For centuries, letterpress was the primary means to disseminate information. Today, the traditional way of printing has become a form of art.
Visitors to the Virgil Getto Hall Art Gallery at Western Nevada College in Fallon can enjoy the revival of broadsheet printing in “Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press.” The exhibit, which runs through Oct. 26, includes 34 broadsides produced at the Black Rock Press at the University of Nevada, Reno, using the letterpress process with handset type and relief plates.
The exhibit is part of the Nevada Touring Initiative-Traveling Exhibition Program. It was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, Nevada Humanities, the Nevada State Legislature and an anonymous donor.
Since it was founded by Kenneth J. Carpenter more than 40 years ago, the Black Rock Press has been dedicated to the practice and teaching of the arts and crafts associated with the creation of finely printed books. The Black Rock Press now has a national reputation for its outstanding work and has become a living museum of traditional printing technology, housing a variety of cabinets filled with metal type, and a number of historically significant printing presses.
Each broadside features a quotation from the writings of Robert Laxalt, one of Nevada’s finest writers. Most of the broadsides in this exhibit were designed and printed by Bob Blesse, director of the Black Rock Press. Others have also contributed, including John Balkwill, who was in residence as a book artist and printmaker at the Press during the mid-1990s. Former students assisted with the design, production, and illustration of the broadsides.
Broadside writers include Marjorie Agosin, Willis Barnstone, Daniel Boorstin, Andre Codrescu, Billy Collins, Hayden Curruth, Carol V. Davis, John Dofflemyer, Joseph Duemer, Gretel Ehrlich, Martha Elizabeth, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Shaun T. Griffin, James W. Hulse, Linda Hussa, Donna Johnson, Laxalt, Wally McRae, Joel Nelson, Steven Nightingale, Naomi Shahib Nye, Gailmarie Pahmeier, Robert Pinsky, Kirk Robertson, Gary Short, Kevin Stevens, Bill Stobb, Michael White, Terry Tempest Williams and Paul Zarzyski.
Admission to the gallery is free to the public and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.