Art is as synonymous with Telluride as world-class skiing and snowboarding is today. The establishment of the Creative Core along Pacific Street in recent years has further reiterated the importance of fostering a thriving arts community in the city, as the Ah Haa School of the Arts, Transfer Warehouse, headquarters of Telluride Arts and the Wilkinson Public Library are all grouped together within a block of each other.
But a short walk away, on North Willow Street, stands a lesser-known, but no less important, artistic stronghold of the American Academy of Bookbinding.
The academy in the historic 1909 stone building is an Ah Haa program that has attracted students from around the world for intensive courses in the art of fine leather binding, book repair, book preservation, paper, book history and other related subjects since its opening in 1993. .
Local art lovers may not be as familiar with the skills and craftsmanship that top-notch bookbinding requires. Ah Haa hopes to show that and more in her upcoming February exhibition “Hometown Bound” at the Daniel Tucker Gallery.
An opening reception will be held during the ArtWalk on February 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition will continue until February 28.
“The craftsmanship, creativity and care that went into creating these exquisite bindings is nothing short of amazing,” said Kris Kwasniewski, Ah Haa’s exhibition director. “I don’t think anyone who sees this exhibit will look at the books the same way.”
The finished works and beautiful bindings of 26 bookbinding artists will be paired with pages from the academy’s student class notebooks and student-executed sketches, allowing visitors to get a glimpse of how the books were made.
Raised cords, inlays, onlays, caps, hollow backs and liners are some of the intriguing and mysterious binding designs that will lead viewers on a treasure hunt through the exhibit. Visitors will learn about binding processes, what to look for in fine binding, and how ideas become reality as artists trace techniques and concepts from notes to books.
Visitors are also invited to vote for their favorite student class notebook sketches. The student’s award-winning ‘people’s choice’ sketch will be featured on an academy coffee mug.
Academy General Manager Chip Schilling has been a book artist since 1992 and discovered the Telluride Binding Academy as a student.
“When I arrived at the academy as a student, my first reaction was that the academy is an extraordinary place of intensive learning and a fantastic place for the small but committed international bookbinder community,” said he declared. “I have always been impressed by the quality of the instructors who teach at the academy. Our instructors are some of the most talented bookbinders and teachers in the business.
The books created at the academy over the years have achieved international acclaim, as the students and instructors of the academy have become some of the most eminent bookbinders in the world.
Schilling explained that the program has grown over the years to serve about 150 students each year.
“Our size and growth is limited due to housing availability and a desire to limit classes to 12 students to provide them with the best possible learning experience,” he said.
The academy will announce the 2022 course schedule and catalog on Feb. 1, Schilling added. Bookmaking classes for children and adults will be held at Ah Haa and the academy throughout the month. More information and registration links can be found at ahhaa.org or telluridelibrary.org.
All Daniel Tucker Gallery exhibitions strive to celebrate creativity, provide value to the community, engage in collaborative partnerships, and provide opportunities for interactive learning. Tucker, along with Tini and Einen Miura, founded the academy.
For more information or questions, visit the Ah Haa website at ahhaa.org or call 970-728-3886.