Tom Leech of the Palace Press Wins a Mayor’s Arts Award


We already knew we had a winner in Tom Leech, curator, director of the Palace Press, marbled-paper artist, writer, and printer extraordinaire. Now all of Santa Fe knows he’s a winner, too.

On Oct. 10, Tom and other recipients of the 2013 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts will be honored at the Santa Fe Convention Center. We’ll have a table or two of our folks there to cheer him on (along with cheering on Charmay Allred, another recipient and a dear friend of the museum).

Join us in congratulating all of the fine people being recognized. From the city’s press release announcing the recipients:

Mayor David Coss and the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission are proud to announce the recipients of the 2013 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Each of this year’s recipients have made outstanding contributions to the arts in Santa Fe, demonstrated artistic excellence and exceptional achievement, and embrace an ongoing commitment to the arts in Santa Fe. …

Tom Leech

Tom Leech is the Director of the Press at the Palace of the Governors, and has more than 35 years of experience in printing, paper-making, and related book-arts. A curator at the New Mexico History Museum since 2001, Leech has organized a number of successful exhibits, including The Saint John’s Bible, Jack Kerouac and the Writer’s Life, and Album Amicorum: Gems of Friendship in a Frightened World. With Pamela Smith, he directed the exhibit Lasting Impressions: the Private Presses of New Mexico. An advocate for the Book Arts, Leech has drawn appreciative audiences to events at the museum for lectures, readings, demonstrations and workshops featuring artists, poets, printers, scholars and musicians of national and international renown. At the Palace Press he regularly demonstrates printing and discusses its history and importance with school groups and visitors of all ages. Books and broadsides that he has printed include Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, O’Keeffe Stories, and Word Art Poetry Portfolio. Additionally, Leech collaborates with Santa Fe’s Poets Laureate on fine limited editions. He is a member of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group and the Eldorado Art and Craft Association. …

USS New Mexico’s Bell Finds a Permanent Home

By the time the USS New Mexico battleship was decommissioned in 1946, her bells had rung out alarms of attacks and tolled the grief felt by those who survived as they buried at sea the shipmates who had given their lives. The “Queen of the Fleet,” commissioned in 1918 and christened with both champagne and the waters of the Rio Grande, had served as the finest battleship of the Pacific fleet and endured attacks by kamikazes and bombers. For her World War II service, the ship received six battle stars and is still recalled with awe — even though she was sold for scrap in 1947.

The story might have ended there but for those bells — one of which arrived on Friday, Nov. 16, at the New Mexico History Museum after a circuitous post-war life. That part of the story goes back to New Mexico Gov. Thomas Mabry, who began working in 1947 on obtaining one of the ship’s two bells.

His correspondence with Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan reflects the state’s desire to spare the bell from the scrapyard. Sullivan shared the goal, but it was a weighty one — 1,100 pounds, according to a Dec. 22, 1947, letter from the Navy chief.

“It was the practice of the Navy to outfit some of the older battleships with two bells, and the U.S.S. NEW MEXICO was so equipped,” he wrote. “It would give me much pleasure to donate the bell of the U.S.S. NEW MEXICO to you on behalf of the State of New Mexico, but before doing so, there are two conditions which must be fulfilled. The first is that Congress must approve all donations. … The second condition is that the State of New Mexico must agree to defray all expenses incidental to packing and shipping.”

Our correspondence file includes Mabry’s request to obtain the portion of the ship’s bulkhead that held a painted record of how many Japanese planes and shore installations were destroyed by the ship’s guns. If the letters are correct, the bulkhead made it to New Mexico, but we’ve been unable to trace where it went. We do, however, know what happened to the bell.

In 1948, Gov. Mabry and Mayor Frank Ortiz officiated at a dedication ceremony as the bell was placed on the Santa Fe Plaza. (The photo above was taken at the event by Robert H. Martin. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 41320.) It stood on the Plaza for nearly 30 years. An early 1970s Plaza renovation forced its removal, but the Manuel Lujan Sr. building in the state’s South Capitol Complex gladly took possession of it. It hung below a stairway near the building’s vending-machine area until a recent renovation there forced yet another move.

