Spring in Calgary is all about donating to book sales; it's a great excuse to tidy up the library. When you're digging through books you can find some hidden gems (along with a lot of old receipts, bus transfers, notes to self and handwritten addresses for people you can't remember no matter how hard you try)
Here's an illustration by a W.S. Gilbert from The Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan (1941, Garden City Publishing).
Native Funk & Flash: An Emerging Folk Art Alexandra Jacopetti Scrimshaw Press 1974
This is one of my all time favorite books, a slim paperback volume chock full o' photos of early '70's California hippies and their art. It focuses mostly on embroidery, quilting, and other fabric-related creations, with a bit of woodcarving and glass work thrown in, but the true charm is in the people. Dirty barefoot children, young men who look like Jesus, young women with a serene, stoned beauty, older folks with braided grey hair and flowing robes; all ready to save the planet with recycling and thrift shopping. I have no use for irony. I really do love this book for the hopeful feeling it gives me. Ok, so the world wasn't saved by macrame owls, and all these folks probably grew up, got haircuts, and joined the corporate world in the big, bad '80's, but it's a lovely little dream they have going here.
From a book I picked up yesterday at Wordsworth Books:
Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd London 1956
Beautifully illustrated, it's a story about two kids who bring their toys along to an imagined "Magic Island" and the adventures they have there. The colors are crazy and eye-biting, and on almost every page the little girl's golliwog "Sooty" appears, so it's got that "yikes, this was acceptable?!" shock that almost all older children's books have.
When I was a little girl in England, I had a golliwog; we moved to the States in 1964, and my mother made me leave it behind. The color combinations and tone of Magic Island seem more like something from the 1930's, but as this edition was reprinted in 1961 it's pretty clear that fearful black natives and wise white children were still a going concern at that point.
Old children's books are often things of beauty. They are also an uneasy reminder of how attitudes about race, religion and sex were very different not so long ago; and how a sugar coated story can conceal an unpleasant center. It's easy to see the "wrong" messages in books from last century...and it makes you wonder about the assumptions in today's juvenile literature that will seem shocking or ignorant to people reading it 50 years from now.
These 4 books are owned by a friend, who kindly allowed me to borrow them to take pictures and post here in hopes that someone out there will know something about them. They were given to him as a child in Germany, with no information about what they are. All are paperbound and printed in Germany.
Vom Werden deutscher filmkunst 1. Teil: Der stumme film von Dr. Oskar Kalbus Copyright by Cigaretten. The introduction is dated “Berlin, im Marz 1935” Book with glued in black and white photographs of famous film stars of Germany. The photos are extremely clear and sharp. 136 pages
Kampf um’s Dritte Reich Eine Historische Bilderfolge Copyright 1933 bn Cigaretten=Bilderdietst Ultona=Bahrenfeld. Lots of very clear small color photos of Hitler youth, Hitler, and other Nazi bad guys glued in. Candids, posed shots, military photos. 92 pages
Gestalten Der Weltgeschichte Zeitgenossische Miniaturen beruhmter Personlichkeiten aus vier Jahrhunderten
Copyright 1933 bn Cigaretten=Bilderdietst Altona=Bahrenfeld. Small color photos of painted portraits of historical figures. 111 pages
Vom Werden deutscher filmkunst 2. Teil: Der Tonfilm von Dr. Oskar Kalbus
Copyright 1935 by Cigaretten=Bilderdietst Altona=Bahrenfeld. More black and white photos of film stars.136 pages
Uncle John's Strange & Scary Freaky Facts about Peculiar People
Bathroom Reader for Kids Only! Bathroom Readers' Press
This is a pretty great little book (I cheated and looked at it even though I'm not a kid); spooky info on subjects like coffin art in Ghana, Einstein's missing brain, how to tell if your house is haunted, how to make a mummy, the fine art of gurning, bog snorkling, the henges (Stone and Car) and much, much more.
And there on page 101 is my little buddy "Black Jack with the Hackle Back", an ouija board I painted a few years ago! Thanks, Uncle John!
This is one of those books that every artist should have, on the shelf next to Gray's Anatomy. Gorgeous illustrations of bizarre plants and animals, so jam packed with ornate curlicues and baroque designs it almost looks like a book of wallpaper.
Uglies, Pretties, and Specials are a juvenile fiction series about a society where, at the age of 16, everyone undergoes mandatory cosmetic surgery to become “pretty”. The premise is that if everyone is beautiful, no one has an advantage over anyone else because they’re more attractive, a science-and-surgery-based update on Kurt Vonnegut’s classic “Harrison Bergeron”.
Of course, there’s more to it than that, including brain changing, creepy overseers, first love, betrayal, and a brilliant invention called the hoverboard (guaranteed, you will wish you had one). The books are great adventure stories for almost any age; I sure wish there had been books like this when I was in my early teens, when the choices were pretty much Judy Blume, Judy Blume, and for “troubled” kids, S. E. Hinton.
Specials, the final book in the trilogy, is due in the US in early May.
(done as an art trade for a painting of a ghost. Acrylic on wood)
I love dodos. I don't know if it's their comical appearance, the needless tragedy of their extinction, the exotic taint of Victorian science, or the mere fact that they're called "dodo". They have always been one of my favorite animals.
I was just over at Paleoblog, one of my favorite sites, and there's an article about a new MUST HAVE photography book on dodos: The Dodo and Mauritius Island: Imaginary Encounters by Harri Kallio (Dewi Lewis Publishing, October 15, 2005).
It looks amazing; here’s a link to an article (with some samples of the pictures) about the project.