Blaine Fontana, one of our most impressive graphic designers of the day, opens this monograph about his work with the following: 'For reasons I'm still trying to decipher, the design, illustration and fine art worlds don't seem to get along that well...nor do they want to. Can commercial design ever be considered fine art? Can an illustrator have a more fruitful career as a fine artist? Answering these questions - and breaking the boundaries between so-called opposed realms - has long been a passion of mine.' And so we have an introduction to AMALGAMATE: The Art, Design & Exploration of Blaine Fontana and it is a book of beauty - some strange to new comers, some heavily influenced by spiritualism, some composed of strange combinations of subject matter and symbolism and painting and wood, some with Audubonesque realities and some with unadulterated fantasy.
Fontana is at all times interesting and as designer of this book he sets yet another standard for art book presentation in his role as Art Director for ZERO+ Publishing. The images are reproduced in vivid detail with excellent color saturation. Every page holds an image for us to enter and pleasure ourselves. But Fontana doesn't stop there. The Seattle-born Fontana now lives an works in Portland, Oregon where he creates his special from of visual experiences through his 'divine symbolism of religious myths, worldly folklore and current social dynamics...his works contain a kind of shamanic exploration of meaning that recognizes the totemic quality and power of the image.' To that end this book contains not only his won words as an introduction, but also a reproduction of Chief Seattle's 1854 Oration (immensely moving) and a generous Foreword by poet Derrick Brown - 'The Pros and Cons of Dreaming After Reading' - that does as much to wed all of the arts as any article written and at the same time could only be written in response to the works of Blaine Fontana.
Spending time with Blaine Fontana in this handsome book will likely alter the way you view the world and the life that occupies the air here and the possibilities of the space above. It is a pleasure to se a book devote to work such as this - work that few publishers would dare to publish, but another kudo to ZERO+ for creative thinking and sharing. Grady Harp, July 11