Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press

Western Folklife Center logo               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 24, 2013

Contact: Darcy Minter, 775.340.4240
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Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press

A New Exhibition in the Wiegand Gallery

Elko, NV—The Western Folklfe Centerpresents Words + Images: Broadsides from the Black Rock Press, a new exhibition in the Wiegand Gallery featuring 34 broadsides produced at the Black Rock Press at the University of Nevada, Reno, using the letterpress process with handset type and relief plates. This traveling exhibition from the Nevada Arts Council runs through December 23. On Saturday, December 7, the Western Folklife Center will host an exhibition reception and a printmaking workshop with Tuscarora artist Sidne Teske.
Since it was founded by Kenneth J. Carpenter more that 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. 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. 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. Several broadsides were printed in conjunction with a national poetry broadside competition held in the 1990s; winning poets received cash awards and had their poems printed as broadsides. Over the years, the Western Folklife Center has commissioned the Black Rock Press to produce several broadsides to commemorate the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, including poems by John Dofflemyer, Wallace McRae, Linda Hussa, Joel Nelson and Paul Zarzyski.
In recent years, broadsides have been produced for the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writers Award, presented annually by the University’s Reynolds School of Journalism. 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 print- maker at the Press during the mid-1990s. Former students assisted with the design, production and illustration of the broadsides.

Curated by Bob Blesse 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.

Also in the Wiegand Gallery is the exhibition Italian Buckaroos: New World. The Wiegand Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, and Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and seniors, and $1.00 for children ages 6-12. Western Folklife Center members are free, with a $3.00 charge for each adult guest. Admission is free on the first Saturday of every month.
The Western Folklife Center is dedicated to exploring, presenting and preserving the diverse and dynamic cultural heritage of the American West. We celebrate the wisdom, artistry and ingenuity of western folkways through exhibitions, educational programs, national radio and television programs, research and preservation projects, our website, and our premier event, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We nurture connections among rural and ranching cultures globally, exploring universal themes in working traditions and artistic expression, which we believe are vital links to the past, present and future of the American West,


Broadside images available upon request.

                                   The Breaker in the Pen, by Joel Nelson. Artwork by Gary Morton. Letterpress printed, 2002
                                   "The Breaker in the Pen" by Joel Nelson,
                                        Artwork by Gary Morton, Letterpress printed, 2002.
                                   Produced by the Black Rock Press for the
                                   2002 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.