldrich. Acting Executive Director Linda Johnson. Garth Rockcastle, the architect who designed Open Book. McKnight Foundation Program Officer Rip Rapson, quoting writer Robertson Davies, as well as writer Charlie Baxter, both of whom spoke at the Open Book opening. John Y. Cole of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, historian Barbara Tuchman.

Video: 59:41 minutes
Transcription: 15 pages (Gail See Final Transcription)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed in Wayzata, Minnesota, United States
April 18, 2016

Jim Sitter

Founding Executive Director
Recorded on September 30, 2015 at Open Book in Minneapolis

Interview details

Jim Sitter discovered a love of literature growing up in North Dakota, and carried that interest to Macalester College in Saint Paul, where he also worked at Hungry Mind Bookstore. After college Sitter bought Truck Distribution Service, renamed it Bookslinger, and focused the business on distributing small press books, which included fine press (letterpress-printed) books. Sitter conceived of MCBA in 1981 through a few serendipitous encounters and inspired by the work of fine press printers. He in turn inspired a key group of Minnesotans to serve as a founding board of directors, including former Governor Elmer L. Andersen, whom Sitter knew through bookselling. Sitter and MCBA’s founding board secured and oversaw the build-out of a capital-intensive studio-based space in the McKesson Building in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. MCBA incorporated in 1983 and opened in 1985, offering all-ages book arts programs and access to fully equipped studios for new and experienced book artists. Sitter also played a key role helping to raise awareness in the philanthropic community to the value of supporting literary and book arts endeavors.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Sitter’s love of literature was nurtured at his high school in North Dakota, an interest shared with his friend and future printer, Gaylord Schanilec. After Sitter attended Macalester College in Saint Paul and worked at Hungry Mind Bookstore, he relates that a visit with printer Allan Kornblum in Iowa deepened his interest the process and history of letterpress printing. He shares an additional prompt, which occurred when small press publisher Annabel Leavitt walked Sitter by New York’s Center for Book Arts one evening. In addition, Sitter noted that as a bookseller he was developing a stronger relationship with former Governor Elmer L. Andersen. Sitter is growing interested in philanthropy and cultural policy, and recognizes a need for philanthropy to expand support to literary and book arts organizations.

After further research Sitter shares his vision for a book arts center with Andersen, who agrees to serve on MCBA’s founding Board of Directors. Andersen facilitates contacts with many of Minnesota’s prominent citizens who join in the effort. At the same time, Sitter begins to meet with funders and foundation staff members as he and his founding board of directors begin a site search. In particular Sitter shares stories about founding board members Joanne Von Blon, Paul Parker (of General Mills), Kay Sexton (of B. Dalton Booksellers), Gail See (owner of the Bookcase in Wayzata), and Greg Campbell (of Campbell-Logan Bindery). Sitter discusses the extensive guidance he received from James Alcott (Cowles Media Vice President and MCBA founding Board President) throughout the start-up period. He notes the cooperation of Harry Lerner (of Lerner Publishing) who owned the McKesson Building, MCBA’s first site. He recalls the design phase and the assistance of the firm, Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle (MS&R)—in particular Jeff Scherer, who designed MCBA’s site, and Lynn Barnhouse, the interiors person at MS&R. Sitter relates the story behind the slate-cut signs by Will Carter that flanked MCBA’s front doors, and describes a memorable dinner with Martin Friedman (Director of Walker Art Center) Mickey (Mildred) Friedman, Design Curator of Walker and a founding MCBA Board member), and novelist Toni Morrison. Sitter acknowledges the astute advice and assistance from John Taylor, who joined the board two years after MCBA’s founding and directed MCBA’s first long-range planning process. He recalls Joanne Von Blon’s assistance in fundraising, and her husband Phil Von Blon’s financial acumen when MCBA started receiving stock donations. He recalls meeting Kay Sexton, and Sexton’s assistance in connecting Sitter with Kenneth Dayton. He shares additional stories of gaining support, program planning, and of the artists that comprised MCBA’s nascent artist community. He relates a story about James Shannon, who at that time was Vice President [and Executive Director] of the General Mills Foundation. He discusses Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s current Executive Director; Fiona McCrae, Publisher of Graywolf Press; and Jack Parker, who was Curator and Executive Director of the James Ford Bell Library.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Ntozake Shange, For colored girls who get the blues and have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf. Sitter showed the first edition, in red paper wrappers (1975) and the second edition, in yellow paper wrappers (1976).
Patricia Hampl, Resort, Bookslinger Editions, 1982, printed by Toothpaste Press.
Phil Gallo (Hermetic Press, Minneapolis), broadside privately commissioned by Sitter to commemorate MCBA’s Grand Opening in 1985, with excerpt from Paul Theroux’s Sailing Through China. Gallo, Poem on Hosho, Hermetic Press, 1979. Gallo, 3 poems that fold, Hermetic Press, 1978.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

