Colleen Louise Barry, the publisher at Seattle small press Mount Analogue, told me back in April that she dreamed of opening a space somewhere in the city, a venue as nontraditional and artistic as the titles Mount Analogue publishes. She was reticent to discuss the idea—it seemed too crazy, in a city with booming real-estate prices, to imagine—but eventually I coaxed it out of her. She talked about a performance space, a gallery, a small bookshop, and a space that functions as a never-ending salon, “a place where everything can coincide and collide into each other.” It was hard to pry the idea away from all the caveats she piled around it: Such a place could never work. Nobody’s really done anything like that before. Artists can’t afford to live in Seattle anymore, let alone open businesses. Maybe one day after the economy collapses, it’ll be a viable idea again.
What a difference 120 days makes: This Thursday as part of Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walk, Barry will co-present the grand opening party for X Y Z Gallery, a “collective arts space” that houses four different arts organizations. Alongside Specialist, a contemporary art gallery, you’ll find the headquarters of three young small presses.
Mount Analogue, of course, is one. Barry is singlehandedly blurring the lines between visual art, performance art, and the literary arts. Her books are bizarre and beautiful objects which tend to find poetry in odd places. (My favorite Mount Analogue title so far is Final Rose, a book-length poem by Halie Theoharides composed entirely of subtitled screenshots from The Bachelor.) In her space, Barry will present a site-specific installation by Mary Anne Carter, Women in the Style of Taco Bell, alongside special performances.
Nearby, you’ll find the headquarters for Gramma Poetry, an ambitious young press that is already one of the most vital publishers in town. Gramma published Sarah Galvin’s latest (and so far greatest) poetry collection, Ugly Time, and it most recently published Anastacia-Renée’s (v.). It’ll present a collection of art that has served as book covers for Gramma’s releases.
Last, and probably least-known, of the three is local risograph printer Cold Cube Press, a publisher and for-hire press that is remaking the aesthetic of what we expect books to be. You can identify a Cold Cube book from 20 paces: Its risograph printing process isn’t as harsh as the gaudy ones used by most modern publishers. Each book feels hand-processed: If your typical John Grisham paperback is the publishing equivalent of factory farming, Cold Cube books are free-range and organic. It’ll show off its new printing studios throughout the evening.
The opening of X Y Z Gallery is a big moment for the Seattle literary scene—three independent presses joining forces and carving a space in the world for themselves. By making a venue for artists and lovers of the literary arts, this could represent the dawn of a new Seattle aesthetic: something young and warm, handmade and beautiful. You’ll want to get in on this. X Y Z Gallery, 300 S. Washington St., mount-analogue.com. Free. All ages. 6 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 3. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.