Purgatory Pie Press: 40 Years & Counting

A celebratory exhibition of the renowned Purgatory Pie Press’s 40+ year partnership of Dikko Faust & Esther K Smith
On view from July 14 – August 11, 2018
Opening: Beacon’s Second Saturday, July 14, 12 – 8 pm
Closing: Beacon’s Second Saturday, August 11, 12 – 8 pm
Hours:  Sunday, July 15, 12 pm – 5 pm
Saturdays/Sundays July 21 through August 11,  12 pm – 6 pm

Due to the rarity of this artwork and mature content of many works on view, this exhibit is intended for adult viewers. Works on display may not handled by visitors, but may be shown by the gallery attendant by request. 

Contact photobookworks@gmail.com to make an appointment or if you have any questions.

PPP@BAT_April VolmerPortraitPPP’s Dikko Faust & Esther K Smith  Photograph by April Vollmer

PPP books

Purgatory Pie Press began in 1977 in Madison, Wisconsin when Dikko Faust pied (spilled) an overfilled job case of 8-point Century Oldstyle metal type. Dikko sorted that type for weeks, made his first two books and the paper for his third, and moved to New York City. In 1980 Dikko Faust married Esther K Smith and Purgatory Pie Press merged with the EK Smith Museum, a museum of found art, including The Apron Collection. Their wedding invitation was their first print collaboration. Dikko Faust uses letterpress as an experimental relief printmaking medium. Artistic director, Esther K Smith comes up with projects, designs structures, edits words, and stitches books. making limited editions and artist books. For some projects, they collaborate with other artists and writers. Faust and Smith bounce things back and forth. Starting with production limits–press size, paper size, number of colors/printings, they talk about approaches, Esther scribbles something on paper. Dikko hand-sets wood and metal type and proofs the words. Smith cuts up the proofs and pushes elements around on paper the size of the finished piece. Dikko arranges that design on the press and proofs it. They tweak spacing, try colors and papers. An accident can solve a design problem.

One night, researching on-line for his CUNY Non-Western Art History class, Dikko had EUREKA! moment. He saw a 3-color pattern in the oldest known wall-painting (c.9000 BC!) He began drawing this pattern on every available surface, set it in type–and his tesselation series began.



IMG_7519 copyDikko in his new studio in the Brooklyn Army Terminal.         Photograph by April Vollmer


Esther K Smith’s How to Make Books, (Random House 2007) is now a classic text for teaching and learning book art basics and remains one of the most popular books on making books. With charming designs and illustrations, Esther guides makers through the steps for various forms while encouraging originality and experimentation. Magic Books, (Potter Craft, a division of Random House 2008), offers instructions for a variety of more complex books such as accordion books, pop-ups, map books and other forms, with clear instructions for the beginner. Limited copies of these two books will be available for sale and signing the evening of the opening.



Esther’s sixth and most recent book is the fabulous facsimile copy of Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc. (Rizzoli International Publications (2017). Originally published as a catalogue for William H. Page’s Connecticut wood type foundry, considered one of the best in the world in it’s day, this 1874 type specimen book features elaborate display typefaces meant for eye-catching posters and advertisements. Long out of print and rare, Esther’s 21st Century edition with essays and history, will be featured in the July 14th Second Saturday workshop at the Traffic Street Press studio adjoining No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works. (See below for details).

Chrmoatic Wood Type Cover Smith



Limited copies of Esther K Smith’s book arts books will be available for purchase and signing at the opening, along with Purgatory Pie Press limited editions,  small works, subscription series postcards, artist books, posters and prints from their archive.

Faust and Smith travel as visiting artists, lecturing, demonstrating, and making collaborative projects in art centers and universities. Faust teaches letterpress at School of Visual Arts, NYC.  Smith had taught the long-running Artist Books course at Cooper Union–and now offers workshops at museums and for small groups and highly qualified individual artists. After decades in Tribeca, their studio has just re-located to the landmarked Cass Gilbert Brooklyn Army Terminal, accessible by ferry among other forms of transportation.

