By Brian Goslow
“Contemporary Works In, On, and Around Music,” the first exhibition at the newly renovated Sharon Arts Center gallery, highlights photographers, videographers and other visual artists who have supplied their work as backdrops for or documented past Thing in the Spring performances. This year’s Thing in the Spring — a vibrant collection of visual and performing arts and DIY music — runs from June 9 through 12. Artscope managing editor Brian Goslow exchanged emails with letterpress printmaker Chris Fritton, whose work is part of the Sharon Arts show, earlier this spring.
HOW DID YOU COME TO SHOW YOUR WORK AT THE SHARON ARTS CENTER?
I’ve known Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne (co-founder of the Glass Museum for some time — she met my partner at the Savannah College of Art & Design; they struck up a friendship and we came to Peterborough, N.H. for The Thing In The Spring and BROKE Arts Fair. It was a fortuitous meeting, because in Buffalo I ran a large event called the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, dedicated to printed matter and marginalized book arts & zine work, and I’m the former studio director of the Western New York Book Arts Center, a non profit dedicated to letterpress printing & book arts. We both had a lot of experience in event organizing and creating community, so that’s fueled our friendship since then. Most recently, Mary came to the 10th Anniversary Buffalo Small Press Book Fair and peddled her wares, and I’ll be attending the 9th Thing In The Spring & Broke this June.
CONCERT POSTER ART SEEMS TO BECOMING BACK IN DEMAND IN RECENT YEARS; HOW DID YOU COME TO MAKE POSTERS FOR THE RECENT SLEATER-KINNEY TOUR?
The Sleater-Kinney/Waxahatchee posters are both letterpress prints; they were made using traditional elements, antique wood & metal type, but they also incorporate handmade woodcuts that create the geometric patterns in the background. One of the prints (from the Minneapolis show) was made using the neon/fluorescent palette that’s a hallmark of my work, and the second (from Royal Oak/Detroit) incorporates a double split-fountain — more than one color is placed on the press simultaneously and it’s allowed to blend, creating a gradient. The print features a split fountain that fades from blue to purple in one direction, and a second that migrates from magenta to orange. All of the type for both posters was handset in the traditional manner. I’ve attached a few pics to show the additional handmade blocks on the press.
HOW HAS YOUR ART PROGRESSED OVER THE YEARS?
My work has evolved over time — I’ve been letterpress printing for more than a decade, but I started as a writer and book artist. I was printing covers for books, then whole books, then I learned how to hard-case books and do alternative bindings – it wasn’t until I started running the studio at WNYBAC around 2008 that my work started to move into the realm of large-scale design. I was doing event posters, art prints, gig posters for bands, etc. My latest project is called The Itinerant Printer, and I’m traveling around the entire U.S. visiting different letterpress printshops creating prints from just what they have in their idiosyncratic collections. Check that out here: itinerantprinter.com.
(The Thing in the Spring 2016 takes place from June 9-12 at various locations throughout downtown Peterborough, New Hampshire. For full details,visit http://www.thethinginthespring.com. ““Contemporary Works In, On, and Around Music” is currently on view at the Sharon Arts Center, 30 Grove St., Peterbough, NH. You can read an excerpt from Brian Goslow’s preview of the show here: https://artscope.wpengine.com/2016/05/in-on-and-around-music/)