Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greetings From Maine!

June is Bustin' Out All Over, from Roger and Hammerstein's Carousel, 1956.
Internet access here is very, very slow. Regular posts next week ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

'Lost' Auction

Over 1,000 items from the ABC series ‘Lost’ will be auctioned by Profiles in History on August 21-22. Included will be costumes and props from all six seasons. I never saw the show, but they sure had some great props.Section of Oceanic Flight 815 wreckage.

Jack’s burgundy medical case

Hurley’s shirt-turned-fishing-net.

Four scorched model Oceanic airplanes from Claire’s dream.

Geronimo Jackson LP.

Sawyer’s improvised reading glasses.

Sun’s broken glass ballerina.

DHARMA-branded peanuts.

Desmond’s Portuguese version Catch-22.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Dogs of Will Rannells (And a Contest!)

Somewhere between Cassius M. Coolidge’s Dogs Playing Poker and William Wegman’s elegant and complex Weimaraners, lie Will Rannells’ canine men of the world.
“What's on the 6th floor?” a history and special collections blog of The San Francisco Public Library, recently featured these Life magazine covers (not to be confused with LIFE, the Henry Luce publication), by Rannells (1892-1982).
Early on, Rannells found that his paintings of dogs set him apart from other artists. It is reported that he thought they were much better subjects than the beautiful girls he had previously been drawing. In fact, his first commercial success (at age 19) was a portrait of a collie that had previously been held in the arms of a girl. When he realized the dog was better off without the human figure, he painted the dog alone and sold it for $40. It later appeared on the June 1, 1912 cover of Country Gentleman. He went on to illustrate for the magazines Life, Judge and McCalls, as well as for a number of children's books.
Will Rannells became an art professor at The Ohio State University, where he taught painting and advertising design. He was active in the Humane Society and was known locally for his efforts to rescue stray animals and for his opposition to vivisection.”
To truly acknowledge the dog days of summer you must head over to Newmanology and partake of, either as a participant or an observer The Newmanology Dog Days of Summer Dog Magazine Cover Contest. There is already a fantastic gallery up, with new additions coming in fast and furious. Add your canine contestant to the mix. Still needed: a bejeweled lady-dog (not just any bitch with bling, must be canine).

Will Rannells covers (starting from the top): "Putting on the Dog," Life (Nov. 3, 1927);
"The Dog Star,"Life (July 16, 1914); "R.F.D.," Life (Dec. 16, 1915);
"An Old Sea Dog," Life (Sept. 3, 1925); Country Gentleman (June 1, 1912);
"Never Again," Life (Jan. 15, 1920). Life courtesy Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor; Country Gentleman courtesy Magazines & Newspaper Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cement Bag Graphics

Thanks to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, we know all too well how catastrophic the results of faulty cement can be. Then again, it has also been the only fix.

Cement is one of the most consumed substances on earth, said to be second only to water.

Visit any construction site, anywhere in the world, and the bags of cement you see were likely to have been packed in locally printed bags. Together, these images form a global, graphic compendium of all we demand from our most common but significant, of building materials: strength, durability, dependability, consistency, endurance, even eternity.


Elephants are very well represented

You may have seen these laptop bags made from unused cement sack, by Wren, in Wired. Below, a vintage Thai poster.

Other animals that stand for strenght and fortitude ...

A fish? In Asia, the carp has long been considered a symbol of strength, endurance, perseverance and fortitude—all good traits for cement (not so good for the Great Lakes). It is said that the carp can jump completely over the rapids of the Yellow River and overcome all manner of obstacles.

And creatures of mythic strength.


The castle.

The pyramids.

Elemental to pyramids, the triangle shape, be it a rock or a road (or a triangle) is a classic symbol of stability.
And let’s not forget to remember the Alamo.


“The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California"
 was composed by John Fahey in the early 1960s. A vintage Monolith bag is featured on the 7” single by Cul-de-sac, 1999.

Devil’s Slide, Utah, is named for a nearby rock formation. The town grew up in the early 1900s around the Union Portland Cement Co. It is now a ghost town.


Russian "constructivist" cement bags.

These bags assert their strength via macho graphics. Although, Vijaya reminds me of a gynecological term Oprah uses

And speaking of macho, Ambuja Cement of India, features a muscleman cradling a humongous dam. Dams are the most cement–intensive projects there are. We might not be accustomed to seeing ads for cement here, but in India, branded cement ads are not uncommon. I came across the Ambuja logo in varying degrees of realism— from airbushed, to graphic black and white. Ambujaman is even painted on the sides of buildings.

Photo by Rene

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Luis Meléndez Still Lifes

‘Tis the season to eat berries! It’s probably my single favorite thing about summer—the produce—especially fruit. This year I find myself generally smitten with cherries, but my passion extends over many species. Last week I swooned over some raspberries I had the pleasure of picking right off the vine. And nothing compares to watermelon in humidity like this.

In wanting to pay homage to the delectable flesh of summer, I thought of the sumptuous still lifes by 18th century Spanish painter Luis Meléndez, whose work was the subject of an exhibit last summer at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

As a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in Madrid, the talented Luis aspired to become a royal portrait painter. However, he and his father (who taught at the academy) clashed with the administration and were both expelled. Unsuccessful in petitioning the court for a position, he was relegated to painting still lifes and died in poverty.

Fast forward to a google image-search and yet another Luis Meléndez having difficulties with the court. Nestled among the ripe tomatoes and voluptuous melons, is a wanted poster by the New Bedford Police Department for our painter’s namesake. He failed to appear in court on the last day of his trial, which resulted in a conviction for cocaine trafficking. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in a state prison.
If anyone has information on Mr. Meléndez’s location or sees him, they are urged to either call 911, call New Bedford Police’s Violent Crime Tip Line at 508-961-4584 or the State Police Unit assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office at 508-993-2016.

The public should not attempt to apprehend or subdue Mr. Melendez on their own.

The notice is dated 2007, with no status update. I can only hope that he is now safely behind bars, and has taken up painting.

I strongly urge you to visit the Prado Museum site to see the incredible detail of the images when enlarged (below).


To see other paintings in the Prado collection, go to the Prado on-line gallery search and enter Luis Meléndez.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Prague Collages

On the subject of Czech collage, I’ve been unearthing some artwork from the past. I did these collages on a trip to Prague in 1996. It was the end of November and it got dark very early, by around 4:30. The weather was cold and wet, and streets in the city were dimly lit, so I ended up staying in and fooling around with tourist brochures and other accumulated bits and pieces.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crime Times Three: Czech Detective Books

Photomontage covers for a series of Czech detective books. Each volume is a trio of stories—“Trikrat” means “three times.” Printed right onto the fabric cover, the weave lends an extra-grainy tabloid look to the images.

Artist, Libor Fara (1925-88), was responsible for the distinctive look of the series published by Odeon. He produced most of the Trikrat covers of the 1980s. Fara was a surrealist artist associated with the post-WWII circle of Karel Teige. Like many Czech artists of that period, his work spanned multiple disciplines. His body of work included theatrical design, large-scale assemblages, posters, and many books.





1981, 1977






Images are from Antikvariát Slaný and various other booksellers.
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