The ARTful Book Club

Book lovers unite! Indulge your passion for art and reading by joining us for a curated selection of art-related books. From September–November, we’ll be reading about the economics of contemporary art, a memoir from Susan Straight about her family filled with a history of badass women, and absorb answers to questions we didn’t know to ask by the brilliant John Berger.  

  • 11 a.m.–noon (unless otherwise noted)
  • Cost: $5/meeting (unless otherwise noted). Click here to RSVP and pay, or bring at start of discussion meeting. No refunds.
  • Readers will be sent discussion questions prior to each meeting if they RSVP.
  • Readers must read the book in advance. We encourage you to bring your copy for the discussion.

*** Saturday, September 28, $15, includes light refreshments

In the Country of Women by Susan Straight | Memoir

*** A special treat, author Susan Straight will join us for our discussion. Be sure to bring your copy to get signed!

Author Susan Straight's memoir, In the Country of Women, is the inspiration behind our Badass Women and the Road to the Promised Land exhibition. 

In Inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in Riverside, at driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight—and eventually her three daughters—heard for decades the stories of Dwayne’s female ancestors. Some women escaped violence in post-slavery Tennessee, some escaped murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, and some fled abusive men. Straight’s mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, is the descendant at the heart of this memoir. Susan’s family, too, reflects the hardship and resilience of women pushing onward—from Switzerland, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.

A Pakistani word, biraderi, is one Straight uses to define a complex system of kinship and clan—those who become your family. An entire community helped raise her daughters. Of her three girls, now grown and working in museums and the entertainment industry, Straight writes, “The daughters of our ancestors carry in their blood at least three continents. We are not about borders. We are about love and survival.” In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women. 

Saturday, October 12 CANCELLED

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson | Non-Fiction, Business of Art Reference

A first look at the economics and marketing strategies of the modern art market. Drawing on interviews with executives of auction houses and art dealers, artists, and buyers who move the market, the reader is launched into the world of modern art with passion, gossip, and revelations.  

Saturday, November 9 

The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger | Essays, Art Criticism

As Berger describes, “The pocket in question is a small pocket of resistance. A pocket is formed when two or more people come together in agreement. The resistance is against the inhumanity of the New World Economic Order. The people coming together are the reader, me, and those the essays are about—Rembrandt, Paleolithic cave painters, a Romanian peasant, ancient Egyptians, an expert in the loneliness of certain hotel bedrooms, dogs at dusk, a man in a radio station. And unexpectedly, our exchanges strengthen each of us in our conviction that what is happening in the world today is wrong, and that what is often said about it is a life. I’ve written a book with a greater sense of urgency.”