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'Richard Kegler, P22 Type Foundry: Charles E. Burchfield (The Font Project)' Opens February 13

'Richard Kegler, P22 Type Foundry: Charles E. Burchfield (The Font Project)' Opens February 13

Posted: February 9, 2015

In 2013, Richard Kegler, '88, co-founder and lead designer of Buffalo-based P22 Type Foundry and director of the Wells Book Arts Center in Aurora, NY, was commissioned by the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State to create the Charles E. Burchfield font to honor the artist. The Burchfield Penney will present an exhibition to celebrate the acquisition of the font into the center’s collection. Richard Kegler/ P22 Type Foundry: Charles E. Burchfield (The Font Project) opens Friday, February 13, in the center’s Collection Study Gallery and will be on view thru Sunday, May 17.

The Burchfield Penney, as the museum of record for Burchfield's art and archives, holds more than 10,000 pages of the artist’s handwritten journals as well as countless letters, notes, and other correspondence. The exhibition includes ephemera from the P22 archives at the center and various fonts it has developed over the past 20 years. Highlights include packaging and related material for the Duchamp font (now retired) as well as the Miro, Vincent (van Gogh) and Arts and Crafts fonts. Works by the following P22 staff and collaborators who are part of this exhibition include: Jimy Chambers, Carima El-Behairy, James Grieshaber, Brian Grunert, Colin Kahn, Alan Kegler, Denis Kegler, Kevin Kegler, Thomas Kegler, KC Kratt, Maria Pabico LaRotunda, David Lyttleton, Rod McKuen, Miranda Roth, Jim Rimmer, Pete Reiling and Michael Want.

The installation also includes archival objects from the Charles E. Burchfield Archives at the Burchfield Penney that were used in the development and design process. A limited edition specimen book of the type will be available in the Museum Store.

"Burchfield’s handwriting could be considered less-than-optimal in terms of legibility and traditional aesthetics,” said Kegler, “However, the Charles Burchfield font possesses a genuine, simple charm that is rarely seen in digitized versions of handwriting. The typeface gains nuance and versatility, by leveraging the OpenType font format."

Kegler is an artist and typographer whose work merges a passion for handcraft with superior expertise with digital media. P22 Type Foundry is an internationally celebrated source for computer typefaces that contain connections to historically authentic typefaces for museums, foundations, and companies. P22 fonts have been found on book jackets, CD covers, in films, and in the packaging of corporations including, Trader Joe's, Random House, Starbucks, and Warner Brothers. The fonts created at P22 cover a wide range of styles. Several are based on an artist's own handwriting; others reflect historical at and design movements, or classical and cultural themes.

Kegler’s work with fonts began almost by accident in 1994, when he devised an installation piece called the Duchamp Project for his thesis project in the department of media study at the University at Buffalo in which he collaborated with Marcel Duchamp on re-imaginings of the latter artist’s celebrated work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). Computer-generated works offered the student the opportunity to explore the famously unfinished masterwork while using technology that was not available in its maker’s lifetime. As part of the installation, Kegler devised a font based on random samples of Duchamp's handwriting. When word of the typeface spread throughout the arts, design, and museum communities, Kegler soon found himself called upon to generate variations on the concept celebrating other artists and cultural movements.

Given his affection for Duchamp, it should come as no surprise that many of Kegler’s earliest art projects (typically incorporating the P22 moniker) took the form of pranks and/or included a whimsical assault on traditional uses of words and modes of communication. In the case of P22 Mail Art, for instance, he and fellow artist Daniel Farrell mailed objects to one another between 1990 and 1996, challenging the United States Postal Service to deliver unique and absurd types of correspondence, ranging from a piece of a toast to a life-size paper cast of a human head.

Kegler’s experience as a bookbinder and designer led him to cofound the Western New York Book Arts Center in 2008 and serve as its first artistic director.

Kegler has also directed a 2011 documentary Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century which explores the history of handmade type. As one writer puts it, the film "captures the work process of the late Canadian graphic artist Jim Rimmer, with whom Kegler collaborated to create the first-ever combination digital and hand-set metal font. The film documents the exacting process required to create a single letter of this new typeface.

In 2013, Kegler was designated a Living Legacy artist by the Burchfield Penney.

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