Art on Paper fair throws the book at collectors

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As it marks its ninth year in New York, the Art on Paper fair (7-10 September) is spotlighting artist-made books. Such materials fare well at specialised art-book fairs, like those organised by non-profit Printed Matter, but they rarely get a platform in more mainstream fairs. The inaugural book fair within Art on Paper will take place on the upper mezzanine of Pier 36, led by New York’s Center for Book Arts, the oldest non-profit dedicated to the medium. Ten organisations, including Dieu Donné and 10×10 Photobooks, will present works falling outside the scope of the typical book or art fair.

“I see so much room to focus on a market that people aren’t even really aware of,” says Kelly Freeman, Art on Paper’s director. “This is the baby version of what I hope will be a giant focus of our fair going forward. I love the idea of falling in love with something that I can so easily take home. I want to give that gift to more people.”

The fair is also re-introducing its Flat Files programme, complete with live printmaking demonstrations and educational experiences for viewers. Shoestring Press, a Brooklyn-based print studio and membership-based shared workspace, will facilitate a live printmaking workshop at Pier 36, holding demonstrations and creating exclusive, editioned works by artists including Mike Perry, Victoria Carter and Layla Nami. Fair attendees can also take part in a tote silk-screening workshop. “The idea of an edition allows you to really feel the hand of the artist within all of the different components of making that piece,” says Freeman. “For me, it’s not just the artist who creates the concept, it’s the realisation of that moment by the printmaker, and I love that moment of collaboration.”

“We’re trying to pick up where EAB left off,” Freeman adds, referencing New York’s long-running Editions/Artists’ Books Fair, which closed its doors in 2022. “I always loved that fair so much. We’re doing our best to fill whatever gap has been left with them moving out of the market for the time being.”

As in years past, Art on Paper’s offering mixes big-name artists with up-and-comers. Accola Griefen Gallery will showcase works by Judy Pfaff, an originator of the Feminist Art Movement, and Barbara Zucker, a co-founder of AIR Gallery, the first all-women’s gallery in the US. Alchemy Gallery, a new space on the Lower East Side, will feature a sprawling installation by Rose Eaken, consisting of a 300-piece glazed paper clay shrine to grunge-era New York City. Other new participants this year include South Korea’s Gallery SoSo and Colombia’s Galeria Casa Cuadrada.

“We have a lot of new interest this year from a younger consort of galleries who are seeing that there’s this huge access point in terms of what paper means to collectors,” Freeman says. “Paper has this relatively approachable connotation to it, because you kind of understand what it is that you’re looking at. It’s a conversation starter between the attendee and the exhibitor that leads to these great moments for becoming a collector, learning what patronage is.”

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