Sunday, February 23, 2020

An Abundant Life - The Art Of Collaboration

In early June of 2018, the beautiful Artist Alberte Bernier asked me if I would work with her on a book that she was planning to create about her art. She had designed a few books before, but the person she had worked with was no longer available. I had written about Alberte in my blog, and she and I had started to become friends, and because she liked the style of my writing and knew that I was a Curator and that I worked on collaborative projects with different types of artists, she asked me if I would consider working with her. I love Alberte's work and I love Alberte. She is a beautiful Artist and a beautiful soul, fun and intelligent and creative and kind, and her artistic aesthetic brings beauty wherever she goes. I love to work on collaborative projects and so of course I said yes, and we began on the journey that eventually became the book, Infinite Shapes Traveling Colors.

Over the time that we worked together, we got to know each other more. That's one of the things that I like about working on collaborative projects, because in the process it's possible to develop new layers of friendship. There is also the possibility that you can really start to understand and be inspired by the other person in a new way, and that's exactly what happened during this time.

We had our first official meeting about the project in Hoboken at Antique Bar & Bakery on July 4th, 2018. They were having a holiday lunch special and we sat together after our delicious meal and began to look over Alberte's notes on her computer. She had previously sent me a few things to start looking at, and she had asked if I could write an introduction to the book as well as help curate the photographs of her pieces and edit her own writing. I'm a big proponent of encouraging people to use their own voices whenever possible, and after reviewing Alberte's writing, I suggested that she could keep it as it was. I was happy to write an introduction from the perspective of an Art Writer and Curator, but her own descriptions and explanation of why she wanted to write the book seemed to me to be best coming directly from her own voice. Alberte also has a wonderful sensibility about art and design, and so even in the area of curating I really felt that she was able to make the appropriate decisions, and that the best way I could help was to be someone she could bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with.

When we began discussing the project, we had conversations about who to work with to physically create the book and how to go about the layout and design of the pages. A friend had given her some suggestions for online resources and I also had some ideas, but each one we researched either didn't seem to be a good fit or for some reason we weren't able to connect them to the project. And then one day last Winter Alberte asked me if I could help her with photographing and making a video of her studio space at ChaShaMa at the Brooklyn Army Terminal that she could post online and share with ChaShaMa, and I thought about someone who might be able to help her with that who was also someone I thought might be able to help with some technical ideas for her book or at least suggest a direction we could explore. I love taking photographs and videos, but when I thought about what might be the best way to go about it I thought of Eric Sanchez and his wife Dana Gambale. Eric is a wonderful Videographer and Photographer and his wife is a beautiful Artist who also has a wonderful eye behind a camera, and I thought that they might enjoy a day visiting Alberte's studio because she and the space are so creative and inspiring. We spent a wonderful afternoon together and began talking about the book also, and in addition to the beautiful photographs and video footage he and Dana took that day, Eric started to do research on how to put the book together.

Over the next few months we met several times and shared some very memorable meals made by Alberte and Dana who are excellent cooks, and had some very memorable conversations. As the book took shape we continued to meet to look at the layout and share ideas. On the night before my birthday, we planned to meet for a final look through before Eric submitted the book for its first Artist's proof of one printed copy before it was printed in multiples. After a delicious dinner that Dana made, Eric and Dana surprised me that night with a cake with candles, and Alberte brought a lovely collection of birthday gifts. No business meeting could have been more fun. In fact, during the course of this collaboration it's always been great fun, with good energy, creative joy and beautiful time shared together, and the product is the proof of that. When we met recently at Novado Gallery in Jersey City for the opening of a show where Dana is showing her work, Alberte brought the first copy that had been printed. It looked even more beautiful than it did on Eric's professional computer screen when we were discussing the layout and design questions, and it's the combination of all of our shared gifts that has given it such a high level of quality. This collaboration was a true success because of the effort and skill that went into it, and it has that extra something that makes it truly special because each one of us not only brought our best to it, but allowed the gifts and talents of the others to shine.

Infinite Shapes
Traveling Colors
And The Team That Put It Together
Alberte Bernier, Artist
Jannie Wolff, Editor
Eric Sanchez, Layout And Design
Dana Gambale, Artistic Consultant

A First View Of The First Printing
Following Three Photographs
Courtesy Of Dana Gambale and Eric Sanchez

A Glimpse Inside The Pages

The Dedication Page

The Foreword

In The Artist's Own Words

 Selected Pages With Art Work


Jannie Susan

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