GOP Rebrands!

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Headlines! I heard it first on my PBS station’s Marketplace.

The Republican Party, having lost the last presidential election, is doing some soul searching. No, I overstate. Apparently taking a hard look at their image, they want to reshape their message. It didn’t go over well to disenfranchise an entire segment of the American voting population: women, Latinos, African Americans, young people. Well, pretty much anyone who isn’t older white male. “Scary” is a common response among the electorate. However, Republicans are not planning to change what they stand for, just how they say it. They want to retool their brand. Not go deep. It’s a surface thing. A facelift. Botox.

I am not holding my breath. My recent project with a nonprofit had me explaining ‘Brand 101′ when the entire board of directors thought a brand was what you do to cattle. You know, that metal stamp that gets burned into the cow’s hide. Shows who the owner is.

So, I have to wonder why the higher ups in the Republican Party are willing to get their skins seared. (Ouch.) Well, not everyone. According to Media Matters, Mr. Rush Limbaugh disagrees. After all he has been an influential loud messenger of the GOP rhetoric. The RNC, needing the Latino votes, now endorses immigration reform. Not Rush. He will block immigration reform on his own, if necessary. Have to say, Limbaugh exemplifies a consistent brand.

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I’m trying to picture what the new GOP brand would actually look like. We all remember the TV coverage of the conventioneers—that sea of white faces. The GOP could dress them up in a variety of ethnic costumes. They could wear masks. The TV cameras could have a range of colorful filters. You remember how Bush W. would stack his town hall meetings with carefully selected sycophants? There could be a huge marketing campaign with the real ethnics enthusiastically touting the virtues of the GOP. Case studies. What the GOP has done for me. Think un-Clorox. Think non-whitening toothpaste. Think whole wheat bread. Think dinner parties with a mix of guests eating tamales and fried chicken and dim sum and singing World music. Think elephant wearing a sombrero and tweeting and texting.

According to branding consultant Debra Kaye, author of “Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation” there could be a danger of a rebrand. We all remember when Coke tried to change its look. Coke drinkers had fits. The new Coke represented the destruction of what we hold dearly as essentially American.

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Neighborhood sighting: While waiting in my car  at a red light, two Harley motorcycles pulled up next to me. The one closest to me had a driver and a passenger outfitted in full gear of leather and helmets.The passenger was hugging an enormous bag that at first glance I thought was dog food. I then realized it was Depends. Not sure if they were planning a big trip with no stops or was this merely a clash of brands?

Cartoon: Female Genital Mutilation

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When Drawing Makes Noise

Female Circumsion

The cartoon by Doaa Eladl is from Uprising of Women in the Arab World. The Intifada (website) is “…a free secular space for constructive dialogue and fearless listening about women’s rights in the Arab world.”

It describes the cartoonist: “Doaa Eladl draws about ignorance and patriarchy that still allow practicing Female Genital Mutilation on young women in Egypt and other countries of the Arab world.”

Eladl’s cartoon is whirling through cyberspace; I heard it reported on my local northern California NPR station. I was driving so couldn’t record the astonishing number of tweets the cartoon elicited. PRI’s The World reports Doaa Eladl as a rare breed, a lone woman among professional political cartoonists in Egypt.

As pictured in that article, Doaa Eladl depicts herself among her male colleagues.Doaa Eladl _colleagues

Eladl is not one to avoid controversy as in the PRI article (December 27, 2012 ), Egypt: Cartoonist Sued for Depiction of Adam and Eve. The angel is an Egyptian man who tells the couple that they would have never been expelled from heaven if they had voted in favor of the of the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution.”

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You can read an interview with Eladl on the blog, CARTOON MOVEMENT ( July 18, 2011)

Doaa EladlDoaa Eladl  (Photo courtesy of Stephanie McMillan)

Eladl says, “The purpose of editorial cartooning is to awaken people. Some media outlets, whether in the United States or Egypt, distort the facts. And normally the media is controlled either by government, by investors, by the people who have the money. So cartoons, they should look into issues and make it clear whether it is black or white, or whether there is a grey area. People can look and distinguish between sincere and honest cartoonists and from other kinds that are not. Even an historian can be under pressure and to fake the writing of history. But cartoonists, we have the freedom to say what we want.”

