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Preview by Gina Lindner
Exhibitors at the 2022 Boston Art Book Fair. Photo by Melissa Blackall, courtesy Boston Center for the Arts.
For artists, creatives, and print fanatics, the Boston Art Book Fair (BosABF) is the event of the year. Every November, artists, publishers, indie presses, and more gather in the Cyclorama of Boston Center for the Arts to celebrate art, text, and the myriad of ways we express ourselves through print media. This year, over 140 exhibitors from near and far will share their boundary-pushing print creations, lead conversations and workshops, and vend irresistibly cool, collectible stuff at a range of price points.
It’s this atmosphere of boundless creativity, community, and sensory overload that keeps us and other exhibitors coming back, year after year. “We have seen our audience grow by leaps and bounds each year as people of all ages and backgrounds from throughout the city learn about the fair,” shares Randi Hopkins, director of visual arts at the BCA, which co-presents the fair with Bodega. “They’re drawn to experience the breadth and depth of Boston’s creative community and to be part of it.”
As the fair’s exclusive local media sponsor, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on what the BCA, Bodega, and collaborators are cooking up this year. In addition to the launch of BAR’s newest issue, Issue 11: Emerge, here’s what to see and do at the fifth edition of Boston’s hottest art book fair.
2022 Boston Art Book Fair. Photo by Melissa Blackall, courtesy Boston Center for the Arts.
First up, Friday’s Preview Party will kick off the fair weekend from 6 to 9 pm. Last year’s party was quick to sell out, drawing hundreds of attendees eager to get the first look/dibs on vendors’ creations—many being one-of-a-kind or limited stock—gorge on delicious bites from local food vendors, and participate in special evening programming. Highlights include a night-long set by DJ Johnny Stevens of Soulelujah, the Cambridge-based DJ collective spinning the best vinyls in soul, funk, and R&B. Plus, an interactive cut-paper animation workshop by Gif-o-Graf, creators of “the world’s first all-in-one animation machine.” We’re excited to see them demo their innovative stop-motion gizmo, which aims to make animation an accessible art for creatives of all ages. You will also find us first in line to get a Dept. of Public Peace Works tote bag, customized by legendary Boston streetwear designer Frank “the Butcher” Rivera.
This year’s limited-edition BosABF object will take on a new form as a hand-held interactive piece designed by Chen Luo—a.k.a. one-half of the design/publishing collective Body&Forma, who will also be exhibiting this year. “To me, the most meaningful thing about exhibiting at the art book fair is to connect with readers and other publishers with cultural exchange,” says Luo. “The book fair inspires me to look at publishing as a collaboration, process, manifesto, and distribution.” Judging from Body&Forma’s incredible artist project in Issue 10: Recall, you won’t want to miss their table of typographic posters and other drool-worthy printed matter.
Among the many visual artists, illustrators, small presses, large publishers, photographers, graphic designers, comic artists, collectives, and zine makers at the fair this year, there are a few stand-out exhibitors who we’re extra excited to see. New to the fair this year—yet revered in the Boston and New England art communities—are Boston-based artist Ekua Holmes, whose beautifully illustrated books and community-engaged art projects always inspire, and Providence-based art space ODD-KIN, which will showcase a new print project by artist Polly Apfelbaum in conjunction with her current exhibition at the gallery. As for returning exhibitors, we’re always excited to see the unique art prints, artist books, and zines from small presses like Orbis Editions (Cambridge, MA), Directangle Press (Bethlehem, NH), Clown Kisses Press (Richmond, VA), and Cold Cube (NY/WA).
The fair also boasts an array of programs with exhibitors like dispersed holdings (an NYC-based artist-run platform for experimental publishing and listening practices), which will host an interactive live sound and text workshop on Saturday afternoon, and Praise Shadows Art Gallery, which has organized a conversation on “Reimagining Memorials, both Public and Private” with artist Crystalle Lacouture, architect Michael P. Murphy, and moderator Kristin Parker. Sunday’s programming gets a little more intimate, hosting two open-format roundtables with artists and designers about their creative process and journeys: “Follow the Light,” hosted by Malakhai Pearson (Thunder Road Projects), and “Creative Journey Panel,” moderated by Frank Rivera (Dept. of Public Peace Works). Hands-on workshops include zine-making with Cristina Hajosy on Saturday afternoon, interactive drawing with Cristóbal Cea on Saturday evening, and plant-based papermaking with the Great Oak Grove Artist Cooperative on Sunday. (Spots are limited, so be sure to RSVP.)
BAR and BosBABF have been partners in crime since the very beginning: both launched in 2017, and we share a commitment to keeping the art of print alive and building a tight-knit community of print lovers. BosABF is also an important annual boost to the local creative economy, giving independent artists and publishers a platform for sharing and selling their creations. So come nerd out with us this weekend, and meet the people who make our creative community feel like home.
Boston Art Book Fair (BosABF) is organized by Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) and Bodega and takes place November 10–12 at the BCA Cyclorama, 539 Tremont Street, Boston.
Gina Lindner is an arts administrator, curator, and contributor to Boston Art Review.