I first knew of Keith Recker when he began publishing Hand/Eye magazine back in 2010. The stunningly produced oversize issues spoke to all my most avid interests: Peru! Mexico! Global Color! South Africa! And so much more.
But I didn’t actually know Keith, in the personal sense, until the summer of 2017, when Mary Anne Wise arranged a little dinner for us after hours during the International Folk Art Market. Here came Keith, brandishing a bottle of very good tequila and a sackful of lemons, and you can imagine what happened next. Much talk, flowing freely. Here’s just a bit of the conversation:
Keith: “I’m writing a book about natural dye artisans from all over the world.”
Me: “What a coincidence! Just happens I publish books!” And so on.
Mary Anne: No comment, just a sly smile.
I recently pegged Mary Anne as the butterfly of Butterfly Effect. You know, that clever metaphor that describes chaos theory, in which the butterfly flutters on one side of the world and that miniscule energy ripples out and grows to eventually cause a tornado on the other side of the world. (Is it coincidence that the last rug Mary Anne created before launching the effort that became Multicolores was titled “Butterfly Effect”?)
People like to say that there are no coincidences. I say that everything is a coincidence. Meaning, everything we think, say, do, is a collision of elements, or some end point in a chain of events of which we might or might not be aware. Everything coincides with something else. Is that the same as saying everything happens for a reason? Which is often construed as the opposite of coincidence?
But back to Keith and his book. We made a deal. I was skeptical that he could meet his deadlines, given all the other activities and imperatives that define his remarkable life. But he did. I have never worked with an author who could pull off such a complex project in such a compact period of time. Twenty-six artists, more than 50 photographers, all the middlemen, all the writing (he’s good!), all the fact checking, all the design input, all the picky little details. And I’ve never worked with an author who was more committed, heart and soul, to the people featured in his book, and the artistry they practice. It has been sort of a religious experience, depending on your definition.
If you love great prose, great photography, great design, you should have this book. If you care about natural dyes and pigments, if you care about environmental sustainability, if you care about indigenous arts and artisans, you should have this book. Yes, this is shameless promotion. But every book that flies from our warehouse, or your local bookstore, or even Amazon, onto your bookshelf, creates a flutter, a ripple in the universe. Who knows what might happen.
Join Keith Recker this Sunday at the International Folk Art Market headquarters in Santa Fe for a talk about the natural dye artisans featured in True Colors. Keith will sign limited advance copies of his book. Can’t make it to the lecture and signing? Stop by the Thrums Books booth at the Market Friday through Sunday and pick up a signed copy there. Or, pre-order your copy from us right here, right now!