Interpreting the Words

Cowell Press poster

Interpreting the Words: 30 Years of Work from the Cowell Press

October 1 - December 20, 2002

Case 1 Years with Jack Stauffacher
The Cowell Press began with the appointment in 1974 of Jack Stauffacher, printer from San Francisco, as Regents’ Professor. He taught two courses, a laboratory class working with the press and a seminar course. He attracted students with broad interests including studio art, history, and literature. His students explored their fields of interest using the basic typographic tools, those used by printers since Gutenberg: metal type, a composing stick, and the letterpress.

  • Letter to a Reader Written by Thomas Carlyle Printed by Joylene K. Harvey The Cowell Press, 1974
  • A Movement Excerpts from Joseph Conrad Printed by Gregory Graalfs The Cowell Press, 1974
  • Exhibition Catalogue: Bulmer & Bensley Written and Printed by Jim Faris Senior Thesis Project The Cowell Press, 1974
  • Seven Watermelon Suns Selected Poems by Richard Brautigan Printed and Illustrated by Ellen Meske The Cowell Press, 1974
  • A Dispersal Written by William Carlos Williams Printed by Thomas Whitridge The Cowell Press, 1974
  • Evicting the Household Gods & Other Essays Written by Jasper Rose Illustrated by Jean Rose Printed by SB Master & Jim Faris The Cowell Press, 1974

Case 2 Years with Jack Stauffacher
Jack Stauffacher taught under his appointment for three quarters, continuing to encourage and instruct students. During this time he also formed what became lifelong friendships with many of his students. The work printed at the press ranged from modest pamphlets and keepsakes, portfolio pieces, and senior thesis exhibition catalogs to hardbound limited edition publications.

  • Stage Exits Written and Printed by Richard Bigus The Cowell Press, 1974
  • Course Syllabus Prepared by Jack Stauffacher The Cowell Press, 1974
  • Chamber Music Written by James Joyce Designed and Printed by SB Master The Cowell Press, 1975
  • Meditations on Michelangelo Photography by Matthew Foley Written and Printed by Matthew Foley The Cowell Press, 1975
  • Exhibition Catalogue: Aristide Maillol Written and Printed by Gregory Graalfs Senior Thesis Project The Cowell Press, 1976

Case 3 Culmination of First Years
At the close of Jack Stauffacher’s tenure at Cowell College, he brought the students together on a wonderful project, Mind, Tongue, and Hand. Students chose a text to respond to this subject and the final portfolio included an essay that considered this theme, written by poet Michael Taylor.

  • Mind, Tongue, and Hand. Pieces Printed by: Victoria Brown Maureen Carey (Shown) Pamela Erbe Gregory Graalfs Melinda Hodges Thomas Killion Hope W. Kingsley (Shown) SB Master Everett Proctor Felicia Rice Massie Tice Donald Webber The Cowell Press, 1975

Case 4 Collaborations
From the outset, The Cowell Press encouraged collaboration between students; these extended beyond the original scope of the press as a student laboratory. The press published a book by San Francisco printer and printing historian, Adrian Wilson. Students established their own presses and worked together. Eastward the Armies, printed and designed by Richard Bigus, included poems by William Everson. Bill, poet-in-residence at Kresge College, was another important campus influence to students of the book arts.

  • Auden: Five Poems Illustrated by Maureen Carey Printed by Richard Bigus Labyrinth Editions, 1983
  • Eastward the Armies Poems by William Everson Illustrated by Tom Killion Printed by Richard Bigus Labyrinth Editions, 1974
  • The Tale of Fair Lily and the Green Serpent Written by Alice Raphael Illustrated by Ann Arnold Printed by Lucy Dines and Thomas Whitridge Didymus Press, 1974
  • …the highest form of flattery… Designed by Adrian Wilson Written by Adrian Wilson and Joyce Lancaster Wilson Printed by Felicia Rice with Nick Zacherson The Cowell Press, 1982

Case 5 Transitional Years
No longer directed by Jack Stauffacher, the press remained active and students taught one another. The enthusiasm for the press, for printing, exploring the book arts was established. Then for one semester, Sherwood Grover, another fine printer from San Francisco, taught a course. Finally, George Kane took over The Cowell Press.

  • The Dwarf: A Short History of a Short Man Written and Printed by Peter Thomas The Cowell Press, 1976
  • Meat (La carne) Written by Virgilio Pinera Translated and Printed by Jess Grant Pooder Press (at The Cowell Press), 1984
  • Electra Written by Sophocles Printed by Ruth McGurk The Cowell Press, 1979
  • Poster Designed and Printed by Peter Thomas The Cowell Press, 1976
  • Tao Te Ching: Chapter 8 Illustrated and Printed by Aaron Johnson The Cowell Press, 1982
  • Exhibition Catalogue: A Short History of Book Illustration Written and Printed by Ruth McGurk Senior Thesis Project The Cowell Press, 1980
  • Alliterate Beasts for Children Written, Illustrated, and Printed by Peggy Gotthold The Cowell Press, 1974

Case 6 Years with George Kane
George Kane, a former newspaper publisher in the Silicon Valley area and a man who started printing and working a linotype machine as a boy in Iowa, assumed responsibility for The Cowell Press in 1978. George retired from his newspaper businesses and is now a rare book dealer. Using the wonderful books and printing examples from his private collection, George has been inspiring students for over twenty years.