This time, we were ready. We have the storage space, we have a small exhibition dedicated to the battleship and its nuclear-submarine namesake, and we have staffers who feel an emotional tie to the ship and its mates.

“It represents to much,” said Tom Leech, director of the Palace Press and curator of our lobby-area exhibit, A Noble Legacy: The USS New Mexico. “When I think about what that bell has been through — it’s rung general alarms when the ship was under attack. It rang when those guys were buried at sea.”

(To learn more about the ship’s ordeals and heroism, check out this mini-documentary, USS New Mexico BB40: The Drinan Diary, produced by the museum and Michael Kamins of KNME-TV in Albuquerque.)

Getting the bell delivered to our loading dock was one thing. Figuring out how to get it to our lower-level almost-hermetically-sealed collections vault was another.

First, staff members eyeballed it. Warily.








Then, four of our burliest guys tried to move it …






… but couldn’t even budge it.



Finally, we resorted to good old hydraulics.









As for what happened to the second bell, we know that the University of New Mexico acquired it, possibly with the help of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, but we aren’t certain where it is. Outside the Student Union Building? At the football stadium? Inside the ROTC building? If you know, drop us a line. (And if you know what happened to its clapper, which our records showed “disappeared, mysteriously, during the early 1970s,” we’d be interested in that as well.)

Our hope is to put our bell on display as soon as we polish off some other priorities. One popular suggestion is to place it in the Palace Courtyard. We’ll let you know when that happens. In the meantime, we’re pleased and proud that an important part of New Mexico’s heritage is sharing quarters with so many other artifacts that tell the stories of who we are.


Good News: “The Saint John’s Bible” Earns an Extended Engagement

As the monks of Saint John’s Abbey might themselves say: Hallelujah!

The popularity of Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible, combined with the delighted approval of the exhibition’s design from the monks of Saint John’s University, has led to an extension of the show’s run. Previously set to close on April 7, The Saint John’s Bible will now be on exhibit in the History Museum’s Herzstein Gallery until December 30, 2012.

“The installation of the folios in the New Mexico History Museum presents The Saint John’s Bible in one of the most beautiful and faith-filled exhibitions of this Bible done to date,” said Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible. “The contemplative environment artfully shares the story, work and process of this monumental project in a setting that compels the guest to slow down, relax and reflect.

“Saint John’s is very pleased to be able to extend this exhibition in the Santa Fe area, a place where art, faith and culture have been harmoniously blended for centuries.”

Commissioned by the monks of Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn., The Saint John’s Bible represents a remarkable achievement in the book arts. In 2000, Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Queen Elizabeth, and a crew of artists and calligraphers began the first of the Bible’s 1,150 vellum pages—from Genesis to Revelation. Last May, the project achieved completion when Jackson wrote the word “Amen” on the final page of the Book of Revelation. All of the pages will eventually be bound into seven volumes for use and exhibition at Saint John’s Abbey, but in the meantime, 44 pages from two of its Old Testament volumes–Prophets and Wisdom Books–are on exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum.

More than 26,600 people have come to the museum to see the Bible and take part in the activities and lectures that accompany it.

“Faith is part of the history of New Mexico, one that you can see in ancient petroglyphs, mission churches, Jewish temples, the Sikh community and more,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the History Museum. “Besides being part of the state’s history, faith is part of the history of the book, and this exhibit takes the book back to its medieval origins, when the Bible was `the first book.’ In Saint John’s, that first book meets modern technology, contemporary artists, and interpretations that blend modern-day events with centuries-old scripture.”

Tom Leech directs the Palace Press, a working exhibit that celebrates the book arts. He helped bring this contemporary masterpiece to Santa Fe to help visitors experience how profoundly beautiful and moving an illuminated manuscript can be.

The Saint John’s Bible is installed in a way that gives people a quiet, secular space to unplug and de-stress. The work speaks to us in many different ways,” Leech said. “We’ve even included a sort of meditation space in the center of the gallery where visitors can let what they’ve seen sink in.”

