November 18: Pyramid Atlantic closed its twelfth biennial book fair and conference today. There were 38 exhibitors, 9 speakers, 12 demonstrations, and a raffle. Three books were singled out for juror’s awards.
Although there was no announced theme among the speakers, the program organizers managed to locate speakers who brought a common point of view. I’d summarize it as “bring the art to the people.” Mary Mashburn, who has recently acquired Baltimore’s Globe Poster shop (including thousands of cuts and lots of wood type) for the Maryland Institute College of Art, is using the setup to interest current students in letterpress. Libby Clarke, who is also a web programmer and designer, does projects and gives them away, using the Monstress and Here and Now monikers. Pilar Nadal, of Portland, Maine, has created the Tired Press, which is a letterpress setup on a bicyle which she takes to farmers’ markets and street events. She gets kids to help with the printing, and gives the results away. Jesse McAfee

Jesse McAfee demonstrates the backpack press

was there representing The Print Factory of Kansas City which hand-builds printing presses out of mostly wooden parts–including one which can be carried in a backpack–then takes them to unlikely locations for printing on the street or at arts institutions. They have solicited blocks from dozens of artists, which they then use in their printing demonstrations. When they give away the prints, the artists get publicity. Pepe Coronado is a printmaker from the Dominican Republic, but now living in New York City. He has a press mounted on a street-vendor’s cart which he takes around the city trying to build interest in Dominican art, which has no permanent venue in the city. Kieu Lam, of Vietnamese extraction, studied printmaking but decided to take her craft to Japan, where she did small bookmaking projects with immigrants. It sounded almost like therapy. Theresa Easton, of Newcastle on Tyne in Great Britain studied printmaking on glass,Items displayed from Easton's Sunderland Project but found herself drawn into bookmaking for amateurs. She has been known to display books from suitcases at transit stops.
Juror awards went to Robin Price, the Chinese bookmaker Lei Lei Guo, and myself.

–Bob McCamant