From Gutenberg to the Gallery: Five Decades of Print and Book Art From Turkey Press
In The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Marshall McLuhan argued that significant changes in technology would generate massive cultural transformations that will permanently alter the form and function of the book. Fundamentals of book making have not changed much since the contributions of Gutenberg, but the cultured environments in which they have been grounded, expanded, and received certainly have. Effects of the electronic environment, among other things, allowed the book form to upgrade its status as a work of art, and ushered in the era that we now recognize as “book arts.” Opportunities accompanying technological innovations continually provide unanticipated pathways for the book arts community to learn and flourish within our print-based media ecology.
Founded by Harry Reese when he was a graduate student at Brown University, Turkey Press started as a literary small press and, in partnership with Sandra Liddell Reese since 1977, became even smaller. Their work has embraced patterns of personal discovery and dedicated workmanship that led to making, exhibiting, and teaching – all within the relatively new context of the book considered as a contemporary work of art. Selected examples from their Turkey Press and Edition Reese imprints show that as the humanities have become more visual, the contemporary artist book demands much more attention, conversation, and understanding than ever before from its makers, readers, curators, and collectors.
Harry Reese taught print, papermaking, book art, and media ecology classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1978 until his retirement in 2018. In 1985, he established the Book Arts Program in the College of Creative Studies, one of a few programs in the country in which an undergraduate may still receive a degree in Book Arts. Since 2019, he has served on the Board of Directors of The Codex Foundation. Over the past five decades, the partnership of Harry Reese and Sandra Liddell Reese has designed, printed, bound and distributed almost all of the limited edition work that has emanated from their Turkey Press and Edition Reese imprints. Beginning with letterpress printing, they have featured their own handmade paper, typography and design, experimental printmaking, visual art, innovative bindings and book structures, and collaborations with artists, poets, and writers. They have received awards from a number of organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, College Book Art Association, Book Club of California, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The Turkey Press and Reese Archives belong to the Getty Research Institute and Stanford University.