PAPER TIGERS

It’d be hard to pin down exactly what’s behind the burgeoning print scene in Cleveland; On the one hand, the obsolescence of analog systems has taken old equipment like letterpress printing machines out of the commercial realm and created an after-market for art studios. But that’s certainly not all. At a time when art schools are modifying curriculum for the digital age because that’s how the kids get jobs, there’s a certain Luddite slacker appeal. But maybe the real motivation comes from the sensual appeal of printmaking: The carving of wood blocks, the scratching of metal plates, the literal burning of screens with light, the rolling and wiping of ink, and — for letter press machines — the hand-set, lead-heavy fact of moveable type.

Whatever you chalk it up to, there’s a little revolution going on in a couple of print shops around town. Zygote Press just keeps getting busier and busier, and now comes a group calling itself Artist Books Cleveland, which is a collective of people all about making books one by one, by hand, exploring their physical structure, and how that relates to meaning. And if that weren’t enough, there’s also the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory (opened in the fall of ’08), where they’ve got not only a whole bunch of print making going on in old factory space, but the actual manufacture of paper, one sheet at a time, by hand.
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