In the “Story of Writing,” Donald Jackson remembers learning to write with a pencil and the thrill of actually making an “egg- shaped O. The joy that he talks about is one that is familiar to modern practitioners of the ancient art of shaping beautiful letters. In the east, calligraphy is still a valued art form but it’s not that widely practiced or recognized as an art in the west. Printing eventually dealt a deathblow to the hand written books. In turn, the study of formal letterforms or handwriting has now been widely replaced by computer and computer generated type. But the San Francisco Friends of Calligraphy and like-minded organizations across the United States and Great Britain continue to maintain the traditions of this ancient art. They struggle with inkblots and spelling errors, caused by Titivillus, the patron demon of scribes. There are passionate discussions of ink, pen nibs and paper. They hold conferences, retreats and give demonstrations where the love of fine letters shines through. They sponsor calligraphy shows – the one now up at the SF Main Library - is their 15th show in the organizations’ 30-year history. As Donald Jackson said, “When we make things with our hands, we put into them the energy which comes from our innermost self. ..these marks are an intimate link with the calligrapher’s heart and mind.” The exhibit on the 6th floor of the library is not only a link with our past but a reflection of passion, beauty and energy of an ancient art in our present.
Through Aug. 23. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon. and Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., noon-6 p.m. Fri., noon-5 p.m Sun. Skylight Gallery, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., S.F. (415) 557-4277. www.friendsofcalligraphy.org.Images from julie michelle at femmefotographie.com
Donald Jackson. The Story of Writing. Taplinger Publishing Co. Inc. New York, New York, 1981. pp. 10-13.
Marc Drogin, Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique (London: Prior, and Monclair, New Jersey: Schram, 1980), 18-19.