My research into Doaa Eladl led me to wonder about the representation of women political cartoonists in the USA then to this article in Forbes: Cartoons By Women Around The World Are A Needed Perspective. Written by Liza Donnelly, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, she states, “The number of women professionally practicing the art of political cartooning is dismal.”

women-holding-globe-sized“Women Holding the Globe” by Liza Donnelly

Donnelly hopes the internet will be helpful for new voices.  “If we can continue to remove the physical and cultural barriers that women face in becoming cartoonists, then this—a rigid definition of what cartoon commentary is—is the final barrier that I see for women who are and who want to become, cartoonists.”

She ends with this important message: “Because they often reach us on a non-verbal level, cartoons can be quick, insightful and very powerful.  Humor –sometime with a message of hope—can help us see our shared humanity and understand one another.”

You can’t get much quicker, more insightful, more powerful than Doaa Eladl’s thug climbing the ladder while he aims large garden shears toward the red flower representing the woman’s crotch.

CODEX: Day Two

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Obsession of Genius

On my second day attending the Codex International Book Fair 2013 in Richmond, I was struck by a common theme among the bookmakers: obsessiveness. In the essential drive to create the exquisitely crafted often oddly conceived books or tools, does a touch of the super human help, too?

The New Girl Press is the operation of the California book artist Georgette Freeman who was demonstrating the construction of small boxes at her exhibit table. To press and smooth the edges, she uses a standard bookmaking tool—a bone folder. But this was of her own making—from elk bone. She purchases/collects the animal parts, boils them for hours, hacks them into pieces, trims them, carves them and polishes them. The process, described on her site, is so laborious and time-consuming she can’t or won’t sell them. They are beautiful examples of form and function.

bonefoldersBone Folders from Elk Bones

Why shouldn’t phobia be the muse? The phobias of the Russian book artist Dmitry Sayenko was the catalyst for his book. “The ABC of Fears: The Famous People’s Phobias” is boldly illustrated in his woodcuts and linocuts on his handmade paper. Among the well-researched gallery of famous scaredy-cats is Bram Stroker. Yep, the creator of the famous Count Dracula, had chiroptophobia, the fear of bats. The bald Lenin must have avoided mirrors for he had peladophobia, the terror of bald-headed people. Stalin had pogonophobia: fear of beards.

Count Dracula

The German artist Gisel Oberbeck of Edition Go cuts detailed shapes into paper for her layered concertina books. I loved seeing traces of her faint pencil lines that guided her blade. No subject is daunting for her, whether nature or people. When the pieces are dramatically lit, as the one shown here from her website, the shadows add more layers to the complex art.

gestörtes-paradiesSoho, a district in Beijing, is interpreted in the layered cityscape with its intricate silkscreen print cutouts by the Chinese artist Leilei Guo.The 42 leaves of the book spiral open around a metal screw post binding. The feat of design and engineering is astonishing. Through her unique art, Guo comments on the sameness of architecture across the globe. “This is the perfect metaphor for what’s happening: our world gets bigger but our individual differences are fading.”

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“Nest-SoHo” 2009 (4.75 x 10.75 x 1.25)

In one large exhibition hall I took a fascinating trip around the globe. I pored over the books of artists and designers from Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Germany, Russia, Israel and here in the United States. Each work displayed at CODEX 2013, shows an individual point of view that enlarges my own.

CODEX: Day One

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Quick!

Q Bembo ‘Q’ (simulated) letter press

Go!

GSnell ‘G’ (simulated) embossed

You have until Wednesday February 13 to see perfectly rendered letters and more at the Codex International Book Fair 2013 in Richmond. Here you will revel in the divine (for ‘the word’ is divine­) regard for the limited edition and hand made book. The small press, the hand crafted, the adoration for pictures, words and poems, in languages contemporary or almost forgotten are represented by 180 exhibitors in the spacious Craneway Pavilion overlooking the Bay.

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One book—the last I looked at for how could I remember them all— “Das Lied des Akyn (The Song of the Rider)” is an edition of 100, printed in Hamburg by CTL Presse. Without understanding a word, I was mesmerized by what seems an ancient memory—like a cave painting. The single poem running throughout the book is printed in a different language on each spread. (I choked back tears over this collection of disparate voices united in one idea.) Photographs by Jutta Schwöbel faintly washed into the orange-buff china paper appear as hills until you realize these are sections of the profile of a horse. The poem by Chinghiz Aitmatov from Krygyzstan tells of the intense relationship between horses and humans beginning with the Mongols. “Like the power of an atomic bomb…” the bookmaker told me in his elegant German accent, “…with the horse, the Mongols conquered China and moved across Russia.”

