Vol 34 | No 2 | Spring 15
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Artists’ Books in John Wayne Airport Exhibition Hidden Treasures

ImageTwo seminal Ed Ruscha book works from the artists’ book collection in the UCI Libraries Special Collections and Archives Department are on display at the John Wayne Airport as part of the Hidden Treasures: Art from the Permanent Collections of Orange County Colleges and Universities exhibition on display now through August 2015. The exhibition includes art from collections in five local colleges and universities, including UCI; California State University, Fullerton; Chapman University; Fullerton College; and the Laguna College of Art + Design. The exhibit featuring local, regional, national and international artists can be seen in the Vi Smith Concourse Gallery in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal across from Gates 18 through 21. It is only accessible to those traveling to and from the airport.

Special Collections and Archives provided a pair of 1960s photographic books by Ed Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Ed Ruscha’s iconic first book, was published in 1963, the year that Ruscha had his first solo exhibit, at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. It was one of the first books in this genre, and became very influential. What is now clear is that the book established a new paradigm for books by artists, in contrast to finely printed books and livre de luxe editions, often associated with artists earlier in the 20th century. Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles, published in 1967, was the first collaborative book that Ruscha did. Ruscha hired Art Alanis to take photographs of empty parking lots as he flew over Los Angeles. In this book Ruscha was among the vanguard moving toward a more flat, distant style that removed any personal style from the photographs. Special Collections and Archives is actively building a collection of artists' books dating from the 1960s to the present (currently 550 volumes) encompassing nearly all aspects of the genre from "normal" published works to altered, sculptural, painted and unique books. The collection has three major foci: works by and about women; works that explore contemporary American politics; and works produced in Latin American countries. The collection also includes numerous illustrated editions of Mallarme's typographic poem Un Coup de dés.

Since opening the Thomas F. Riley Terminal in 1990, John Wayne Airport (JWA) has mounted more than 100 exhibitions. For the exhibit Hidden Treasures, Audra Eagle Yun (Head of Special Collections and Archives) and Steve MacLeod (Public Services Librarian) worked closely with the exhibition curator Chris Huff. “We have almost all of Ed Ruscha’s early artists’ books in our collection,” said MacLeod. “They are hardly ‘hidden’ books, as they have been used in exhibits in the libraries, in a wide variety of classes, and they are in demand by researchers.” Audra Eagle Yun said “We very much wanted to participate in the exhibition to promote our large collection of artists’ book. This exhibition provided another means of promoting this unique and important collection.”

For more information on this exhibit visit John Wayne Airport’s website.