Artists Books on the Road at The Book Haven in Salida
The town of Salida, like many others, has jumped on the bandwagon of offering up art and cultural fare to boost the predominant town industry – tourism. Founded in 1880 by Denver and Rio Grande railroads, the town’s economic history includes the usual mix of industries: mining, quarrying, smelting, agriculture and retail trade—along with the usual smattering of saloons, gambling and brothels. More recenlty, Salida was named one of the top 3 small art towns in Colorado, and one of the top 30 in the nation in John Villani’s The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.
In 2012 Salida was named one of only two Certified Creative Districts by CCI, a division of the State’s Office of Economic Development. This was the same year that The Arts District on Santa Fe, where Abecedarian Gallery is located, was certified. There are now 12 Certified Creative Districts statewide.
My visit to Salida with Artists Books on the Road was hosted by The Book Haven during Salida’s 23rd Annual Summer Art Walk, a three-day event in the historic downtown area. According the event organizers, over 100 venues were overflowing with new masterpieces and demonstrations.
Speaking of the event organizers, it was a wonderful surprise to bump into Jimmy Sellers, co-organizer of this years’ Art Walk. Jimmy directs Sellers Project Space, located for many years in Denver, relocating last year to Salida. I’ve known Jimmy for years, he is a passionate and avid advocate of the arts; Salida is lucky to have him.
Setting up in an independent book store is always a treat; particularly so when it is as welcoming as The Book Haven is. Now in its 12th year, the well stocked but cozy store is owned and run by Lisa Marvel. Regular customers and those dropping by for Artists Books on the Road made the afternoon lively, the visitors a rich mix of all ages, genders and nationalities.
A predictable favorite for my visit was Lise Melhorn-Boe’s More Garbage. Lise creates artist’s books dealing with political, environmental, gender- and health-related issues. Her bookworks are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always thought-provoking. More Garbage, with is oversize, tactiley rich and colorful pages, beckons viewers in for a closer look. On opening and turning the pages, readers learn that we in North America throw out a huge amount of stuff, and much of what we dispose of is toxic. The texts, giving statistical details, are printed on left-over acid-free paper and hand-sewn to pages created from the artist’s garbage.
After a day spent with books of all sorts, I was treated to an art’s district hosted barbeque held against a magnificent double rainbow, the town’s tame deer foraging nearby.