Purgatory Pie Press limited editions are collected in public and private rare book libraries throughout the world including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Walker, SF MoMA, Tate, V&A Victoria & Albert, London, Miniature Book Museum Azerbaijan, Baku, Yale, Harvard, Smith College, New York Public Library Spenser Collection, University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, University of Ohio, and of course, in the archive of No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works.

Solo exhibitions include libraries at V&A, Metropolitan Museum, Athens (NY) Art Center, Pratt Institute, School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union, Ermitage Gransee (Berlin), Asheville Bookworks.

Esther and Dikko will be present in the Reading Room July, 14th from 1–8 pm to chat and sign books. A special studio workshop/demo will also take place on Saturday, July 14. See details below. Don’t miss this special opportunity to see this amazing work and meet the artists! 


Second Saturday Workshop: Wood Type, Chromatic Wood Type and its history

chromatic wood type

DES Chromatic Type

Please join Esther K Smith, Dikko Faust and Paulette Myers-Rich at Traffic Street Press, 469 Main St., Beacon, NY, for an hour-long in-studio demonstration and discussion of how wood type and color is used in the letterpress printing process for signage and broadsides, with special attention paid to the use and history of chromatic wood type. Attendees will receive a signed copy of the broadside printed during the demonstration, which will also be for sale later in the evening. Space is limited to six participants each session, first come first served. Please register by July 12.

Two sessions will be held on Saturday, July 14th

Session 1:  9:00-10:00 am

Session 2: 10:30-11:30 am

Cost: $200

Please indicate which session you prefer or if either is fine and you will be notified if there is a space available upon inquiry. Payment in full reserves your seat; Register by email inquiry at:  photobookworks@gmail.com





Here Now There Then Mississippi River

Bernice Ficek-Swenson

Color Photogravure Etchings & Artist Book

On view from June 9 – July 8, 2018
Opening: Beacon’s Second Saturday, June 9, 5-8 pm
Artist talk, Sunday, June 10 6pm



No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to host Bernice Ficek-Swenson’s stunning color photogravure etchings and artist book from her Here Now There Then series. Of this work, Bernice writes:

“Why do we collect stones? They sit in our gardens, window sills and in our jean jackets.  Is it a memory keepsake? A talisman connecting us to primordial earth? Part of a collective unconscious? I collect stones and have used them in my imagery for over 25 years. This interest began as a 20-year-old map drafter working with geologists in New Mexico where I held a stone from the moon in my right palm. That moment was a revelation that enlarged my perception of time and space. Since then my artistic explorations have expanded to use stones as a metaphor suggesting not just landscape, but environment touched by human presence.

Prehistoric megalithic sites like the Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar in the Scottish Orkney Islands, the Medicine Wheel in northern Wyoming and contemporary Land Art, such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty have long intrigued me. I’ve traveled to many of these locations and continue to be inspired by the meaning and the geometric arrangements of these sites. The Here Now There Then and related Stone Voices project began after a “pilgrimage” /research trip to Carnac on the French Brittany coast where I walked alongside 3000 Neolithic standing stones in alignment.  These stone rows, circles, menhirs and dolmens cover miles of terrain and are older than the pyramids.

Here Now There Then is a suite of 6 stones that represent a specific geologic feature or suggests a historic significance. The stones are borrowed from places like the headwaters of the Mississippi, an exposed mantle of the earth in Newfoundland, a D-Day Beach, Pompeii, and Varanasi, the cremation site on the Ganges River.

Related to this suite of photogravures is Stone Voices.  This artist book offers photographic and written reflections of 12 stones with narratives written by six contributors that portray the history or a memory-description of each landscape visited. Accompanying three accordion books are geological descriptions of each stone, a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Minneapolis writer, Robert Silberman.”

Stone Voices book 1

Stone Voices book 2

Concept, photographs and direction, Bernice Ficek-Swenson; Design collaboration, Joanne Price and Bernice Ficek-Swenson. Stone Voices, consists of three accordion books and a folio housed inside a clothbound clamshell box. Each book contains four archival photographic images. Related narrative text is printed on translucent paper. Included in the folio is a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Robert Silberman. A photographic grid of the stones and geologic descriptions complete the concept. Hand-signed by the artist and designer in a limited edition of 12, 2017. Book, 10 x 8 in.; box, 11 1/8 x 9 x 3 in.