Also on exhibit in the gallery is Contemplative Landscape, featuring the work of photographers both past and present who have interpreted the ways that people of many faiths have found a home in New Mexico. (Find out more about Contemplative Landscape by clicking here.)

Accompanying the exhibits are lectures, performances and hands-on calligraphy workshops. We’ll be adding a few events with the extended run of The Saint John’s Bible, including talks by Tim Ternes. As soon as details are firmed up, we’ll let you know. All events are free and in the History Museum Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. The remaining schedule:

Saturday, February 25, 10 am-4 pm, NMHM Classroom: “Oh My Gouache,” calligraphy workshop by Diane von Arx, special treatment artist for The Saint John’s Bible. This event is sold out.

Sunday, February 26, 2 pm: “Special Treatment Illuminations for The Saint John’s Bible,” lecture by Diane von Arx.

Sunday, March 11, 2 pm: Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe and the monks of Christ in the Desert Monastery perform in the History Museum Lobby.

Sunday, March 25, 2 pm: “Endangered Texts: Preserving Ancient Books the Benedictine Way in the 21st Century,” lecture by Father Columba Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s University in Minnesota.

Sunday, April 29, 2 pm: Contemplative Landscape photographers panel discussion; Kirk Gittings, Ed Ranney, Janet Russek, Sharon Stewart and Don Usner.

Friday, June 1, 6 pm: “Fragile Faith,” lecture by Contemplative Landscape photographer David Robin.

Friday, June 8, 6 pm: “Landscape and Memory,” lecture by artist and calligrapher Laurie Doctor.

Saturday and Sunday, June 9 & 10, 10 am-4 pm, NMHM Classroom: “Landscape and Lettering: Before the Separation of Drawing and Writing,” calligraphy workshop with Laurie Doctor. Cost is $200. Limited seating; call (505) 476-5096 to register.

Friday, July 13, 6 pm: “Poetry & Photographs,” discussion and poetry reading with Contemplative Landscape photographer Teresa Neptune and poet Miriam Sagan.

Sunday, October 14, 2 pm: “Ritualized Naming of the Landscape through Photography,” lecture by John Carter, photography curator at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Sunday, November 4, 2 pm: Red as a Lotus: Letters to a Dead Trappist, poetry reading by Lisa Gill; and Compassion Rising, a film about Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama.

Sunday, December 2, 2 pm: Sacred choral music by Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe and the monks of Christ in the Desert Monastery.

Frederick Douglass Learns to Write – A Palace Press Commemoration

Imagine a world where Frederick Douglass had not learned to write.

Would the Emancipation Proclamation have been issued in 1863 or might it have withered and waited without the stirring speeches Douglass wrote, published and delivered, advocating against the slavery into which he was born?

Historians and what-if theorists can argue that for days, but the rest of us can be satisfied in knowing that, thanks to Douglass’ writing skills, we have a stirring, first-person account of what life was like in an America that regarded black people as property.  

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was first published in 1845, seven years after its author escaped from slavery. It remains a classic autobiography, unflinchingly recounting the terrors that Douglass experienced as a slave, the brutalities of his owners, and his narrow escape to the North. (An escape that was endangered by the book’s publication; once his former owner knew where to find him, he went to court – unsuccessfully – to get his “property” back.)

Just in time for Black History Month comes a new broadside from the Palace Press at the New Mexico History Museum. And though we’re mentioning its tie to that month, the excerpt featured from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass serves us in a timeless way, reminding us of how difficult it can be for anyone to learn how to fit words together and how crucial it is to master that learning curve in order to make compelling points. In this case, points that changed the course of history.

The excerpt reads:

… The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing, and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side, it would be marked thus–“L.” When a piece was for the starboard side, it would be marked thus–“S.” A piece for the larboard side forward, would be marked thus–“L. F.” When a piece was for starboard side forward, it would be marked thus–“S. F.” For larboard aft, it would be marked thus–“L. A.” For starboard aft, it would be marked thus–“S. A.” I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be, “I don’t believe you. Let me see you try it.” I would then make the letters which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite possible I should never have gotten in any other way. During this time, my copy-book was the board fence, brick wall, and pavement; my pen and ink was a lump of chalk. With these, I learned mainly how to write. …

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is on my list of the most important books,” said Tom Leech, director of the Palace Press. “I just think for us to understand American history and the American psyche, we need to read that book.”

