Sunday, February 7, 2010

Favorite Bookstores: Visible Voice Books, Cleveland

Visible Voice Books, Cleveland (copyright 2010 by Kevin Scanlon)

We traveled to Cleveland last weekend so that I could interview Bill Scheele, a fascinating man who has led an enviable life working as the equipment and stage manager for The Band from 1969-1976 before returning to his hometown of Cleveland where he has had a long career in the arts which is his first love. Scheele owns Kokoon Arts Gallery, located at the 78th Street Studios – an arts center located in the former American Greetings Creative Studios building at the edge of Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District. A bonus stop on the way was a visit to Visible Voice Books in the nearby Tremont area, where Scheele’s photographs were on exhibit through the end of January.

It was a jam-packed day for us, one of those memorable days where everything clicks and expectations are not disappointing. I’d wanted to catch Bill’s photography exhibit, “Look Out Cleveland: Bob Dylan and The Band,” at Visible Voice before we drove over to meet Bill at Kokoon. I’d confirmed with Dave Ferrante, owner of Visible Voice Books, that Bill’s photographs would still be on display, and we planned to stop in at noon when the store opened. That gave us the morning for Kevin to do some industrial photography – a bitter cold morning, I might add (I bravely stood beside Kevin in the face-numbing breeze until tears came to my eyes and my nose turned a deep scarlet shade before I retreated to the warmth of the truck where the heater was blowing full blast).

I wasn’t expecting to be so charmed by the bookstore. If I hadn’t had an appointment to meet Bill, I would’ve spent all afternoon there browsing. I was immediately smitten by the painted image of Jack Kerouac on the entry window before I even stepped inside. Across the threshold I found a warm and welcoming setting.

Interior and Bill Scheele photographs at Visible Voice Books
(copyright 2010 by Dory Adams)

Visible Voice Books offers a great selection of new and used books, focusing on fiction, Beat writers, poetry, art and music. Tables and chairs, comfy arm chairs, and benches are placed among the rows of shelves for an optimal browsing experience – and browse we did. We ended up buying two used photography books in excellent condition at bargain prices: John Vachon’s America and Teenie Harris’ One Shot.

Visible Voice Books is located at 1023 Kenilworth Avenue in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. Hours are posted on their website, including wine bar hours. They are part of the monthly Tremont Art Walk, the next one taking place Friday, February 12th at 7:00 p.m. Look for Kerouac’s face in the window and the sign out front: Resist Much. Obey Little.

Interior at Visible Voice Books (copyright 2010 by Dory Adams)

Visible Voice Books will celebrate its third anniversary on February 14th and they will be having a 10% off sale on Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th as well as some giveaways. Congratulations to owner Dave Ferrante and his staff for creating a bookstore that’s not just a stop-on-the-way, but a destination in itself.

Expect future posts with excerpts from the Bill Scheele interview – I’m still transcribing tapes. March will take us on a long wished for road trip to Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York for a Midnight Ramble. Our house is filled with Levon’s solo music from Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt, as well as music from The Band and Dylan, and I’ve begun reading This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band.

Photo Credits:
Top: Exterior of Visible Voice Books, copyright © 2010 by Kevin Scanlon.
Middle: Interior front area at Visible Voice Books, copyright © 2010 by Dory Adams
Bottom: Interior back area at Visible Voice Books, copyright © 2010 by Dory Adams

From the Blogosphere:
Be sure to read Dani Shapiro’s essay "A Writing Career Becomes Harder to Scale" in today’s LA Times about the importance of persistence and endurance in the writing life and as personal and artistic triumphs in the face of the new bottom line in publishing. (Link via Sirenland – Thanks!)

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Frances said...

I liked reading about the bookstore and hope to get a chance to visit one of these road trips, but I especially appreciated the link to the essay. Puts so much into perspective.

jedda said...

Beautiful! i think i could read about bookstores all day... definitely a destination. jedda

cynthia newberry martin said...

Love reading about bookstores and seeing your great photos. I always try to stop into an independent bookstore when I'm traveling and to buy at least one book.

I've enjoyed catching up on your posts, Dory!