ALPHABETS SUBLIME: VITAL SOURCEBOOK
by George Myers Jr.
ISBN: 0-931181-02-X (nonfiction) (1986)
171pp., $8.95 ($9.95 in Canada)
George Myers Jr. was for years the Literary Arts editor of the Columbus
Dispatch in Columbus, OH. This is a great book that we'd love to reprint.
George Myers Jr.'s interviews with artists who engage in "sunburst,
risk-taking art activities" have been collected in ALPHABETS SUBLIME:
CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS ON COLLAGE & VISUAL LITERATURE (Nov. 15 publication;
$8.95, Paycock Press). The surprising collection of comments from 20
intermedia artists is complete with a critical introduction and illustrated
with their works.
While other books have devoted themselves to contemporary or postmodern
art, ALPHABETS SUBLIME is the first full-length work to present artists'
opinions and explanations as primary source material for a study of
Like George Plimpton's popular "Writers at Work" series
published in conjunction with.The Paris Review, Myers' book features
interviews that are casual yet focused. Unlike the Plimpton series,
however, ALPHABETS SUBLIME features writers and artists just at the
bloom of their careers even though many of them have been working quietly
and without fanfare for more than a half-century. Art historians and
critics will find surprises here just as Myers did in his original
encounters. As he says in his introduction, "art criticism is
a vital and surprising encounter when its subjects are active participants.
Certainly, art criticism without input from the art's creator strikes
me now as terribly suspect and incomplete."
Myers includes a 20-page bibliography as a springboard for further
study and delectation as well as to show the tradition from which these
ALPHABETS SUBLIME features artists from New York's SoHo district,
Pennsylvania farm country, Ohio and the Midwest, New England, California
and the Southwest, as well as three Soviet emigres and a native Chilean
who now resides in Canada.
ALPHABETS SUBLIME is a valuable record of artistic intentions and
the story so far . . .
Featuring conversations with Alison Knowles, Ken Gangemi, Carolee
Schneemann, Bern Porter, Valery & Rimma Gerlovin, George Hitchcock,
John M. Bennett, M. Kasper, Paul Metcalf, Kirk Robertson, Paul Zelevansky,
H. Terry Braunstein, Karl Kempton, Percival R. Roberts III., Doris
Cross, Joel Lipman, Ludwig Zeller, Jo-Anne Echevarris Myers, and Vagrich
Bakhchanyan on the common concerns that frame their work.
"The visual poetry genre has now generated its own critical literature,
an example of which may be found in Alphabets Sublime. Myers has conducted interviews
with a score of artists and writers, to which he has added an essay in the characteristic
style of artists' manifestoes, part graduate-school seminar and part St. John
the Divine." Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"The emphasis is on expanding our notions of language as a visual structure
of signs, on the relations between literary and visual works of art, on the redefinition
of the art/world nexus, as well as on the alternatives available to contemporary
artist/writers for producing and distributing their works."
John Byrum, Small Press
"Running along the visual poetry/collage border, the book touches
on a number of related forms, most importantly mail art, book art,
fluxus, and performance art . . . Myers is an astute and judicious
interviewer." Karl Young, American Book Review
"Alphabets Sublime is a collection of interviews with 20 artists
and writers by George Myers, Jr., book editor for The Columbus
Dispatch (Ohio), as well as critic, fiction author, and bookwork
artist. Subtitled Contemporary Artists on Collage and Visual Literature,
this book is "not a history but a 'slice of life' of the art of
the 80s that touches on assemblage, intermedia, visual literature,
Fluxus, dada, and bookworks as objets d'art" (quoted from the
book's back cover). In his introductory essay, Myers states that "collage
is the culmination of the world," and that "visual literature
is the culmination of the word." The book's dialogic format allows
the reader to infer an informal yet journalistic give-and-take between
artist and interviewer. Myers' questions focus on matters of technique,
artistic intention, and on views held by the artists of the social,
political, cultural, and artistic climates within which the works are
made. Myers has attempted to provide a sense of the great diversity
of current modes of alternative publishing, modes which range from
one-of-a-kind artist's books and booklike objects (some of which may
be walked through or worn like costumes) to more traditional limited-edition
press runs. The emphasis is on expanding our notions of language as
a visual structure of signs, on the relations between literary and
visual works of art, on the redefmition of the art/world nexus, as
well as on the alternatives available to contemporary artist/writers
for producing and distributing their works. All of the artists interviewed
have settled in Robert Rauschenberg's oft-quoted "gap between
art and life," and each has attempted to fill that gap. This book
demonstrates that the one is swiftly becoming the other." Independent
out of print