Flaming Pages: The Illuminated Books of William Blake

February 6, 2006 through April 12, 2006

  • Gallery Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Opening Reception: Wednesday February 1, 2006 from 5 to 8 pm

The first-ever presentation of the Illuminated Books of William Blake, British poet, painter, printer, and visionary, is set for the University Art Gallery of California State University, East Bay between Feb. 1 and April 12, 2006.

Flaming Pages: The Illuminated Books of William Blake will open with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at the Gallery, located at 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward. Then from 7 to 8 p.m., James Petrillo and Betsy Davids will perform A Voice from the Fire, a multimedia show incorporating the love, work, and vision of Blake and his wife, Kate. The exhibit will be open to the public from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays. Admission will be free.

Blake, who lived between 1757 and 1827, is best known for his "illuminated" book art that weaves richly symbolic poetry with luminous visual metaphors. He was little appreciated in his lifetime, but now is regarded as one the greatest artists of the Romantic era.

"The extremely rare original illuminated books are scattered in so many different collections that Blake's complete development as a book artist has never been seen before in one gallery," said Lanier Graham, director of the University Art Gallery.

"The printing of very faithful page-by-page reproductions of each book by the Trianon Press for the Blake Trust has made possible this exhibition which brings together all the illuminated books for the first time," Graham noted. "These volumes are at the center of this historical survey of the specialized art of facsimile editions, an exhibition that ranges from the first color facsimiles of the 19th century to the inexpensive facsimiles of today. These postwar editions have played a major role in making known to the contemporary world that Blake the artist is as important as Blake the poet."

"This is the fourth exhibition in a continuing series devoted to the 'Art of the Book' at CSUEB, which has a fine selection of visual books in the library’s Special Collections section," said Alden Reimonenq, dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Students in the CSUEB Art Department regularly create books using both traditional and electronic media.

International authority on Blake, England’s greatest poet-artist, to speak at the opening of "Flaming Pages: The Illuminated Books of William Blake," which will end with a multimedia performance of "A Voice from the Fire" by James Petrillo and Betsy Davids.

Professor Morton Paley, one of the world's leading authorities on William Blake, has taught in the English Department of UC Berkeley for many years. Those who have read any of his many books on Blake and other figures of the the Romantic Era have been moved by the depth of his insights and the breadth of his vision.

It is uncommon for literary historians to also do the work of art historians. But Paley's vibrant mind has so harmonized his verbal left-brain and his visual right-brain that he has been able to elucidate the multi-dimensional richness of Blake. Blake specialists are particularly grateful for Paley’s starting up Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly on his mimeograph machine in Berkeley in 1967, and then guided it into becoming a world-class periodical.

Blake is the only person in history to be recognized as both a great poet and a great artist. One cannot understand Blake in his totality by only reading his words. One must also see how he illuminated those words with his own handwriting, luminous inks, and watercolors in books he designed and printed himself. When Paley began reading Blake, one could buy one of his original books for several hundred dollars. Now, one would cost several million dollars.

Thanks to modern technology, anyone can buy a beautiful facsimile for several hundred dollars, and a fairly good facsimile for the price of a movie. One of the scholars who made it possible for any student to hold some of the transcendent beauty of a Blake book in their own hands is Morton Paley. Paley’s talk "Reflections on the Historical Development of Blake's Facsimile Editions" will begin at 5:30 in the University Art Galley.

The exhibition opening is from 5:00 to 8:00. From 7:00 to 8:00 there will be with a special performance of "A Voice from the Fire" by James Petrillo and Betsy Davids playing the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Blake. This multimedia performance focuses on the love, work, and vision of this legendary couple who together fabricated the famous illuminated books.

Annual Faculty Art Exhibition

October 24, 2005 through December 3, 2005

  • Gallery Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Opening Reception: Wednesday October 19, 2005 from 5 to 7 pm
  • Closed November 24 - 27, 2005

For the first time in its 44-year history, the California State University, East Bay Annual Faculty Art Exhibition will include the works of both current and former faculty.

The exhibition will be held Oct. 20 through Dec. 3 at Cal State East Bay’s University Art Gallery, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. in Hayward. Gallery hours are 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Admission is free.

The list of former faculty includes many distinguished painters, sculptors, and printmakers, such as Clayton Bailey, Romare Bearden, Enrique Chagoya, Misch Kohn, Jacob Lawrence, Harry Myers, Kenjilo Nanano, Mel Ramos, Ray Saunders, Alan Shep, and Arne Wolf.

"All of these artists are highly respected locally, while several have national reputations and indeed have made their way into art history textbooks," said Lanier Graham, director of the University Art Gallery. "For example, Mel Ramos holds a seminal position in the history of pop art, and is famous around the world. Ramos has lent one of his classic nudes, ‘Lola Cola #5’ of 2005."

Bearden and Lawrence, both of whom have passed away, were among the first African-American artists of their generation to be honored by American museums. While teaching at Cal State East Bay, Bearden painted a large mural for the Berkeley City Council that was recently exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Bearden, a cousin of composer Duke Ellington, will be represented in the exhibit by his jazz-inspired "Jammin’ at the Savoy."

Lawrence will be represented by his poster for the 1972 Munich Olympics, which honors black track men in general and Jesse Owens in particular," Graham said.

Saunders, now at the College of the Arts, Oakland, is equally acclaimed by the current generation. Chagoya, formerly head of the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco and now at Stanford, was one of the first Latino artists of his generation to be honored by museums. He will be represented by one of his dynamic illustrated books, while Saunders and Nanano will be represented by prints from The Hayward Portfolio of 1978.

"This promises to be a remarkable show that will bring even greater accolades to our superb art department," said Alden Reimonenq, dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.

The three recently retired Cal State East Bay professors invited to participate in the faculty art exhibit are Corban LePell, Lew Carson, and Greg MacGregor. MacGregor's photographs were featured this year in the New York Times.

"In short, the CSUEB Art Department has had world-class artist/teachers since the university opened," Graham said.

Current painters and sculptors on the faculty include Grace Munakata, whose work was on the cover of the May issue of Art Week; and Dickson Schneider, Kirk LeClaire, and Gwyan Rhabyt, who make up the core faculty for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Professors and lecturers who now teach photography and digital imaging at Hayward include Kristin Becker, Michael Henninger, Philip Hofstetter, Scott Hopkins, James Petrillo, and Suzy Wear. They are faculty members for the Multimedia Master of Arts program, the first of its kind in the United States.

Additional information on Cal State East Bay’s University Art Gallery is available by telephone at (510) 885-3299.