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Novel inspires art exhibit at Sandy Library

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lining the wall of the hall between the children's section and the quiet section of the Sandy Library are nineteen local artists' renditions of 'Mink River.'Stunning. Startling. Moving. Humbling.

These are the words author Brian Doyle uses to describe what it's like to see 19 artist's renditions of his book, "Mink River."

Nineteen pieces of art hug the brick-colored wall leading to the quiet zone of the Sandy Library.

Twelve framed cigarettes, a Thomas Kinkade-esque painting of a town; a crow with feathers of handwritten quotes.

What in the world is the book about?

"Mink River" is a unique novel dealing with life in a small town. The fiction story delves into icons, spirits and tales of the community, which is set as an imaginary coastal town.

In the book, two men are on a mission to capture every story in the town.

The book blends realism with fantasy, incorporating human and nonhuman characters. One of the main characters is a talking crow.

The San Francisco Chronicle said, "His magic is his ability to blend the minute details of small-town everyday life with make believe."

Each piece of art represents "Mink River."

"It's like I'm on the sideline watching my book run around the world," Doyle said.

And that it is.

The art will stay at the Sandy library through August. It's an annual traveling exhibit. Each year, it starts as the book picked by Lake Oswego Reads, a citywide reading program.

First, the artists are notified so that they can read the book and begin the work.

In January, 800 free copies of the book were given away to kick-off the program.

Then, throughout February, 30 events were put on. There were readings and classes, live music and recipes made to mirror what was in the book.

Cindy Glazer, coordinator of programs and volunteers at the Lake Oswego Library said that this year they had an all-time record of participation in the events and readings of about 10,000 total.

The program is in its sixth year. In the past, leaders have picked books, such as "Three Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortenson and "Cutting Stone" by Abraham Mostenson.

Doyle's novel is the first locally written story to be chosen for the program. Doyle is a Lake Oswego writer who has published 10 books, and written essays for publications including The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and The American Scholar. "Mink River" was his first novel.

Glazer says the book fits all of Lake Oswego Read's guidelines. It was appropriate for high school level reading and above and it was available as an ebook, an audio book and in paperback.

She also said the committee that picks the book felt that they may never have such a good book from a local artist.

The artists liked the book as well. Artist, Kara Pilcher says the book was brimming with images.

At the Sandy library, one side of the wall displays a piece of 3D abstract art, the other a serene landscape.

"I'm just amazed at how different people interpret the book."

She constructed the twelve cigarette butts. Marlboro's and Camel's, none look the same. Each has a name handwritten on it-Sweet John, James-the apostles.

The mishmash of used cigarettes are set on a watercolor with the sun on one end and the moon on the other.

In the book, the town doctor smokes 12 cigarettes per day. When he does so, he thinks of the apostles. He feels that like them, he sees pain as well.

The idea for "Moses Knowses Crowses" came to Pilcher as she left her jazzercise class. She passed a sand trap ashtray thinking both, "that's gross" and "that's perfect." What struck her was that each had its own character, so she scooped them up and took them home.

Pilcher thought it was a piece she would have forever. She says she couldn't believe someone would buy her used cigarettes. But someone did.

In fact, several pieces are accompanied by circular red stickers saying "sold." However, none will be available to their new owners until the end of their tour in November. They range in price from $150 to $600.

For now, the community is enjoying them. "They're a gift to look at," said Liz Walliker, 65 of Clackamas. "Some of them would be lovely in my house."