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The housing for books are made from paper, wood, copper, fabric and leather and repurposed cigar boxes. Mark Cockram’s “The Raven” is bound in a pair of 1930s leather lady day gloves.

Arthur & Barbara“Arthur & Barbara” is a collaborative effort between proprietor Chip Schilling of Indulgence Press , the artist Barbara Westman and writer Arthur Danto. The mahogany box contains symbolic elements of the writer and artist and is reminiscent of Joseph Cornell boxes.

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I had seen “Musings” the repurposed embroidered sachet bags encasing small accordion books by Cathy DeForest at the Donna Seager Gallery so it was a pleasure to meet the artist who is also a writer and illustrator. Even these quiet odes to the women who make the lace ‘homely arts’ could be appreciated among the rows of exhibition tables for the crowd was reverently hushed as if in a library or chapel. Perhaps, overwhelmed like my companions and me, they were barely able to breathe from the excitement.

As I reluctantly departed the exhibit at the cut-off time, I followed a man carrying a load of different colored handmade papers purchased from the exhibitor Cave Paper, a company in Minneapolis. “That’s a serious investment,” I thought. Anticipating my own bookmaking efforts, I clutched my two sheets: a delicious saffron and the company’s give-away of coal black. My creative bookmaking class at the College of Marin is so jammed with eager artists I barely made it into the hastily added afternoon class. What a testament to the book and to their creators and to those of us who NEED the book in its myriad facets and interpretations. Especially the ones we hold in our hands.

The CODEX International Book Fair runs through Wednesday February 13. Craneway Pavilion in Richmond at 1414 Harbor Way South.

MAKING FUTURE ART LOVERS

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Experience Art!

A friend emailed this photo (no credit to the source) of the exuberant dancers. It’s a great example of really ‘getting into’ the art experience. My six-year old granddaughter and I strike the poses of sculptures when we visit them at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” greeting us in the courtyard entrance is a favorite.

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We know it starts young. Expose the child to the arts at an early age for a lifetime of engagement. Follow the lead of the child’s passion then enrich it. But how do you combat the junk distracting us? Not so hard. There are lots of good and accessible choices. March right over to your neighborhood movie theater to enjoy affordable ballet and opera. Yet I have to wonder. When I brought Charlotte to see “Sleeping Beauty”, a film of the Royal Ballet’s masterful production, not only was the attendance sparse, she was the only child.

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The fairy tale classical ballet with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky dazzles with en pointe dancers in sumptuous costumes. At cinema screen size, you see the details you can’t in a live performance. The refined definitions of muscles that propel those leaps up into the air. The liquid grace of the hand. The subtly of facial expressions. Throughout the backstage footage and rehearsals and close-ups of the orchestra, Charlotte, who takes ballet classes, was transfixed. A question or observance was whispered here and there, “Is this the same man who made the music for ‘The Nutcracker’? Those twirls don’t make her dizzy. That’s Little Red Riding Hood.” (Familiar characters drop in from their own fairy tales to entertain in ACT III, The Wedding.)

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 5.15.07 AMWhen the principal ballerina, the enchanting Lauren Cuthbertson, received three large bouquets during her bows, Charlotte shot up out of her seat and clapped with excitement, “She has three friends!” At the end of the over three-hour production she wailed, “It wasn’t long enough!”

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Original Theatrical Release Poster for Walt Disney’s 1959 “Sleeping Beauty”

You can prepare your child with YouTube snippets from the Royal Ballet and read any of the picture book versions of the story. The 1959 Walt Disney movie has wonderful hand drawn illustrations. The full Royal Ballet film is only $15 a seat at our Rafael Film CenterFor a theater near you, click here. You can’t beat the value compared to prime and even high-up-in-the-rafters seats at the live San Francisco Ballet productions.

The summer before Charlotte was five, she loved the Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” playing on the lawn of the Presidio in San Francisco. Many of the nuances were over her head but then children meet the world at their own level of understanding. (Don’t we all?) Of course, I learn from her, too as how to be totally engaged. She rides through the land of make-believe where Aurora, the sleeping beauty is real. Theater proves it.

