Jeffrey Altepeter

I was at first both thrilled and intimidated when invited to be a juror for this exhibition. Time has proven my initial outlook to be on target. While it was exciting to work with my fellow jurors to select the work included in this exhibition, the process of eliminating two entries for every one accepted was daunting.

The online jury system was at once limiting and broad. We were restricted to judging the entries by images only, but the system allowed for three jurors to spend countless hours examining and discussing the work without regard to our varied schedules and geographic locations.

I believe that we have chosen a proper balance for the exhibition with representations of a wide variety of structures and styles. We appropriately and carefully considered the commitment to theme and the level of workmanship in each piece. Our standards were high, and I congratulate the selected contributors.

Melissa Jay Craig

Jurying any exhibition from two images and very brief descriptions is difficult, but putting together the Marking Time exhibition was a particularly daunting task because each of us began the process knowing we would not be able to include over one hundred entries. It was very helpful to be able to view the works online, however, and to spend as much time as needed with each work.

On my own initial pass, I decided not to count—to simply respond to each work intuitively. I discovered that I wanted to exhibit a little more than double the number of works we were asked to choose! I had to view the site several more times in order to be able to submit a valid beginning selection to my fellow jurors. When we pooled our first choices, we found that we unanimously agreed on twenty-one works, and then the extensive e-mail exchanges began. Over the next week and a half, I worked during breaks at my job, in the evenings, in airports, in a borrowed office at a university in Virginia, and back at home, while we slowly shaped the exhibition. As our deadline drew near, we committed ourselves to staying near our computers while the final exhibition was resolved, and a flurry of e-mails and spreadsheet versions flew thick and fast through the ether.

It is an enormous tribute to the creativity and skill of the Guild’s members, I think, that while choosing the final pieces, we each found ourselves advocating for works which fell well outside our personal orientations to the field. Though the choices were extremely difficult, and a number of excellent works could not be included, we have a strong and varied exhibition.

I want to thank Jeffrey Altepeter and Peter Verheyen for working so graciously with a deafened colleague who can’t use a phone; I’m sure their typing fingers are as sore as mine are right now. I also want to thank Karen Hanmer for her superb work in organizing and orchestrating this entire process.

Above all, I thank each and every person who participated, accepted or not. It was a privilege to be able to view such an astonishing range of accomplished work and to know that the membership of the Guild of Book Workers continues to be a vital force in preserving fine tradition and forwarding innovation in book arts generated by keen minds and skilled hands.

Peter D. Verheyen

It was a great honor to have been asked to serve as a juror for this the Guild’s first post-100th anniversary exhibition. As one who has been involved with the Guild’s exhibitions since the early 1990s when I organized Fine Printers Finely Bound, Too and more recently the 100th Anniversary Exhibition, I have seen the Guild change from an organization where artists’ books were a curiosity and traditional binding dominated to one that has become truly representative of the book arts as a whole. As we were jurying the exhibit, I was struck by the rich diversity of works created around the theme of “marking time.” I was struck by how much the quality of the submitted works continues to rise, by the wide variety of techniques and metaphors employed, and, most significantly, by the turnover amongst those who choose to submit work. In addition, this exhibition registered the most entries by new members of the Guild, many of whom presumably joined in order to be able to take part. Their entries were among the richest and most interesting to me, and it is my hope that these artists will continue to play a role in the Guild. My regret, as one traditionally trained and rooted, is the decline of “fine bindings” in number of submissions and, to a degree, the vitality of the work. Perhaps we, and I include myself in this, are “marking time” until our extinction as a form completes this turnover? That said, as a genre the book arts are as vital as ever and getting better every day.

As the party responsible for introducing the online entry and jurying process to the Guild, I can say that its validity has been demonstrated again. With the numbers of entries increasing with each exhibit (a plateau will no doubt be reached), jurying from the actual objects is regrettably no longer practical for a variety of reasons. Digital images, like the slides so often required in the past, serve as surrogates and reveal much. In creating these surrogate images, quality is vital; a stellar binding with a bad image is seldom selected regardless of the artist’s name. Fortunately, the quality of submitted images has improved greatly since the 100th Anniversary Exhibition, most likely due to a growing familiarity with the tools. That this process has been adopted by peer organizations such as CBBAG also speaks for its usefulness as a tool. There will always be those unhappy with this sort of change, but the validity of the process has now been established and proven.

Finally, I’d like to thank my fellow jurors, Melissa Jay Craig and Jeffrey Altepeter, for their contributions to this rewardingly difficult process. Together we curated an exhibition that we know will be enjoyable to view and captures the state of the Guild in the early years of its second century.