Bernice will give an artist talk on Sunday, June 10 at 6 pm at 469 Main St. Free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. Please contact photobookworks@gmail.com to reserve and for further information.








Hemmerle THEM 14

(there is only us)


Book & Photographs

by Sean Hemmerle


May 12 – June 3, 2018


The artist will be present for Beacon’s Second Saturday, May 12


No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is honored to present Sean Hemmerle’s new book THEM, and photographic portraits of Iraqis and Afghans who suddenly found themselves caught in a war not of their making.

Hemmerle traveled to both Afghanistan and Iraq following the events of September 11, 2001. Having witnessed the World Trade Center attacks, he felt that another response to these events was necessary. His resulting images are compassionate studies of people under attack by his own government.

It is important to note that Hemmerle himself was once a sergeant in the US Army. His travels to these lands and his photographic practice should be understood as an alternative type of  “shooting.”

The portraits are all shot in a similar fashion. Each subject is portrayed frontally with no direction from the artist, allowing the individuals photographed to (re)present themselves. The portraits depict average people in dire circumstances, a person in a hostile landscape.

THEM is presented in chronological order, beginning with the start of the Afghanistan War after 9-11 and extending into the Iraq War that was started in conjunction with and justified by the terrorist attack that set the United States on an open-ended path of military presence in these countries that has yet to end.

A hallmark of the post 9-11 era into the present moment is the ongoing depiction of Muslims as the enemy, regardless of status or affiliation with an armed force or combatant group. Overnight, ordinary civilians are depicted as “them” via the actions of a small, cult-like band led by Osama Bin Laden and the resulting “War on Terror” response by the United States.

The escalation of this conflict has painted the Muslim world with the kind of broad brush that dehumanizes “them.” We are implicated in this. As we know from two World Wars in the 20thCentury, in the end we must somehow make our “enemies” our allies. There is no moving forward towards peace until we do. The first step on this path is to recognize our common humanity.

There is only us


Hemmerle THEM 02Hemmerle THEM 04Hemmerle THEM 05Hemmerle THEM 11Hemmerle THEM 01

Published by Kehrer Verlag, Berlin 2017, Texts: Sean Hemmerle, Julian Sander; Designed by Kehrer Design (Nanni Goebel); Hardcover with dust jacket 25 x 30 cm, 120 pages, 50 duotone ills., English    ISBN 978-3-86828-810-0  $50

You can read more at these sites:




Poets as Publishers & Publishing as Artistic Practice II

Own the Meas of Production Kennedy

Print by Amos Paul Kennedy

On View through May 6th, 2018

April is National Poetry Month, but in the Reading Room, poetry reigns every day. Whether it’s coupled with photography, is a visual narrative without words, a handmade chapbook by an artist or poet, or a suite of poems published by a notable small or micro press, each and every day, these works can be found and enjoyed here.

When I’m not featuring the work of a guest artist, I install various books from my personal collection. Some are available to purchase, some are out of print and rare. Yet they’re all available to be enjoyed on site.

I especially love independent, small, micro and artist-made projects because they fall outside the commercial world and fly below the radar of gatekeepers who attempt to control language and ideas. Sometimes these little books become known and notable on their own and gatekeepers discover them after the fact. It’s satisfying when that happens.

Publishing as artistic practice is growing as a primary means of expression for many artists, writers, graphic designers and printmakers. The choice to produce a book of one’s own or on behalf of others as a micro press is a somewhat radical act in this time. This activity shouldn’t be considered a “vanity press” or project, (a term that should go the way of “spinster”) but regarded as an expressive vehicle and communicative object that’s passed along physically- in person, by mail, or left on a table in a coffee shop or other public place. Indeed, distribution is a challenge, but it’s overcome by social media and relational practices. For the both the maker and the reader, handling is a crucial part of the experience. These books can be hard to locate, but if you search, you’ll find them. I have, and offer them to the public in the reading room.

These installations are curated, but my acquisitions criteria is catholic. I have an open mind and an open heart. I don’t know who’s going to walk into my reading room on any given day, but I like to think I have something to offer them. Come in, pick up a book published by poets and artists and read. Take your time. No glass, no gloves, no hurry is the practice here. All year long. Happy National Poetry Month 2018!