In 1988, Leech first printed the broadside on his own press in Colorado, where he was then living. He gave his 12-year-old son a linoleum block and asked him to write letters in reverse to be carved for the border. (By the way, that 12-year-old, Benjamin Leech, is now an advocate for historic preservation in Philadelphia.)

Copies of the 12½” x 19” broadside (printed on heavy, recycled, acid-free paper) can be purchased for $25. Come by the Palace Press, open 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, or call Leech at 505-476-5096.

That’s not the only memory of Frederick Douglass available at the Palace Press.

In 2010, the Palace Press exhibited in the museum’s front window a lithographic press (one with an extraordinarily fabled background story), along with a printing stone that held a portrait of Douglass, loaned to us by Landfall Press, Santa Fe’s fine art lithographers. Their printers pulled 10 copies from the stone, and now just a few of those prints are still available and can be purchased for $100.

The prints provide an image of Douglass that’s fitting to gaze upon while considering these other words, ones that haunt the history of our “land of the free,” created by a writer who began with a piece of pavement and a lump of chalk:

… I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed. While in this state of mind, I was eager to hear any one speak of slavery. I was a ready listener. Every little while, I could hear something about the abolitionists. It was some time before I found what the word meant. …


Gustave Baumann Mysteries: A Conservator Takes a Crack

Artist, printmaker and woodworker Gustave Baumann has a well-deserved “beloved” status in Santa Fe, his home for the final 53 years of his life. The Palace Press at the History Museum re-created his studio, using his original materials, tools and furnishings. The New Mexico Museum of Art owns a number of his prints (some of them on display in an exhibit right now) and the replicas and originals of marionettes he carved for theatrical performances.

So what’s a conservator from Indiana doing here this week prowling around his legacy?

She’s trying to solve a couple of lingering mysteries that Baumann left behind.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art holds a complete set of prints Baumann made during his youthful stint in that state’s Brown County Art Colony, and Claire Hoevel, senior conservator of paper for the museum, wants to find out exactly what his materials were — pigments, bindings, gessos, the fibers in his papers.

“Our hope,” she said, “is to gain a very thorough understanding  of Baumann and his processes, how he worked, and his enormous accomplishments. ”

Thanks to the bottles, cans and jars of materials Baumann left after his 1971 death — materials that are now part of the Palace Press’ exhibit — Hoevel has an opportunity rare in conservator circles.

“It’s an extraordinary thrill for me to come out here and take actual samples,” she said. “Because I can, we won’t have to invade the works themselves. ”

The biggest question she hopes to answer is what Baumann used to bind his pigments.

“It’s important for lovers of Baumann,” she said. “He’s known to have mixed his own paints — a very traditonal process, grinding his own pigments. But the binder he used is a mystery. A vague term is used to describe it, `varnish.’ So, we’re sampling the varnishes here in hopes of cracking this mystery. It would explain why Baumann’s prints and inks look the way they do and how they acted when they went through the process. It was unique to Baumann.”

A secondary unsolved question lies in what we might as well call The Mystery of the Disappearing Ink.

It seems that at one time, one very narrow period of time, Baumann used a particular aqua ink to sign his prints. The signature was visible on the prints when Hoevel’s museum obtained them, but today, it’s gone, vanished, even from prints that were held in dark storage.

“You have a tiny bit of it here,” Hoevel said, showing (at left) a few tablespoons of a whitish powder in a brown bottle from the old Zook’s Pharmacy on the Santa Fe Plaza. “We have remnants of it on other prints —  maybe enough for analysis. The big question we have is what was the binder. Then, it’s what the heck was that ink?”

For her samples, Hoevel puts about an eighth of a teaspoon of each powdered pigment into a vial. Drops of the varnishes were placed in vials that she left open in hopes of evaporating the liquid to make it easier to transport them back to Indiana. A scientist there will test the pigment samples using microfadometry to determine their light tolerance. With that knowledge, the museum officials will know how long they can exhibit Baumann’s pieces and in what kind of lighting. The results may also affect their loan policy.

