On Sunday I attended the CODEX International Book Fair, a biennial exhibition and sale of artists’ books and fine-art editions. It’s a spectacular event—nearly 200 exhibitors from all over the United States and several other countries—in a magnificent setting: Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion, at the edge of the bay. Although Craneway is only about 15 miles north of my house, this was my first visit. It won’t be my last. The 525,000-square-foot sawtooth-roof structure, designed by the prolific German-American architect Albert Kahn, housed a Ford Motor Company assembly plant, the largest on the West Coast, from 1932 through 1955. It originally produced Model “A” cars; during World War II it was retooled to produce tanks and jeeps. Women—the inspiration for “Rosie the Riveter”—made up much of the plant’s wartime workforce. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park is adjacent to the pavilion, in the old Kaiser shipyard, which built Liberty ships.
The building was severely damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. In 2004 it was bought by a development company; the renovation, by Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, resulted in a 2008 National Trust for Historic Preservation award. (Here’s a Flickr set of the building taken with a kite-lofted camera.)
The light-filled pavilion made an inspired and inspiring setting for the hundreds of art books on display. My artist friend Susan Bercu has written about the aesthetic highlights of the CODEX show; I’ll focus here on memorable names of presses and book designers. These are names that truly serve as the titles of stories—names that make you want to strike up a conversation.