the lowercase reading room
The recent loss of our dear friend Josie Cook brings forth so many booky memories that we know it is time to tell the story of how our lowercase reading room evolved as we honour and remember Jo, her work & her friendship.
Previously a storage closet, currently a reading room, the lowercase is home to hundreds of zines and self-published books. It features the former collections of the (over)view gallery (Brandy & Rebecca’s) and Cyclops Library (Jo Cook’s), with a cozy little sitting area, all in a space measuring less than 9 by 3 feet.
It all began in May of 2007, when, after running our miniature space as a gallery for almost 2 years, showing a rotation of artist works on a whirlwind schedule, we began to realize it wasn’t a sensible endeavour. A conversation with Jo had us thinking of alternate uses for this unusual space tucked under the stairs in an often-unnoticed corner of our Vancouver storefront. Books. So simple and far more cohesive with the concept of our store, and also…where our true passion lies.
Jo was born in Minneapolis in 1946 and moved to Canada in 1969. Her life & art were one. Over her many decades as an artist, poet, writer, publisher, philosopher, bookmaker, traveler & knowledge seeker, she collected, traded, & acquired hundreds of artist books, which she so generously donated to us. It feels extra special to have these books from her extensive collection in our possession now that she is gone. A tangible comfort. A constant reassurance. A true inspiration. But we are also thankful to have a myriad of memories with her, cherished & ethereal… creating & collaborating in her studio, problem solving technologies both aggravating & essential, getting inky, drinking wine while drawing & talking into the wee hours, hosting ten years of Book & Beer shows together (a story for another time), eating cheese toasties & tomato soup, fighting with photocopiers, exchanging ideas, and being endlessly inspired by her creative, weird & wonderful spirit. She will be forever missed.
In her honour, we have reopened the lowercase reading room, after a long covidy break, and installed a show full of her books for you to enjoy. Jo had too many alter egos to count, but you will meet a few of them on display in our reading room… Bucky Fleur to be sure, and Florentine Perro, Frances Zorn, & Aby W. Blake if you are lucky.
None of the books in the lowercase are for sale, but we are always accepting donations, and until the end of August 2022, if you mail us a book you have made, we will send you one of ours in return. Please drop by our Vancouver store or feel free to send them by post to 3934 Main Street, Vancouver B.C. V5V 3P2 Canada. Be sure to include your name and a return address.