Friday, May 28, 2010

Blue-Haired Dandy

(click this image for larger view!) Image © Geoff Story.

MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE GEOFF STORY, A VERY TALENTED DESIGNER AND PHOTOGRAPHER/ARTIST, shared with me this image he took of a graveyard photograph attached to a gravestone at St. Louis’ famous and historic Bellefontaine Cemetery. Over 100 years have passed, giving this particular tombstone photographic image some very strange qualities. The gentleman’s hair has turned blue—an amazing cerulean blue! This angelic couple, floating in death by soft, cotton-like clouds, remain as a surreal image whose particular qualities fit our sensibilities today perfectly. This is an amazing photograph of a transformed-by-time photographic tombstone image.

The story of Bellefontaine Cemetery, a non-sectarian, perpetual care cemetery, begins with the year 1849, when many prominent citizens of St. Louis, who had the welfare of the City at heart, recognized that the old cemeteries located along Jefferson Avenue would soon have to be abandoned, since they were directly in the path of the City’s westward growth.

The movement for a new cemetery was led by William McPherson, banker and prominent lawyer, who had served as Mayor of St. Louis several times prior to 1849. They organized a group of notable men, regardless of their religious affiliations, and procured 138 acres of land on the Bellefontaine Road, — Hempstead farm. On the 7th of March, 1849, they adopted a constitution and incorporated under the name of the “Rural Cemetery Association”, received a Charter from the State of Missouri. At the next meeting of the Association, they decided to drop the name “Rural” and adopt the name “Bellefontaine”, because of the fact that the Cemetery was located on the old military road leading to the former Fort Bellefontaine.

They had acted none too soon, for in June of that year the worst cholera epidemic in all our local history came up the river from New Orleans. By the early part of July, it had so alarmed the community that all the city fathers, excepting the Mayor, fled from St. Louis with their families, leaving the Mayor to cope with the situation as best he could. Before the middle of August, more than ten percent of the City’s total population had perished. There were more than thirty funerals each day from the Catholic Cathedral; and from other prominent churches a like number.

As soon as the plague had abated, James E. Yeatman, a member of the Bellefontaine Association, went east to obtain the services of a competent landscape architect. At Greenwood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, New York, he found Almerin Hotchkiss, a man thirty years old and of good education. Mr. Hotchkiss embarked upon his career at Bellefontaine that autumn and held the position of Superintendent until his death, forty-six years later. He was succeeded by his son, Frank, who held the position for some twenty years.

The Cemetery, as we view it today, is largely the work of Almerin Hotchkiss. The original 138 acres was expanded to 314 acres by three additional land acquisitions before 1900. Approximately 70 acres of unused ground remain for future development. Bellefontaine’s fourteen miles of curved roadways were created to afford beautiful views of the landscape, seasonal foliage and lakes confined within its borders. The Cemetery, noted for its silent beauty, numbers 86,000 interments among 6,800 spacious family lots and numerous single grave areas. Bellefontaine continues to have one of the finest collections of trees in the St. Louis area.

Learn more about this famous cemetery here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Otis Artists’ Book Collection:

(Above and next 3 images below) Crispix by Otis Lab Press ©, 2005. Click image for larger view.

Book opened, showing spine.

Inside spreads with “four-fold throw up format with long stitch into a mini-cereal box cover.”

(Below) Pop-up book (cover) by Carol June Barton ©, 1993. Click image for larger view.

(Below) Inside spread of pop-up book by Carol June Barton ©, 1993.

(Above) Inside spread of pop-up book by Carol June Barton ©, 1993.

(Above) Inside spread of pop-up book by Carol June Barton ©, 1993.

THE OTIS ART INSTITUTE IN CALIFORNIA has put forth an extensive effort to digitize their handmade artists’ books, available for view by designers and artists anywhere. With approximately 2,000 examples of every sort of art book and process imaginable (letterpress, pop-up, xerox, embossing, and every binding technique imaginable) this is a resource to know about for students and professionals alike.

The stated goal of the Otis Artists’ Book Collection was not to create a comprehensive archive, but rather to provide a valuable teaching resource available to art historians, artists, and students. Since the collection is available on only a limited basis, providing access to the books via online images was a priority. With assistance from the Getty Electronic Cataloging Initiative, the Otis Library cataloged the books and and photographed representative portions of each work.

For instant access to the Otis Artists’ Book Collection, click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

... and if by chance we find each other, it is beautiful.

(Above) Betsy and Michael, a groovy hippie couple on their wedding day, c. 1960’s. The next image is the flip side of the snapshot. Yea-aa baa-by, yeaaaa! Click image for larger view.
(Above) Verso, “Betsy & Michael, the wind was the poetry and the waterfalls the music.” Right on.” Click image for larger view.

(Above) Couple with red VW bus, c. 1960’s. On the road again, baby! Click image for larger view.

(Above) Hairstyles of the day, with paisley dresses to match for these party girls. c. 1960’s. Click image for larger view.

