Literary Hill

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2023 Capitol Art Book Fair

I interviewed Phil Hutinet, organizer of the Capitol Art Book Fair for this month’s column, to highlight what attendees might expect at this year’s fair.

Literary Hill: How do you define “Art Book?” Why are Art Books a compelling form for today’s readers?

Phil Hutinet: An “Art Book” is a term that encompasses a wide variety of forms, each captivating in its own right. At its simplest, it might be the classic coffee table book filled with exquisite photography or a comprehensive, full-color exploration of a renowned artist’s work. However, the realm of Art Books extends far beyond these familiar formats, embracing limited edition runs, zines, graphic novels, and specialized art magazines.

These books are not just containers of art; they are art pieces in themselves. Some art books are recognized as art for their content, resembling conventional books while being intrinsic works of art. Others gain their status through their creation process, particularly those that are hand-printed using techniques like letterpress, screen printing, or even innovative combinations of various methods. Such diversity and innovation make Art Books an increasingly appealing form for today’s readers, who seek unique, tactile, and visually engaging experiences.

LH: Would you recap the details of the first Capital Art Book Fair at Eastern Market?

PH: Last spring, we were thrilled to launch the first Capital Art Book Fair, a milestone event that garnered significant attention, press and participation. Exhibitors were almost all American, with a notable exception being Hotam Press, a publisher from Vancouver, Canada, who received a spotlight feature in Hill Rag in 2023.

Devika Strother

The event boasted an impressive lineup of 30 exhibitors, with a considerable number hailing from the DMV, alongside others who traveled from as far as Pittsburgh and New York to participate. The enthusiasm and engagement from visitors were palpable throughout the fair. Many exhibitors completely sold out their inventory by Sunday.

A standout highlight of the fair was the contribution of Carolina Mayorga, a celebrated DC-based artist. As an educator at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Mayorga brought her unique creative vision to the fair, presenting a site-specific installation titled “Capital Splash.” Her use of bright pink vinyl cut-outs not only added a vibrant visual element to the event but also underscored the dynamic and innovative spirit of the art book community.

LH: What can attendees of this year’s Art Book Fair anticipate?

PH: Attendees can revisit several of last year’s exhibitors, including local favorites such as My Dead Aunt’s Books, Karin Edgett, Girls on Film, and Kate Fitzpatrick. Additionally, notable returning exhibitors like Inner Loop Press from Philadelphia, PA, and HOMOCATS from Brooklyn, NY, will grace the event once more.

The fair is welcoming a diverse array of first-time participants that span museums, galleries, university presses, and exhibitors from across the globe. Marking its first museum participation, Glenstone from Potomac, MD, will join the fair alongside the debut university press exhibitor, Montana State University’s Courier Press. Hugo Bonamin and Linea Jensen from Brussels, Belgium, will showcase “Bruit,” published by Gevaert Editions, adding European flair.

The international presence is further bolstered by 51 Personae traveling from Shanghai, China, and MAKERMAKER from Seoul, Korea. Multiple Exposures Gallery, with roots in the Torpedo Factory of Alexandria, Virginia, plans to display a substantial collection of its members’ photography books. The IBe’ Art Institute from Hopewell, Virginia, will present unique monotype books, offering attendees a glimpse into one-of-a-kind printed works.

In total, the fair will host 36 exhibitors, representing an eclectic mix of well over 100 artists, publishers, and designers from local, national, and international backgrounds.

Two Art Book Reviews

Look for these art books at the 2023 Capitol Art Book Fair.

Hugo Bonamin and
Linea Jensen

Art Diction Magazine

Readers interested in the interconnectedness of art and community healing are encouraged to pick up the current issue of ArtDiction. The brainchild of Devika Strother, ArtDiction is a culture and art magazine that features photography, fashion, music, and art exhibits. The current issue features five artists who take up issues of healing, community, identity and intersectionality. Brittany creates abstract images of the Black diaspora, to celebrate, uplift, and communicate complex emotions of Blackness and its intersectionality. James Flower’s sumptuous Afrocentric visual storytelling takes the form of portraits on steel plates. Zehra Batool’s multimedia work considers the everydayness of being a native of Maryland and a Muslim. Eanaj Janae’s paintings spotlight the Black community’s emotional struggles and triumphs, and the use of emotionally expressive art to heal. And finally, Tori Kovarik’s mixed-media abstract landscapes bear witness to trauma and the work of rebuilding as healing. For more information, visit artdictionmagazine.com .

bruit

“[A]s much a book object as can be and an artwork of itself,” Brussels artists, Hugo Bonamin and Linea Jensen, describe bruit. A book about color, movement, space, and texture, this 508-page collection of handmade pastels and brass plate printings has no pagination and no text. The artists write, “it is about the interaction of a color facing another/ bruit is the experience of narration left to the reader, making each copy of the book unique.” See bruitartbook.com for more information.

Joy Jones, Director of The Spoken Word
E. Ethelbert Miller, Award Winning Poet and Memoirist

African Americans and Children’s Literature on Tour

In partnership with The Black Student Fund and The Institute for African American Writing, Esther Productions Inc. presents African American’s and Children’s Literature on Tour, to celebrate the work of Black writers in DC and DC-based literary history.

On April 20, 2024 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, the Tour features authors Joy Jones (trainer, performance poet, playwright, director of the arts organization, The Spoken Word, and founder of the Double Dutch team and DC Retro Jumpers) and E. Ethelbert Miller (memoirist, award-winning poet and 2022 Grammy nominee for the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album, Black Men Are Precious) discussing DC literary history. The event is hosted at the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW. This event is supported by a grant from HumanitiesDC.

aachildrenslit2023@gmail.com.

Michelle LaFrance is Associate Professor of English at George Mason University. She teaches creative nonfiction, life writing, and civic writing at the Hill Center and blogs about writing, her upcoming writing classes, and writing retreats at writinglostriver.org.