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Best Bookstore for People Who Don't Read Houston 2001 - Menil Collection Bookstore

All freedom-loving people would be inspired to walk into the Menil Collection Bookstore and see, front and center on the largest display rack, an art-book cover photograph of a very lifelike sculpture of an erect penis -- and directly across from the children's section, too. Perhaps it's an up-yours salute to the outgoing senator and philistine from North Carolina. More likely, it simply struck manager and book buyer Patrick Phipps as an arresting image, of which this little gray building is chock-full. Phipps and his assistant, William Willis, are themselves artists. That's probably why the Menil bookstore cannot be compared to the self-absorbed, kitsch-filled truck stops that are most museum gift shops today. In addition, nobody's lips move when they're thumbing through the stock. Indeed, the hypnotic array of imagery -- books, postcards and posters -- is dedicated only partially to what's currently on display in the Menil Collection. Perhaps the most appealing part of the bookstore is hanging on the walls: paintings, collages and prints by Houston artists. Although they are for sale, they represent a kind of second, rotating collection of local talent to supplement the masterpieces across the street.

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