Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodnight riverrun

It's been a very good day, good year, good decade and more. Enticing prospects lie ahead for riverrun. Stay tuned to this station.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Books beneath the Tree

Just what everyone wants most.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shel Silverstein thanks FAS

Shel Silverstein spent time in riverrun. He came up to the house too. He was comfortable with Frank Scioscia.

Silverstein signed lots of books to Frank. This - Now here's my Plan - has one of Chris Stephens all-time favorite cartoons on the cover.

google images for Shel Silverstein
song writer legacy recordings
famous poets and

Monday, December 21, 2009

reading at riverrun

November 1988

Michael and Isabel Stephens at riverrun

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ralph Fasanella, Artist

Ralph Fasanella used to enjoy hanging around riverrun and chatting with Frank Scioscia. The men were both sons of Italian immigrants. Both were sympathetic to unions and mistrustful of management. Fasanella was as tickled as Scioscia that riverrun bookstore was in the old Anaconda union hall.
Fasanella died a few years after Scioscia did but, in a way, they're both still there. Even now there's a New York Times article about Fasanella pinned up on the bookshelf, just where Scioscia put it some years ago.
Chris Stephens found some Fasanella posters for sale shortly after he took over the bookstore. He liked them. He bought them all. Ralph was happy to sign each of the posters over relaxed, pleasant conversation with Chris.

Ralph was still coming into the store to talk art, talk books, talk politics, talk unions, talk memories.

Fasanella art images
NY Times article on Fasanella
Art work for sale on artnet

Monday, December 14, 2009

River View

The Anaconda Copper Company operated on the Hudson River.

During WWII machine guns were mounted on the factory rooftops to deter enemy ships from sneaking up-river to West Point.

In the 1960s, management responded to a local wildcat strike by closing down the Hastings on Hudson plant. The machinery was quiet. The buildings were empty.

riverrun has connections to Anaconda. The bookstore is housed in the old union hall. One can almost hear echoes of rousing speeches mixed in with the voices of all the books here.

Steve Kanfer made a beautiful decoupage-topped table for riverrun out of one of the giant wooden spools Anaconda used for copper wire. That table is still here.

For a few years Chris Stephens warehoused books in a section of one of the old Anaconda buildings. We had to bring cartons of books upstairs in a huge freight elevator. Not everyone likes elevators. I don't. This one was slow and it creaked and finally the lights went out. We had to take books up and down in a scary elevator in the dark.

For decades toxic residue from copper smelting and the mostly empty buildings were a blight on this otherwise charming town. Abandoned Anaconda blocked the river view from Washington Ave.

Now that's all changed. Come to the bookstore. See the river.

Hastings Historical Society article on Anaconda Copper Company

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marian Ferrer - Poet and Potter

Marian Ferrer's pottery shop is lively and welcoming.
Shelves are filled with interesting and useful shapes in appealing earth tones. "That's what I like best for pottery," Marian tells a fellow potter. "I use red clay. I always have. And I like rich greens and browns over that dark clay." The pots are beautiful. I particularly like a huge one with an abstract leaf pattern.

Ferrer's two books are displayed in a corner. Blue Sapphire is poetry. Allow the Possibility is a mixture of memoir, essay on artistic exploration, and philosophy of life. Ferrer appreciates the importance of laughter to the process of creativity.

Marian Ferrer's bright and joyful paintings are on the wall and leaning against one another on the floor. Her creative expression on canvas contrasts with her expressions in clay.

"In painting, I prefer vibrant colors against the white background. Painting feels different than handling clay and my response to it is different too.

"I first started making pottery in my early 20s. I was working at American Field Service and, at the time, just wanted some interesting activity after work. I have been a potter ever since."

Marian teaches classes at her pottery studio. "I always learn from my students. I like seeing them work out projects from their own perspectives. It's fascinating. My students have so much creativity!"

Marian's students, as well as Marian's customers, are friends. A man came in who had worked at Lame Duck Bookstore in Philadelphia. Marian and the man from Lame Duck and I and an enthusiastic young potter who'd come in with me all chatted comfortably in Marian's studio/store.

There are some clay "rocks" in the window. The two potters talk about what a natural it is for potters to make "rocks". "The clay is from the earth," says Marian. "You bring out, shape it with your hands, leave your mark on it, and give it back to the earth. I've been making clay rocks almost as long as I've been working with clay.
"They're worked from the inside out. They're hollow. And that isn't glaze on them. That is oil paint and then they're waxed. I write on them. I made a whole lot of rocks that said 'Peace'. I tuck them into likely places in NYC. I took a whole lot of peace rocks to Israel too. I just lay them down for someone else to pick up. Sometimes I write 'joy' on them.
I feel grounded when I make the peace rocks. I like to leave them around for strangers to pick up and handle and read. All those suggestions of peace."

Marian Ferrer's work is in galleries. She's had many exhibitions. And her peace rocks are lying on the ground all over the world. Look for one.

Dobbs Ferry Pottery - 86 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 - 914 674 8203

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cold Day - Warm Anticipation

Chris Stephens bought boxes of fascinating books from a local Nobel Laureate. He's been in his element sorting through the books back in riverrun.

There was also an intriguing collection of Oceanic art in the Laureate's house. Chris read up on Oceanic art. (Reading up on various subjects is Stephens' second-favorite part of the bookstore business.)

He invited two colleagues to come back to the house with him and look through the art. Anticipation ran high.

Awake Again After Long Slumber

This first-in-a-long-time entry is dedicated to Lenny and Judy. Here's why. Lenny called Chris to ask why the heck I hadn't posted anything since October. And why the heck haven't I? It's a good question without a reasonable answer.

But the doors to the riverrun blog are wide open again