March 21, 2013
Hiding hundreds of pieces of book art in books themselves
by Dustin Kurtz
San Francisco artist Boethius has been leaving lovely and unsettling works of art in the pages of books in indie bookstores across that city. Each drawing is done on a page of Don Quixote de la Mancha, they are all unique, and they’ve been turning up everywhere. Clued in to this interesting project in progress by Stephen Sparks of Green Apple Bookstore, I reached out to Boethius with a few questions.
How extensive is your project? How many of these images do you plan to leave in books?
The project starts and ends with the pages of both parts of Don Quixote. I did a drawing on every page (on one side) of the novel over a period of about 2 years. So, there are close to 470 drawings, minus a few that got lost, destroyed, or mistakenly left in the pages of one my own books along the way.
I plan on distributing about 375 of them—hanging on to some to exhibit. (Anyone want to exhibit them?)
About half are already distributed, the rest will be by the end of this week.
Why in bookstores?
This project is my love letter (or mass e-mail) to books and bookstores. The Quixote is the germ and blueprint of all novels, so it made sense to me to put the pages inside other novels. Also, I love the occasional odd note or artifact you find between the pages of a used book. It made me think of the book as a physical medium of communication not just between author and reader but between readers. Finding a drawing in a book appealed to me as a form of public art experienced intimately.
I realize could have done libraries instead, but I have another idea for a library project.
What reaction would you like to see from people finding these in books?
Delight in the unexpected and weird.
Out of curiosity, which translation of the Cervantes did you use?
I actually used two translations: The new Grossman, which is awesome, for Part One, and the Jarvis for Part 2. Reason being: I had only the second half of the Jarvis paperback sitting around my house after I walked across Spain with the Quixote and, to save space in my pack, tore off part one after I finished it. So then I used Part One of the Grossman translation to complete the project. In short, I destroyed two books just to make one.
Can we expect to see them in the pages of books outside of the bay area at any point?
Not the Quixote drawings. But who knows—maybe another book will cry out for me to tear it up and draw on it.
A final note: if you happen to find one of the pages, be sure to write in to the artist. He’s hoping to collect stories.
Dustin Kurtz is former marketing manager of Melville House.