Some featured selections from this installment of Poets as Publishers & Publishing as Artistic Practice


Two little books by James Prez


What to Want Scott Zieher

What to Want by Scott Zieher  Ampersand Editions


Egyptian Sonnets John Yau

Egyptian Sonnets by John Yau, Rain Taxi


Poets as Publishers 2 books

Burning Deck, DoubleCross Press, Peppercannister, Un-Gyve and OHM Editions


The End Part One MC Hyland

The End, Part One by MC Hyland, Magic Helicopter Press


Poets as Publishers 2 upper shelves

Books by Nobrow Press, Julia Borissova and Juana Requena







Old Bones and Broken Stones

Works on Paper by Greg Slick
On view from March 9, 2018 – April 8, 2018
Opening Saturday, March 10, 6-9 pm
Winter Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 1-7 pm


Brutalithic Sequence G. Slick

In observance of St. Patrick’s Day in the month of March, and as a celebration of the significance of poetry and place in Ireland’s cultural heritage, No. 3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work on paper by Greg Slick, featuring a selection of 8 works from his ongoing series entitled Brutalithic Sequence. The series got its start during an artist’s residency at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in Ithaca, NY in the summer of 2017.

Brutalithic Sequence marks a crossroads of art, archaeology, and modernist architecture. By exploring the idea of monumentalism in both Brutalist buildings and Neolithic structures, this series endeavors to link our experience of buildings of authority with prehistoric heritage sites (in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Wales) and our cultural roots in the distant past. This body of work combines several media—ink drawing, acrylic photo transfer, and gouache—to create multiple layers of imagery, textures, and meaning. The use of monochrome acknowledges the conventions of archaeological drawing and the severe palette of Brutalist buildings.

You can read more about Greg and his work here: http://www.gregslickart.com/

To accompany this exhibit will be a performance by Greg, with a poetry reading of Seamus Heaney’s Bog Poems by Beacon poet Sean Monagle, and traditional Irish music by the Wild Irish Roses, on Saturday, March 31st. The event is free, but with limited seating; RSVP required. Contact photobookworks@gmail for details.

Also on view in the Reading Room, are selections from the Traffic Street Press Irish Poetry Series, edited by Dr. Thomas Dillon Redshaw and produced by Paulette Myers-Rich in collaboration with the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. Included are rare signed editions by contemporaries and colleagues of Seamus Heaney; poets Dennis O’Driscoll, John Montague, Greg Delanty, Thomas Kinsella, Eavan Boland, and Thomas McCarthy.

A profile of this series is presented here on the Boston College website:



Poets as Publishers & Publishing as Artistic Practice

On view from February 2 – March 4, 2018
Winter Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 1-7 pm.
Bolted Book

The Bolted Book facsimile (Depero Futurista, 1927/2017)


Recently installed in No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works are books produced by poet-run and independent presses intent on making certain books and works present in the world no matter what the gatekeepers say. They’re simply out to share the words and work of those they admire in order to generate conversation and readership. And they’ve done it well. The work spans from 1971 to the present. Presses represented are Atlas Press’ Printed Head series, Toothpaste Press, The Spirit That Moves Us Press, Coffee House Press, The Codex Foundation, Double Cross Press, Traffic Street Press, Greying Ghost Press, Magic Helicopter Press and broadsides from the Hungry Midnight series.

Also on view is a facsimile copy of the Bolted Book (Depero Futurista, 1927) recently produced by Designers & Books as a Kickstarter project completed in 2017. These works are often hard to find, but you can read them here- any or all, by simply visiting the Reading Room. Also on hand are some reference works and essays about independent publishers past and present, including the new anthology The Ultimate Actualist Convention, A Detailed View of Iowa City Actualism in the 1970’s & 1980’s and Its Migration to the San Francisco Bay Area. Edited by actual Actualists Morty Sklar, Cinda Kornblum and Dave Morice, there are also a few of their early literary journals on hand.

Mechanical Word Codex

Codex Foundation series

Greying Ghost Press 3 Titles

Greying Ghost Chapbook

PBW Poetry Wall 2