‘Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press’ features 34 broadsides produced at the Black Rock Press at the University of Nevada, Reno using the letterpress process with handset type and relief plates.
Since it was founded by Kenneth J. Carpenter more than forty years ago, the Press has been dedicated to the practice and teaching of the arts and crafts associated with the creation of finely printed books. The Press now has a national reputation for its outstanding work and has become a living museum of traditional printing technology. Its centerpiece, a gilded 1837 super-royal Columbian iron handpress, is one of the finest examples of a nineteenth century iron handpress to be found anywhere in the country.
Letterpress broadsides are created for numerous reasons, frequently to honor a visiting writer at a campus event. The Press has produced broadsides to honor university residencies by U.S. Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky and Billy Collins, winners of a national poetry broadside competition held in the 1990s, and the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writers Award, presented annually by the university’s Reynolds School of Journalism.
Most of the broadsides in this exhibit were designed and printed by Bob Blesse, director of the Press. Other contributors include John Balkwill, who was in residence as a book artist and printmaker during the mid-1990s. Former students assisted with the design, production, and illustration of the broadsides. The printing was done on a Vandercook cylinder proofing press.
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, Robert 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.
Curated by Bob Blesse with Gallery Notes essay by Harry Reese and organized by the Nevada Arts Council, “Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press”, is part of the Nevada Touring Initiative – Traveling Exhibition Program. It was funded in part by The National Endowment for the Arts, The Nevada Humanities, the Nevada State Legislature and an anonymous donor. The Nevada Arts Council is a division of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.