Two exhibitions at the Katherine Small Gallery and discovery of TS Eliot at the Cape Ann Museum

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The Katherine Small Gallery is holding an exhibition featuring book covers from the work of George Bernard Shaw. Here, the one designed by Milton Glaser from 1966.Little Katherine Gallery

Exposed coverage

Have you ever been to the Katherine Small Gallery in Somerville? It’s a gallery, that’s for sure: there’s art on the walls, in display cases and in drawers that are pleasant to open. It is also a bookstore, carefully organized. The focus is on design and typography, but you don’t need to be interested in either, per se, to feel pleasure, to feel a palpable sense of intelligence, curiosity and humor that fills the small space. And it’s a good time to go because they have two literary exhibitions going on. One focuses on book covers by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Leonard Baskin’s 1955 woodcut for “Shaw on Music” is notable for the brooding poise of the figure. And Seymour Chwast includes eight alluring comedic masks for the 1964 edition of “Eight Great Comedies.” Bright colors, grizzled faces, and cool fonts are present across the board. The other exhibit features collage work by John Gall, whose job it is to oversee the design of hundreds of book covers as Alfred A. Knopf’s creative director, including those by Atwood, Murakami, DeLillo and Nabokov. As gallerist Michael Russem notes, Gall got into collage work in 2008, “in an effort to forget what he knows about design.” The results are evocative, with an elegant and unexpected use of color, organic shapes, bodily suggestion and a bit of mystery; the spaces let the mind fill in the blanks. Both exhibitions will be on view until January 14. For more information, visit ksmallgallery.com.

Eliot by the sea

“The salt is on the pink heather, / The fog is in the firs” wrote TS Eliot in “The Dry Salvages”, the third of his “Four Quartets”, named after “a little group of rocks” offshore of Gloucester, where Eliot began spending his summers with his family at the age of five. “The sea has many / voices, / Many gods and many voices.” The Cape Ann Museum is holding an exhibition that explores Eliot’s connection to Gloucester, with photographs and letters on loan from Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Boston Athenaeum and the Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester. The materials, intimate and illuminating, reveal Eliot’s relationship with Cape Ann, how it moved him and helped shape his work. “Eliot’s Gloucester” is on view until October 9 at the Cape Anne Museum Library and Archives. And ‘The Dry Salvages Festival’, which began yesterday, September 24, continues today with a guided boat tour, tours of the exhibits at the Cape Ann Museum and tours of Eliot’s house, known as name of “The Downs”, on Edgemoor Road. For more information about the exhibit, visit capeannmuseum.org. For more information about the festival, visit tseliot.com/the-dry-salvages-festival.

Browse History

The archives exist as a beautiful combination of library and museum, a unique domain where one offers intimate access to rich and varied material – letters, diaries, drawings, paintings, rare books, ancient books, musical scores , cards, all kinds of art. Last week, the Boston Public Library reopened its newly remodeled 31,000 square foot Special Collections Department after a 5-year, $15.7 million renovation, welcoming the public to this singular collection. The renovation included a new reading room and lobby, a conservation laboratory, and improved storage of rare books and manuscripts on nearly seven miles of shelving. The dual purpose was to improve the long-term preservation of materials and to better accommodate people to engage with the breadth and depth of the collection. Archivists are the keepers of mysteries, the disseminators of knowledge and the merchants of curiosities; scavenger-hunting through the materials is anything from stumbling upon a poet’s post-it notes from Shakespeare’s First Folio to an original print of the Declaration of Independence. For more information, visit bpl.org/special-collections.

Go out

Kick the latchby Kathryn Scanlan (New Directions)

Fen, bog and swamp: a brief history of peatland destruction and its role in the climate crisisby Annie Proulx (Scribner)

stay trueby Hua Hsu (double day)

Choice of the week

Sarah Shahzad of Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine recommends “Acts of Desperation” by Megan Nolan (Little, Brown): “Consider this: someone asks you if you want to taste something disgusting. Are you stepping back? Or are you overwhelmed by curiosity, a morbid fascination with this disgusting thing? If you accept such an offer, you will appreciate what Nolan is doing here. She built a character from all the pathologies of heterosexual horror, and in the creation practiced a kind of exorcism. Nolan’s reluctance to spare his protagonist or reader pays off. It is a rigorous study of a gross but key element of the human condition, nestled in the dressing of precise and excellent prose.

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren”. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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