Charlotte’s not ready for a long opera yet. We tried a live local production for kids of “Hansel and Gretel” recently but there were no breadcrumbs and the story telling bogged down. However this summer we’ll be going to the Vogue Theater in San Francisco for the showing of the Royal Ballet’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” on May 5, 2013. Lauren Cuthbertson will be Alice. See you there with your art lovers!

From Weapons to Peaceful Art

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Weapons and bullets are given a new peaceful purpose by artists all over the world who craft them into sculpture and jewelry. The concept of ‘swords into plowshares’ originates from The Book of Isaiah, “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

The firearms buy-back program in San Rafael (where I reside) has been so wildly successful that it ran out of money. Vouchers have to be given and donations solicited. Just what happens to all those discarded weapons? A possibility is a more noble life as art.

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African Mask (photo courtesy Jack Bell Gallery on CNN site)

Gonçalo Mabunda, an acclaimed artist from Mozambique, makes tribal inspired sculptures. The materials are recycled ‘instruments of death’ from two of Mozambique’s brutal wars. You can see a range of Mabunda’s work on AFRONOVA. According to the CNN article he wants to remove guns from the social landscape of his country. Mabunda says, “If we destroy the weapons, the same weapon’s not going to kill any more.”

On first glance at Al Farrow’s scale model cathedrals and synagogues, you don’t realize that they are built entirely from gun components and bullets. Farrow says.”The sculptures are an ironic play on the medieval cult of the relic, tomb art, and the seductive nature of objects commissioned and historically employed by those seeking positions of power.” The de Young Museum in San Francisco had an exhibition of his work in 2008 and houses a piece in its permanent collection.

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“Synagogue III”, 2010 (guns, gun parts, bullets, steel, shot, polycarbonate, Israeli Army issued Jewish ritual objects: tefilin bag, tallit and tefilin) 20x27x33 in.)
(photo: Catherine Clark Gallery in San Francisco)

Recently, I spied simple tiny crosses made from bullet casings at Basheesh, a Fair Trade retail shop in St. Helena, California.

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This photo of a cross made from a bullet casing from the Liberian war is lifted from the timely post, “Religion & Politics: impolite company” from the blog of Brian Kanowsky.

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The Liberian artist Benjamin Somah is featured on globalpost. He recycles bullet cases  into figurines.

Mexican Artist GunsPhoto: Fox News Latino

In his series “Works for Peace” The Mexican artist Victor Hugo Zayas creates sculptures made from weapons collected by the Los Angeles police. (Zayas was given TWO TONS!) His exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum in 2012 was dedicated to the victims of crime.

CL-81-2Hamsa Pendant (Bullets 4 Peace)

“Bullets 4 Peace” repurposes bullet casing from around the world into a line of handcrafted jewelry. The Hamsa is a hand—symbol of protection against the ’evil eye’ and is a popular motif in both Jewish and Middle Eastern jewelry.

There are many more artists committed to transforming weapons of destruction into peaceful expressions. Please help me add to this list by forwarding their names and information.

Michelle Obama’s Red Gown

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Michelle Obama’s red inaugural gown. Everyone is talking about it.

©Doug Mills_The New York TimesDoug Mills/The New York Times

I confess that I turned on the TV at inaugural ball time solely for that glimpse of what she would be wearing…feeling ashamed of my shallowness. That is until the news commentators covering the inauguration were obsessively yammering about it for hours. On CNN, Anderson Cooper was over the moon. Yeah, yeah, there were nods to the inauguration appropriately set on Martin Luther King’s birthday, but the swoons were for the inauguration ball gown. That glory of the color red: a beacon of pride. The symbol so ingrained in our political culture, the First Lady could have been swathed in the American flag.

How is it that a mere stitching together of chiffon and velvet could deliver such a potent message? You could say it is a logo—a trademark, the visual translation of brilliant branding. There is the simple form—the profile of the gown: halter neck, nipped waist, flowing to the floor. The bright red flashing on your TV screen. And the context: dancing on the Presidential Seal.