During her week in Santa Fe, Hoevel’s giving it the full Baumann treatment. She visited the Museum of Art exhibit, The Prints of Gustave Baumann, checked out the Baumann woodblocks held by the History Museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, and visited the Jane & Gustave Baumann House now owned by the Historic Santa Fe Foundation. Alas, she won’t stay long enough to see the replicas of Baumann’s marionettes perform during the Museum of Art’s Holiday Open House on Dec. 18.

According to Hoevel, folks in Indiana consider Baumann’s Brown County stint as “his formative years. We made him what he is,” she said, jokingly.

During those years, he “did a great number of extraordinary woodblock prints,” though what items will be displayed pending her investigation’s results has yet to be determined by museum curator Martin Krause.

While Hoevel’s work this week in Santa Fe will certainly produce valuable information for Krause, he may be surprised at what other information she brings back.

“I’m trying to pressure him into doing a marionette room,” she said with the slightest of smiles.



Civil War-style Printing at the Palace Press

The Palace Press this week welcomed a guest printer and a rare replica of an even-rarer Civil War-era press.

Bruce Cammack, associate librarian for rare books at Texas Tech’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, brought a replica of an 1861 Adam’s Cottage Press to demonstrate what printing on the battlefront took.

Patented on March 19, 1861, the original cylinder press was manufactured and distributed by entrepreneur Joseph Watson and the Adams Press Company in New York. Advertisements for the press proclaimed that it could make Every Man His Own Printer!

“During the Civil War,” Cammack said, “they needed a way to print dispatches close to the front. These presses are heavy, but they’re mobile. They’d be in the back of a wagon, and you’d do orders and dispatches, incident reports, casualties, then move it. It was at the heart of the action.”

When the National Park Service discovered an original version of the press at Harpers Ferry, they hired Stephen Pratt of Pratt Wagon and Press Works in Cove Fort, Utah, to build five replicas. Today, two of them are at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, two are in private hands, and one belongs to Cammack, who acquired it through a grant by the CH Foundation in Lubbock to use for demonstration purposes.

How the original press ended up in Harpers Ferry is a story unto itself: It was used when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Court House, when it printed the officers’ release papers.

“After the war, these presses were used extensively throughout the American West,” Cammack said. “Newspaper editors would go out into communities with them. They were a nice size for newspapers, sturdy, with only a few moving parts. They’d print sales circulars, wedding invitations, everything you’d need from a frontier printer.”

Cammack likes printing with his replica for a few reasons.

“You don’t have to be so careful because it’s not 150 years old,” he said. “And the quality of the printing is the same as it was 150 years ago, because the metal hasn’t fatigued.”

Bruce and James Bourland, who keeps the working-press side of the Palace Press’ exhibits going, along with Director Tom Leech, showed visitors how simple it was to ink the type, and roll it under a piece of paper. The result had those little letter-press indentations that speak of a hand-operated press – along with a surprising amount of print clarity when you consider the conditions the original ones had to operate in.

After working with the press for a few days on a planned booklet, Cammack, Palace Press Director Tom Leech, and assistant James Bourland decided to cut their losses and go with something far more simpler. And far more memorable: Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace’s quote about New Mexico’s uniqueness in the world.


“All calculations based on experience elsewhere, fail in New Mexico.”

Here’s how the typeblock of the quote looked before they loaded it onto the press. You can use it to practice your upside-down-and-backwards reading.

By this weekend, the Palace Press expects to be pumping out copies of the Wallace quote, and Cammack, Leech and Bourland will be there to answer your questions. Drop by to pick up your free copy.

While you’re there, you can visit with another relic of the 1800s: the buckskin-clad folks participating in the Santa Fe Mountain Man Trade Fair, who’ve set up shop in the Palace Courtyard. Admission is free through the Blue Gate on Lincoln Avenue.

The Palace Press Beefs Up Its Bodoni

Few people would consider a drive to Roswell to pick up pounds of lead a pleasure journey, but to Tom Leech and James Bourland of the Palace Press, it was all that and more.

