By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 17, 2005 at 5:23 AM

One day after Christmas, 25 years ago, eight volunteers began to scrub floors and scrape walls in preparation for a community-based literary arts center. After two months and countless hours of sweat labor, Woodland Pattern, 720 E. Locust St., opened to the public.

Anne Kingsbury was one of the original founders, and today serves as the non-profit shop's executive director. Every day, she walks to her dream-come-true via the Locust Street bridge and spends her days, along with co-founder Karl Gartung, working on a mission that's now two-and-a-half decades young.

"Woodland Pattern is dedicated to the discovery, cultivation and presentation of contemporary literature through the arts," says Kingsbury.

The Riverwest book shop features thousands of books and magazines, many hard to find and from small, independent presses. Their poetry selection has garnered a national reputation.

But Woodland Pattern reaches beyond the printed page, offering a plethora of performance as well. The gallery space continues to thrive with events and opportunities, such as weekend classes, poetry readings (including their annual "Poetry Marathon" in January), music, dance and performance art shows, visual art and more.

"We believe it is very important for people to have access to living practitioners -- the living makers of things -- whether literature, music, art or film. Text crosses over into many art forms," says Kingsbury.

Kingsbury grew up in Turtle Lake and later earned a bachelor's degree from UW-River Falls and an MFA from Claremont Colleges in Claremont, Calif. She and Gartung overcame many obstacles to keep Woodland Pattern alive, starting out with a budget less than $20,000 and 500 titles of small press poetry.

However, Woodland Pattern clearly nestled into a niche. Even with chain stores popping up all over the place and numerous funding disappointments, the small shop continues to stay alive thanks to thousands of titles that are not unavailable at larger stores as well as Woodland's ability to continuously attract big names in the independent music and literary worlds.

The 25th anniversary brings a sense of nostalgia to the space, and Kingsbury remembers performances from the very first few months of operation including writer Paul Metcalf, filmmaker Tom Palazzol, exhibiting visual artist Jill Sebastian and performance artist Laurie Anderson.

"The gallery space is and has been very important because that is where all our programs take place and it adds a layer of visual art to almost all the events we present," says Kingsbury.

Woodland Pattern celebrates 25 years of service with three days of workshops. To register call (414) 263-5001.

Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
Reading: Lisa Jarnot, Terri Kapsalis & Peggy Hong
Film Screening: Jennifer Montgomery's "Notes on the Death of Kodachrome"

Saturday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.
Reading: Keith Waldrop, Rosemarie Waldrop, Roberto Harrison & Kiki Anderson

Sunday, Nov. 20, 2 p.m.
Reading: Wanda Coleman & Martha Bergland

Sunday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m.
A Celebration of NEW Music in Milwaukee
Musicians: Chris Burns, Thomas Gaudynski, Dave Gelting, Jeff Klatt, Josh Lesniak, Mike Lucas, Jon Mueller, Steve Nelson-Raney, Hal Rammel, Chris Rosenau, Jim Schoenecker and Jason Wietlispach.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.