Bay Area Attractions: Press: Works on Paper

04 Oct 2011 12:54 PM | Anonymous
Wandering through San Francisco's Historic Mission District, the peripatetic traveler can discover Press: Works on Paper, a book store and book art gallery, located at 3492 22nd Street. Owned and operated by Nick Sarno and Paulina Nassar, the space focuses on small press publications, vintage books and materials, and artists who work with and print on paper.

Prior to opening the space, Sarno had fallen in love with the world of books and was working for a small press, in charge of their editing and acquisitions. With Nassar, he had considered opening "just" a book store, but found the cost of doing so prohibitive. Additionally, Sarno divulges, he always liked to think of books as art objects connected with paper and paper-related art. These ideas became the basis launching Press:Works on Paper.

As publishing is going through numerous changes, Sarno notes, an interest and reverence for craft is on the rise. E-readers, he notes, are great for items such as mystery novels, items that have thus far been part of our throwaway culture, but the books in his space are the opposite of such an idea. They are lasting objects, and due to their presentation, would not communicate on a Kindle.

All of the books featured in Press:Work on Paper are from small and independent presses. Sarno encourages visitors to explore the books, and most visitors understand the concept of the book as art after spending time in the space. He notes that one visitor remarked, upon observation of some of vintage office supplies such as staplers that festoon the gallery, that he and Nassar must have great nostalgia for the 1950ies when such objects were made. Sarno clarified that there is a sense of nostalgia, but not for an earlier time. Instead, it is a esteem for vintage objects of good craftsmanship, items that still function and have a sense of permanence.

Nassar and Sarno aim for their space to transcend being a mere store, and hope for the space to be a nexus for a community of bibliophiles and artists. To build this, they have begun offering bookbinding classes and other events. They plan to eventually work up to offering two classes, events, or happenings a week. It is evident that they are having success at building a following; Sarno estimates that most people who show up have never been to the store before or taken a bookbinding class, but discovered Press:Works on Paper online.

When asked what advice he would give book art students or recent graduates, Sarno advises artists to respect their work, but remember to have fun with it. He likes to work with people who appreciate craft, but have a sense of humor.

Press:Works on Paper is open Monday-Saturday from 11-7, and Sundays from 12-6, and is a short walk for visitors to the city from the 24th street BART stop.

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