Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jerry Reddan and Tangram

An exhibition of Jerry Reddan's Tangram private press is on display through September 7, 2007 in the Arion Press gallery. The exhibition is titled "Pj’s on the Qt: selected Tangrams / more pieces to the puzzle". At a recent opening reception, Jerry explained the significance of the first part of that title, noting that "pj's" refers to "personal jobs" done in the foundry and pressroom "on the q.t.", a playful reference to the way these publications were created after hours over the years. Following is a short essay about Tangram written by Andrew Hoyem for the exhibition.

Jerry Reddan and his Tangram Press

Gerald Reddan is the master printer at Arion Press, where he has been employed since 1977, thirty years in September 2007. He started with Moby-Dick, helping with hand composition of that 600-page novel. Reddan has been responsible for typography and presswork on such projects as: Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, Ulysses by James Joyce, Poems of W. B. Yeats, The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, Cane by Jean Toomer, and The Holy Bible.

In addition to his full-time work as a printer, Jerry has been very active with his private press, producing a long list of literary pieces, mainly poetry, written by accomplished friends and well-known writers who earned his admiration. Using the facilities of Arion Press on his own time, he has published books, broadsides, and other ephemera, since 1987 under the Tangram imprint, but also dating back to his beginnings as a printer.

After service in the U. S. Navy, Jerry Reddan attended Humboldt State College. In 1972 he returned to Humboldt County to find work in a print shop. He began in the bindery at Eureka Printing Company, owned by Jerry Carter, and trained on small offset presses, first a Chief 15, then a Solna 125. While there he printed by offset Ralph Nelson’s translation of the Mayan Popol Vuh, with design and production by Barbara Llewellyn, and learned to use letterpress equipment to print broadsides.

In 1975-76, Reddan served a year’s apprenticeship with Wesley Tanner at Arif Press in Berkeley. In 1976-77 he worked at Adrian Wilson’s Press in Tuscany Alley in San Francisco on Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. He did some personal projects while at these notable presses. When he came to Arion Press on Commercial Street in San Francisco, Jerry continued his private printing before and after hours and on weekends.

This exhibition celebrates Tangram, named for a Chinese puzzle of seven pieces (five triangles, one square, and a rhomboid) that can be arranged into a square. The first Tangram imprint was “The Tunnel”, a poem by Jim Dodge dedicated to Jack Spicer, in 1987. In 1988 he began a yearly Winter Solstice greeting with Dodge. The first Tangram chapbook was by Dodge and the second by Jerry Martien, both Humboldt County writers. Since then, as he says, publications have popped up like mushrooms in the redwoods.

Tangrams are precious in the nicest possible ways. They are modest but exquisite editorially and typographically, perfect in presswork, choice of paper and binding materials. Some special bindings have been done by Peggy Gotthold, for many years a colleague at Arion Press. The editions are limited to very few copies, generally no more than one hundred fifty. Tangram is truly a private press, nearly a secret, the personal expression of a discerning reader and a great craftsman. To the extent Tangram is public, some copies are offered to the world by rare book dealers. Fortunate are they who have Tangrams on their shelves or can see a selection of them as in this exhibition.
—Andrew Hoyem


Authors: Keith Abbott, John Brandi, Clifford Burke, Julia Connor, Cid Corman, Michael Daley, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Jim Dodge, Jonathan Greene, Michael Hannon, C. G. Hanzlicek, Ben Howard, Denise Levertov, Barry Lopez, Jerry Martien, Michael McClure, Tim McNulty, Robert Mezey, Hilda Morley, Ed Munn, Gary Paul Nabhan, Ralph Nelson, Pat Nolan, Mike O’Connor, Bill Ransom, Kate Reavey, M. C. Richards, Pattiiann Rogers, John Ross, Steve Sanfield, Andrew Schelling, Will Staple, Joseph Stroud, Robert Sund, Janine Volkmar, Finn Wilcox.

Artists: John Brandi, Lo Ch’ing, Monica Dengo, Amy Evans, Peggy Gotthold, Morris Graves, Charles Hobson, Douglas Holmes, Thomas Ingmire, Robert Sund, William T. Wiley.


Pj’s on the Qt: selected Tangrams / more pieces to the puzzle, exhibition, August 15 through September 7, 2007, Arion Press gallery in the Presidio of San Francisco, sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from The Book Club of California and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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