(Above) Swimming in patterns— c. 1960’s. Click image for larger view.

(Above) Go-carting was very popular in the sixties, especially for dads. Click image for larger view.

(Above) Somehow these hippies look like rock band members I have seen before... a very “Beach Boys ” look. Click image for larger view.

(Above) All the girls wore headbands—just like this! Click image for larger view.

(Above) ... and this dress style was very popular with the older chicks. Click image for larger view.

“YOU ARE YOU AND I AM I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.” This is part of a nauseous and cheesy quote by Frederick Perl, a gestalt psychotherapist whose writings were adopted for black light posters and T-shirts during the brief and magical hippie era—roughly 1963 -1973. These snapshots, all found on eBay—represent a good swath of everyday life during that time.

I really like the words on the back of the top snapshot—comments about the wedding of a couple named Betsy and Michael. So, to celebrate that wedding, beehive hairdo’s, Stingray bikes, beads, bell bottom jeans, incense, pot, Hippie vans and paisley patterns—here are some other quotes, prose and song lyrics from that period.

Right on, man!

I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one. And I believe it could be someday it’s going to come.
Cat Stevens
(Peace Train)

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams
Live the life you’ve always imagined.
Henry David Thoreau

We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Joni Mitchell/CS&N

Do your own thing.

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

They’ve all gone to look for America.
Simon and Garfunkel

If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair.

Scott McKenzie
(San Francisco)

C’mon people, now
smile on your brother,
ev’ry-body get together,
try to love one another right now.
Chet Powers/Youngbloods
(Get Together)

And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with
(Love the One You're With)

Love is all you need.
(All You Need is Love)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wood Nymphs That Bite

THESE IMAGES ARE BY MARK RYDEN, one of my favorite contemporary painters. Ryden’s imagery lets his own personal world of childhood fairy tales collide with something darker—nightmares that include fuzzy animals, cuts of meat, wood nymphs, religious figures and an obsession with Abraham Lincoln. Like the soothing songs of mythological Sirens, Ryden’s imagery will beckon you softly in with it’s fairytale innocence. Once there, you realize you are oddly comfortable with big-eyed little girls with butcher knives and you become a follower. Ryden becomes your dream master, your drug-dealer, your edge walker—and you like it.

There images are from his 2006 Wood Nymph series, part of his sellout exhibition The Tree Show at the Michael Kohn Gallery. I have written about Ryden in the past and you can see that post here.

If you have never heard of Mark Ryden, you can see more of his work on his website here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Angel Tree

(Above) The Angel Oak Tree in Charleston, S.C. Photo by © Mark Requidan. Click image for much larger view.

IF THIS TREE COULD TALK, WHAT STORIES IT COULD TELL. This tree, called Angel Oak, is located on Johns Island, one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands and owned and protected by the City of Charleston. It is estimated to be more than 1,400 years old and stands 65 feet tall. It’s old, tired lower limbs, the size of normal trees themselves, receive man-made support in a few places as you can see in this photograph by photographer Mark Requidan. This image was selected as “one of the best pictures on the web,” quite an honor, I’d say.

The Angel Oak, as it is called, is thought to be one of the largest living organisms east of the Mississippi River. Local folklore in the area tell of stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree. It has survived countless hurricanes and floods and acorns from this tree have produced direct offspring descendants.

You DEFINITELY want to click on this image for a larger view. You do, really!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ghost Image

Click any image for larger view.

I LOOK FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES THAT WERE NEVER MEANT TO APPEAR. Like this image— which, over the course of 100 years, seeped through to the paper backing on this glass plate image. I love the accidental mirror image we are left with— mysterious and unintended.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Skull Spoons and Thread

(Above) Silver skull spoons by Pinky.

(Above) Pinky proves you don’t need a needle to make art with cloth and thread.

(Above) More silver skull spoons by Pinky.

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I want to stir my next cup of coffee with a skull spoon from Pinky Diablo, aka Tom Sale. Pinky says he is a Dallas area preacher who has retired from the zoo to work on his opera “The Zoo Keeper’s Lament” and to embroider baby chicks and dirty words on pillowcases.

My kind of guy.

Via PinkyDiablo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So You Think You’re Important?

(Above) The Earth taken from outside of our solar system by the Voyager spacecraft. Click image for larger view.

(Above) Approximate spot (in green) outside of our solar system where this amazing photograph was taken. Click image for larger view.

(Above) The black and white photo above is the first picture ever taken from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. (March 8, 2004) Click image for larger view.

The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover’s navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover’s panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see. The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera’s color filters.
Credit: © NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

ON THE PALE BLUE DOT WE CALL EARTH, we divide ourselves into clans, territories and countries and fight and kill each other; we pollute the very orb that gives us life; so many of us get up everyday and go to jobs we hate and indulge ourselves in petty things. We compete and lose sleep for titles and corner offices in the corporate sphere and yet we live on this pale blue dot the size of a grain of sand on the beach. We think we are important. All that is really important is that we protect our tiny spaceship called Earth, that we protect our environment and that we learn to love one another. Because when its all said and done, each of us humans exist but a millisecond in the scheme of things—and then we die—disappear.