Earlier this week, the two traveled to the site of the old Hall-Poorbaugh Printing Co., now the Copy Rite Co., to load up 24 cases of cherished Bodoni and Caslon metal type.

Tom Leech, curator of the Palace Press, pulls out a case of Bodoni type.

“We figured it was at least 1,000 pounds altogether,” Leech said, adding that they broke up the burden by moving it case by case. “It’s a dubious honor that comes with being a letterpress printer — the opportunity to move large cases of lead.”

“By the fifth case,” Bourland said, “the weight doubles. It’s true, I felt it.”

Jeanine Best, owner of Copy Rite, donated the type to the New Mexico History Museum because “I didn’t need it and, as long as someone else can use it, they should have it.”

She purchased the Hall-Poorbaugh building in 2007, along with its old linotype press and various and sundry stacks of type. (The building, at 210 N. Richardson Ave., is known to locals by the UFO mural painted on its side.) As part of the family that operates the legendary Corn ranch — “three centuries old,” she said — Best understands the power of antique furniture and old equipment to move people’s emotions.

“I’m a big history buff,” she said. “I donate a lot of stuff to museums.”

For Leech, laying hands on a cache of Bodoni that ranges in size from 10 to 72 point, including italics, meant broadening his access to one of his most preferred fonts.

“It’s a really nice type,” he said, citing its straight serifs and balance of thick and thin lines. “It’s significant to New Mexico because when the first type arrived by the Santa Fe Trail in 1834, it was Bodoni. It was the only type used for a decade or so and got well-worn.

“I’ve been trying to use Bodoni in the last couple of years. A couple of books have used it, but we never really had enough to do much with it. These letters are finite. It’s not like a word processor. Over time, they become damaged, worn out, lost, misplaced, and then you don’t have that letter you need.”

Invented by Giambattista Bodoni in the late 18th century, the type is nevertheless considered an exemplar of modern types. From a Web site that font addicts will love:

Bodoni had been hired by Duke Ferdinand of Parma, a noted patron of the arts, to establish a premiere royalty press. His concern was printing of the highest quality not for the masses, but for the aristocracy. The craftsmanship of Bodoni was superb and his attention to detail was legendary. The quality of his printing was unmatched and he came to be regarded as the finest printer of his day. …

Bodoni’s desire was a type which was suitable for contemporary times rather than the age of the scribe. Instead of the stroke of the pen, his inspiration was the mathematical precision and delicate hairline strokes characteristic of copperplate engraving, which was very popular at that time.


Bodoni A

For some lovely examples of Bodoni and an essay on how the font has evolved since Giambattista’s time, click here.

The box that Leech and Bourland collected also contained cases of Caslon type — another historic font so respected that printers since the time of Ben Franklin have said, “When in doubt, use Caslon.”

Caslon A

William Caslon hit his printing stride slightly before Bodoni did and in another country, England. In 1716, he opened shop in London as an engraver of gun locks and barrels, and as a bookbinder’s tool-cutter. After rubbing elbows with printers, he was inspired to open a type foundry and developed a style so legible that the leading printers of the day brought him their work.

Caslon was used on the original printing of the Declaration of Independence, and George Bernard Shaw insisted that only Caslon be used for all his books.

You can find examples of Caslon’s fonts here.

Besides collecting and displaying New Mexico’s historic printing equipment, the Palace Press is a working print shop, and Leech thinks he’ll likely dip into his new toy box for some upcoming poetry broadsides. And although it took only a day or two for the new cabinet to be engulfed in all the stuffage that comes with a print shop, he’s open to adding to the clutter with other acquisitions — should they exist.

“A lot of this stuff just gets melted down or thrown away,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for someone to walk in and say, `I just threw some of that away, made bullets out of it, fishing weights.’

“That’s why it’s important that a museum keeps this stuff — and knows how to use it. If you don’t, it is just heavy, dusty stuff.”



David Lance Goines: A Master of the Artful Poster Speaks

A 1983 poster by David Lance Goines. Produced for the Pacific Film Archive (Tom Schmidt), University of California Art Museum, Berkeley. Courtesy of the artist.

