The Reading Room, 3715 Parry Avenue
Don't let these ivy covered walls fool you...there's nothing stuffy or high brow about The Reading Room, but there's definitely lots of deep thinking going on inside. Call it a modern day literary salon, where writers and artists gather to read from works of their choosing, to talk about art, and sometimes to perform. And you're invited.
Open since late July, the tiny 550 square foot space on Parry Avenue (directly across from Fair Park) is like nothing we've got going on anywhere else in Dallas.
The Reading Room founder Karen Weiner
"It's a project space that's always different. We're open to all kinds of things happening, from literature to visual arts. Sometimes the art will have text embedded in it, other times the text will be the art," says Reading Room founder Karen Weiner, who for many years managed the Artists Residency program at UTD, working with Rick Bretell.
Weiner has spent the last many years traveling the country and looking at what other cities are doing. "A lot of very interesting things are happening on very small scales, in non-art sites and at homes, where people give readings and share ideas. The gallery as classroom is something that's beginning to happen in other cities, too," she says.
Because the Artists Residency program was housed at Southside at Lamar, which has over 1 million square feet of living and work areas, Weiner was attracted to the idea of doing something in a single small room. She was inspired by poetry readings in New York at Bryant Park and author readings at her favorite book store 192 Books in Chelsea.
And then she discovered something unexpected. "Readings were becoming as satisfying for me as seeing art exhibitions," says Weiner, who studied bookmaking while at college at TWU. When the compact building on Parry came up for lease this summer, and The Reading Room was born.
Artist Lanie Delay's drawings explore the duality of identities and initiated
a conversation at the Reading Room in August.
Here, books are often the sparks that ignite performances, discussions, and art. In July, a variety of people including artists and a curator, brought an object of their choice to talk about. The idea was generated from a book called Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. The objects ranged from a brass water hose nozzle, photographs, a Braun coffee grinder, magnetic tape from an answering machine, and a ceramic toy from Mexico. "It was a sort of show and tell, and prompted conversation," says Weiner.
At another event in August, artist Barnaby Fitzgerald read from writings inspired by drawings made by his former student Lanie Delay, which were hanging on the walls behind him. Delay's portraits (above) both hand-drawn and computer generated, evoke the nature of duality and competition, explains Weiner. It was this metaphor that Fitzgerald pulled from in his readings, which included an article in the New Yorker about two 19th century writers who were rivals.
Sewn book by artist Candice Hicks
Coming later in September, an exhibit of large and small scale sewn books by Athens, TX artist Candice Hicks, who was inspired by the 1973 book by Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions. Weiner says there likely will be a reading from the book, with a discussion to follow. Check the Reading Room's website for updates.
Photograph by artist Madeline Djerejian
This Sunday, September 12 (4-6 pm) New York-based artist Madeline Djerejian will present a reading, Slide the Doors Open, "a brief and evocative soliloquy recalling a room and its contents, a verbal photograph blurred by memory," says Weiner. "Playing upon the slippages between sight and depiction, the text is a narrative of intimate recall that evokes the complex relationship between looking, seeing, and recounting."
The reading will be accompanied by photographs from Djerejian's work, Your Secret Admirer, "a series of still life images in which projections of light are used to stain white flowers by marking them with patterns and colors. The sensuous, often delicate, markings derive from the canvases of the American artist Ad Reinhardt."
Weiner invites you to come and bring someone, just check your preconceived notions about art galleries at the door. The Reading Room is always free of charge.