Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The long overdue SEXT post:

People reading/ SEXT book display

At the end of December, my friend Naaman asked me to contribute to a book and art display project that he and his boyfriend John were doing with Dreyer Press and the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery. (The K-S, you may remember, is where we did the show MONTH last year.) Titled SEXT, the book would offer personal essays of 300 words or less. Naaman and John (who work under the name Boys Who Like Butterflies) were inspired by this story about Antjuanece Brown in the Willamette Weekly and wanted to delve "deeper into the depths of human experiences of gender and sexuality."

The show opened on April 1st.

For the gallery walls themselves, they enlisted the help of AHA! Creative to print these "textual portraits" on vinyl lettering, which were then meticulously stuck to the walls. "She measured right down to within an eighth of an inch," Naaman said of AHA!'s Ali Koski. "Go look at the back door. It's amazing."

Some serious lettering skillz.

Coincidently, one of my pieces was part of the text that made the jump from the door frame to the door itself. Looking around at all the perfect lettering, about all I could say was, "Wow. This took some doin'."

How to read: Visitors were to start on the top line that began on the wall sharing the entrance, and then work their way around the room before jumping to the next line. It took a little getting used to, but I loved how it made people linger, and on average, I'd guess that people stayed inside the gallery longer than they would have with more "typical" art -- they want to read.

Another shot where my name appears

Bottom line, the beginning of one of my pieces

With the book, people sat on the floor and read for a long time. Books cost $20, with proceeds going to the Spokane YWCA, and I don't know how many they sold that night total, but one man bought three. He gushed to John while writing a check, telling him how he loved seeing work like this in Spokane.

I signed a fair number of books, though many of them were for other writers who had contributed and purchased books for themselves. I tried to write something in each one, even if it was just "Thanks for reading."

(There are still some books available, email Naaman at naamancordova AT

Naaman likes to puff me up -- he was telling people that my signature would one day be valuable and that my two pieces were "beautiful" and "perfect." It's a little funny to me, but in a nice way. I don't mention it to be arrogant (though even saying that seems arrogant); it's just flattering to have fans. Even if I've made next to nothing in cashmonies from my writing so far, I'm glad that there are people who enjoy what I write. Naaman had read my writing in SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine before we'd ever met, so I like to say that he's my first fan who didn't know me otherwise.

Speaking of being a fan, Jess Walter turned up at the gallery. This is one of the advantages of having one of my favorite authors live in Spokane. I said hello to him, but it's not as though he remembers who I am from the couple of times we've met. I was standing with his neighbor, Joy, who read my "Shine Now Sandalwood" at the accompanying SEXT show that was on April 16th.

The SEXT show was a live reading of all (or near all, I'm not sure) of the book's material by the authors or stand-ins. Since I couldn't make it back to Spokane so soon, Joy and another writer, Nicki Weller, read on my behalf. I'd met Nicki before, but not Joy. I spent most of the night talking to her, and I'm very pleased with both of my readers.

A peek inside the SEXT book

Naaman and John always seem to have a project going, and I think Spokane needs more people like them showing such initiative in the name of art. Spokane has made great strides in the past year or so within the creative community, and there are more organized efforts with art than there used to be. I hope it keeps up, and I hope to do the same now in Great Falls.

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