From January 31 through February 2, over 260 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers descended on the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA to usher in the second SoCal version of the 8-year-old NY Art Book Fair. Publishers, dealers, and designers carried in their boxes of rare books, handmade zines, artist editions, and other ephemera for a four-day celebration of and -- for some -- shopping spree in the midst of all things print-related.
If the number of my surprise run-ins with fellow Bay Area dwellers is any measure, Northern California was well represented at the fair. Holding down the fort, in alphabetical order, were [ 2nd floor projects ], Basement, CCOOLL, Colpa, Gallery 16, Hamburger Eyes, LAND AND SEA, Little Big Man Books, Little Paper Planes, modlitbooks, Needles & Pens, TBW Books, and THE THING Quarterly. I can't even begin to include a list of all the vendors offering up publications created by or featuring the work of Bay Area-based artists, writers, and poets.
The best part of the fair is watching people -- die-hard producers of printed matter -- interact with one another. A large majority of the people behind the tables at the LA Art Book Fair (LAABF) run their operations out of garages and studios, off desktop computers in the hours between full-time jobs and other life obligations. They sell publications online, via friendly bookstores, or at sporadic hosted public events. But at the LAABF they set up across the aisle from like-minded presses usually continents away, rubbing elbows with colleagues, fans, collectors, and fellow print enthusiasts. At the LAABF, an entire dispersed network of people making things becomes tangible -- and shacks up under the same roof for four days.
I'm not one to talk about energy, but let me tell you, the energy is great.