All pieces printed at The Cowell Press

  • Easter Printed and Illustrated by Elin Christopherson, 1995
  • Manners for Women Printed by Mia Michelle Cardinell, 1999 Temptation Printed by Christian Stralton, 1989
  • A Chorus Line Printed by Teri Klonsky, 1980
  • The Sugar Water Way Printed by Patizio Pellouchond, 1991 “Shoes” Written and Printed by Kim O’Keefe, 1996
  • Ain’t I a Woman Printed Desire Delara, 1993
  • The Flood Printed by Julia Machotka, 1990

Case 7 Years with George Kane
In his class, George first has students select a work to design and print in a four-page format. The creativity and variety of such efforts are shown in these two cases. Following this first assignment, they next design a broadside, challenged with this larger, more open-ended format.

All pieces printed at The Cowell Press Cozy

  • Fear Printed by Genevieve Munsey, 1995
  • lennon & mccartney revisited Printed by Dave Barber, 1983
  • The Dream of the Open Box Printed by Samuel Amico, 1982
  • Wapanand Printed by Little Pearl, 1996
  • The Broken Places Autoneurotica Printed by Callie Janoff, 1992
  • Mad Song Printed by Lauri Chen Dune Printed by Jessica Curtaz, 1997
  • Myth of Sisyphus Printed by Amy-Geene Williamson, 1998
  • Elemental Particles Printed by Asia Seltzer, 2002
  • World of Music Printed by David McAllester, 1998

Case 8 Alumni Work
Many students have gone on to work in fields and professions first introduced to them at The Cowell Press. The book and graphic design, and related areas, have provided a terrific form for their creative expression. Some are publishers, some are illustrating their own books, others are contributing to identity and branding for corporate accounts, many are engaged in writing and research of many kinds. Also interesting are the limited edition, fine press books that have been subsequently published as trade editions for a wider reading public.

  • Cannibal Ants Written, Printed, and Illustrated by Ruth McGurk The Cowell Press, 1996
  • The Tree Written by John Fowles Printed and Illustrated by Aaron Johnson Yolla Bolly Press, 1995
  • Tower of the Winds Printed by Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer Foolscap Press, 2002
  • Scams & Hilltribes Illustrated and Printed by Ruth McGurk Peripatetic Press, 1985
  • Six adjectives chiefly remarkable for their Hats Illustrated and Printed by Ruth McGurk Peripatetic Press, 1987
  • Eloise the Aviatrix Visits the Alumverts Written and Printed by Ruth McGurk The Cowell Press, 1980
  • The Dwarf: A Short History of a Short Man (miniature version) Written and Printed by Peter Thomas Illustrated by Donna Thomas The Good Book Press, 1983

Case 9 Alumni Work

  • Phisicke Against Fortune Written by Francesco Petrarca Illustrated by Hans Weiditz Printed by Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer Foolscap Press, 1993
  • The High Sierra of California Poems and Journals by Gary Snyder Illustrated and Printed by Tom Killion Limited Edition The Quail Press, 2000
  • Trade Edition Heydey Books, 2002
  • The Double Whammy Written by Tom Breidenbach Woodcuts by Donald Baechler Thomas Whitridge, Didymus Press, 2000
  • The Chaste Mouse & the Wanton Mouse Written by Ian Jackson Illustrated and Hand-colored by Ann Arnold Published by Ian Jackson, 2000
  • Fanny at Chez Panisse Written by Alice Watens Illustrated by Ann Arnold Harper Collins, 1992
  • The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer Written and Illustrated by Ann Arnold Frances Foster Books, 2002

Case 10 Alumni Work

  • Java™ Technology Concept Map Designed by Jim Faris Sun Microsystems Inc., 2002
  • Calvert Vaux: Architect and Planner Written by William Alex Designed by Thomas Whitridge Ink, Inc, 1994
  • Codex Espangliensis: From Columbus to The Border Patrol Printed by Felicia Rice Limited Edition The Moving Parts Press, 1998
  • Trade Edition City Lights Press, 2000
  • Collateral Material for Master-McNeil Inc. Creative and Strategic Naming Services Produced by SB Master “Gill Sands” Written by Gregory Graalfs Print May/June, 1996
  • “Lawrence of Arabia, Designer & Printer” Written by Gregory Graalfs Print Nov/Dec, 1996
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