The Puget Sound region is frequently cited as one of the most reading-obsessed corners of the country (with moss-friendly weather and a high incidence of depression reputed to be factors). Luckily for local literati, there is King’s Books in the Stadium District, an indie gem of a bookstore and a clearinghouse for approximately 100,000 rare, out-of-print, secondhand and newly released books, according to proprietor sweet pea Flaherty.
Spaceworks is celebrating seven years of Wayzgoose with an exhibition opening at the Woolworth Building, July 15. On view will be a gonzo selection of eye-popping, black-and-white prints produced by steamroller printing (you read that right) – a feat that is the coup de grâce of each year’s festival. The artworks, originally cut on 4′-long slabs of linoleum, are by some of Tacoma’s finest. And an artist riding a steamroller like a bucking bronco – we can’t think of an image that better encapsulates the gritty T-town spirit. We caught up with sweet pea Flaherty to talk about Wayzgooses (Wayzgeese?) past, present and future.
spF: Less mead, certainly. Which is a good thing, as we play with steamrollers! Also, the older festival was more insular, [intended] for printers and their families. While information and equipment swapping is definitely a part of our event, it’s more for the general public. We try to provide hands-on activities so people can get their hands dirty and make pretty.
SW: Why is Wayzgoose important to T-town and the art community?
spF: It’s the annual visual showcase for what printers and book artists do. While a lot of the individual artists participate in other public events, you get to see [a comprehensive representation] of work being done in Tacoma and the region. With Tacoma being a working class town, there is something about the tactility of printing, binding, etc., that seems to appeal to people. So many of the artists at Wayzgoose are doing innovative work and expanding the definition of what a book is, that it’s hard to not be inspired to new creative heights, whatever your chosen medium.
SW: Any thoughts as to expanding or changing the event? Was there anything different this year?
spF: We’re always trying to expand the scope. We now have screen printers and comic artists that play with us. We always add new players each year. New this year was letterpress magnetic poetry (words letterpress printed and backed with magnetic strip). In partnership with Arts Leadership Lab, we also did a panel this year about the future of letterpress and book arts in Tacoma. It would definitely be great to have a range of events – talks, workshops, etc. – around Wayzgoose time. We’d like to work with organizations that are interested in doing that.
SW: Whose steamroller is it?
spF: The steamroller actually belongs to our store cat, Miko. He has a range of heavy equipment he uses for different activities, illicit or otherwise. That, or we rent it from the CAT Rental Store in Fife with funds from the Tacoma Arts Commission.
SW: sweet pea, how many Wayzgooses can dance on the head of a pin?
spF: In the start, despite our small size, we couldn’t fit the Wayzgoose on the head of a pin. This year, due to our precise organizational skills (and a little witchery) we were able to have the entire Wayzgoose dance on the head of a pin for seven seconds. It was a tight fit, though. So the answer is definitely one.
Wayzgoose, the Woolworth Building, July 15 – Oct. 31, 2011.