Go out today and do something good. Make love, show love, or do something good for the planet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Peek Behind the Curtain

(Above) Eko and Iko, Sheepheaded Cannibals from Ecuador. Click for larger image.

(Above) Illustrated man, by Chet Cain. Click for larger image.

(Above) Blindfolded young man undergoing secret initiation ritual. Click for larger image.

THIS SPECIES WE CALL “HUMAN” - how interesting it is. How magnificent! How depraved. How genius. How stupid. How charitable and kind, how cruel and evil. We have it all. I am drawn to that which is off the beaten path—those things in the shadows and behind the curtain. Today we know that behind that curtain exists unspeakable things, some darker than others but it exists in a parallel universe along side the Flower Clubs, churches, and smiling faces of “happy” families.

I present three stories, one—the story of twin brothers who were forced against their will to be a carnival sideshow act in the 192os; the second, a man who chose to be different by tattooing his entire body, and lastly—a young man being put through a bizarre initiation in order to “prove” his worthiness to be part of some stupid group. While the young man may have wanted to be in this club—I am sure he would have preferred to be allowed entrance with this ridiculous and humiliating effort.

The top photo shows
Willie and George Muse, who were African-American albino twins born in the 1890s and kidnapped as children by bounty hunters contracting out to a sideshow promoter. Told their mother was dead, the 2 toured as carnival attractions. Their promoter made them grow their hair out to natty dreadlocks to accentuate their already odd appearance. In 1922 they were presented in the Al G. Barnes Circus as “White Ecuadorian Cannibals” with the stage names Eko and Iko. They were soon re-labeled “The Sheep-Headed Men” and by 1923 they were re-branded “The Ambassadors From Mars.”

The second photo postcard shows an anonymous man illustrated by tattoo artist
Chet Cain, c. 1920s. Cain was a known tattoo man who traveled with circuses of the period. This photo shows tattoos including WWI air combat; Jesus on the cross and Indians in headdress, among others.

The bottom image shows a 2” photo button of a young man sitting within a wooden crate with slats. He wears long black stockings and high top shoes with his legs and feet extending through the slats. His hands grasp a thick rope. He wears a blindfold and a shrine hat. Text off to the side is “Hang On To The Rope.” Bastian paper was used for only two years (1905-1907), which makes this button very rare—much less the image.

All images from
Hakes Auction.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mask of the Lamb

HOW WONDERFULLY CREEPY IS THIS? This haunting mask, symbolic of the innocence of a lamb, represents a rare and previously unknown character example likely used in fraternal lodge ceremonies. It’s origin is New York State, and is circa 1880s to 1900. I love it because there is absolutely nothing innocent about this. If I saw someone with this mask on, I’ll expect to hear next: “It rubs the lotion on the skin.” (Silence of the Lambs)

Of course, this is from Joshua Lowenfels and can be found on 1st Dibs here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Face

(Above) In this June 1967 file photo, medic James E. Callahan of Pittsfield, Mass., looks up while applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a seriously wounded soldier north of Saigon in June 1967. (AP Photo/Henri Huet) Click image for larger view.

(Above) In this June 17, 1967 file photo, Callahan treats a U.S. infantryman who suffered a head wound when a Viet Cong bullet pierced his helmet during a three-hour battle in war zone D, about 50 miles northeast of Saigon. (AP Photo/Henri Huet) Click image for larger view.

(Above) On a 2008 visit back to his old base in Lai Khe, Jim touches the ground in a pensive moment. Click image for larger view.

(Above) Jim stands in front of his pictures taken by photographer Henri Huet, now located at the War Museum in Saigon. Click image for larger view.

AS MOST OF YOU KNOW, I SPEND QUITE A BIT OF TIME looking for stuff to make your visit here worthwhile. Well, I came upon a site (click here) that was showcasing a number of war photos for the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War (1975 - 2010). Amongst 23 really powerful images of that war shown, I was taken by the face of a young medic by the name of James Edward Callahan.

By the looks of his youthful all-American face, I guessed James to be about 20 years old in 1967. My guess was exactly right. I knew young boys just like him—as I turned draft age just two years later. This young medic looked scared—but he was doing his job. But what I wondered most was whether
James Edward Callahan, was still alive.

A quick internet search found that sadly, James was killed in a motorcycle accident on July 29, 2008 at the age of 62. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1965-69, serving as a combat medic in Vietnam. He was a life member and president of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Chapter 65, VFW.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Pencil and the Photograph

BEN HEINE IS A BELGIAN ARTIST/PHOTOGRAPHER who has been merging his drawing and photography in a new series called Pencil vs. Camera. To date, Heine has created his photo/drawing artworks in France, Belgium, and Portugal.

See more of Heine’s work here, on Flickr.

All images copyright © Ben Heine.

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