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Jane Kaufmann Unframed

Potter Jane KaufmannSEACOAST BOOKS

An incredible new book documents the life of one Seacoast artist and paves the way, potentially, for a whole new genre of volumes to follow. We attended the book signing of  JANE KAUFMANN UNFRAMED at the Levi Lincoln Gallery in Portsmouth, NH. Here are a few photos from that event and a wild ramble on the importance of this monumental volume. (Continued below)

 

Mary Johanna Brown doesn’t know how important this book is. Mary Jo is the publisher of JANE KAUFMANN UNFRAMED and owner of Big Brown Book Publishing. She has no clue that this oversized picture-rich volume is one of the greatest books ever published around here. She doesn’t know it is a game-changer, a boat-rocker, and a prototype for what could be a revolution in locally published art books. She’s so unaware of the genius of this project that she spells the name of her new publishing company without capital letters.

Jane Kaufmann too hides her light under a bushel. While inscribing our copy at the Levi Gallery in Portsmouth the other day, she labeled it an “unreal book.” But Jane is very very wrong. This is one of the realest books I’ve ever seen. It is Jane’s life exploded onto the page. This beautiful heavyweight book is underpriced at $38.

 

Publisher Mary Johanna Brown with art lover Phyllis Bennett / J. Dennis Robinson photo

I haven’t read it yet. Maybe I never will get through all the words, and maybe that doesn’t matter. Like all good coffee table books, it lives primarily in its pictures and captions. The pictures – big and bold and bleeding off the margins – trace Jane’s evolution as a potter, painter, illustrator, sculptor, and whatever-else she wants to be. The captions are hand scrawled scrapbook style, often written right on top of the photographs. The effect, for the viewer, is welcoming and intimate, as if we have purchased a copy of a scrapbook or journal we were never meant to see.

This is ultimately a catalog of the artist’s work with an extensive photographic gallery of small fired clay figures to huge ceramic orbs. It is secondly a biography, the life story of how and why the artist did what she did. And what she did was teach herself to make a living as an artist. There is a hint of apologia here, as if the craftsperson needs to apologize to the fine arts. But there is also a middle-finger defiance. Fine art, the craftsperson seems to be saying, is in the eye of the beholder. If people pay $30 for a work of art, do they cherish it any less?

Jane Kaufmann Unframed by Big Brown Books

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