Printed Matter, MoMA, and the NYPL: More in NYC

The zine exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum wasn’t my only print stop in NYC that weekend. I also visited Printed Matter in Chelsea, the Museum of Modern Art, and the iconic New York Public Library.

Established in 1976, Printed Matter is sort of an artists’ book mecca. It’s a non-profit grant-supported bookstore, artist organization, and arts space that publishes and distributes artists’ books. Printed Matter also organizes the NY Art Book Fair, an annual celebration of international, contemporary book, zine, and comic artists, and independent publishers, which is happening at the end of April. The shop is two-stories of books, zines, and ephemera, including an exhibition space, currently displaying poems and artists’ books by Wally Depew, a rather appropriate appetizer before heading to the Copy Machine Manifestos exhibition. Influenced by Dada and Gertrude Stein, Depew’s concrete poetry and typographic illustrations are experimental and minimalist yet playful. Some focus on a single letter that is altered in orientation and scale. I could have spent hours in Printed Matter, but restricted myself in order to make it to the Brooklyn Museum with enough time.

For me, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to MoMA. The Museum of Modern Art has one of the most comprehensive collections of prints, books, and multiples, including the iconic Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans. I happened to visit in time to see the contemporary etching work of master printer, Jacob Samuel. Using traditional techniques, he published and produced small scale, serial, and single tone work, often collaborating with influential artists. My other personal favorites from this visit was a Corita Kent screenprint, and John Giorno’s Dial-A-Poem installation.

As a Librarian and bibliophile, I love to visit libraries when I travel. I could have spent an entire day roaming the romantic wells of the New York Public Library. The NYPL system itself has over 88 branches, but the Beaux-Arts building with its iconic lion statues on Fifth Avenue near Bryant Park has been a cultural and historical hub since it opened in 1911. Unfortunately I missed the tour of the Rose Main Reading Room, but there was still plenty to see and enjoy. I think I spent nearly an hour browsing in the gift shop alone. On your next visit to NYC, I highly recommend visiting this special place. Libraries are one of the last remaining community spaces that provide free and open access to information and resources to all. They need our support now more than ever.

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