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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

FAS at the National Endowment for the Arts

In 1974, a couple of years before he founded riverrun, and while he was still working at Harper & Row, Frank Scioscia was invited to serve on the Literature Advisory Panel of
the National
Endowment for the Arts.

What an honor! He accepted. Who wouldn't?

I think Fran McCullough - on the Panel herself at the time - recommended him.

The invitation was signed by Nancy Hanks, the Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1969 to 1977. Perhaps she could better be called the Queen of the Arts. She built up the federal program and earlier was behind the scenes at the inception in 1964. Before the inception actually. She worked with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund helping to lay the groundwork for what was to become the National Endowment for the Arts. She was a remarkable woman. And she signed Scioscia's letter! Not that a signature on an official letter represents much of a relationship, I guess. I'm posting it though.

Frank got a very big kick out of serving on the panel.

Later he did have more than a signature; he had a very substantial and treasured friendship with a different Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts: Dana Gioia.

Gioia was Chairman from 2001 to 2009. He instituted all sorts of dynamic and satisfying projects for us. For us citizens. I have two special favorites: the Big Read - almost a national book club - and the veterans' memoir writing project.

Dana Gioia ambled into riverrun bookstore one day. It was just exactly his kind of store. Gioia was just exactly Scioscia's kind of customer. The men hit it off immediately. Both had unlimited interests. Both were down-to-earth kind of guys.

When they met a short time later, the two Marys, their wives, hit it off as well. Dana and Mary Gioia moved to Hastings on Hudson. They were up the hill and slightly south along the aqueduct from riverrun.

The way I choose to remember it is that Dana said, "I want to live in a place that has a bookstore like this," and his Mary agreed.

Frank Scioscia did not live long enough to see Dana Gioia become Chairman of the Endowment for the Arts but it wouldn't have surprised him.

That appointment would have been the absolute only thing about George Bush that Scioscia could have applauded. And he would have applauded mightily.

more about the National Endowment for the Arts

how to apply for a grant in literature

Art Works article on Dana Gioia

A whole bunch of fascinating video clips on Big Think, of Dana Gioia chatting about different things that interest him.

Book Rags biography of Nancy Hanks

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