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Monday, March 12, 2012

Breaking News: Pictures and Verse from the Past

A copy of Sun and Smoke: A Book of New Mexico has appeared! This is momentous news, as only 50 copies of Holling’s handmade book were published in 1923. Four copies are in university libraries and a fifth was sold last year by a rare books dealer.

On Feb. 8, Joan Hoffman learned that “a woman in Montana found a copy of Holling’s rare book in the thrift shop where she works.” A month later, Joan received a call and discovered “they’re donating the book to the Leslie Historical Museum. We were not sure we would get it, and certainly didn’t expect it to be an outright gift.” The book's delivery will be delayed at least until the local press is able to cover the story.

Sun and Smoke was created as a printing arts project when Holling was at the Art Institute of Chicago. The subject matter drew on the preceding months Holling had been in New Mexico. He had traveled extensively by horseback, took in the Taos art scene (and began appreciating color in his own painting), and worked at the ranch where he and Lucille Webster Holling were staying. He wrote the verses, carved wood blocks out of maple to illustrate and decorate the poems, and printed the 36-page book on hand-laid Fabriano paper from Italy. Both the printing and binding — culminating in a 6-1/2 by 10-1/4-inch book — were performed by Holling himself. This was truly an epic example of Holling’s craftsmanship.

Joan comments, “ I know Holling wanted to preserve his impressions of time spent in New Mexico, which he did in Sun and Smoke. I am anxious to see the poems and illustrations he used.”

We all are.

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