A 1983 poster by David Lance Goines. Produced for the Pacific Film Archive (Tom Schmidt), University of California Art Museum, Berkeley. Courtesy of the artist.

Since 1968, graphic artist David Lance Goines has blended whimsy and precision to produce posters for clients as far-ranging Chez Panisse restaurant, Ravenswood Wine, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, poetry readings and nurseries.

On Saturday, April 23, the airplane-shunning artist will arrive in Santa Fe by train for a combination lecture and exhibition, co-sponsored by the Press at the Palace of the Governors, Fisher Press and the New Mexico chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.

His 2 pm lecture in the History Museum Auditorium, titled “David Lance Goines: A Life in Posters,” costs $10; $5 members of AIGA; free, students with ID. Seating is limited. A 4-6 pm reception at Fisher Press, 307 Camino Alire, in Santa Fe follows the lecture. Copies of his new book, The Poster Art of David Lance Goines, A 40-Year Retrospective (Dover Press, 2010), will be available for sale and signing. The gallery will display the exhibition David Lance Goines: A Life in Posters through May 14.

The book is stuffed full of his work, including 155 full-color posters promoting movies, galleries, restaurants, and concerts. You can get a sneak peek — and have a delightful time — wandering through an online assortment of his designs here.

Mixing influences of artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and J.C. Leyendecker, Goines proves that, contrary to some art historians’ claim, the “golden age” of the poster didn’t end with World War I but has continued through Rosie the Riveter, 1960s Fillmore concerts and more into the 21st century.

Goines has produced hundreds of designs for posters, books and exhibitions featuring his distinctive Arts & Crafts style. In 1968, he founded the Saint Hieronymus Press in Berkeley, California. One of the few graphic artists who designs and prints his own work, Goines uses both letterpress and photo-offset lithography. The Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, and Louvre have collected his work.

As both a museum exhibition about the historic presses of New Mexico and a working print shop that produces award-winning books, posters and other materials, the Palace Press takes as part of its mission to “bring people who are at the top of their field in graphic arts and publishing to share their expertise with the community,” said curator Tom Leech.

The public is welcome to this special event, but come early. Like we said, seating is limited.

(Goines, by the way, is also a 17-gallon blood donor whose other publications include The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s; and Punchlines: How to Start a Fight in Any Bar in the World.)

Here are two more examples of his fine work:

"Grow What You Eat," 2008, marking the 37th anniversary of Chez Panisse.

"Grow What You Eat," 2008, marking the 37th anniversary of Chez Panisse.

"Hillside Club," 2008, for the Hillside Club of Berkeley, Calif.

"Hillside Club," 2008, for the Hillside Club of Berkeley, Calif.

Al-Mutanabbi Street: Poets and Printers Respond to a Casualty of War

On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 30 people and wounding more than 100. Named after the famed 10th-century classical Arab poet, Al-Mutanabbi, the street was for centuries the center of Baghdad bookselling, the heart and soul of an ancient city’s literary and intellectual community. From its wreckage came the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, which sent out a call to letterpress printers worldwide: Craft a visual response to the attack.

Artist Garrett Queen, London

Artist Garrett Queen, Charlottesville, Va.

The response was immediate. More than 40 printers, including three from New Mexico, enthusiastically answered that first call with a powerful edition of broadsides. Since then, the number has grown to 130. A complete set will be donated to the National Library in Baghdad. Two other sets are traveling for exhibition.

The Press at the Palace of the Governors pays homage to the effort with a new exhibition in the John Gaw Meem Community Room and with a special reading from the broadsides at 6 pm on Friday, March 4, in the History Museum auditorium.

Readers include poets Anne Valley-Fox, Lisa Gill and James Thomas Stevens, bookstore owner Dorothy Massey, poet and bookstore owner Leo Romero, and poet-publishers Janet Rodney, JB Bryan and John Brandi. Many of the readings will be translations of work by Iraqi poets. New Mexico printers who contributed to the project are Suzanne Vilmain of the Counting Coup Press, Janet Rodney of Weaselsleeves Press, and Tom Leech of the Palace Press.

