Quills & Queues: By Angela Howe-Decker

The Calligraphers guild is celebrating its love of letters with an exhibit at the Avalon Bar and Grill in Talent. The exhibit, "Just About Jazz," is a collection of hand-scripted calligraphy art pieces featuring quotes from various jazz luminaries. The multimedia pieces, including water color, oil and collage, will be on display for the month of September.

The works blend the careful elegance of calligraphy with the energy and openness associated with jazz. The result is visually beautiful and fun. Cynthia Griffin, president of the guild said she is especially pleased with the Avalon exhibit. "We've done other exhibits before, but this particular one represents the best of all of our members who participated. Maybe it was the theme, but it showed me the potential that just gushed out of people. The more we exhibit, the more confident we get, the more flamboyant we get," she said.

Flamboyant isn't usually the first word that comes to mind when considering calligraphy and calligraphers. The word calligraphy literally means beautiful writing. It is the fine art of skilled penmanship. Before the invention of the printing press some 500 years ago, it was the way books were made. While Griffin happily admits calligraphy involves careful study and a lot of practice, she and the guild hope to change the perception of the craft as stodgy or obsessive. "I hope people will see our exhibit and perhaps take an interest in calligraphy," said Griffin. "Yes, it is usually associated with documents and certificates, but there is so much more. In calligraphy, there is art, but it isn't all left to interpretation. You can actually announce what you want to say," she added.

Griffin has noticed a growing interest in calligraphy. "I think with all the emphasis on technology and email, people are looking for that human touch. There is an intersection of technology and calligraphy, we wouldn't have computer fonts without calligraphers, but we all still crave the human part, pen and paper rather than computer-generated text," Griffin added.

In fact, Griffin would like all humans to embrace calligraphy. "I look around at graffiti on walls and I just want to teach a workshop, tell people if you are going to tag a building at least use good letter forms," she said. While the guild doesn't have a class on tagging buildings, it does offer some imaginative courses. "It's not just a formal exercise with a quill and a pen, we like to do interesting things like practice writing on different surfaces, rocks, pop cans, anything we can write on," said Griffin.

The Calligraphy Guild is a non-profit, founded in 1975. There are about 40 members involved in meetings, classes, workshops and lectures. Membership is open to anyone, even those with no previous calligraphic experience, and members happily encourage those who are interested to attend a meeting and take a couple of classes. New members are welcome to join any time during the year, with the $20 membership fee due each year on Feb. 11. The due date, by the way, is the birthday of Edward Johnston, creator of the popular sans-serif font and the man credited with single-handedly reviving the art of formal penmanship.

The guild meets every 4th Tuesday at the Phoenix library 7 to 9 p.m. "All meetings are open to the public. Drop in and play sometime," said Griffin. "People can fill all those empty journals on their shelves with amazing words and letters."

Calligraphy classes are $5 a session for beginning students. The next series of classes begin Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Phoenix library.

For further information about the guild or its classes contact Cynthia Griffin at (541) 899-3945, or JoAnn Evans at (541) 535-2077 . The Avalon Bar & Grill exhibit runs through September 30, the restaurant is located at 105 W. Valley Rd., in Talent.