That magic is the focus of “The Art of the Bookstore,” which is part of the “People and Places” exhibit now at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center in Farmington. Running now through Feb. 14, the exhibit celebrates the independent bookstores still dotted across the country.
Each painting is titled with the name of the store, though you’ll have to go to Google to get the location. A few of the paintings are sprinkled with quotes about the joy of reading, a whimsical touch that only emphasizes the literary love that radiates from the paintings. The companion book also includes the histories of each bookstore.
The paintings are charming enough to stand on their own, however, with Smith imbuing each store with its own personality. “The Cottage Book Shop” is as rustic and homey-looking as its name suggests, the kind of place you would stumble across on a cross-country road trip.
“Chapters,” on the other hand, is all elegance. The painting of the store focuses only on one beautifully ornate window, framing a glimpse of high ceilings and shelf after shelf of books.
“The Strand” is the most famous bookstore on display here, its innocuous storefront surrounded by the gleaming lights of New York City. “Shakespeare & Co.,” another well-known bookstore, beckons people inside with the cool glow of neon in its window.
There is, surprisingly, a single Barnes & Noble among the collection, a seven-story brownstone if the windows are any indication. Though it first seems out of place with the independent bookstores that fill the other paintings, there’s enough character in it to see it as a gesture of peace. Any building full of books, it seems to say, can’t be all bad.