Show reveals diversity, creativity in book arts

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Laura Wait's books don't have many words. Instead, the smooth Mylar pages, colored with whimsical images of plants and statues, tell their own stories of quiet days in an ancient garden.

The books, some covered in color-stained woods and embellished with pounded copper, are held together with Medieval and traditional binding techniques -- mixing the age-old history of bookmaking with modern artistic vision.

Key points An opening reception for "The Intensive Spirit: Celebrating 22 years of the Paper and Book Intensive" 5 to 7 p.m. today Depot Art Center 879-9008

The Steamboat Springs Arts Council will feature works by Wait and other artists in an exhibition of book arts and handmade paper constructions opening today and running through June 19 at the Depot Art Center.

The opening reception for the exhibit is from 5 to 7 p.m. today.

The show coincides with the Paper and Book Intensive, a book arts and papermaking workshop to be held June 6 to 17 at The Lowell Whiteman School.

The works of former PBI students and instructors, such as Wait, will be among the 40 pieces in the exhibit. The show will include books from local artists Jill Bergman and Patricia Branstead.

"I think a lot of people will be really amazed at the diversity of the designs," said Beth Banning, SSAC director of visual arts.

The sky is the limit when it comes to designs, structures and materials of artistic books, which have blossomed in creativity in the past 20 years, Wait said.

"It's very multimedia," she said.

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The books in the show, chosen from among 115 entries, are made from a wide range of materials including CDs, restaurant order tickets and handmade papers.

In addition to being interesting, books must exhibit fine craftsmanship and the artists' ability to work with fabrics, metal, wood and other materials, said Wait, who helped choose the final pieces for the show.

"It takes someone who likes to work with their hands and is structured," she said. "It's like a little engineering process."

The books' structures range from traditional binded books to compact pieces that extend into a long accordion of images. Some books are sculptural and include multiple elements. Others are complex or simple, lending a sense of chaos or peace to the viewer.

The books' contents, which include collages, paintings, stamped images, calligraphy and lettering from old printing presses, usually shares something about the artist.

"Much of the content is biographical," Banning said.

Wait, who works full time creating books, prints and paintings in Steamboat Springs, first became interested in bookmaking and binding after taking a printing class in Los Angeles.

Wait will be judging books at the Depot for cash awards in various categories. She will discuss elements of each piece during a gallery talk from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

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