South Florida Book Arts in New York

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday March 24, 2016

If Miami can be described as a social mosaic, it’s also a haven for working artists who give the north side of town a buzz that persists long after Art Basel tourists have disbanded. Among them is a group of book artists, novelists, poets, and printmakers known as the SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration, who began producing literary broadsheets in 2009. Their output—including more than 70 pieces by 46 artists and 40 writers—is currently on view at The Center for Book Arts, in New York’s Flatiron District. Last month, two of the group’s organizers and one of its artists spoke about their work and process at a roundtable discussion at the Center.

Lea Nickless is a painter, bookmaker and photographer who has worked in museum and arts administration posts, including the Wolfsonian-FIU, for the past 20 years. Her book arts practice springs from her early involvement in the Scripps College Press, in Claremont, CA. Carol Todaro is an artist and printmaker whose work is included in major collections including The Library of Congress. Michelle Weinberg is a visual artist who works between Miami and New York who has been supported by major foundations including the Pollack Krasner Foundation. Together they traced the evolution of this intensely focused confluence of artists and writers who tell stories across the broad spectrum of printmaking today.

The group was originally formed at, and takes its name from, Sweat Records, in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where the first meetings took place. While Miami does not have a book arts center, these like-minded collaborators met through local art events including the Wynwood Art Walks, which includes the Miami Poetry Collective, a group of poets who write poems to order and organize pop-up literary events around town.

At the Sweat Records meetings, collaborators were paired up, and press time at Turn-Based Press, one of the few print studios in Miami, was arranged. While the group was loosely organized to the extent of having only one restriction—the sheet size of the final product—behind the scenes was an anthill of activity, directed primarily by Nickless, fellow printmaker Tom Virgin, and poet Michael Hettich. Fundraising, marshaling support from local arts organizations, scheduling exhibitions and public art projects, have resulted in a Knight Foundation grant that enabled the production and exhibitions of their work at the Centre Gallery, Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in 2012 and the following year at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University. 

The current exhibition, at The Center for Book Arts, consists of seventy-eight fine art prints created in a wide variety of media that highlights the experimental nature of printmaking and typography when pushed to the limits. Media included in the exhibition include letterpress, silkscreen, etching, digital pigment prints, relief prints, monoprints and many forms of hand work, including hand coloring, hand-cut paper and applique on fabric. Artists include Gary Moore, Michelle Weinberg, Lea Nickless, Tom Virgin, Carol Todaro, Laura Tan, Alfredo Useche, Rosemarie Chiarlone, and Sara Stites. Photos courtesy The Center for Book Arts

The SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration, organized by Alexander Campos, Executive Director & Curator, The Center for Book Arts, continues through April 2 at The Center. 28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY. Info

The History of Art: Map as Metaphor roundtable series continues on Friday, March 25, 6:30 pm at The Center. Info

The Center for Book Arts 2016 Annual Benefit Auction takes place Monday, April 4th, at The National Arts Club. Tickets Online bidding is now open. Catalogue

Spring Classes and Workshops are in progress, with new courses starting next week. Info [BookArts12.18]