Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Little Op of My Own

I guess the write-up that I saw in Art News (March 2010, p.9) on the San Antonio Museum of Art's up-coming show "Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 60's" has inspired me to create a little Op of my own. The show opens March 13, 2010 and closes on August 1. The catalog, featuring an intricate collage painting by Fred Tomaselli, will be published in April by MIT Press. (Nice interviews with Tomaselli here and here.)

Artists include: Isaac Abrams, Albert Alvarez, Richard Anuszkiewicz Chio Aoshima, Kamrooz Aram, Jeremy Blake, Richie Budd, Gordon Cheung, Judy Chicago, George Cisneros, James Cobb, Steve DiBenedetto, Carole Feuerman, Jack Goldstein, Alex Gray, Peter Halley, Al Held, Mark Hogensen, Constance Lowe, Erik Parker, Ed Paschke, Lari Pittman, Ray Rapp, Deborah Remington, Bridget Riley, Susie Rosmarin, Alex Rubio, Sterling Ruby, Julian Stanczak, Jennifer Steinkamp, Frank Stella, Philip Taaffe, Barbara Takenaga, Fred Tomaselli, Victor Vasarley, Michael Velliquette, Andy Warhol and Robert Williams.

My digital collage started with a scan of a lovely book by Paul Borey titled Les Cherchers De Quinquinas (Des Vallees De Caravaya A L'Amazone) dating from 1893. My house is built on ledge and the scanner is sensitive to the vibrations caused by passing vehicles. Inopportune traffic resulted in the weird color-separated effect, below.

I cropped the center of the image to get a framed circle, which I repeated and further manipulated using the brush tool on different colored backgrounds.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Youth's Companion

It really pays to shuffle through stuff every few years. I totally forgot that I had some old issues of The Youth's Companion from 1868. I found 20 issues in all. The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. The two below remind me a lot of Edward Gorey. The "Child in Peril" was a popular theme in his work as it was also with the writers and illustrators of the Companion.

I'm amazed that these documents managed to survive for over 140 years!

The Old Man in Nature

Here's a fabulous painting of The Old Man of the Mountain by Garnet W. Jex from the cover of "The New England Number" of Nature Magazine dated May 1929. The back cover features an advertisement for Darwin tulips, "Heralds of Spring!"

Articles include: "Chocorua, The Abandoned Farm, New England Through the Ages, New England's Bird Guests, Over Lofty Trails, New England's Wild Flowers, New England's Land Mammals, Acadia National Park, Puritan Posies, Nature In New England, The Silvery Harvest, The Forests of New England, Meeting Place of the Insects, and New England Views the Skies.

I thought the advertisement above, totally unrelated to New England, was rather odd. (In the interest of health, a law was passed in Texas prohibiting the sale of live armadillos.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Love and Marriage

I couldn't resist these three old magazines issues because (at least to my twisted mind) the covers have a theme in common. I was attracted to the April 29, 1939 issue of Liberty ("for Liberals with Common Sense") by the colors. It immediately reminded me of one of my favorite golden books that I had growing up: The Color Kittens. Only the kitten on this cover is pushing 40 and seems not to be falling for that man with his hand positioned so suggestively before her.

Those who know me well will know why I picked up on the November 4, 1933 Liberty. I almost fell off my chair laughing when I noticed it. The masks are cool but somewhat bizarre.

The March 1924 International Studio cover featuring "The Bridegroom" costume design by Paul Eschelitscheff has got to be one of the nicest covers I've ever seen. Plus it appears to be a rather rare one. Productive Arts shows it on their page of incredible Russian graphics.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Council of Learned Societies

I've recently added some new links to the reference section. Two are to the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Humanities E-Book. You can browse through their subject headings or search by chosen key words on their search page. Options in addition to a basic search include boolian, proximity or bibliographic searches.

Although a subscription is required to access full text, citations, table of contents, pictures of document covers, and sometimes links to publisher's web site are provided free of charge.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

J. W. Buel's Beautiful Paris

I'm trying to identify and old book that's missing a title page and its last pages. The cover says: The Metropolis of the World in what was once gold lettering. The book measures 11x13.25 inches and contains 366 old photographs of the city of Paris before the days of the automobile.

I believe it to be a copy of J.W. Buel's Beautiful Paris: The Splendors, Mysteries and People of the Great City published around 1895. Buel's book contains over 400 duo-tone photographs taken by Mr. A. Pepper, official photographer of the French government.

