Thankfully, Seattle does not want for independent bookstores. We have a crown jewel in Elliot Bay. We have Open Books, one of the only poetry-only shops in the country. And every year the University Bookstore brings in exceptional visiting readers. Then there's Left Bank, Third Place, and Book Larder. Not to mention all our used booksellers like Twice Sold Tales and Magus.
What Seattle does lack, however, are bookstores as cross-disciplinary hubs like Ooga Booga and Other Books in Los Angeles— places to support independent publishers, take home a weird local zine or book as art object, attend an opening party for a new exhibition, and see a bit of performance art all under the same roof.
Enter X Y Z.
A new collaborative art space opening today, Aug 3, in Pioneer Square, X Y Z marks an exciting collaboration between four local arts organizations: small press Mount Analogue, poetry publisher Gramma, contemporary art gallery Specialist, and risograph printer Cold Cube Press.
But what does "collaborative art space" mean exactly? All four groups—previously run in work lofts, out of homes, and in other impermanent spaces—will now operate out of the shared space in the Tashiro Kaplan Art Lofts. As the "front of house," Mount Analogue acts as a bookseller, artist studio, and event space, while Specialist plans on monthly or bi-monthly art exhibitions. Cold Cube and Gramma will both run their respective offices in the space as pseudo "back of house."
Aside from giving these four groups sustainable digs, X Y Z also aspires to be a nontraditional community arts center. "We're not just a book store and a place where artists can sell what they make," says Colleen Louise Barry of Mount Analogue, who instigated the project. "But a space where all kinds of events that don’t fall into any particular category can live." Cold Cube and Gramma have also talked about setting up artist residencies in their new shared office space. "Maybe it'll be like, 'hey if you want to work on a book, the first three weeks will be you writing the book and the last week we’ll print it,'" says Cold Cube's Aidan Fitzgerald.
Much of the energy behind X Y Z seems to be an extension of the late APRIL Festival (which itself was an extension of the long-closed Pilot Books)—homegrown efforts, spearheaded by young people, to unite and invigorate a larger arts community. It bodes well that X Y Z should open on the same day of the Seattle Art Fair, a well-funded mainstream contemporary art market aimed at propping Seattle up onto the national arts stage, and Out of Sight, a locally focused reaction to the Art Fair showcasing Northwest artists. As artists struggle to make it work in an increasingly expensive city, the breadth of these three events at least indicates some fertile soil where new things may grow.
The kick-off event features a new installation from Mary Anne Carter, Women in the Style of Taco Bell. If you're planning on attending any of the myriad arts events happening on Aug 3, this is where you'll want to end your night.
X Y Z Opening Party
Thu, Aug 3, 300 South Washington Street, Free