Stillwater, ME: 2019. Artist's book, unique, from a series with excerpts from Celia Thaxter's AN ISALND GARDEN, (reflecting the noted poet's garden in Spring and Summer) on Arches text wove, signed and dated by the artist, Nancy Ruth Leavitt, with the notation that this is her 121st manuscript book. Page size: 12 x 9 inches; 30pp. 24 of which are painted in watercolor and gouache. The previous two titles in the series were slightly larger as befits the longer seasons they represent. Bound by the artist: handsewn in Katie MacGregor handmade paper wrappers on which the artist has painted three large green blooms; housed in custom-made light green cloth over boards clamshell box with label and painted by the artist in greens and oranges - each letter a variant color.
The text is, as with the two previous volumes, taken from Celia Thaxter's last book (she died the year the book was published) and according to the important American bibliographer, Jacob Blanck, it was "one of the most elaborate pieces of bookmaking of the period" featuring cover and page design by Sarah Wyman Whitman and chromolithographs after paintings by Thaxter's friend and guest on Appledore Island, Childe Hassam.
Nancy Ruth Leavitt has chosen to interpret Thaxter's text through the flowers the poet describes so lovingly - with smaller amounts of text - scattered below, above, and beside the major "event" of each page: the flowers. This is the exact opposite of the first edition of Thaxter's important book where the text is first and foremost, highlighted by single stalks and single page chromolithographs of Hassam's renderings of the landscape of Appledore Island, the gardener and some of her garden. Ms. Leavitt's dizzying, exuberant images of flowers are a perfect reflection of the prose: "the clumps of wild roses glow with the red haws in the full light" and "goldenrod and wild asters bloom and a touch of fire begins to light up the huckleberry bushes." The last quote included by Ms. Leavitt signals the closing down of the summer garden until the following spring: "Autumn laying here and there a fiery finger on the leaves…" This is lettered in oranges and greens on a vertical above the bold image of greens tipped with orange and red slanting down to the bottom of the last page. Although we are saddened to see the end of the growing season, we know it will return, and until then we have the inspiring images created here. Item #11402