David Unowsky, owner of Hungry Mind Bookstore. David Wilke, owner of Truck Distribution Service, sold to Sitter. Jonis Agee, Creative Writing Professor at Macalester, and Wilke’s life partner. Gail See, owner of the Bookcase in Wayzata, whom Sitter got to know through his work for Ruminator and then for his own company, Bookslinger. Jack Reuler, Executive Director of Mixed Blood Theatre Company. Jim Dusso of COMPAS [Community Programs in the Arts]. Cindy Gehrig, President of the Jerome Foundation. Margaret Wurtele, Managing Director for the Dayton Hudson Foundation. Carol Yaple, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Larry Dingman, owner of Dinkytown Antiquarian Books, near the University of Minnesota. James and Mary Laurie Booksellers. John Randle, Proprietor of the Whittington Press in England. Chef Brenda Langton, whose first two restaurants Sitter notes as sites where important meetings occurred: Café Kardamena in Saint Paul and Café Brenda in Minneapolis, which was located kitty corner from MCBA’s first site in the McKesson Building. Individuals active in Minnesota’s arts community include John Firman, Minnesota State Arts Board Assistant Director; Pat Davis, who eventually worked at the Jerome Foundation; Phil Platt; Jim Dusso (COMPAS); Jim Toscano; Nina Archibald, Director of Minnesota Historical Society; Pat Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian at Minnesota Historical Society; Catherine Jordan, Director of WARM (Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota), which was located a few blocks away from the McKesson building; Jack Becker, Founder and Executive Director of Forecast Public Art. Artists noted include Kent Aldrich (later of Nomadic Press); Fred Brian (Pilot Rock Press); Will and (his son) Sebastian Carter (Rampant Lions Press); Amanda Degener (Cave Paper); Phil Gallo (Hermetic Press); Andrew Hoyem (Arion Press); Gerry Lange (Bieler Press); Gaylord Schanilec (Midnight Paper Sales); Chip Schilling (later of Indulgence Press); Claire Van Vliet (Janus Press).

Warehouse District neighborhood included Black’s Café owners B.J. Carpenter and Melissa Sorman, (artist Steve Sorman’s wife). Generous donations received from Vic Stein (of Typehouse Duragraph), who donated Vandercooks; and Craig Jilks (of West Publishing), who facilitated the donation of a board shear. Lenny [Leonard] Riggio of Barnes and Noble, which purchased B. Dalton Booksellers. Garrison Keillor. Former Saint Paul Mayor George Latimer. John Y. Cole, Director of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. Other founding board members (not previously mentioned): Irv Kriedberg, Lawrence Mitchell, Jack Parker, and David Speer. Artist Sol LeWitt, who visited MCBA’s exhibition of his artist’s books. Brother Don Byrne of Shanley High School, who inspired a love of literature in Sitter and his friend and later, printer, Gaylord Schanilec. Bookseller Rob Rulon-Miller. Poets Donald Barthelme and Allen Ginsberg. Collectors Ruth and Marvin Sackner. Writer Jon Hassler. Board members Jim Lenfestey and Jay Cowles. Susan Broadhead, former Executive Director of the Loft.

