Fifth Annual Pub Fair at the Visual Studies Workshop

Posted by Rachel Britton, Poetry Editor for issue 6.1

Poetry printed into sidewalk bricks of the Memorial Gallery’s Poetry Walk led me to the Pub Fair, a day of books, art, beer, and coffee at the Visual Studies Workshop (VSW). Promoting its most recent issue, Gandy Dancer had a significant presence with representatives from the managing, nonfiction, and art editors, staff readers, and friends of the journal. The event offered creative vendors space to sell and build their network likeminded individuals. Among those in attendance were BOA Editions, Ltd., Writers and Books, Open Letter translations from the University of Rochester, and RIT’s art magazine Draft. I was overwhelmed by the amount of art, magazines, journals, and organizations present. And by extension, the size of Rochester’s art community!

As part of the event, VSW hosted a series of talks and readings to give the community insight into some new work. Kicking off the readings was a Litsplosion that included Geneseo poets who also performed at the Rochester Fringe Festival in September. Lizzie Pellegrino, Isabel Owen, Jasmine Cui, and Grace Gilbert shared some of their poetry, later followed by an open mic. Regretfully, I did not bring any of my own to share (though my nerves probably would have prevented me, anyway). Attendees did get to hear from poet Nate Pritts, who read from his new collection and discussed his press H_NGM_N Books. And VSW Director, Tate Shaw, rounded out the program with a reading from his new collection of essays on artists’ books.

VSW also hosted workshops in book-binding and zine culture, so you could leave the fair with something you made yourself, something tangible. One could also take home prints, tiny book necklaces, cards, and other artwork.

Before working the Gandy Dancer table, I made a couple rounds to each vendor and found myself drawn to a few in particular. BOA’s new Fall 2017 titles all tempted my wallet. sunnyoutside, which publishes using standard and block printing with simple book-binding, thinking of each book as a work of art, also attracted  my attention. A current artist-in-residence from Flower City Arts explained all of the classes running this season, including but not limited to book-binding, ceramics, and Photoshop. Most of these classes are offered each season. A representative demonstrated block printing on a vintage machine and advertised the many options to be considered regarding classes or membership (not required to take classes).

Swiftwater Brewing Co., Ugly Duck Coffee, and the Meat the Press food truck catered the event, and I enjoyed talking literature with a good cappuccino. At the Pub Fair, Gandy Dancer was amongst exceptional company. An annual event, it’s a worthwhile experience for anyone in the writing, publishing, and art fields to expand their network and meet people who value literature and art and its role in the community.

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