February 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Codex Mexico

A guest post by Webb Howell, FB&C's publisher, who is in California this week for Codex and the CA book fair.

What do a dentist, a poet, an artist, and a printer have in common? If you answered an extraordinary passion for book arts, then you are correct.
That passion manifests itself at the CODEX International Book Fair and Symposium wrapping up today in Richmond, California, just outside San Francisco. The Mexican contingency was spearheaded by Fernando Ondarza, one of the driving forces behind Codex Mexico, whose goal is to promote the enormous heritage of Mexican and Latin American printing arts and book design, all the while showcasing the literary heritage of the region. Were this not enough, many of the works produced by fine presses there focus on subjects that bring attention to cultural, archeological, historical, and ecological issues.
photo5.JPGA driving force behind CODEX Mexico is Dr. Isaac Masri, a dentist by profession but the patron behind Intaglio, one of Mexico's creative fine presses. On display at the fair were Esclavo, created by artist Francisco Toledo with narrative by poet Antonio Garcia De Leon. Printing was executed by Artura Guerrera. The work (seen above), which features a meticulous cut out of slaves on board ship, celebrates both the centennial of Mexican independence and abolition of slavery in Mexico in 1810.
photo2.JPGOther works on display include Festin en el Mictlan (above), design by Faymundo Sesma and text by Jose Miguel Ullan. This "feast in heaven" is a cookbook of sorts with recipes depicted in very poetic terms, complete with spear head through the cover.
One common goal of CODEX Mexico is the development of young people into book artists, and for this, they have created a school. Here, young artists get to experiment under the watchful expertise of the more practiced, with the long-range goal of ensuring that book arts remains alive and vibrant throughout the 21st century. This expression of Mexican heritage is in no better hands than with CODEX Mexico.