Stories From The Press

Maira Kalman

By Kenneth Caldwell
This post is part of an interview I did with the artist/illustrator Maira Kalman for Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley. She is more comfortable with an assignment and a deadline than the process that takes place at a fine art press like Paulson Bott. But she used her skill of observation to gather a series of images that work together in a kind of grand collage.


What’s been the process of determining what prints you are going forward with?

We took all of these images and snippets and staticky things and put them together in one sheet. And then we went from there to doing individual plates and then putting them together and then separating. Back and forth.

How is printmaking different from working at home? What does it feel like?

When you’re alone in the studio, you have to make your decisions, for better or for worse. Here, when there are people who can give you feedback, I find myself in a bit of a fog, but not in a bad fog—in a very, very good fog.

So at home you don’t have assistants?

No. I have negative assistants. I have resistance. I’m just in my studio wandering around.

Does this have chin-collé on it then? Is this a sheet of gampi?


That’s a whole new thing then. It’s a new effect, but it has luminosity.

Yes. I could paint on this. And I tried drawing some. This paper drives me crazy with happiness. I want like my whole life to be this.

Whose idea was it to print on cloth?
I wanted to print on cloth because I do a lot of embroidery stuff. And I thought, okay, it’s cloth, and then we’ll draw, and maybe try some embroidery. But the embroidery that I’ve tried feels unnecessary.

Mostly, 2012  A portfolio of 27 sugarlift aquatints and hardground etchings printed on linen.  Edition of 15
Mostly, 2012 A portfolio of 27 sugarlift aquatints and hardground etchings printed on linen. Edition of 15
I love the use of the fabric.

For me that’s part of the process—that we went to a nearby fabric store and saw what they had—and they had wonderful things.

Can you talk about some of these images you brought with you to use for reference?
This is an airplane. It’s like the early airplanes.

Like Kitty Hawk?
Exactly, but it may be upside down. I’m not sure. And this was a dancer from New York. I cut out a lot of photographs, so this is a woman that performed a few years ago. Half the time I don’t know where I cut out the images from anymore, but she’s a dancer, and this is also a dance troupe. So the movements of people making it through the day, both intentionally as dancers, and then just how we move around really fascinates me a lot. There’s a man behind her in the photo, holding his hands on her shoulders. But she’s a little bit awkward.

There’s a stiffness, yes.

I’m always watching how people are walking, and following them and photographing how people walk and really struggle—a lot of yearning to be okay, and dignity, and being brave. Basically I think everybody’s very brave for getting up in the morning and continuing through the day. Sometimes people walking, people sitting and eating, are just heartbreaking. I love Diane Arbus when she went to visit the people in the home and the Halloween images of those people. That’s also a Lartigue, but the photo is of a woman looking up at this ball, and then it became something else. It became a woman holding a stick. And then there is the rollercoaster after Hurricane Sandy.

With these images, are you drawing into the copper plate?

I’m always drawing into the plate, either the hard ground or the sugar lift. It only took me four days to remember those four words—hard ground, sugar lift.

And now you’ve got chin-collé and gampi too!

It’s like a nice poem.

I was going to ask you, does it feel a little bit like poetry—these scattered images or fragments that you’re tying together?

Yes. I think that the problem is, putting the word “poetry” on it—it depends what kind of mood you’re in: poetry can be a wonderful thing to say about something, and then, as a critic once said about me, “unnecessarily poetic.”

It’s a very different poem here in this arrangement than it might be in that arrangement.

Yes. I don’t want to forget the idea of a sense of humor along with the yearning and the sadness. There’s a lightness balancing the heaviness. And so poetry would imply one thing, and then just saying “I don’t know” would be the other.

Have you worked with poets?

No. But a lot of the things that I write or things in the books are poems. The dog says, okay, I’m going to write a poem now. I’m going to close my eyes and think of three things and then make a poem out of that. So there’s a lot of poetry and there’s a lot of songwriting in the children’s books. But I am collaborating with Gertrude Stein [in the set designs for the Mark Morris Dance Group’s production of Stein’s opera Four Saints in Three Acts]. So yes, I’m collaborating with a poet whom I never met.

She won’t get in the way.

I hope that if she were alive she’d go, “Great,” as opposed to, “Don’t you dare.”

Where did your idea of illustrating Elements of Style come from?

I found a copy of the book one summer and thought, “Oh my God, this is a crazy great book, and I need to illustrate it.” It’s the randomness of each sentence. The continuity comes from [Strunk and White’s] wit and the vivid cinematic images that they use. You don’t have to worry about a plot.

Do you want to come back to Paulson Bott Press and make more prints?

Of course I want to come back some time in the future when it all makes sense. I’ll go home and I’ll be able to moan and go, ugh, what was I thinking, or what was I not thinking? Really, it’s the beginning of a conversation.

