Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Museum of Art will present Hot Metal and Cool Paper: The Black Art of Making Books, a focused exhibition with selected works from private presses, Aug. 27 to Nov. 6. Organized by Hillary Brown and Todd Rivers, it is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
The exhibition focuses on books printed by LaNana Creek Press (operated by Charles D. Jones, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas), the Press of the Nightowl (operated by Dwight Agner, Athens, Ga.) and Tinhorn Press (operated by Chuck Robertson, Atlanta, Ga.). These presses are or were run primarily by solo proprietors, and the selected books display interesting instances of adaptation to the form.
Printing has been referred to often as the “black art” for a number of reasons, including the tendency of ink to stain and the fact that apprentices in the art were termed “printers’ devils.” The process to create a finished book is exceedingly time-consuming, sometimes taking more than a year for even a short book, but the end product shows the printer’s hand on every page.
“We think this exhibition complements American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print very nicely,” said Brown. “The two of them present a great range of the printing process, and although both exhibitions show what could be considered a dying art, many graphic designers remain inspired by this kind of work.”
In the introductory pamphlet he printed to launch the Press of the Nightowl in May 1965, Agner stated, “my objective is to use my skills in design and printing to enhance an author’s work and make it appealing both as a text and as a visual object.” This connection among type, art and text is one area that the exhibition seeks to highlight.
Agner passed away in 2002, but his print work remains a testament to his role as a leading book designer and typographer in the South.
Robertson cited Agner as an inspiration for his business. Tinhorn Press, like most other small presses, stemmed from Robertson’s desire to integrate the adventures of his friends with his extensive knowledge of typography and printing. Featured in this exhibition is the very first book produced by Tinhorn Press, Franz-Joseph Had a Vacation: Confessions of a Romantic Journey, by one of Robertson’s close friends, Erwin Raith.
Other works on display include Candide: The Portfolio by Voltaire, printed by LaNana Creek Press with etchings by William Arscott printed from the original copper plates, and Poems: Inside and Out by Omar Pound with linoleum cuts by John Daniel. The intricacies of image printing are evident in handmade books, and this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to examine a wide variety from woodblock to cooper-plate etchings.
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-6719. For more information, including hours, see www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706/542-4662.