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Friday, June 20, 2008

Surrounded by Art (and Books)

I'll wait until next Friday (Gallery Walk Day) to post photographs of the Painted Horse Gallery, but it is pretty much open for the season, as of this morning, thanks to Woodruff Palmer, artist and gallery owner, who painted up a storm this spring and worked this past week to hang his own paintings and the beautiful abstract watercolors of his father, Donn Palmer. Mary Beth Acosta has new paper collage work on exhibit, and David Grath (who also has his own gallery over on Mill Street) has new paintings. Bonnie Marris and Mary Fuscaldo will be bringing in new paintings very soon. We still have work to do in the gallery, but by a week from today (Friday, June 27) we’ll be ready for the first Northport Gallery Walk of the season. All this work, and the solstice, too!

The bookstore has its own art wall. True to the “You never know” nature of bookstore life, today has been full of surprises, and one of the nicest was a visit from Donna Wilson, sixth-grade teacher at Northport School, who brought a couple of small story quilts done by her students. She and I hung them on the bookstore wall. She will bring others from time to time, so we will be changing this ongoing display, giving all the kids in this project a chance to have their work on display.

The story quilt idea comes from Faith Ringgold, African-American artist and Caldecott honor book author. Each of her art quilts combines painting, quilting and story-telling. In the process of creating their own story quilts, Northport students (working with their art teacher) learned how to sew and wrote their own stories to incorporate into their quilts. The viewer can read each story right from the quilt.

Donna Wilson arrived at Dog Ears Books today just as Helen Sica and I were deep in appreciative discussion of the doors project down at the harbor, which Helen (grandmother of one current Northport student and one recent graduate) had just seen for the first time. The students at our small school add to the life of this community out of all proportion to the size of their classes. What would we be without them?

A late afternoon customer came all the way from Williamsburg for a used paperback copy of STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER, by Tom Robbins, after calling to see (1) if I had the book, paperback, used, and (2) if it had the right cover illustration. “It’s gift,” he said, “and I bought a brand-new copy at [large chain store to remain nameless here] but it just didn’t feel right. This is perfect!” To clarify: he hadn’t made the trip from Williamsburg for the book but had called and made the trip from Traverse City, so it wasn’t as crazy as it sounds. Anyway, it was a gift--clearly from the heart.

I've left music out of the title of this post but am hoping "French Road Connections" will soon do justice to last night's dream concert, the 15th anniversary performance of the Leelanau Children's Choir and Youth Ensemble. David and I had front row seats. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Margaret Bell, director for 15 years, said the first choir had only eight students. Since then, over 300 have passed through its ranks. What an achievement! What good fortune for Leelanau County!

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