One of the places that makes Portland so quirky and lovable is the CC Stern Type Foundry Museum. Located down near the horse race track, populated with quirky souls mad about metal type and filled with ancient equipment that looks more Rube Goldberg than printer’s craft, it is a treasure to behold. To watch these folks pour molten lead is a step back in time like no other.
To celebrate the five year anniversary of the museum, their board of directors curated the Ink + Metal + Paper exhibition that currently hangs here at 23 Sandy Gallery. Interestingly, a general call for metal type printing resulted in many pieces that focused on ornaments—those line breaks, paragraph dividers, and fleurons used to create ornamented borders and decorative typographic elements.
Here are few standout works that you might find most interesting:
• Opinions on Art by Emily Larned. Seven different books in a series collect surveys from open studio attendees asking folks their opinions on art. Each survey page is letterpress printed and is filled with the fascinating opinions of everyday people. Enlarge the photos on your screen by clicking the arrowed cross to read the survey questions.
• Ornata by John Grice. If you were able to come visit the gallery for this show you would see in-progress press sheets for this stunning work—a printing tour de force. When complete this superbly printed book will thrill fans of typography with exquisite craftsmanship and design.
• Verse of Light by Jessica Spring. (shown at left) Using a quote by Malala Yousafzai, Jessica’s always top-notch design and printing skills shine.
• An Ocean Between Us by Mark Sarigianis is the last copy of an absolutely gorgeous book by a Bay area artist who is new to me. Beautifully produced this is one of those books that doesn’t show well in photos, but in person it’s a knockout.
• No one wants to play the victim no one when there is a gun involved and blue by Inge Bruggeman. Inge’s books are always thought-provoking and smart. This one is very simply designed, but includes a powerful text on gun violence and interesting and dangerous-looking typography. Another book that isn’t photographed well enough to show off such details, but trust me, it’s terrific.
• All of Him by Sandy Tilcock is something that I am going to be telling you about many more times in the next couple of months. It is a true masterpiece by a true master of collaboration, design, printing and binding. Anyone familiar with the fine press works of Knight Library Press or Sandy’s lone goose press will be thrilled to see this new work by a treasured artist.
• Walt Whitman’s Faces by Barbara Henry needs no introduction. Walt Whitman words always draw. But, the design of this terrific book is quirky, fun, modern and unexpected. Check it out.
So, there you have it. I was initially a bit worried about this show. Turning over curatorial duties is something I do very rarely. This time, it was worth the worry. A terrific show, a slew of new artists to look forward to and some fascinating works of art and craft.