The caption to the photo with the birds reads:
GALLERY OF BIRDS, MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. - The Jardin des Plantes, or Museum of History, was founded by Guy de Labrosse in 1635; attained its international fame while the great Buffon was director (1732); and was enriched in 1805 by Humboldt's collection of 4500 different species of tropical plants. The royal menagerie was removed here from Versailles in 1793. During the seige of Paris ub 1870-71 the garden was seriously injured by the bombardment; and when the citizens were driven to extremes by famine, many of the animals were sold to the city butchers. The Museum is one of the largest in the world, containing, as it does, specimens of every known species of bird, reptile, mammal and plant, a large number of which are living. The photograph above shows the Marmottan collection of stuffed birds, in which there are 3000 specimens, located on the ground floor of the Galleries of Zoology.
In searching for information about Beautiful Paris, I found an amazing site describing the personal library of Edgar Rice Burroughs:
Collated and Researched by Bill Hillman. An Illustrated Compilation of over 1,200 Books in the ERB Library Amassed through the years 1875-1950. Presented in Over 70 Colossal Web Pages with thousands of images and zillions of pages to print out. Accompanied by Research Culled from Personal Libraries and Online Sources.
There's an interesting section on the books by J.W. Buel (he's the fourth author discussed on this page) and the title page to Beautiful Paris is shown along with a different cover. The dimensions look the same as my book.

It will take some time to work my way through the whole ERB Library so I've added it to my reference links.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

White Mountain Scenery

I love the ornate cover to this book called White Mountain Scenery. The back bears decoration as well.

Between the covers is an accordion fold-out of sixteen well-known views of New Hampshire's White Mountains. Here's one of the Mount Washington Railway.

The passenger car is being pushed up the mountain by the engine behind.

The more intrepid members of the party could ride behind the engine on an open platform.

As you near the top, Lizzie Bourne's marker comes into view.

The marker reads: Miss Lizzie Bourne Daughter of Judge Bourne of Kennebunk Me. Perished Here Sept. 14th 1855 Aged 23 Years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Marblehead Mass. Free Range Chicks

Back when I first started participating in Marie's postcard exchange, I commented that I had a chicken postcard somewhere. This week I finally found it!

"Marblehead Mass, Dear Sir. In answer to your inquiry will say that I could not make any reduction on larger lots, as my eggs and chicks are booked in advance. If you are in need of an early shipment kindly let me hear from you at an early date. Yours respectfully Chas Robinson."

Glued to the postcard is a newspaper clipping of a classified advertisement reading:
WYKOFF'S STRAIN of S. C. W. Leghorns, all great layers, all have free range and fed nature's way; these eggs hatch chicks that live; $1 set, $5 100; chicks 10 cents; cockerels $2; India Runner duck eggs, $2 11. CHARLES ROBINSON, Marblehead.

Here are a couple of Chicken Plates from my clipping files.

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Postcard Friendship Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Rec Room Copy

Here's a story missing an ending. I found this copy at the dump. Loved the cover. Got hooked on the story before I realized that the last few pages were missing.

I need to know what happens! Here's as far as I got:

(Click on images to enlarge. The last page will blow up extra large.) If you know how this ends, we need to talk.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Unfolding the Salem Register

I've just added something new to the Reference Links in the right hand column of this blog. The U.S. Dept. of Interior - National Parks Service has a series of publications on conservation titled Conserve O Gram. They provide full and printable text in PDF format to a large number of pamphlets detailing guidelines on the conservation of books and other printed documents, photographs, works of art, and other collectible items. They even have one on safe handling and display of radioactive minerals.

One which I hope to make immediate use of (I'm printing a copy of it right now) is titled: How to Flatten Folded Paper Documents. I've had these old newspaper issues of the Salem Register dating January 16, 1888 to October 21, 1889 in their original folded state for about 30 years. They came from a Sunday flea market that used to be held at the Revere Drive-In.

Published on Mondays & Thursdays at Essex Street, cor. of Central, Salem by C.W. Palfray and E. N. Walton.

Also worth visiting is Caring for Your Collections by the Library of Congress. Thanks to for pointing the way.

And one more new addition to the Reference Links: LC Newspapers. Check out the historic newspapers available to read online in Chronicling America at the Library of Congress.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Valentines With Hands

I purchased these from an antique shop in Essex, Massachusetts around 1980. I especially like the hands. And also the sentiment on the green bow: "Far from thee - be every care." The fan-shaped card has a red yarn ruffle.

Wishing you all a happy valentines day for this Postcard Friendship Friday!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cool Techniques at The Pulse!

A big "Hello" to everyone who is landing here for the first time through Seth's blog, The Altered Page. Today in his Secret Sunday 12 two of my collage tips are listed (Arch Punches and Mosaic Triangles) along with many, many other inspiring ones.

One additional tip I would like to mention is a marvelous storage system for small elements coated for adhesion via the Talbot method. I've been using postage stamp collector's stock albums as described and illustrated in this earlier post.

Blanche Had Red Hair (shown above) is in the collection of Lynn, Massachusetts artist Charles Kartsonis. Below is Blanche in progress.