As the talking heads raved over Michelle’s exposed famous athletic shoulders and arms, I couldn’t help but flash on the politically engineered ‘armored’ fashion of the first Queen Elizabeth of England (1558-1603) and her extravagantly ginormous collars. (It just occurred to me…all those beheadings! Of course, her fashion would BLOCKADE HER NECK!) Her opulent jewels were meant to be impressive in the total package that was her royal image: her brand. In later years, her white makeup camouflaged her small pox scars. Her rotten teeth from over-indulgence in sweets became a fashion statement of her ardent followers who blackened their teeth in emulation of their idol.

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This “Armada Portrait” by George Gower (1588?) is an allegorical painting  commemorating the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada. Note the appropriate symbols surrounding the queen as, ships in the background, right hand on the globe.

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Just as you can see designer Jason Woo’s sketch for Michelle’s gown, the designers at Naergi’s Costuming Site demonstrate the reconstruction of Elizabethan gowns from a type of archeological dig. The detailed notes with accompanying photos are a fascinating analysis of the elaborate dress.

458px-Elizabeth_I_of_England_Hardwick_1592“Elizabeth I Portrait”, attributed to Nicholas Hilliard (1599)

A facsimile of this dress—made entirely in paper—is by artist Isabelle de Borchgrave.

Elizabeth-Court-Dress-Isabelle-de-BorchgraveThe San Francisco Legion of Honor had an exhibit in 2011 of the artist’s work: Pulp Fashion. Reconstructing quintessential examples of fashion throughout history to Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, I wonder if the 2013 inaugural gown is next on the list of iconic costumes to be constructed in paper through the wizardry of Borchgrave.

Out With the Old

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The Creative Space as Form and Function

The shortest days of the year are either the best or the worst to purge both my design and art studios. A few remaining crimson tufts cling to the maple outside my window, the bare frame of the tree revealing the hummingbird feeder.

maplewinter-humfeederIt is sad to sort through past work—a concrete reminder of mortality—so I set a time limit and stop at twilight or the devils climb in. I keep the goal in mind: a clean space for the inevitable creating of new things. After all, as a designer and an artist, I am a maker of things and collector of the materials to make them!

Purging is a tiered process where I begin with the visible exteriors then clear and reorder shelves and cabinets. I am a bit shocked at how much stuff I have accumulated. Making-up the rules as I go, I store the most precious samples in the fireproof file cabinet. Next tier are just a few of each samples I would actually feel proud to show in a presentation. One file holds the nostalgic samples but ones that are no longer up-to-date…just there for old times sake. Most files are on my hard drive and backup disk but I also slap finished jobs onto CDs just to cover all bets. Even scanned boxes of art slides!

It practically broke my heart to toss old printed samples from paper companies who once lavished them upon us designers. Even threw parties for us with catered food. Organized paper samples in our studios in small open-ended boxes. Alas, many of these companies have gone the wayside with the demise of print. It feels sad—this extraordinary passage from one era to another. Into my recycle bin go shards of gorgeously embossed and embellished and cleverly die-cut richly colored and textured annual reports, booklets, invitations and mailers. This amalgam of designer, client, paper manufacturer and printer who all adore the tactile. All this handling of the papers, the smooth to textured surfaces, the variance of color, is making me hyperaware of the real world…away from the virtual one of my computer.

birdfeederspringThe leaves will come back in the spring—as is nature’s way. People are showing awareness of their carbon footprint as they judiciously use or recycle paper. We designers are creating websites with no paper. I actually still design printed materials for clients but I know I am the rarity. And this…Neenah Paper’s clever presentation for viewing samples on their site. Download their  Neenah Cabinet and have fun viewing although it isn’t the same as touching. You can still order swatch books for that.

Actually, reordering my studio isn’t all that different than creating design. The design process requires setting goals, limits, organizing, and finally creating a product that is appropriate and seamlessly functional and beautiful. Working in a functional and aesthetic environment is essential. I still have cleaning to do. Out with the old. In with the new. New ideas. New creative work.

STRAWBERRY SUMMER

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Nothing says summer better than summer fruit.
And what is better than a ride in the country? We stare out the window for miles. We pass by dried pale ochre California hills then flat land dotted-with-pecan-trees (pronounced pecaan) then past rows of short green clumps that don’t look too exciting until there is a STRAWBERRY stand.

