We received from Robin Siegel this story and photographs of the editor and creator of Nazraeli Press: Chris Pichler.
Perched up on a hilltop in Paso Robles, California, Chris Pichler’s aesthetic universe is expanding exponentially. Pichler, founder of Nazraeli Press, is a laid back maverick with a variety of ventures, and in true Californian style, he really goes with the flow. From his headquarters, an unobstructed sky offers unparalleled and compelling views, down through the olive groves of rolling hills. The ambience is one of utter quiet and tranquility. Two pet cows, Bebe and Chi-chan, graze serenely in the distance. Chi-chan was a gift from Pichler to his wife, Maya Ishiwata.
Pichler started Nazraeli Press in Munich, Germany in 1990. The first book he ever published was a monograph on Jack Stuler, one of Pichler’s professors at Arizona State University. Stuler was responsible for getting Pichler interested in photography, in the first place. Pichler’s early endeavors in publishing: several artist books with Frederick Sommer, including the bilingual, dos-a-dos bound book, All Children are Ambassadors/Alle Kinder Sind Botschafter. The entire edition of 1,000 copies was bound by hand – by Pichler, himself.
As if running the formidable Nazraeli Press was not enough to keep Pichler busy, there’s also Nazraeli Cold Press. In 2015, when Pichler and Ishiwata moved to Paso Robles, they planted two thousand olive trees on the property. Two different kinds of olive oils are produced by Nazraeli Cold Press. The olive oil bottles look like no others. Custom labels feature photographs by artists published by Nazraeli Press, such as Michael Kenna, Jo Ann Callis, Ed Templeton, Laurie Simmons, Susan Zadeh, and others.
Together, Pichler and Ishiwata designed two Spanish architecture-influenced guest houses on their property. Pichler explains, “I’ve wanted to live among olive trees for many years, and to make olive oil. I spent a lot of time in Greece and in Italy, and I fell in love with olive oil – the taste, the color, the way it is made. From that, my circle of interests expanded to cultivating olive trees, Mediterranean gardens, and Mediterranean architecture and lifestyle, which is where the guest houses come into the picture.”
All the while, Nazraeli Press continues to publish around thirty books a year. Current books in production include work by Mark Steinmetz, Sage Sohier, Michael Kenna, Jeffrey Conley, Jungjin Lee. The acclaimed and highly collected One Picture Book series, now in its second iteration, is still going strong, and offers a way for Nazraeli Press to work with new artists. There is also a new series of songbooks that present lyrics by great songwriters in poetry form,
with images. The accompanying images were made by the songwriter, or were contributed by other artists. They don’t necessarily illustrate the lyrics but rather play off of them. The series is called Anatol, which is derived from the Greek word for sunrise. So far, books published in this series include work by Joe Henry, Terry Allen and Kristin Hersh, with many more to come.
Story and Photographs by Robin Siegel
Nazraeli Press: www.nazraeli.com
Nazraeli Cold Press: www.nazraeli.com/our-farm
Nazraeli Guest Houses: www.nazraeli.com/vacation-rentals