Oil and Cotton's Read-Rite Market: An All-Day Book Party for the Textually Inclined

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Something interesting happens in Oak Cliff this Saturday when Oil and Cotton presents the Read-Rite Market, a free, day-long celebration of words. It's the kind of event that makes your inner book-loving cheerleader go nuts, kicking off with "Coffee, Cigarettes and a Newspaper," a program that fulfills your fantasy of having others read the paper aloud while you ease into your morning with a hot cup of java.

Ahhh.

From there, the day bolts in dozens of different directions as artists, authors, paper archivists, screen printers and poets offer up projects to challenge and engage the public. Seriously, there's a lot going on. New activities spark up every half-hour and the day ends with a paella dinner, served up by the fellas starting the Wild Detectives, Oak Cliff's soon-to-be bookstore.

Refreshing as the content is, Read-Rite isn't something we're used to seeing. It's a dip back to analog. A love note written on real paper, embossed with one of those cool wax stamps. A bookmobile of independently-published literature that runs on smiles and sunshine. It's the best bits of your memories, like prowling Powell's Books as a kid, but targeted for the you of now. And I bet it smells amazing.

Getting a program like this required the right people find one another. Fortunately, they did. Oil and Cotton's owners, Kayli House Cusick and Shannon Driscoll, served previous career incarnations plugged deep into written words, with Cusick working as an educational art content generator and Driscoll as a paper preservationist. Now they work together at their arts education center Oil and Cotton, and through that they met local word champion Joe Milazzo. From there, the idea to make a crafty, interactive, word party just sorta happened.

They reached out, made calls. Now the participation list is filled with talent. Kyle Hobratschk will teach how to make an etched bookplate on his press. Ryan and Rachel Rushing demonstrate how to pull Read-Rite poster screens. The boys behind The Wild Detectives, will hold a poetry session composed of cut and pasted words, along with having poets from Spain and New York Skype in their own readings. (They're also serving up free paella at the end of the day.) Nicole Stewart brings her Oral Fixation talents in for reading. The Dallas Poets Community, Carve Magazine, Mad Swirl and folks from the Writer's Garret will all present work; Candice McKay from the Book Doctor leads a book dissection workshop, and more.

That's just the timeline. The day's ongoing events include an art show composed of work by text-based painters and illustrators, organized by Julie and Bruce Lee from the Webb Gallery; a cash-and-carry book stall of small selection and small pressing works; a book exchange; a postcard program; and a map project by Lucky Dog Books called "Mark the Loss" that geographically pins and lists the history of Dallas bookstores, past and present.

Maybe some of the coolest, throw-backiest programming is MASH/SHAM, where Shannon Driscoll and Delaney Smith (who is half of the Paper + Wood show currently on display in Denton) recreate the schoolgirl game of choice, MASH (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House).

"It's a limited edition artist book and a response to that pre-teen game that we used to play," says Driscoll. Yeah, they turned MASH into a modernized piece of interactive art literature by hand making 108 small books, each with updated categories for the game, like substituting "loves" for "boyfriends" and "bling" to represent the superficial things we place value in. They've also added a 'failure' category for self-reflection and a bunch of fashion plate rubbings throughout to connect with 10-year-old you.

"People talk about the death of the book: 'Is it fading away?'" says Driscoll. "This is another way to celebrate it and say' No, they're here to stay.'" For Driscoll and her gang of text-pushers the written word is more than a quick flip of entertainment or easily digitized collection of data. That books are valuable in their structure, symbolic nature and inherent qualities, and are to be celebrated. "They're functional objects that hold ideas, artwork, thoughts, dreams, and sadness. And they smell good and feel good." She sighs, then exclaims: "I love books!"

Join them on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a 5 p.m. paella dinner. See the day's timeline and get specifics on the Read-Rite Market Facebook page.

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