Next Time You’re on Alberta Street . . .

Monograph Bookwerks

By Laurie Lindquist
Blair Saxon-Hill

Blair Saxon-Hill ’02 Photo by Jenn McNeal

Imagine a bookstore as a curated space, where visitors engage in a rigorous dialogue about art, make discoveries, and find inspiration.

Now step into Monograph Bookwerks on Northeast 27th Avenue off Alberta, run by artists Blair Saxon-Hill ’02 and John Brodie since 2010.

“One of the things that becomes very exciting is how dialogues inspire and forward work and may not be necessarily one that I’m having with someone else, but one that jumps out of the experience of being there,” says Blair.

Art was integral to Blair’s childhood and a direction she took early on. At Reed, she studied studio art with Gerri Ondrizek [art 1994–], Michael Knutson [art 1982–], and Geoffrey Pagen [ceramics 1987–]. Ethan Jackson [art 2001–05] served as adviser for her thesis on installations. “Part of what was so wonderful about going to Reed was the mix of really critical readings and having a conceptually driven studio practice that allowed me to explore a variety of approaches,” she says. “That kind of integrative thinking is something that I brought to the bookstore.”

Monograph is a serene and elegant space where rare, uncommon, and new and used books on contemporary art and artists, architecture, graphic design, fashion, photography, and art criticism share space with original prints and oil paintings, studio pottery, vintage art, and a curio or two, such as a hefty pair of tailor shears. This fall, Blair taught members of Reed’s Scriptorium how to make ink, and her handmade walnut ink is also available at the shop. Everything is for sale—though not online.

Skirting cyber sales promotes the experience of engagement, Blair says. Hands on, conversation, and engagement all contradict the experience of viewing art online. “It goes back to the sense of it being present, of having a work with you when it’s held in a book, that is really different than needing to recall the artist or work using a computer.”