You’ve been to Berkeley before?

I’ve been to Berkeley some other times, and I spent time in San Francisco installing the show at SFMOMA [about her late husband Tibor Kalman]. And then I came here to this gallery, and I said, “This is an amazing space. I love being here.”

Have you been able to explore a bit?

Well, I walk from my bed-and-breakfast in the morning. It’s over a mile. But that’s also the graph of the day—that sometimes you’re just sitting there like a stunned animal, not knowing what’s going on. We are animals that sort of freeze, and then—well I guess it’s like a possum, but a possum plays dead for something else. But I feel like sometimes I’m an animal that all of a sudden is dead. And then all of a sudden I come back to life.

So much of your work depends on observation. What do you see on your walks?

One of the things I did in Rome was go watch people pray, because I was trying to say, “What exactly are you doing? What are you doing on your knees? What do you think is going to happen here?” The intensity of people publically displaying their emotions and their grief and their hope, it’s incredible. Plus in Naples there were a lot of places where people are in confession and the priest is just sitting up, kneeling opposite them, not in a little contained cubicle, just open.

I think the concept of prayer is so interesting, because it’s one idea that can’t be defined, because each individual completely changes it.

The thing is that if you’re in the formal construct of a church or a synagogue and you’re praying to a deity, as opposed to praying for the strength to deal with whatever tragedy might befall you, and you are looking for a deity to save you, that feels delusional.  I say “Oh my god” a thousand times a day.  Then I say, “But I don’t believe in God.”  And i am really not sure which statement is true.


By Renee Bott

I met Erik Heywood a little over a year ago, soon after he launched his website Book/Shop. The website offers seasonal reading lists, library furniture and fittings, art, books, and delicious chocolate.
I was struck immediately by Erik’s passion for literature and books and his exquisite eye for design. His extensive knowledge of books and obscure publications provides a refreshing break from the culture of “insta-knowledge” and onscreen reading. Erik studied English but soon left school to sell antique furniture. He worked briefly making props for Martha Stewart, then pursued both interior design and retail branding.

In March, Erik took the keys to a quaint, 250-square-foot space in the thriving Temescal neighborhood in Oakland and set up the brick -and-mortar Book/Shop. In addition to acquiring books, he is amassing and designing several lines of merchandise related to reading: beautifully handcrafted canvas book bags detailed with fine Japanese leather, small portable bookshelves made from a variety of beautiful woods, (we bought five for the press and some for home too!), stackable bookshelf components, modernist furniture, art, and lighting.

The "Ballast" Bookbag, Raregem Japan + Book/Shop
The “Ballast” Bookbag, Raregem Japan + Book/Shop
Erik Heywood
Erik Heywood

Erik’s enthusiasm about our gallery program spurred us to collaborate. He is currently featuring five of our new Maira Kalman prints on the north wall of Book/Shop, and he has invited Maira Kalman to curate a pop-up bookshelf at the press in late September. (We will keep you posted about the date.) I hope you take the time to visit Erik’s shop. His attention to fine detail is truly extraordinary.

BOOK/SHOP 482D 49th Street, Oakland, CA, 94709. Tues.-Sat. 12-5. 510-907-9649

Martin Puryear

By Rhea Fontaine

I can remember years ago, when I first interviewed for the position at Paulson Bott, my friend and former colleague, Sherry Apostol encouraged me by stating, “What a great place, Rhea. You have got to work for them; they work with Martin Puryear!” 

Before I had met Martin in person, another colleague compared the experience of his company with that of being in the presence of the Dali Lama.   When I met Martin in 2002, I realized that she was right.  His grace is remarkable.  In his company, one knows they are in the presence of greatness.  Martin is very soft spoken, but when he speaks, people listen. 

Martin Puryear, Reliquary, 1980, Gessoed pine; Martin Puryear, Self, 1978, Stained and painted red cedar and mahogany. Photo Courtesy the New Museum

 We also listen to his art– the vibrations, the emotions released from his sculptures.
They speak of the natural world, the human spirit and world history.  They nod at, bow to and break down our notions of the object.  Like Martin, they are quiet, magical and sublime.

Martin employs wood, mesh, stone and metal to create forms that resist identification.  They evoke the future and the past, both forging ahead and leaning back.  They excite and provoke and comfort.

Martin Puryear, North Cove Pylons, 1992-5, Granite and stainless steel

It is my greatest pleasure as Gallery Director at Paulson Bott, to introduce his work to those who have yet to discover it.  I often resist my temptation to scream, “What? You don’t know who Martin Puryear is?!”  “Haven’t you heard, the critic Robert Hughes has only declared him to be ‘America’s Best Artist’!”

