Experience the Roaring twenties during the month of February right here in Topeka simply by reading “The Great Gatsby” and participating in The Big Read. The Big Read is a program that encourages the community to come together in a positive way by reading a great classic novel. Not only are the books available at the library, starting next week they will be available on all the Topeka buses and they will be given away at the different events TSCPL will be having in February.
“The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered the “Great American Novel” and was chosen by a committee within the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library to be this year’s Big Read book.
There is a process by which the library uses to choose the book.
“The NEA has a whole list of books, so we have to choose from theirs because they put together all the guides,” said Nancy Overmyer, event resources manager. “We have a committee that meets that narrows it down to three.”
TSCPL will be dedicating the entire month to The Big Read thanks to a $12,800 grand form the National Endowment for the Arts. The 1920s-inspired events include a self-guided architectural tour of Topeka’s landmarks, literature discussions, an antique car show and live jazz performances throughout the month of February.
The library will be kicking off it’s month of events with the First Friday Artwalk and plans to use that opportunity to promote The Big Read. The program happens every other year, and two years ago they found the art walk to be incredibly successful.
“We tried [the First Friday Artwalk] when we did the last Big Read and it was so successful because we got out into the community,” said Overmyer. “It’s a great way to get out into the community and to people that we think will be really on board with doing this.”
They won’t only be at the library, either. Look for them in the galleries throughout Topeka that are participating in the art walk, too.
“We have staff strategically planned throughout the First Friday Art Walks out at the galleries,” said Overmyer. “We will have something going on in the auditorium and our movie is showing that night so it’s just one big event that night to kick it off.”
Not only will there be various events throughout February, the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery inside the TSCPL will be featuring their art deco pieces in honor of the Roaring Twenties, as well.
“We knew the Big Read was coming, and we have a limited number of art deco pieces in our collection,” said Sherry Best, gallery director.
Art Deco was an art movement that happened after the Art Nouveau movement. With the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, art was significantly influenced by Egyptian art. Since “The Great Gatsby” is set during the twenties, this art would have been popular then.
“[Influences include] Egyptian art, Native American and African art and geometric influences. Also, it was a growth from Art Nouveau which was a curly, scroll-style, very decorative,” said Best. “Deco got more into geometry, and more simplification. The deco work itself was bold, new and future- oriented so all of those things were part of that deco style – the Roaring twenties on.”
To get a look at some of this type of art, check out the Sabatini Gallery during the month of March. The gallery is located inside the library, located at 1515 SW 10th Ave.
For more information on the Big Read check out tscpl.org/bigread. There you can find a detailed schedule of events as well as other information about The Big Read and “The Great Gatsby.”