What is WesternXeditions?
is the artist books and multiples wing of Western
Exhibitions, a contemporary art gallery in Chicago. Many
of our artists utilize artist books, prints and multiples as key components
of their artistic practice; indeed, these items are amongst their most
ambitious works. Within the framework of WesternXeditions, we group these
efforts together to showcase the possibilities of utilizing these techniques
in conceptual, progressive and ambitious manners.
The serial nature of the book provides a logical extension for artists like Stan Shellabarger who uses repetition in his work and the performance work of the collaborative team, Miller & Shellabarger, while the inherently narrative aspect of books is relevant to artists like Emily Blair, Nicholas Frank, Paul Nudd, Kristen Romaniszak, and Deb Sokolow. Print and print-derived techniques allow Adriane Herman to meticulously reproduce other people’s found lists, transforming them into culturally significant artifacts. Vincent Como’s work in this arena does not typically rely on the editioning aspect of these mediums; he uses the inherent properties of a medium like drypoint for his further investigations of black.
WesternXeditions will carry works by Western Exhibitions gallery artists as well other artists who use the formats of artist books, prints and multiples in intriguing and highly conceptual ways.
The WesternXeditions site is organized by sections: Artist Books; Collections and Objects; Multiples; and Prints. In each of these sections, the works are organized alphabetically by title. Viewers can also click on the Artists link or click on an artist name in the left hand column to see the entirety of offerings by an individual artist.
These works are, of course, for sale – there is a downloadable PDF on each page containing the price list. Much thought was put into the decision to include a price list on the site. Most proper contemporary galleries understandably frown upon listing prices on their websites, however, WesternXeditions is not a bricks-and-mortar space, existing solely on the web (and at times, art fairs). WesternXeditions will attempt to align itself with fellow artist book purveyors and fine printmaking shops where listing prices is more prevalent, as is the practice at favorite organizations like Printed Matter, Art Metropole, Kayrock Screenprinting, Cinders Gallery, and locally here in Chicago, Golden Age and Spudnik Press.
WesternXeditions offers works that range from a low of $5 to upwards of $12,000; ‘zines to unique books-slash-objects. A downloadable 1.3mb PDF accompanies each page on the site. The PDF should somewhat mimic each artist’s individual page to ease your navigation. As this is contemporary art, prices are subject to change and editions are liable (hopefully) to run out. Some of the work on this site is no longer available but is still included to give viewers a context to an artist’s manner of working in this arena.
"Artists' books are books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control; where the book is intended as a work of art in itself." Stephen Bury, Artists' Books: The Book As a Work of Art, 1963-1995, Bury, Scolar Press, 1995. Also see the Wikipedia entry for Artist Books
The contemporary artist book, as well as the multiple, was influenced by Fluxus notions of democratizing art in response to the commodification of the modernist singular object. WesternXeditions artists Miller & Shellabarger are an excellent example of working in a Fluxus inspired vein, with a particularly strong connection between what they are doing with their Butter Books and what Al Hansen did with the Hershey’s chocolate bar. Taking a mass-produced object – a butter wrapper in Miller & Shellabarger’s case and a Hershey bar wrapper with Hansen, and making something one of a kind from it: each case shows the artist as collector, gatherer, and noter of the passing of time. They both introduce the everyday into the realm of acceptable content for so-called “fine art.”
On this site, Artist Books will encompass a broad range of approaches – mass-produced zines, limited edition hand-made books, unique hand-drawn editions, catalogs and artist publications and one-of-kind book-slash-objects.
Some of our artists organize their work in groupings – often studies or variations on a theme – that WesternXeditions offer as a collection of works. The objects in this section share a conceptual affinity with the spirit of multiples and books.
These are editioned items that are not necessarily prints and/or books, sometimes three-dimensional, but can also be printed material that fall outside the parameters of traditional printmaking.
Prints are (usually) editioned original works of art made by varying printmaking processes, including intaglio and etching, lithography, screenprinting and relief printing as well as digitally produced images realized as archival inkjet prints.
WesternXeditions considers submissions, looking for artists who use the above techniques and approaches in innovative, personal and conceptual ways. If interested in showing work on the WesternXeditions site, please contact the gallery director.
This site is still under a bit of construction, and will continue to grow as we add new work and artists. Should you find dead links, please let us know.