Martin Puryear, This Mortal Coil, 1998-99 Red cedar, stainless steel cable, aluminum, and muslin

Martin’s first comprehensive show in the California bay area was in 2001 at the Berkeley Art Museum.  Sadly, it’s opening day was September 11th and many missed the exhibit for obvious reasons.  Slight redemption took place in the fall of 2008  when his retrospective,Martin Puryear, traveled to the SFMOMA.  It was an exciting chance for the bay to experience his impressive oeuvre.   I remember speaking with a friend who had just seen the show, and she stated, “I’ve always admired the images I’ve seen of his work but standing next to the sculpture in person literally gave me goose bumps.”

After the opening, the SFMOMA hosted a spectacular dinner at the St. Regis to honor Martin.  Neal Benezra spoke to the group and expressed how fortunate we all were to be sharing such a momentous occasion with an artist of his caliber.   It is indeed our privilege at Paulson Bott Press to engage with an artist that we know will mark our time and leave a lasting legacy in the art world and beyond.

Martin Puryear, Phrygian, 2012 Color Aquatint Etching; Published by Paulson Bott Press


About Time

By Pam Paulson

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal—and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
—Barack Obama

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Handsome Young Man, Woman), 2010
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Handsome Young Man, Woman), 2010

Wednesday’s ruling is a step forward for civil rights and civil liberties. The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, in contrast to Tuesday’s ruling, which took voting rights a step backward. We have come a long way on many fronts, but we still have a long way to go towards real equality.

Kerry James Marshall has focused his career on achieving real equality in the art world. “In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall” goes on display Friday at the National Gallery of Art‘s Tower Gallery and is Marshall’s first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. This is the first time that the National Gallery has curated and exhibited the work of a living African-American artist.

In a conversation with NGA curator James Meyer, published recently in the Huffington Post, Marshall describes the importance of the show:

When you walk through the museum you don’t have a sense that the variety of different people who made up the nation as a whole have many any real meaningful contributions to the development of this country in the ways that people talk about its greatness. And I think to finally start to bring into a place like the National Gallery somebody who does work like mine that is not always celebratory of American ideals, that has an ambivalent and at times critical relationship to the overall story, to finally start to allow that work to be seen and those narratives to be articulated, starts to fulfill the promises that the idea of the country and the founding documents set out to guide us.

Today, 50 years after the civil rights movement’s heyday, we are at a tipping point. I hope today’s DOMA ruling and Marshall’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Art indicate that we are tipping in the right direction.

Kerry James Marshall, Bang, 1994
Kerry James Marshall, Bang, 1994

For an additional perspective on Marshall’s exhibition, please read Tyler Green’s article here:

Collector Profile: Ross Evangelista

By Renee Bott
Ross Evangelista in front of painting by Gerben Mulder; Tauba Auerbach, 50/50 Random (Fine) , Tauba Auerbach, 50/50 Random (Coarse)


When I was in New York earlier this spring I had the good fortune of being invited to our client Ross Evangelista’s house for lunch. Since finishing graduate school at Fordham, Ross has been working in the financial services industry. Mike, Ross’s partner, enjoys moderate doses of art viewing and gives Ross plenty of latitude when it comes to collecting. I was curious to see Ross’s collection, and I never turn down an offer for a home-cooked lunch. Mike commandeered the kitchen while I spoke with Ross about his relatively new obsession: collecting art.

Renee: Can you repeat what you were saying to me earlier about collecting art?

Ross:   There’s a tendency for collectors to be obsessive. There’s something about collecting and obsession that are related to one another. Collectors end up getting more than their walls are capable of taking. Mike is laughing because he doesn’t think that’s healthy.

Mike:  We’ve actually had discussions about whether putting paintings on the ceiling was an option. Or could they go behind the doors? That one little bit of wall space there…that I have…that has the Buddhas on it…how about if we just wall-board that? That would actually then give him more space. Limited wall space is a challenge—he can have two or three pictures propped up against the walls. I make him shift them about.

Ross:    So whether or not it’s true for every collector, I don’t know, but I’ve spoken to a few collectors, and they say, “Yeah, it’s kind of a disease.” Gallerists are always saying not to sell anyone, especially the young artists.

Richard Misrach, Untitled #213-04

Renee:  Don’t sell them?

Ross:   Don’t sell them. Don’t put them at auction. So what is our option? Basically, accumulate. I have spoken to some collectors who say that they do sell some works, and they put others in storage. We don’t have the luxury of storage, and I’d rather live with my pieces. What happens is it all gets to be more fun. Somehow, they find their place somewhere.

Renee:   What about the idea of curating your collection? I have a friend who’s an obsessive collector. He decided to build a closet to store his extra work. He curates his own shows! Every month or two, he pulls out a new set of work and rehangs his apartment.

Ross:  Wow. Does he do it himself, or does he have people helping him?

Renee:  He does a lot of it himself.

