September 28th, 2015
From the corner of Prince and University on the penultimate day of our summer of love ’15, there emanated a literary and theatrical ambiance a little bit Greenwich Village.
This Saturday at the Visual Arts Building was the third annual Pub Fair where book artists, photographers, independent publishers, and DIYers exhibit their work. Writers and Books presented Litsplosion, a collection of award-winning writers, emerging voices, and regional talents. vsw.org/pubfair.php
At the same time, at the School of the Arts, on the last day of the Fringe Festival, the Rochester Association of Performing Arts had shows all day long. With book and theater lovers strolling back between the two locations, the Neighborhood of the Arts had an even more urban feel that usual.
The auditorium of the Visual Studies Center was filled with tables and bibliophiles. Dan Varanke, Studio Coordinator and Bookstore Manager, explained the event:
We started the Pub Fair three years ago after realizing that there hadn’t been an artists’ book show in Rochester for a while and the zine show never quite gained momentum in town. We opened the application and got a great response from local presses, folks in Buffalo, and Albert Abonado who now works at Writers and Books who wanted to schedule readings (which became Litsplosion).
My favorite part of Pub Fair is the cross-section of publishing that is represented: we’ve got $3 zines next to $20 poetry collections next to $40 photobooks next to $100 hand bound artists’ books. The food trucks and beer don’t hurt, either.
This year half of the vendors were local (professors, RIT and VSW students and alumni, Scott McCarney, Joan Lyons, Sue Leopard, H-NGM-N, just to name a few), but Light Work came over from Syracuse, WNYBAC, Sunnyoutside, and Back Home Books from Buffalo, Sister Sister and Papersafe from Northampton, MA, Oranbeg from Brooklyn, and VSW alumni Robyn York brought Anchorless Press down from Toronto for the day.
One vender, Serge J Vutuc, was all the way from Berlin as part of a national tour including stops in Cleveland, Philadelphia and the NY Harbor Fair.
When I was there, attendance has passed 250 with a few hours to go. The Fair attracts people of all ages, although the crowd was primarily in their 20s and 30s. Young Rochestarians enjoying the rich cultural life abounding in our city.
I did far better than expected. Clearly, Talker of the Town has cache as several vendors kindly offered to decorate me in a bohemian Greenwich Village style. For his part, Dan gave me a nice green tote bag.
POSTERSOURCE.B12 donated a very happening Thunderbody/Band T Shirt. Never too old to Reggae the night away, you’ll see me on the dance floor sporting POSTERSOURCE’s dye sublimation printed flip flops. Scorgies get ready! (Opps, that was the 80s.)
The Panoptic Press (who saw me even before I entered), a local small press of comics and zines, contributed this urban lid. While Light Works gave me a neat bag for carrying, yes, books. All in all, hello Washington Square Park.
For me the most fun was at SOTA where I met Alan Cuseo, RAPA’s Artistic Director. Flaunting my Fringe Festival Press Pass (until granted one I was a Press Pass virgin!), Alan provided me with a complimentary sub in keeping with RAPA’s motto, “Hospitality is Job 1.” Alan easily convinced me to attend the evening performance of La Cage aux Folles.
And what a delight. Transported to the cabaret, I was dazzled by the dancers and singers and touched by the poignant moments deftly handled. Was I on the Moulon Rouge or the corner of Prince and University? Best of all, I gained access to the backstage for the ultimate photo op. Myself with the players! Dropped into into a sea of Freudian polymorphous perversity — who were the men and who the woman and did it matter? — what better way to lose my Press Pass virginity.