Talk about brand! Hand painted signage on a hand made wooden stand plunked in a strawberry field. Authentic. Eye-catching. Just-picked Delicious Product=The message=Artistic interpretation. “All for one and one for all.” (From “The Three Musketeers”, of course.) A sophisticated sign wouldn’t work. Who would trust some big box company influence on the side of the road? We’ve already passed the stand but immediately turn back to buy several baskets of strawberries along with zucchini and giant beets. We gobble the sweet red jewels from one basket on the way to Atwater to visit Grandma—who just turned 102. Born on a ranch in West Texas, she is a testament to living close to the soil. She can’t garden anymore but she still pokes around the tomatoes and squash that my mother-in-law Annie plants in the sunny back yard away from shadows of the plum trees.

Then, summer movies.
I like the visually delicious “Moonrise Kingdom”. Bizarre isn’t everyone’ taste but is mine. Location, costuming, sets are fantastic. The main red house with lacy edge is a real house! This movie gives a big nod to books for that exploding youth market I mentioned in my last blog, Judge a Book by its Cover.

Wes Anderson, the filmmaker, went for authenticity by carefully selecting artists to create those book covers. (I searched but could not find close ups of these covers.) In a previous blog, Art Stars at the Movies, I mention that I had to be a detective to find the artists whose works were represented in the movies. Here, the artists are actually credited on screen but, alas, not on the entertaining website. Don’t leave before the credits roll, it’s not over.

Then, just looking around us and feeling the heat.
We take the time to sit back and observe and reflect. After a 97° day here in Marin County, the evening was warm but alas, no Midwest fireflies to flash in the dark. My husband Ken, who has excellent hearing along with his critical photographer eye, listens to crickets. For me, there is only the pungent smell of a skunk that lingers. (Is it still here? Under my desk?) I prefer the staycation—driving around with no agenda and no airlines to wrangle, drinking in the light and shadows on the hills, the ocean—then coming home to my own bed and a book. After all, we live in Marin County, California, a rich and diverse part of the world.

© Ken Smith “Iconic Cow with California Oak”

Happy summer!

Judge a Book by its Cover

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Classic books such as Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” are sporting contemporary covers that appeal to teenagers according to the New York Times, June 27, 2012.

Influenced by the “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins and the “Twilight” series by Stephanie Meyer, the young-adult genre is soaring with new books as well as the classics.

HarperCollin’s 2009 release of “Wuthering Heights” has sold 125,000 copies, placing it on the best-seller lists. My local Marin County Civic Center library encourages teens with a cozy and fun reading area that makes me want to shed a few decades to sink into books there.

Illustrations breathing new life into older books have a happy history. It’s hard to believe that “Moby Dick”, originally published in 1851 by Lakeside Press went almost unnoticed until its reprint in 1930 when it sold out with Rockwell Kent’s illustrations. The new cover didn’t even include the name of the author, Herman Melville—an oversight remedied in a follow-up printing by Random House. You can buy the Kindle version that includes the illustrations or pay dearly for what are now collector’s books. Kent was the perfect choice as the illustrator since he was an adventurer who explored the high seas and the wilderness. Unless you have the luxury of visiting the Rockwell Kent gallery at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, it is hard to find his original work. In San Francisco, you can see one of his landscape paintings in the collection of the DeYoung Museum.

The Decameron, Tenth Tale

Fearing the demise of the printed book and especially, the illustrated hardcover, I now have a casual collecting hobby. My latest acquisition, purchased from a local merchant, is Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” with 1949 copyright illustrations by Rockwell Kent. A prolific book and magazine illustrator who also created bookplates, he does not shrink from showing nudity in these drawings. Although this used book, missing its dust jacket, was a bargain, the old sticker on the inside back cover quotes 79¢.

War and Peace, Little Princess

I thought I could finally plow through Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” if I dispensed with my old paperback with its teeny type for the hardbound HarperCollins Publication. Included are the original illustrations of M.S. Bashilov who collaborated closely with Tolstoy. Even though I am a fan of “Anna Karenina”  and Tolstoy’s other writings, so far, I can’t get past the wonderful drawings, yet, it is a goal.

My  “Huckleberry Finn” is a Dover replication of the original 1885 book. Chosen exclusively by Mark Twain, the illustrator, Edward W. Kemble, could afford only one model and thus imagined the various men, women, whites and African Americans populating the pages that give us modern folks a peek into the past.

Although threatened with the ‘end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it’, there is an unpredicted re-emergence of old books not forgotten but published with original illustrations. It’s heartening that young people are voracious readers of new series as well as the classics.

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