Backstory: "A Sad Infatuation"

Cleaning out I found a folder with the back story materials for my collage, pictured above, titled A Sad Infatuation (Divorce Diptych No. 2). The work is on two panels of 16x16 inches each. I even wrote a little essay about it, back before I started blogging. So here it is, edited a little, and with illustrations added. The three pages of the original magazine article are larger images than I normally post so click on them to read them for yourself.

The Amazing Story Behind "A Sad Infatuation"
At one of my favorite Maine antique shops, I found a few issues of The New England Home Magazine ( A Weekly Supplement to the Boston Sunday Journal) dated from the years 1899 through 1901. I was immediately drawn to one particular article by Arthur T. McWilliams titled "A Sad Infatuation: Lobengula, the African 'Prince' and How He Tortures His White Wife, A Former London Belle."

The photograph on the second page of a handsome young black man with a demure well-dressed white woman certainly caught my eye.

And then I read the story. . . unbelievable! Interracial Courtship and Cannibalism: shocking stuff even by today's standards in my neck of the country, and I was looking at the Sunday Supplement of a city newspaper published over 100 years ago. I wondered how my grandmother Blanche's mother, my great-grandmother Clothilde, might have reacted to such a sad tale. It is altogether possible that she could have read this very same article in her Salem, Massachusetts parlor some Sunday afternoon a century ago.

I decided to do a collage on the story since I was, at that time, involved in the whole "dysfunctional marriage" theme. (See: this example.) If I could tell my story, then why not illustrate someone else's? The clincher was finding a book called Physical Attraction and Your Hormones at the dump. It explained the reason for the sad infatuation - hers, mine, and a million others. Our Hormones Are At Fault! Simple as that.

Elements for advancing the story made themselves known. The little magazine advertisements reflected the times: "Homemaking as a Profession," and one for a dart game: "Zulu! It's New! It's Fun!" Another proclaiming: "Be a Taxidermist! Learn to Mount Specimens Like These!" provided perfect innuendo.

An Esperanto Dictionary, and a chapter on cannibals from an old Philosophical Dictionary (both from the dump) heightened the story even further. The primitive figures on pink and orange backgrounds provided just the right touch of color, while the skull and tusk really drove the theme home! The church represents matrimony and has, coincidentally, been designed by a man named Savage.

The chart from an old encyclopedia illustrates, in black and white, the evolution of "Feeblemindedness" and serves as a reminder of the scientific misconceptions regarding interracial mating. The classic movie still of King Kong carrying off Fay Wray was a given. Just to make sure those sex-drive hormones rage at optimum level, I threw in some full moons to weaken self-control even further.

Of course I considered the thought that the story might be made up and the photograph staged similar to today's National Enquirer. So I went online and Googled names. In Time Magazine dated 10 January 1944 I found an article titled The Skull of Lobengula. King Lobengula of the Matabele is described as 'a bull elephant of a man, 6 ft. 2, and burdened with 200 wives.' Wikipedia has a listing for Lobengula Kumalo (1845-1894) however he was deceased some six years before "A Sad Infatuation" was written.

I hit pay dirt when I discovered Ben Shephard's book Kitty & the Prince published in 2003. A bookseller's description reads:
In 1899, a South African showman called Frank Fillis chartered a liner and filled it with two hundred Africans, assorted whites, countless animals and a man who claimed to be the son of the Matabele King, Lobengula. Then he brought all these ingredients together at Earl's Court in London, in a show called Savage South Africa, which combined re-enactments of the Matabele Wars of the 1890s and a "Kaffir Kraal," where the British public could wander among Africans in their natural settings. At first all went well. But then the star of the show, Prince Lobengula, caused a scandal by trying to marry a pretty, respectable, white girl, Kitty Jewell - the daughter of a Cornish mine engineer, whom he had met in South Africa. The Daily Mail raised an outcry against the behavior of women visitors to the show who were "weakening the Empire" by being over familiar with the semi-naked Africans. This is the story of the doomed love affair between Kitty Jewell and Peter Lobengula. It is at once a heart-breaking love story, a historical mystery, and a window into popular racism, popular journalism, and feminism in the 1890s.


So Ben Shephard is the man with the answers and I can't wait to get my hands on his book. I should confess, in closing, that the last page of my copy of the original article is missing! Even with my flawless new studio organization I still can't locate it. Worse than that, I forget how the story ends. So I invite you to "Choose Your Own Adventure" just like in the children's book series, and post your own version of the ending in the comments section.

Just one more thing. There is mention in "A Sad Infatuation" of a language called Volapuk. Intended to be a universal language, it was invented and first published in 1879 by Johann Martin Schleyer, a German priest. Volapuk was in vogue at the end of the 19th century but its popularity was later eclipsed by Esperanto.

Note: An update on "A Sad Infatuation" can be found here.