SPF2017: MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS

On Saturday, we headed north to Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage, a historic warehouse district turned startup and arts enclave, for SPF17. Since it inception in 2016, SPF (Small Press Fair) has celebrated South Florida print culture with regional presses, screen-printers, kitsch artists, designers, and zine-folk. The gathering is organized by Girls’ Club and IS Projects. You may know Girls’ Club for their numerous events by women in the underground. And IS Projects is a public access printmaking and book arts studio. (Side note about this neighborhood: Next Door at C&I. where SPF17 patrons kicked back pick-me-ups, is quite possibly the coolestand most bookish coffee shop in South Florida.)
Snooty visitors from Miami (the author included) may be surprised to find that our northward neighbors are an earnest, thriving, and off-beat scene of very real talent. Likewise, disenfranchised and recovering DIYers will be refreshed by the seeming lack of pretension and boutique flea-marketing that Miami’s small press fairs can take on. Instead, SPF17 was rich with a spirit of mutual appreciation, bartering, gifting, community connection, and local love.

Most of the fair was held inside a massive warehouse space with open rollup doors framing the overgrowth on the train tracks lining FATVillage. Food trucks, notably a lobster roll food truck called Mobstah Lobstah, kept us well-fed while an ever-changing group of artists created live stenciled wooden block art on the sidewalk.

One great organizing principle of SPF was the fair’s division into Market, Steamroller, Creation Stations, and Stage, all of which were scheduled in a catalog (!), allowing patrons to curate their own experience. The Market sector was itself divided among two warehouse spaces, one called Beachfront and the other Zine Dunes. Beachfront included collectives and presses like Cannonball Press, CUCUMBER CUCUMBER, and Loteria Press, while Zine Dunes hosted NÆON FLUXUS, Abandoned Places, and Sour Collective. Even Goochsoup, the artist rumored to be behind the oft-instagrammed signs over the 826, was tabling and slinging tees. Regulars at the now annual Miami Zine Fair will recognize exhibitors like Jai-Alai Books and Exile Books, as well as vast array of solo DIY artists.

The Steamroller division really lived up to its name. Described as a “larger-than-life steamroller printing event,” guests were invited to bring giant wood blocks and–no joke–watch the blocks get steamrolled into fine art. The Steamroller division was itself a part of Creation Station, a series of skill-shares that included screen printing by NSU Art & Design, grocco workshops by Portable Edition, and an intaglio demo by Kim Spivey of Ground Printmaking.

SPF17 raised an exciting question: how will the promising arts community of Fort Lauderdale, on full display at SPF17, influence Miami’s arts community? Our guess is it wouldn’t hurt. SPF17 reminded us of simpler times in Miami when young artists bartered wares in punk houses and warehouses before the New York envy and Art Basel cargo cults confused things. It’s true the Miami underground still buzzes, but these communities were once the only show in town. Today, Miami’s a bit more blue chip. When Fort Lauderdale and Miami meet at some cultural estuary, who knows what will emerge. Our hope is that whatever transpires, its salutary; maybe even photocopied and stapled.

  

 

Words By: Marco Martinez

Photos By: Lauren Ruiz

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