Monthly Archives: September 2009

Memorial Service

A celebration of the life of bookbinder and artist David Bourbeau will be held on Sunday September 27 at 1 pm at the Unitarian Society in Northampton MA (220 Main St).

Directions can be found at http://www.uunorthampton.org/

Updates on Exhibits at the BPL

Sorry for the late posting of the following information:

An opening reception for the Designer Bookbinder’s exhibition at the Boston Public Library will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday September 17, 2009.  The opening reception is in the Sargent Gallery and the exhibition will be in the adjacent Cheverus Room.

The exhibition, “Bound for Success,” is the traveling portion of Designer Bookbinder’s International Competition.  The set book was “Water” from the Incline Press.

As previously announced, the New England Chapter of GBW invites you and your friends to a group visit of this exhibition and a walk-through with exhibitor and GBW President, James Reid-Cunningham, on September 26th.  We will meet in the Cheverus Room at the BPL at 10:00 am.

Exhibits at the Boston Public Library

We want to draw your attention to a couple of the upcoming exhibitions at the Boston Public Library.

Bindings from the Designer Bookbinders International Bookbinding Competition, “Water” will be on display from September 18- December 13, 2009.

Exhibitor, and current president of the Guild of Book Workers, James Reid-Cunningham will lead a gallery tour on September 26 for New England GBW members and guests.  Event details will be announced here soon.

Another exhibit of interest at the BPL this fall was curated by New England Chapter member Barbara Adams Hebard. 

A Fixed Rule of Design: the Book Art of Bertha Stuart

Boston Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Department
October 5 – December 31, 2009
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm 

Bertha Stuart (1869-1953), an Oregon artist, trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, moved to NYC in 1900, and studied at Cooper Union and the Art Students League while creating more than 175 book cover designs, numerous page decorations, and illustrations for major NYC publishers between 1902 and 1912. Bertha, an award-winning artist, also designed bookplates. In 1912 she returned to Oregon, was a trustee of the Society of Arts and Crafts of Portland, and pursued a career in interior design. This exhibition of books with covers and interior pages designed by Stuart also includes bookplates and items from her interior decorating career. The curator, Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator of the John J. Burns Library, Boston College, will give a gallery talk on October 15, at 6:00 pm.

Barbara Adams Hebard, Conservator of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College, is a graduate of the North Bennet Street School bookbinding program.  Ms. Hebard is a member of the National Guild of Book Workers and the Ticknor Society. She is a Professional member of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a Fellow of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and Board Member of New England Conservation Association. She is proud to be an Overseer of North Bennet Street School. She frequently exhibits books of her own design nationally and internationally. Ms. Hebard also enjoys writing articles on book related topics.

David Bourbeau

David P. Bourbeau, 67, bookbinder, book designer, and Smith School trustee, died peacefully at home on August 22, in the company of family and friends.

Born January 3,1942, he grew up in Holyoke, the ninth of ten children.  At age eleven he became intrigued by the shapes of letters while watching a sign painter apply gold leaf to a store window. After taking a correspondence course in sign lettering he went on to study fine and applied arts in Provincetown and New York. His arts education was greatly influenced by his older brother, Arthur, a painter who had studied with Matisse in Paris.
In 1965 David moved to Northampton, where he and his first wife Nancy Cowen opened a successful craft gallery called Faux Pas. He was introduced to the art of the book by Leonard Baskin, and in 1972 he sold his business and took a two-year apprenticeship with master bookbinder Arno Werner. In 1975 he established the Thistle Bindery, located at various times in Northampton, Easthampton, and Florence, and in 1977 he took on the first of his many students and apprentices.

A consummate bookbinder, he designed and constructed strong, innovative bindings for fine press books while also working in book restoration and art conservation. Having coined the word “bibliotect,” or book-architect, he  observed that a binding “is not merely a fancy cover, the facade, but all of the elements, seen an  unseen, that form the foundation and structure of the book.”  This is borne out in his many organically unified editions, among them Poe’s The Raven, with graceful wing-like forms emerging from a raven-black binding, and Robert Francis’s  posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow, whose handmade paper cover contains gold-tooled lines representing the shape of the title poem.  Both of these books were bound using fine papers, a bookbinding material championed by David.

Working in close collaboration with other bookbinders, as well as printers, designers, and artists, he organized local and national book exhibitions, including, in Northampton in 1987, “Form & Content: The Art of the Book in the Pioneer Valley,” a two-week series of lectures, readings, workshops, and demonstrations covering every aspect of book arts in the region. David was also a founding member of the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, serving as chapter president for two terms, and was chair of the Hampshire County Historical Records Advisory Board. His craftsmanship, generosity, and friendship enriched the entire book arts community in this area and far beyond.

David devoted much of the last twelve years of his life to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, serving on its Board of Trustees for six consecutive terms. As a tradesman and artisan, he was passionate about vocational education. His vision for the school was based on its original purpose-to produce well-educated tradespeople and well-educated farmers- and on his concern for the future directions of its agricultural programs and the use and protection of its land. Believing that the school farm should be a model for future generations, he helped the school refocus its resources on contemporary issues such as the importance of locally grown food and agricultural sustainability.  Thanks to his efforts, the state of Massachusetts recently approved the school’s application for a new agricultural complex.

In 2002 David was diagnosed with adrenal cancer, but after a year-long period of treatment and recovery, he was able to able to continue working almost until his decease. Surrounded by his family, colleagues, and friends, he was buried Monday in Mount Cemetery in Chesterfield.

He is survived by his wife of twenty-one years, Marie Waechter, daughters Anja Waechter-Bourbeau and Jennifer Bourbeau Joyal, brothers Richard Bourbeau and William Bourbeau, and sisters Joan Hart, Norma Raftery, Ellie Moriarty, and Carol Burrows, and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of David’s life will be held at 1 pm on Sunday, September 27th at the Unitarian Society, 220 Main Street, Northampton. Memorial gifts may be made to Smith Vocational Building Fund and mailed to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, 80 Locust Street, Northampton MA 01060.

This obituary appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA, on August 27th.   Here is some more information:

An image of Poe’s “The Raven” can be found at:
http://www.guildofbookworkers.org/gallery/100anniversary/retro/Bourbeau.shtml

David also wrote an essay on Clarence and Ruth Kennedy and their Cantina Press:
http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/rarebook/cantinaad.pdf  and a personal essay about Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press in the 2004 publication, “Paradise Printed and Bound: Book Arts in Northampton and Beyond”  (available from Collective Copies, Florence MA)

His work was featured in many GBW exhibitions, including the NE chapter 2008 exhibition “Inspired Design”:
http://www.smith.edu/libraries/fyi/521.htm

Please excuse any multiple postings.

Submitted by
BARBARA B. BLUMENTHAL
Rare Book Specialist, Mortimer Rare Book Room
Neilson Library, Smith College