WILMINGTON- Artist Mark O’Maley will transform the façade of Bartleby’s Books into a three-story page of poetry this weekend with his video installation, Night Fits Down a Tight Lid.
From sunset to sunrise on the winter solstice, Friday and Saturday, December 20 and 21, O’Maley will project poems from Guilford poet and author Verandah Porche’s latest book “Sudden Eden” on the west and south walls of the book store.
O’Maley says the tribute to Porche is several months overdue, originally intended for presentation at the end of the summer session at Castleton State College. But bad weather forced cancellation of the show. “We had severe thunder and lightning storms every day, storms like I’ve never seen before,” O’Maley recalls. “So I put the project in my back pocket.”
Porche retired from the Governor’s Institute this year, and O’Maley had planned to mark the occasion with the installation. He says he holds Porche and her work especially dear. “I just adore her,” he says. “We met through the Governor’s Institute. She’s such a singular personality, she’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met.”
O’Maley has had a connection to Bartleby’s since the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, when he helped owners Lisa Sullivan and her husband Phil Taylor at the book store. “The first time I met him was when I walked into the store as he was taking out wheelbarrows full of wet books and shoveling muck,” Sullivan recalls.
Sullivan says Bartleby’s Books also has a close connection to Porche – she held the launch of “Sudden Eden” at Bartleby’s. Recently, O’Maley was visiting the store and mentioned the video installation. He and Sullivan decided that Bartleby’s would be a fitting location. “We were secretly hoping that Dot’s would be open the same weekend,” O’Maley says. “And they surprised us and opened last week, which was great.”
Throughout the evening, lines from Porche’s poems will drift across the two sides of the building visible from the road. The video will be projected from two different locations, one inside the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce building next door, and from the Incurable Romantic across the street from Bartleby’s.
Both O’Malley and Sullivan say the installation isn’t a “show,” with a beginning and end. Viewers can happen upon it any time during the evening or morning, get drawn in for as long as they like, and move on. “Let it wash over you,” O’Maley advises. “I love the idea of people stopping and taking the moment. Even if they just stop for a minute and see two or three stanzas gliding across the building, and go on with their lives. That’s what’s interesting to me, art in unexpected places.”
Sullivan says she hopes it will encourage holiday weekend travelers coming into town to slow down, stop, and walk around the village. “There will be a lot of traffic coming through town and anything we can do to get people to stop and appreciate what we have is great,” she said.
O’Maley says the installation is a take on Architecture Parlante (speaking architecture). Typical Architecture Parlante is architecture that includes elements that connect to the building’s function. Examples range from formal buildings such as the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building to the roadside wedge-shaped cheese shop. In his installation, Bartleby’s Books will become the pages of Porche’s book of poetry. “It’s a good cultural arts representation in the village,” says Sullivan. “It’s not something you normally see. To see poetry so publicly displayed is really cool.”