Normals got a facade improvement and features a new sign by Jen Kirby, a Baltimore-based artist. I goggled her to find she works:
with a variety of materials to create temporary and typically site-specific installations which change the psychological space in a given setting. The pieces are meant to highlight personal phenomenological experience and invite at once both stillness and dynamism.
While that sounds so heady, the sign is sublime, drawing you in like a lava lamp erupting gently over and over again.
The walls inside Normals erupt into a gallery/message board filled with photos, paintings, news clips, record jackets, posters from Poe to Pop and Marx to Mad and cute or caustic comments taped here and there nicely guiding you from one category of books to another.
I took a photo of a painting on one wall, emailed it to a collective member and got a response that it was by “local legend Larry Scott, who passed away far too young.”
Online in an interview the artist said he learned to color and draw from his father, who painted cowboys and cartoon characters on brown paper bags from the supermarket. Larry Scott was also tagged as The Picasso of Charles Village.
I usually find great old used local history books at very reasonable prices in Normals. It can be a slightly nostalgic experience spending time on that block where I once rented an apartment because I remember the days when Normals space was The Thirty-First Street Women’s Bookstore, next to Sam’s Belly, across the street from Bread & Roses Coffee House.
While I am 64 and not quite in touch with the undercurrents of today's culture or counter culture, it does make me feel young at heart visiting Normals. See for yourself.
Normals is at 425 East 31st Street between Barclay and Greenmount and on the web at http://www.normals.com/