Susan E. King: The Ephemerists’ Salon (Main Gallery)

Narrative Threads (Reading Room)

Abecedarian Gallery

June 21 – August 2, 2013

  • Opens to the public Friday June 21 at 1pm
  • A reception for visiting artist Susan King will be held Friday August 2, 6-8pm
Beata Wehr - Blue Book About the Past

On view in the main gallery:

The Ephemerist's Salon is a solo exhibition of printed ephemera and artists' books by Susan E. King.

Susan E. King moved to Southern California in the 1970's to be part of the Feminist Studio Workshop where she started writing and making artists' books, It is in the field of artists’ books where she has made her biggest mark as both studio practitioner, educator and mentor. Less known is her ongoing interest in the making of ephemera: small printed postcards, invitations, broadsides, things intended to be of the moment; to live for a day.

King grew up in the South, in a family of storytellers. Southern oral tradition and history, and writing about place often appear in her work. Her interest in ephemera came from playing with albums of postcards, sent to and from her relatives in rural Kentucky in the first half of the twentieth century.

Later, while others kept journals and diaries, King wrote letters. She recalls that she was encouraged to keep a stamp collection, but she found she was more interested in the postmark, and the journey it implied, than the stamp itself.

Alongside her learning the craft of letterpress printing came an interest in the history of printing, where she discovered the world of printed ephemera. Inspired by Jaime Robles’ Valentines, Dikko Faust's subscription postcard series and the playful mail art of the Fluxus artists, King created a series titled Support Living Artists! that included 35 cards mailed in the same size envelope, celebrating and elaborating on the merits of holidays and events King considers noteworthy.

Moving from the Los Angeles area back to her native Kentucky has coincided with an interest in photography. She has begun work on a new series titled Photo Bio, offset printed cards sent to friends and colleagues.

“Although I may do a lot of research for each piece, the activity is more akin to making a drawing than an entire painting. Ephemera allows me freedom and the ability to express an idea more quickly than making a book.”

King has been the recipient of numerous awards including an NEA Small Press Grant, Vesta Award for her service to the Women’s Building (where she served on faculty and as Studio Director for several years), a Kentucky Arts and Craft Foundations Grant and several Artist Residence and Book Production Grants from Women’s Studio Workshop, Visual Studies Workshop, Nexus Press and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her work is included in major collections including The Getty Center, the Bibliothèque Nationale, Museum of Modern Art Library, and the Victoria and Albert Museum Library. A trade edition of her artist's book, Treading the Maze, was published by Chronicle Books in 1997.

On view in the Reading Room:

On view in the Reading Room is Narrative Threads, a curated selection of artists' books and wall works by artists from the USA and Austria. Curated by Abecedarian Gallery director Alicia Bailey.

As I considered exhibition possibilities for the Reading Room during Susan King’s solo exhibition in the main gallery, not surprisingly the concept of narrative surfaced quickly and stayed at the top of the possibility list. It was also important to me to introduce the work of artists not previously shown at Abecedarian (Ellen Singer-Vine, Leah Virsik, Rhiannon Alpers, Sandra C. Fernandez, Sara Press) alongside artists I’ve worked with for many years (Alice Austin, Andrea Peterson, Beata Wehr, Heather Doyle-Maier, Heidi Zednik). This exhibit also includes work by artists whose work I’ve shown a time or two but am pleased to show again (Candace Hicks, Erin Sweeney, Gail Smuda, Macy Chadwick/Lisa Hasegawa, Sharon McCartney,Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord).

The works in Narrative Threads, all of which introduce visible threads (as opposed to the structural/functional use of thread for binding) are of intimate scale. With the exception of Doyle-Maier’s and Zednik’s wall pieces, these works are appealing in their hand-mindedness. Their narrative tales take a back seat to the tactile invitations extended by color, texture and sheer loveliness.

Abecedarian Gallery
910 Santa Fe, Unit #101 (just south of Swift's diner)
Denver, CO 80204
Thu-Fri: 1:00-6:00 pm
Sat: 12:00-4:00 pm