 

Video: 03:03:52 hours
Transcription: 48 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Open Book Performance Hall and MCBA’s Studios in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wednesday, September 30, 2015; 2:30pm

Karen M. Wirth

Artist, Faculty, Jerome Book Arts Fellow
Co-designer of Gail See Staircase at Open Book
Former Member of the Board of Directors
Recorded on July 28, 2015 at Open Book Performance Hall in Minneapolis

Interview details

Karen Wirth’s involvement with MCBA as a teacher and exhibiting artist began immediately upon her move to Minneapolis in 1987, where she came upon MCBA while looking for a studio space in the Warehouse District. In addition to teaching, curating and exhibiting her work, Wirth served in the first practicing artist position on MCBA’s Board of Directors from 2002 to 2005. Wirth also designed the emblematic central spiral staircase at Open Book in collaboration with architect Garth Rockcastle, which is suggestive of a deconstructed, opening book. In addition to her artistic practice Wirth is presently Vice President of Academic Affairs at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED:

Wirth recalls her early book arts involvement in California before moving to Minneapolis to pursue an MFA degree from the University of Minnesota. She meets Jim Sitter, MCBA’s Founding Executive Director, and presents her proposal to teach short-term weekend workshops, a departure from the current lengthy classes. With Wirth’s input MCBA later adds classes focused on broader art making strategies and historical background; she suggests that these courses prefigured MCBA’s Book Arts Certificate program. Wirth recalls serving on MCBA’s Artists’ Advisory Board in the late 1990s, as the Center addressed questions about its future; topics of discussion included programming, audience development, and broader issues of concern to the national field regarding the definition of the book arts and the canon. Wirth notes the MCBA symposium, “Rereading the Boundless Book,” which addressed those questions. She describes the Warehouse District neighborhood where MCBA resided as well as the interior of the space. She also discusses the fruitful experience of winning two Jerome fellowships, and the importance of MCBA publishing exhibition catalogues so that exhibitions enjoyed a life beyond the show.

Wirth then discusses the period just leading up to MCBA’s move to Open Book, and in particular her experiences in designing the central spiral staircase in Open Book in collaboration with Open Book’s architect, Garth Rockcastle. She recalls the site’s raw space, the design process itself, the challenges of sourcing materials and determining a text for the staircase, and the day when the staircase was installed, literally welded in place, in Open Book. Wirth discusses the Downtown East neighborhood where Open Book resides, previous to and following the opening of Open Book. Wirth also comments on MCBA’s mission through the years, its place in the larger book arts field, and its legacy, among other topics.

BOOKS & PRINTED MATERIALS SHOWN:

Johanna Drucker, whom Wirth met early on in Berkeley, California. Beth Giles, who ran MCBA’s education programs. Michael Tarachow, Ann Borman and Scott Helmes, who with Wirth were in the MCBA exhibition, “Works by 4” in 1988. Michael Norman, who taught bookbinding classes. Amanda Degener, MCBA’s first paper-artist-in-residence, and Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press, MCBA’s first printer-in-residence. Papermaker Carolyn Goldberg, with whom Wirth co-taught. Jeff Scherer and Garth Rockcastle of Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, who designed MCBA’s first and second spaces, respectively. Artist Wilber (Chip) Schilling, co-curator with Wirth for the 1998 MCBA exhibition, “Story: Telling.” Robert Lawrence, with whom Wirth collaborated on, How to Make an Antique (1989). Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, Executive Director when MCBA moved into Open Book in 2000. Former MCBA Board Chair Gail See, who helped raise support for the central spiral staircase at Open Book and which is named after her. MCBA board member Tom Hoch.

OTHER INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED OR DISCUSSED:

Johanna Drucker, whom Wirth met early on in Berkeley, California. Beth Giles, who ran MCBA’s education programs. Michael Tarachow, Ann Borman and Scott Helmes, who with Wirth were in the MCBA exhibition, “Works by 4” in 1988. Michael Norman, who taught bookbinding classes. Amanda Degener, MCBA’s first paper-artist-in-residence, and Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press, MCBA’s first printer-in-residence. Papermaker Carolyn Goldberg, with whom Wirth co-taught. Jeff Scherer and Garth Rockcastle of Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, who designed MCBA’s first and second spaces, respectively. Artist Wilber (Chip) Schilling, co-curator with Wirth for the 1998 MCBA exhibition, “Story: Telling.” Robert Lawrence, with whom Wirth collaborated on, How to Make an Antique (1989). Peggy Korsmo-Kennon, Executive Director when MCBA moved into Open Book in 2000. Former MCBA Board Chair Gail See, who helped raise support for the central spiral staircase at Open Book and which is named after her. MCBA board member Tom Hoch.

 

Video: 46:44 minutes
Transcription: 18 pages (view/download PDF)
Interviewer: Betty Bright
Videographer and Editor: Raven Miller
Filmed at Open Book Performance Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 2pm

 


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This project was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.