Mike:   Thank you for that great suggestion. (Sarcastic laughter) I like that idea a lot!
Ross: I’ve considered that also. That’s sort of what we do, especially when we get new pieces. We want to live with them, so when a new piece comes in, we often have to move others around. Really it’s a function of size and space—like the Auerbach prints that I got from you that are in our Long Island house instead of our apartment, because there’s more wall space out there.I’ve considered curating, but you have to rehang and repaint the walls. I sold a print in the bedroom, and I haven’t even filled the holes in yet! Plus, we are in desperate need of better lighting.

Jessica Eaton, Cfaal 241 and Tauba Auerbach, Plate Distortion I.

Renee: When did your art passion begin? Is this something you’ve been doing for a long time? Or is this something that started recently?

Ross:  It started about six, seven years ago. I’ve always been interested in art. I studied architecture, drawing, and studio arts in college, but never had the income to buy art. I moved around a lot before that. I lived in Connecticut, the Philippines, Germany, so acquiring art never occurred to me, since I lived out of two suitcases for a long time, because you’re only allowed two suitcases on international flights.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mechanical Form 0026

I think what eventually triggered my interest in collecting was getting exposed to online art blogs such as Modern Art Obsession and Artmostfierce as examples, which are (were, in the case of MAO) run by long-time collectors. Both of them featured “Buys of the Month,” which would feature prints by respectable artists at reasonable prices. Phillips de Pury & Company was also around the corner on 18th Street. We would sometimes go and look there, realizing full well that I couldn’t afford to buy at the time.

Back then, Jennifer Beckman had started something called 20X200. I started out buying from 20×200. I must have 20 or so prints from Jen. Afterwards, I started purchasing limited edition prints from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. I also have a few limited-edition Aperture and  AIDS Community Research Initiative of America photos (ACRIA) too. We try to go to galleries every week. When we travel, seeing art is definitely part of our agenda, which Mike doesn’t always like. You like seeing art, right?

Nicole Eisenman, Untitled (Left) Julian Lorber, Untitled (Right)

Mike:  In moderation.

Ross:   In moderation, yeah. For me, the key to getting into collecting was understanding that art is accessible. I let go of my fear of asking gallerists questions. I was trying to understand what artists do. I think a lot of people are afraid of art collecting because they’re afraid of asking questions. They’re afraid of not “getting it.” Of not knowing. My real collecting started after I got over that hump.

Renee:   Do you remember the first piece you bought from a gallery?

Sarah Pickering, Abduction (Left) Sarah Pcikering, Fuel Air Explosion (Right)

Ross:  Sure. This is actually the first piece.  (Sarah Pickering: Fuel Air Explosion).  It’s part of her Explosion series. That’s my first real print from a gallery, from Daniel Cooney Fine Art.  He’s a great gallerist, by the way.  This is also Sarah Pickering.  (Sarah Pickering: Abduction)

Renee:  I love that one.


Ross: It’s awesome right?  I had that framed at Bark Frameworks since it’s so special to me. New York Magazine featured them as the “best” framer in NYC. I didn’t know then how dear “best” framing is!

Renee:   Tell me a little bit more about her.

Ross:   As I understood it, her body of work then had a lot to do with keeping public order. She is from the UK, and a number of her series depict training grounds for policemen, firefighters, and investigators. In her photographs, you see what looks like a real street and real houses, but they’re fake. They are training sets. She worked with public officials to accomplish this. She’s a bit of a pyro, right?

Renee:  Yes.

Ross:  This is called Abduction. For this piece, she worked with the fire department. They would create a whole room and set it on fire to train firefighters how to look for a fire, how to fight them. They would leave clues. If you look closely, there’s a gun on the couch. It’s a very active piece. Even the explosion is a bit narrative. You ask, “How did this happen? Why is there an explosion? Is this a war zone?” You don’t know because they are so well composed.

Renee: It’s stunning!

Ross:   From there, the floodgates opened. I finished grad school around 2005. I didn’t have much money. I still save up and try to look for good value and for what is interesting to me. Tauba Auerbach’s 50/50 prints were probably my next large purchase. I can’t remember if I bought all three at the same time, but I have three.

Sara Vanderbeek, Treme School Window, Baltimore Window

Renee: I think you did. You have the Zoom In Zoom Out. It’s fabulous! Mike said that you’re reading all the time, educating yourself. Do you find that you want to get informed after walking into a show and being intrigued by what you see? Or are you doing research first and then seeking out the artists that you read about?

Ross:  I think both. I am definitely very research-driven in terms of what I look at. Even though I can’t add something to the collection, I still read about it. I’d even include it on my blog, which is a repository of works I own and works that I’d love to own. I have a lot of art books. I’m not sure about the real purpose, I just like doing research. Otherwise you are just a buyer. I don’t want to be just a shopper or a decorator. I want to be informed about what I’m collecting.