Oregon Cultural Trust

News & Notes: Indie bookstores, and other special days

Check the shelves: It's Independent Bookstore Day. Also: Indigenous arts fellowships, take the arts survey, "The Judy" opens its doors.

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Instruments of enjoyment and learning: Perusing pages at Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland. Photo: K.B. Dixon/2016

What day is it today — Saturday, April 29, 2023? I mean, what special day is it today?

So many special days. Fresh off of last Saturday’s international Record Store Day (which happened to fall on the same day as the more widely known Earth Day), this Saturday is at least 30 officially special days, according to a quick check of the Internet.

The list includes, among others, such celebratory recognitions as Astronomy Day, Bob Wills Day (hurrah!), Eeyore’s Birthday Day (yes, a double-day Day), International Noise Awareness Day (we hear you!), National Sense of Smell Day and National Shrimp Scampi Day (they should get together), International Sculpture Day and International Dance Day (well, good!), International Table Top Day, National Go Birding Day, Save the Frogs Day and We Jump the World Day (a natural pairing for lovers of Mark Twain and citizens of Calaveras County, California), and World Healing Day, National Kiss of Hope Day, and World Wish Day (a trifecta of positive thinking).

Getting down to the the business of pleasure amid the stacks at Powell’s City of Books. Photos: K.B. Dixon/2016

Then there’s the one we’re truly interested in today: Independent Bookstore Day. Or, as one of the websites for the day’s 10th annual celebration puts it, “One Day. Fifty States. Hundreds of Bookstores.”

Indies are, of course, the bookstores you actually visit physically rather than simply ordering from online (although for most of them, that option’s available, too). They’re the places where you might walk in looking for one specific book and, after an hour or so of wandering from aisle to aisle and maybe stopping for a cup of coffee and a pastry from the little snack bar in the corner, find yourself at the register with the book you came for and three or four others you didn’t realize you really needed until they caught your eye with a little literary song-and-dance amid the shelves.

Each indie bookstore has its own personality, from the funky we’ve-got-everything of Powell’s City of Books to the smart-and-friendly neighborhood appeal of Annie Bloom’s Books to the kids’-and-parents’ delight of Green Bean Books — just three of at least 18 participating bookstores in and around Portland and out to the coast. Another Indie Bookstore Day map spotlights three shops in Central Oregon: Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe and Roundabout Books in Bend; Paulina Springs Books in Sisters.

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Seattle Opera Pagliacci

You can find interesting indie bookshops, whether they’re on the Special Day calendar or not, in just about any town you happen to be in: The Dalles, for instance, where Klindt’s Booksellers & Stationers, the oldest bookstore in Oregon, has been in business since 1870.

Pick out two or three or four shops, make a day of it, and lose yourself among the aisles, making happy discoveries. It’s tough to tell how all these special days become official (maybe you’ll find a book that explains the mystery), but why not take advantage of it while it’s here?

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Of course, there are bookstores, and there are stores of books — those magnificent monuments of pleasure and information we know as libraries. (National Library Day was April 6.) In a social media note on Friday, Jim Carmin, John Wilson Special Collections Librarian for the Multnomah County Library, recalled a famous late Portlander’s thoughts on these municipal treasures, which these days are under cynical culture-war attack:

“When asked in 1979 why she loved libraries, Ursula K. Le Guin said, ‘There is a part of heaven that is the open stacks as far as the eye can see, or the mind can imagine.’ And when asked about the first book to make an impression on her, she replied, ‘the one my brother hit me with when I was 4.'”

Fellowships for Indigenous Artists

Steph Littlebird, one of five Indigenous Place Keeping Artist fellows.

Five Northwest Native American artists have been selected for the 2023 Indigenous Place Keeping Artist Fellowship, Danielle Harrison reported recently in the tribal newspaper Smoke Signals.

The fellowships, which are open “to individuals who demonstrate a verifiable Indigenous connection to ancestral peoples of western Oregon from the lower Columbia River in the north to the Klamath River in the south,” come with up to $20,000 for each awardee. A $113,972 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust helps fund the program.

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Washougal Art & Music Festival

This year’s fellowship winners:

  • Steph Littlebird Fogel, Grand Ronde Tribal member. Littlebird is a writer, curator, and visual artist who has written frequently for Oregon ArtsWatch, including the series Indigenous History & Resilience, which tells several stories of contemporary Indigenous arts and cultural innovators and tradition keepers.
  • Amber Kay Ball, Siletz. Ball is a theater writer and director who works with the Native Arts and Culture Foundation. She also worked with Littlebird on the exhibition This IS Kalapuya Land, continuing through July at the Pittock Mansion in Portland.
  • Joseph Scott, Siletz. Scott is program director for the Traditional Ecological Inquiry Program, and a Tribal language curriculum consultant for Betterment Labs.
  • Shirod Younker, Coquille. Younker is Tribal Youth Water Summit director, and a carver and mentor for other carvers. The focus of his fellowship will be carved artifacts.
  • Lofanitani Aisea, Black, Tongan, Modoc, Klamath and Tahlequah. Aisea is the founder and digital creator of Lofanitani LLC and a production assistant for Warner Bros. productions and Apple TV.

A Survey for the Arts

Our Creative Future, the two-year effort to create an updated plan for the funding and shape of arts and cultural organizations in Portland and across Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, wants to hear from you. One way it wants to listen is through an online survey about your arts habits and hopes, and it’s extended the deadline for taking the survey to May 31. You can take the survey here. For more information on the planning process, see the ArtsWatch story Portland tri-county looks to the arts future, from earlier this month.

“The Judy” Opens Its Doors

Young students and performers take part in a celebratory parade Sept. 17, 2022 from the children’s theater’s old home in Northwest Portland to its under-construction space in the heart of downtown. Photo courtesy Northwest Children’s Theater and School.

As Marty Hughley noted in his most recent DramaWatch column, Northwest Children’s Theatre is opening a familiar favorite, Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!’ this weekend — and for the first time, opening it in the company’s new home, “The Judy,” inside a renovated movie multiplex in the 1000 Broadway Building, just across the street from Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in the heart of downtown Portland.

Opening weekend’s sold out, but today — Saturday, April 29 — you can get a free tour of the company’s new home and see what the excitement’s about. The Judy’s Grand Opening, open to all ages, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the complex’s Black Box space, and reservations are encouraged: You can RSVP here.

Northwest Children’s Theatre & School has been looking for a new home for years, and the 1000 Broadway space puts it squarely in downtown’s cultural district, across from the Schnitzer, catercorner from the Newmark, Dolores Winningstad, and Brunish theaters, and a quick walk from the Oregon Historical Society, Portland Art Museum, Keller Auditorium, and (temporarily shut down for renovations) Multnomah County Central Library.

The move also creates a de facto Children’s Theater Central in the cultural district: Oregon Children’s Theatre performs in the Newmark and Winningstad theaters, and is opening its own ambitious new show, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, in the Newmark this weekend.

For the full, fascinating story of Northwest Children’s Theatre’s search for a new home and extensive remodel of the old movie multiplex, see Max Tapogna’s ArtsWatch story Getting Ready To Play at ‘The Judy.’

Sponsor

Seattle Opera Pagliacci

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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