Samantha Johns's "Book Fair" Pop-Up: "It's Both DIY and Capitalism Tied into One"


SOOlocal, a division of Soo Visual Arts Center, has left the storefront at 3506 Nicollet Avenue. The gallery plans to move to bigger digs next year. However, the space will continue to host quirky art events -- at least for this weekend, as a one-day performance-art installation/book-commerce event, hosted by Samantha Johns, is scheduled for this Saturday. Titled "Book Fair," the day-long happening brings together a host of non-book-making artists who have made books for the occasion. 

"Book Fair" is a follow-up of sorts to an installation/performance event Johns put together last year right after New Year's Eve at White Page Gallery. Called "i want to be a thing but I don't know what," it carried the tagline: "letters to a new year. a hot start."

Johns says she got the idea for "a hot start" while hanging out with her boyfriend, Kevin Kirsch, in his kitchen. There, she noticed that the dishwasher had a setting called "Hot Start," which made them both giggle.

"Later that winter, I wanted to build an event. I think 'hot start' was hanging around in my brain," Johns says.

"Book Fair" will be an installation. The majority of the book makers are performers and other creative people who don't necessarily make books regularly. Johns will be curating a visual aesthetic as the performers, as well as the books, will have a certain uniformity in their appearance. In her "rules" for participating artists, she stipulated that the books be printed on 8.5'' by 11'' paper, folded the "hamburger-way," and printed with black ink only. The artists covered their own printing costs, but are allowed to keep profits, and are responsible for manning their own table (or finding someone to do it) the day of the event.

The idea for the happening was inspired in part by the sudden popularity of pop-ups around town. Johns says she enjoys watching trends, and studying how they shift social consciousness and actions.

"Pop-ups are a way to create awareness at a faster speed without having to own a building," she says. You don't have to fully commit, and you can dabble around with ideas and markets. "It's kind of both DIY and capitalism all tied into one."

The event will have a coffee bar run by next-door neighbor Pat's Tap. The restaurant will have little to do with the event, however, except that owner Kim Bartmann gave permission to use the space in exchange for books. Johns herself will be sharing at least one book, called It's 3AM and we are trying moderately hard to become something the world will miss.


Book Fair

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

3506 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis