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WNY Book Arts Group Sets up Shop

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A centuries-old art form will soon get a new leaf on life in downtown Buffalo. The Western New York Book Arts Collaborative is setting up shop in the former Slotkin Department Store on Washington Street.

The collaborative formed two years ago and has partnered with the library, the Roycrofters and others to revive the ancient tradition. But the craftsmen who founded the collaborative imagined what it would be like to have a real bricks and mortar place to call home. Soon they'll be able to do more than imagine it.

Hand book binder and printer Richard Kegler founded the collaborative. He and his wife Carima have a print business that they now run mostly on line. So, that allowed them to sell their building on Elmwood and buy the Slotkin building for the future Western New York Book Arts Center.

Kegler said it will be a working community print shop, with letter presses, workshops, gallery space, a museum, and cafe.

For now, the Collaborative will use the space free of charge. Eventually, Kegler said there will be other tenants and some proceeds from the center's activities that would make it self-sustaining.

But is there really a demand for hand book crafts in today's digital world? Kegler said yes - even among those too young to have ever even heard of a letter press.

The Book Arts Collaborative will also be connecting with other print makers from across the country. The national TypeCon conference will be held in Buffalo for the first time July 15-20. That is also when the collaborative plans to take the wraps off its new home.

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