News Release - Art Exhibit Opens at the Central Library

Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

News Release

June 3, 2014

The Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library and area community partners announce the arrival of a groundbreaking public art exhibit called “Al-Mutanabbi Street: Start The Conversation.” The exhibit of book art is designed to provoke community conversation about censorship and the basic freedom to read. The exhibit opened on Monday at the Central Library and will run through September 2 at various locations throughout the City of Rochester and Monroe County.

In March 2007, a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq. It specifically targeted the popular street where area book sellers were located with the sole intention of stopping public access to books and controlling the sharing of information. More than 30 people were killed and over 100 were injured.

Beau Beausoleil, a poet and bookseller from San Francisco, CA wanted to express solidarity with the Iraqi booksellers, writers and readers and asked artists from all over the world to create original works of art in the form of letterpress broadsides and “book art” that would “start a conversation” and keep the implications of this event current. The exhibit has traveled to New York, Los Angeles, London, and Cairo.

Now in Rochester, the Library and partner venues including City Hall and Monroe Community College, will host 260 original works of “book art” and more than 50 broadsides dedicated to this collection primarily focusing attention on the March 2007 bombing, censorship and our global struggle with preserving the right to access information—notions that are universally accepted throughout the international library community.

The “book art” installations can be found at the Central Library, in the Lower Link Gallery of Central Library, 115 South Ave., in the Leroy V. Good Library at MCC, 1000 East Henrietta Rd., and in the Visitors’ Room (112A) of City Hall, 30 Church St.

Mr. Beausoleil will be making several guest appearances the first week of the exhibit, including the opening reception scheduled for June 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Lower Link Gallery of Central Library, and a lecture and book signing June 6 from 9 to 11 a.m. in the R. Thomas Flynn Campus Center of Monroe Community College 1000 E. Henrietta Rd.

Events surrounding the arrival of this exhibit will take place across the Rochester area. On June, 6 form 6 to 8 p.m., Mr. Beausoleil will speak at Lynne Feldman Studios, 250 Goodman St., sponsored by Empire State College as part of the of the Citywide First Friday events. Also on June 6, from 6 to 10 p.m. a film on the themes of the exhibit made in collaboration with Rochester Institute of Technology students will be shown outdoors at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave. On June 7, from 1 to 5 p.m. Rochester Brainery at Goodman St. N inside Village Gate will be screening short documentaries of life in Iraq before a discussion with Mr. Beausoleil later that evening. On June 26, July 24, and August 21, a free book table will also be featured at the Rochester Public Market, 280 Union St. N. Other events and displays will continue through the end of the exhibit in September.

For a complete event listing and information, visit


News Media: For more information, contact MCLS Assistant Director Sally Snow at 428-8051. 


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