Free exhibit at SFPL: Bay Area Copier Art

2 color copy art pieces showing san francisco

At the SF Main Public Library (100 Larkin Street, Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor) there is a free exhibit on right now about Bay Area Copy Art.

The SFPL website says, “Copy shops and community spaces such as public libraries continued to play an important part as hubs for artistic activity.”

The press release doesn’t distinguish between color copiers and the other types of printing technologies represented in the exhibit. For example, there is a whole section of prints, “Before Xerox: Mimeograph, Ditto Machines & Spirit Duplicators“!

Riso is also a type of duplication technology, which — while highly digital by comparison — still shares a similar heritage with these analog machines rather than the Xerox.

By the mid-1970s, Xerography was starting to replace duplicators in high end offices and copy shops. For example, here is a Gestetner ad from the late 70s which alludes to the threat of Xerography to their duplicator business: “if you have some old-fashioned ideas about Gestetner, just give us 20 minutes of your time…”

As copies become prohibitively expensive for many, duplicators can still offer a low cost and reliable platform in modern Riso machines.

Positively Charged: Copier Art in the Bay Area Since the 1960s
San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor
January 28 – March 19, 2023

Visit for more info.