One of the more innovative approaches to contemporary arts publishing comes in the form of the Pocket Art Initiatives, an ongoing series of limited-edition full color publications from the Visual Arts Gallery of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Printed in runs of only 300 volumes, the three by five inch books include images and scholarly essays or interviews. First published to coincide with an exhibition of works by Baton Rouge based photographer William Greiner, the series has now reached six issues.
They include: William Greiner: Baton Rouge Blues; Jason Varone: Dromospheric Pollution; The Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition 2007; Double X: Women Representing Women; Spider Martin's Unseen Sixties; and The Morton Collection: Selected Works.
What seems clear is that innovations in on-demand printing are having a distinct impact on a small University gallery striving to make the most of a small budget and an adventurous exhibition program. To date, all the essays are by Gallery Director Brett Levine, who conceptualized the project from its outset.
The Morton Collection itself, on display for another two weeks, features a range of diverse works by emerging and established contemporary photographers as well as a suite of eight prints by classic twentieth and twenty-first century artists.
In an era in which publishing seems to be regarded by many as virtully passé, the Pocket Art Editions stand as something that can at least bring a little envy into the traditionally expensive, large-scale publishing projects that serve as bookends to most exhibitions.