Mercantile Library readies for 7th annual print fair

"The County Election" by George Caleb Bingham

This George Caleb Bingham 1854 print, titled “The County Election,” represents the type of art buyers will discover at the seventh annual St. Louis Mercantile Library Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair at UMSL. The fair will be held May 3, 4 and 5 at the J.C. Penney Building/Conference Center on UMSL’s north campus.

Organizers are expecting up to 1,000 art and rare-book collectors to pack this year’s St. Louis Mercantile Library Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The number of dealers has increased to 25 this year and includes a fine-art gallery in Chesterfield, Mo.

“We’ve added two new dealers to the fair, in addition to welcoming back the dealers who’ve helped us build the fair these past seven years,” said Julie Dunn-Morton, curator of fine art collections at the Mercantile Library. “And we’re excited to add contemporary photography to the list of artwork being offered.”

Twenty-five local and national print and rare book dealers will display their art, books and ephemera from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 4 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5 in the J.C. Penney Building and Conference Center at UMSL. Admission is $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers per day and $2 for students and UMSL Alumni Association members with an ID.

An opening night benefit preview of the print fair will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., May 3. Preview tickets are $40 each or two for $70 for members; $50 each or two for $90 for nonmembers and $25 for young collectors 35 years of age and younger. The preview will offer a first look at the dealers’ booths and a benefit silent auction. The ticket price includes wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres at the party and admission all weekend.

One of the Mercantile’s returning dealers, Stevens Fine Art from Phoenix handles American and European art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1850-1950) and includes Depression-era art; New York urban and city subjects as well as Works Progress Administration and California impressionists. New this year are Stephen Ryan Fine Arts featuring rare art books and fine prints, and Photography Past & Present with works by contemporary American photographers.

Also returning this year will be Kiechel Fine Art, specialists in the work of Thomas Hart Benton; Anthony Garnett with his antiquarian, first-edition and international book titles; New York’s Susan Teller Gallery featuring American art of the 1930s and 40s, especially industrial realism and modernism; and Judith Haudrich Antique Prints specializing in 17th–19th century botanical and historical subjects.

Three local artists will be on hand on May 5 to offer lively demonstrations: The Firecracker Press, a graphic design and letterpress print shop; water colorist Daven Anderson; and Joanne Kluba from Paper Birds, book design, binding and artwork.

Proceeds from the preview and fair will benefit the Mercantile Library collections acquisition and conservation funds. Visit the print fair website or call 314-516-6740 for more information.

The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is the oldest cultural institution in Missouri and the oldest library in continuous existence west of the Mississippi River. Founded by philanthropic businessmen in the 1840s as a subscription library, the Mercantile is a library of American history and culture whose collections include manuscripts, books, maps and art. It contains the largest research collection in North America on railroad history and inland waterways heritage, as well as one of the largest collections of rare and documentary photographs, historic newspapers and archives in the state of Missouri. 

Read more about the print fair in The Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer.


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