Monica Brooks has loved letter forms since she was a child. She still remembers a demonstration of calligraphy she saw when she was in middle school and how fascinated she was by it.
Today, Brooks is a member of the San Antonio Calligraphers’ Guild and an accomplished calligraphic artist whose work is featured in the current “San Antonio in Calligraphic Art” exhibit at the Bihl Haus Arts gallery. On display are 40 original works by guild members, consisting of handmade and hand-lettered books and “broadsides” which are individual, framed artworks hung on walls. All pieces deal with San Antonio and its history in honor of the Tricentennial celebration.
Brooks says she was inspired by a walk in her Jefferson area neighborhood to create an understated but beautiful broadside featuring neighborhood street names executed in exquisite gold-pen calligraphy. “Doing this work is so meditative and peaceful, you become lost in lettering,” says the artist who had a 30-year career as an art teacher.
“When I became involved with the guild I had a chance to explore letter works as art; basically, you are using letters to create art,” she explains. The goal is not necessarily legibility but creative impact. Some of the fanciful lettering may look like something you may see in centuries-old manuscripts but other examples are very contemporary and original.
The local Calligraphers’ Guild was founded in 1976 and has grown to more than 100 members today. It’s an active group that meets once a month and provides educational and vocational opportunities for its
members as well as the public.
The Bihl Haus show is an excellent introduction to calligraphy as art. This Saturday, June 23, several artists will present a two-hour introductory workshop at 2 p.m. at the gallery. Brooks will be one of them demonstrating brush lettering and she will be joined by Leslie Winakur (decorated letter) and Maggie Gillikin whose demonstration will deal with basic lettering techniques. All supplies are provided and all ages are welcome. To reserve space call 210-383-9723.
The exhibit closes July 7. (Bihl Haus Arts, 2803 Fredericksburg Rd. Check the hours of operation before going.)
Photos (from top): Monica Brooks: “Tapestry”; Maggie Gillikin: watercolor pencil book; Beth Morton: “Beatitude Mato”