It's Nearly Time!
by Anne Binder

I know I should be tending to any number of tasks rather than write this message, but Iím going to burst if I donít share my joy and my frustrations with someone(s) who I KNOW care!! The joyful part first.....unless you are very new to the list, you know Iíve been working on BIG calligraphic happenings in South Bend. My students at a small Christian college (and Iím such a pagan!) gave me the name ĎAlphabet Evangelistí. For the past three months Iíve been trying to live up to that name.

I feel extremely grateful to Bill Tourtillotte, Education Curator at the South Bend Regional Museum of Art, who paved the way and twisted the arms of the gallery committee to accept the proposals I presented to the museum way back in Nov Ď98 to host AlphaMark, Visual Voices and the Days of the Handmade Book. It has only come to light recently just how hard Bill had to twist those arms! Half an hour before the opening of AlphaMark and Visual Voices, I overheard the museumís curator, assistant, and preparator talking. Their backs were to me so I could eavesdrop.....their comments included such phrases as "...this show isnít what I expected." "The execution of these works is impeccable". "The variety of mediums blows me away." and my favorite, "I didnít know this was calligraphy." That last phrase was uttered by many of our reception viewers. Another comment I overheard and which nearly had me rolling on the floor laughing, "I could never print like that."

I have done five gallery talks since the show opened. All art-related groups. I saw each audience come in with their preconceived expectations of what they were going to see. And saw each leave with nothing less than that "Ah ah" expression of the enlightened on their faces. Iíve been unpacking the zillion parcels of handmade books for this weekendís DOHB. I have received books from calligraphers, book artists, and printmakers. The quality of craftsmanship, the creativity in design, use of materials are all diversified. But the books that carry the most life and pride are those done by calligraphers. The handlettered books are the most spirited. In all fairness, Iíve received several books from true bookbinders. The craftsmanship is superb! Julie Harris is the most unique among the book artists. She finds roadkill and creates books from the remains! There is no debate about any of the works for the exhibits here whether they belong in an art museum!

Now the frustration......As an evangelist, Iíve come to accept the absolute fact that we cannot convert (educate) without exhibits or other related events. We must SHOW while we TELL. And even if it means twisting arms to get people to view the exhibits...... Itís the getting them into the exhibits thatís frustrating. My hometown newspaper hasnít printed one press release about the shows. The media has totally ignored these events. When I contacted the Features editor of the newspaper she sounded so bored on the phone, I fell asleep. Her comment was "I donít think this will interest our readers". The next Sunday edition carried a feature on ĎBad Hair Daysí. A whole front page devoted to how to cope with a bad hair day. Iím having a very hard time believing my fellow citizens are more interested in knowing how to deal with bad hair than knowing there are exhibits that could enrich their lives!

On the uplifting side, Iíve been able to distribute over 700 flyers directly into the hands of people. I pray 700 people donít all show up at the same time, but 300 would be nice!! OK, I think Iíve vented enough this morning. Iíve got exhibit tags to make and a house to clean....or at least tidy up. Iíve got to make a good impression for Katiemac, Glen, my dearest QQQQwen and Cheryl who will be my calligraphy slaves this weekend! So much more to say, so little time to say it!