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A closer look: Richard Kegler's 'Battle of Buffalo'

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Artist: Richard Kegler // Title: "Battle of Buffalo" // Etsy

Monday was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Buffalo, during which large parts of the city were reduced to ashes by British troops retaliating for the burning of what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. To mark the occasion, local designer and P22 Type Foundry founder Richard Kegler, who also co-founded the Western New York Book Arts Center, produced an elegant print in which the wisps of smoke emanating from the burning buildings take on the look of beautifully contorted treble clefs. The print makes the destruction wrought by British forces look almost picturesque, though it was no doubt horrifying, and thus prompts us to think about the strange and sometimes terrible ability of art to make horrible events safe for nostalgia. In any case, the print is beautiful, and certainly one of the more memorable works of art to emerge from the ongoing bicentennial of the War of 1812. It's available on Etsy.

Kegler's statement about the process of making the print is after the jump.

--Colin Dabkowski

Richard Kegler:

The print is composed with wood and metal printing blocks, many of which are broken, found pieces of wood type with the grain of the back printed rather than the face. The background is a solid wood plank where ink was applied to one side of a roller to allow for a fade effect and also draw out all of the detail of the wood grain and saw mill patterning. All of the detail including the "stars" are natural artifacts of the block). The whisps of smoke are swashes made as metal printers ornaments. The print is done in 4 colors: 3 shades of black and one very bright orange/red (this type of red would not have been seen in inks of that era, but the color of actual fire surely would come close). The text is 4 line gothic wood type (The first Sans Serif face is purported to have been cut by William Caslon IV in 1812 however wood type was not introduced until 1828) and 12 point Caslon Bold. The burst ornament between the wood type is a stock printer's ornament (also seen used in the Beatrice Warde book title page: "Bombed but Unbeaten" designed by Bruce Rogers).

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