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Sonel Breslav, the founder of Blonde Art Books and the BABZ Fair, is taking the helm of Printed Matter’s fairs and editions. The Chelsea-based nonprofit bookstore, publisher, and art book fair organizer announced earlier this week that Breslav, who most recently served as the National Chapters and Programs Manager at ArtTable — the organization devoted to advocating for female leadership in visual art — will run Printed Matter’s art book fairs in both New York and Los Angeles, while also managing and curating its fundraising editions.
“Over the years, I regularly attended and participated in both the fairs in NY and LA. For me the fair is an ultimate place of discovery,” Breslav told Hyperallergic. “Over the course of a few days I would have countless ‘studio visits’ and learn about a new artist’s work directly from the artist, be exposed to innovative publishing practices, or get to hear from legendary artists and historians through the free public programs, and I would see friends and colleagues from around the world.”
Breslav launched BABZ Fair — previously the Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair — in 2013. It has steadily grown in the years since, with the 2017 edition sporting an impressive 108 exhibitors sprawling throughout the Knockdown Center.
“She has shown a deep commitment to and engagement with artists’ books and publishing,” Printed Matter Director Max Schumann told Hyperallergic. “I participated in an artists’ book workshop and panel at the BABZ Fair last year (Sonel is the founder and director), and ended up spending the rest of my day there absorbed in books and conversations. I literally lost track of the time until I noticed the arrival of dusk — the experience was wonderful!”
Printed Matter’s art book fairs have steadily grown, with the Los Angeles edition reaching 300 exhibitors last year in just its fifth edition. However, the nonprofit decided to cancel the LA fair’s 2018 edition following the sudden death of Shannon Michael Cane, who was the Curator of Fairs and Editions from 2013 to 2017. Printed Matter’s next big book fair, therefore — and its first under Breslav — will be the New York Art Book Fair in late summer, at MoMA PS1.
“The NY Art Book Fair team will be entirely new this year so the main goal for the 2018 fair is to put on a strong and cohesive event,” Breslav said. “We are making some small changes to the application process and to our outreach that we hope will produce applications from an exciting and diverse range of publishers and artists.”
While the hiring of Breslav promises great things for the continuation and growth of Printed Matter’s fairs, it leaves the BABZ Fair’s future somewhat uncertain. “It was always important that BABZ Fair evolve into something new with each iteration,” Breslav said. “I don’t know what the future may bring, but this was a really inspiring experience.”
The exact dates of Printed Matter’s 2018 New York Art Book Fair have yet to be announced, but recent editions have taken place in mid-September.