SEASON ONE : INSCRIPTION

 

The first seasonal theme for NFPL programming is Inscription, to recall the origins of the Library. The NFPL began in 2003 as a sculptural installation at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for the exhibition Plat & Form: The Portable Hermetic Gallery, which featured several artists who created platforms for the expression of others. The NFPL itself was a library of blank books, a participatory work inviting the public to inscribe drawings, writings, doodles, sketches, tags, thoughts, statements, collages, etc., without limit except that the altered books would rejoin the collection. The NFPL grew as it traveled, asking each sponsoring institution to contribute a number of new blank books. These are on view in the NFPL’s study room at The Open.

Cindy Loehr Don't Give Up: A life is a kind of inscription. How a person leaves a trace is recorded within those they knew and what they leave behind, to be carried on through memory, acknowledgment and activation. Cindy Loehr’s (1971-2014) work as an artist and writer, her persona and her beliefs, affected many people during her lifetime. At her request, I became a distributor of her Don’t Give Up magnets project in 2002, and am honored to reintroduce the magnets via the Nicholas Frank Public Library.

 

Paul Druecke’s Whiteboard Poems paintings offer not only another mode of inscription, but another perspective on ‘participation.’ Druecke’s paintings (marker drawings) honor participation as it has occurred on and within the landscape over a vast epoch, from our earliest human forebears on the Great Plains through the colonizing mapmakers, to urbanites re-colonizing their space and leaving imprints to mark territory and signal existence. These acts have had to do with ceremony, with war, with pride, and privatize communication in codes as much as make it public. To an untrained eye, a splay of graffitoed wall can appear as unreadable as the purpose of a bear effigy mound, and how many of us can say for whom Humboldt Ave. or Holton St. are named?

 

The “cultural inheritance over millennia” that Druecke recognizes is overwhelming if sifted, as layers accumulate upon layers. There is mark-making and there is making one’s mark, which is sometimes intentional, sometimes inadvertent, always indelible even if not recognized as such.

Evan Gruzis’s Public Paintings are an ideal starting point for this new instantiation of the NFPL, echoing the characteristics of the blank book library, inviting relatively open participation within a specific framework. Gruzis also notes that inscribers on his whiteboards might also feel the pressure of creating a gallery-worthy work, if relieved by the inherent temporariness of the materials. Someone’s marker work, though, will assuredly feature in the finished works, unless an artful erasure maintains.