The event is free. From March 4 through April 30, the Broadsides from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Project exhibition is open by appointment. Call Tom Leech at (505) 476-5096.

Artist Nadia Chalabi, London

Artist Nadia Chalabi, London

“The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition is not an anti-war project, nor is it a healing project,” said Beau Beausoleil, San Francisco bookseller, poet, and founder of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition. The coalition feels that until we truly see what happened on this one winding street of booksellers and readers, on this one day in Baghdad, until we understand all the implications of an attack on the printed word and its writers, printers, booksellers and readers, until we see that this is our street, until then, we cannot truly move forward.”

The Arthur and Matta Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University has more information about the project on its website.

The coalition offers copies of the broadsides for sale. Proceeds benefit Doctors Without Borders, a nonprofit agency working to relieve suffering in Iraq and other troubled areas of the world.

We hope the books created will use al-Mutanabbi and its printers, writers, booksellers, and readers, as a touchstone,” Beausoleil said. “We hope that these books will make visible the literary bridge that connects us, made of words and images that move back and forth between the readers in Iraq and ourselves. These books will show the commonality of al-Mutanabbi Street with any street, anywhere, that holds a bookstore or cultural institution.”

Artist Heinz Stefan Bartkowiak, Germany

Artist Heinz Stefan Bartkowiak, Germany

Download high-resolution versions of the above images by clicking here.

A Free Evening with Cuban Literary Superstar Pablo Armando Fernandez

Pablo Armando Fernandez

Pablo Armando Fernandez

Thanks to the generosity of the Lannan Foundation, what was to be a $20-a-head fund-raiser for the Palace Press is now a free evening of poetry and conversation with renowned Cuban poet Pablo Armando Fernandez. Come to the museum at 6 pm, Friday, Dec. 3, to enjoy this legendary writer. Attendees will receive a keepsake version of one of Fernandez’s poems, specially printed by the Palace Press.

Other sponsors include the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the Information Trust.

Known in his country simply as “El Poeta,” Fernandez has an enormous reputation and a distinguished career as a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, editor and diplomat. His works have been translated into French, Italian, Polish and English. His 2001 work, Parables: Selected Poems,featured an introduction by Margaret Atwood. He received the Premio Nacional de Literatura in 1996 for lifetime accomplishment, and formerly served as the Cultural Counselor to the Cuban Embassy in London.

Born in a Cuban sugar factory in 1930, he came to New York to study as a teenager, catching the eye of famed author Carson McCullers (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, among other gems). That encounter didn’t seem fortuious, at least at first, as recounted in an online journal about Fernandez’s 2000 visit with San Francisco Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

At age fourteen Pablo arrived in New York City from Cuba to attend school, where he studied English literature and by age seventeen wrote his first lines. By chance, he was taken to the home of famous writer Carson McCullers, who recognized at once that these lines were poetry. “You are a poet,” she told him after first serving him a potato salad whose illusive taste he has never forgotten. Pablo fled in tears. He felt misunderstood. His words, he insisted, were prose. How could this important writer with a play on Broadway call his work “poetry”? He felt that calling his work “poetry” was to disrespect it. Pablo went for comfort to his Cuban friend, Manila Hartman, then also living in New York City. “I’ve always told you, you were a poet, Pablo,” she said. Finally, she convinced him and he accepted his literary fate.

Fernandez soon became part of America’s literati, returning to Cuba in 1959 after the revolution.

Among his published works are the poetry books Salterio y lamentaciones (1953), Nuevos poemas (Nueva York, 1955), Toda la poesía (1961), Himnos (1962), El libro de los héroes (1962), Un sitio permanente (Madrid, 1970), Campo de amor y de batalla (1984), El sueño y la razón (1988) and Pequeño cuaderno de Manila Hartman (2000); and the novels Los niños se despiden (1968), El vientre del pez (1989) and Otro golpe de dados (1993).

“What makes me truly Cuban,” he has said, “is its history, the men and women who handed in their fortune in order to make Cuba a sovereign country. You will find this in poetry from Heredia to Guillén. To be part of that generation consolidates my being.”