In a city where you have to pay to sit down, it is refreshing to attend an art fair that offers a few free goodies you might actually want. Pet Book, by artist James Prez, (and published by Back East Press) is one of many such items that can be found at The New York Art Book Fair, this one packaged in a baggies that encourages attendees to smoke it. It may be that the plastic sleeves on books ranging from free to hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, make a book seem so precious and alluring that I am rendered blindingly smitten, but I feel safe in saying that it is more than just packaging that has led me to the conclusion that of all the fairs I have attended this year, including The ADAA, The Armory, Scope, Pulse, and The Affordable Art Fair, The New York Art Book Fair is the best. The NY Art Book Fair succeeds because it satisfies the art snob and the art collector while providing a venue for less commercially driven endeavors.
“But there is no art!” says the raised eyebrowed response to this evaluation. Let the misconception that there is not traditional fine art ephemera for sale forever be dismissed in this post. There are plenty of drawings, prints, photographs, etc to be had. For example Art Metropole has a Cary S. Leibowitz, (CandyAss) sculpture on hand, and hanging from the wall at the Freight + Volume booth is an impressive giant Michael Scoggins drawing. There are all sorts of photographs and prints available, in addition to all kinds of art books.
The fair takes up two floors of the New Museum’s old space on 22nd street in Chelsea, the ground floor having a larger number of book sellers who cater to the kind of client that brings their own gloves and page turning spatulas to the event. Of the participating book sellers, Lightreading, a gallery located in Philedelphia has a particularly stand out booth, with two first edition copies of Camera Work a scholarly journal published by artist and curator Alfred Stieglitz, that played a key role in garnering professional acceptance of photography as a medium before exhibition venues became widely available. Each include photogravures. Prominently on display in their booth is also a book by Ringo Starr titled Postcards From The Boys, (left) a first edition book of reproductions of postcards from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison to Ringo Starr. Under a number of the postcards, is text that contextualizes the mail, and the book comes wrapped in a sexy red aluminum case shaped like the British mailbox.
In contrast to sellers such as this, the renegade portion of the fair takes up the majority of the upstairs and is comprised primarily of self publishers. Bloggy has a great photograph of the J. Morrison's silkscreeners “booth”, (for lack of a better word), and participants include Back East Press, LTTR, Paper Rod/Retard Riot, Cinders Gallery, Kate Glicksberg / Ridykeulous, Deep Dish Television, and more. Back East Press told me last night that a woman from the New York Times purchased a notebook from them, informing them that she was doing a piece on the show, so I suspect you will be able to read more about the fair shortly in the mainstream media. As for me I skipped the notebook (as I already own about five hundred) and bought two buttons from Paper Rod that I felt spoke to my personality on a deep level (left). It was at this point the fair closed for evening, which means I am now forced to return so that I can purchase at least one of the five items I have put on my shortlist of “must-own” artist books.
548 West 22nd Street (10th & 11th Aves), New York City (map)
Friday & Saturday, November 17 – 18, 11am – 7pm
Sunday, November 19, 11am – 5pm