The exhibit "The Art of Summer Reading" makes me nostalgic, as I recall handwritten checkout cards at the library where each borrower's time spent with a title was recorded chronologically. Sometimes I can still sniff the graphite-and-eraser-laden cards that were stored neatly in a little manila pocket inside book covers.
That's not all. I still remember my first library card and unloading armfuls of books into my family's van at the end of our literary outing. Inside the library, I had a browsing technique. I surveyed the stacks the same way that I do videos and DVDs at video stores. That is, I paced down the aisles with my neck craned to the side almost like someone lost, watching for whatever immediately jumps out at me - or watching for a sign.
I had wanderlust at the library. Sometimes it was simply the book cover that leapt out. Other times, a certain title or a topic caught my attention. Often, I was lured by the illustrations (I even got in trouble once in first grade for trying to cheat on a test because I was so interested in the pictures peeking out of my neighbor's book that was also the barrier between our tests).
In any case, it seemed like there was karma to the process because I enjoyed thinking about the previous hands that books had passed through. I wondered if I knew any of the previous beholders. There was a tactile connection between borrowers - from handwritten checkout cards to card catalogs, an intimacy not afforded by computers.
After all, some names on the checkout cards looked suspiciously familiar. Maybe someone was trying to communicate with me, kind of like a Morse code message being tapped through time. Only their ghosts recommended books.
My imagination lent purpose and weight to my selections, at least for as long as I possessed the rented stash, a fact I was OK with. That vigor for reading is exactly what "The Art of Summer Reading," is all about.
This retrospective pays homage to all of those summers of musty stacks of books. Displayed is whimsical artwork from children's authors/illustrators, whose pictures make kids want to read and grab books off the shelf. Playful ephemera including posters, buttons, bookmarks and more advertise everything from the 1986 slogan "Be a Kid" to this year's promotional tagline, "What's Buzzin' at Your Library?" from local favorite artists/authors Nancy Carlson and Stephen Gammill.
Daily, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St. Free. 651-645-5731, ext. 102, www.hennepin.us.
'Dyke Night 15'
"Dyke Night" is a colorful evening of wacky entertainment from gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender performers. Since it started 15 years ago, it has delivered an eclectic and rowdy cornucopia of acts. They usually poke fun at stereotypes and themselves, joking mostly about gender benders, or what does/doesn't make us differ from each other. This, the final "Dyke Night," is no exception.
Nor is it a syrupy goodbye. For example, emceeing the shindig is Tammy WhyNot (otherwise known as Lois Weaver). Secondly, Peggy Shaw and Vivien Stoll act out "To My Chagrin" (everyone's got a one-liner).
Talk about diverse. According to a statement about the event, Shaw and Stoll "move through aggressive, nostalgic, and tender idealism in a call-and-response work mixing R&B, soul, pop music and lyrical storytelling."
Just trying to fit in all of those ideas into one act is a sensory challenge. Yet there's more. Sonja Perryman, Aimee Bryant and Sonja Parks pay tribute to "juke-joint sinners and carnal lust in which the artists call on the spirits of jazz and blues to re-imagine the possibilities of gender expression and love."
Another couple/dance duo, HIJACK, forges a partnership into marital mayhem with performers Karyn & Sharyn for a nightmarish wedding. Now how do these women manage to squeeze in so many complex themes in such a short period of time? Witness for yourself their relentless irreverence, energy, wit and drama.
F-Su June 24-26, 8 p.m. Nadine and William McGuire Theater, 1750 Hennepin Ave. S. $16. 375-7600, www.walkerart.org.