November 5 – 8, 2015
By JEFFREY CYPHERS WRIGHT, NOV. 2015
New York Print Week offers two fairs dedicated to the genre. At Editions/Artist’s Book Fair, more than 50 exhibitors displayed prints, multiples and artist books in Chelsea’s legendary Tunnel. Presented by the Lower East Side Printshop (founded in 1968) and curated by Jeff Bergman of Pace Prints, the Fair aims to increase exposure for the printers and the artists they work with. The Fair is also a wonderful opportunity to see and learn about oodles of art as well as a lot about printing knowledge. The printers and dealers were completely charming and eager to convey the methods of their trade. The terminology is fascinating — some are even new like “scriptography.” At VanDeb Editions, the artist John King’s prints were described as “softground & spit bite.”
Like a grand guardian, the spirit of Alex Katz hovered over the fair. His instantly recognizable images were at several booths. Katz’s printer, Christopher T. Creyfs (he also runs Collaborative Art Editions, located in St Petersburg, Florida) was showing off a boxed set of 12 four plate, four color etchings by Matthew Day Jackson. Echoing an ecologically aware viewpoint, Jackson acquired plates by Audubon and reworked them. Two of the species of birds are already extinct. In one, a trio of woodpeckers poses on a birch tree. The background features desolate figures lifted from Brueghel’s depiction of Hell. Re-contextualization of historically weighted material is packaged in an uneasy truce between expectation and memory.
In a completely contemporary set of prints from BAM Visual Art, Shinique Smith’s riotous bouquets of color cross-pollinated nature and urbanity, via graffiti-esque arabesques. Holly Shen curates the series and the images are used as part of the Next Wave festival. BAM has also entered a joint venture with the non-profit New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) to create limited edition portfolios.
Purgatory Pie Press is always a treasure. Its artisanal wares range from poetry postcards (including me) to accordion books to tiny book earrings authored by Lisa Jarnot, Mike Topp, Sparrow and others. Dikko Faust is a legendary printer (he had printed his own tee shirt using wine-packing forms). His partner, Esther K. Smith is a book designer and author, with books out about making books!
Other highlights included the non-profit Booklyn, founded in 1999. They got a little political with a “Wall Street” bull in ropes. And Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) included a three dimensional lithograph and silkscreen “classic” clown costume made on handmade Chiri paper with 24 colors by Jane Hammond.
The Fair is a terrific resource, offering people a chance to see thousands of prints. If you’re looking for the ultimate gift, you could get a little green gem by Louise Fishman for $900. But it might not be so easy to let go of it. WM
Wright is best known as a poet. His 12th book, Triple Crown, is out from Spuyten Duyvil. He studied with Allen Ginsberg at Brooklyn College and with Ted Berrigan and Alice Notley at St. Mark's Chirch in-the-Bowery. He's performed in two Museum of Modern Art's poetry series, hosted poetry events at the Bowery Poetry Club, La Mama, KGB and many other village venues. Critical writing has appeared in Artnews, Chelsea Now, Art and Antiques. He reviews regularly for ArtNexus and The Brooklyn Rail. A long -time publisher, Wright currently produces an art and poetry showcase called Live Mag!. He lives and works in the East Village.view all articles from this author