I’m enjoying the Spring weather. Yes- even the rain ( see my latest reading list, below). I’m preparing for the Art Students League Summer Art Market, June 11-12, where I’ll be in Booth#98 with fellow monotype artist Taiko Chandler.
In the past, people have stopped by the booth to meet me and ask about Summer workshops I’m offering at the League. Then they go into the office and register right then. I’m not sure that will work this year as the workshops are filling up unusually quickly, and one is already sold out. So if you’d like to know more about the workshops, click here, or send me an email and I’ll try to answer your questions. Then register online to be sure you get the spot you want. If a workshop is full, you can put your name on a waiting list, as there are often cancellations. I’ll offer a new round of workshops in the Fall, too.
Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell: Is she the queen of the history geeks? Sarah Vowell, of NPR’s This American Life, travels to obscure historical sites, such as the New Jersey beach town where James A. Garfield died after being shot by a deranged office-seeker, to get at the weltanschauung of American political violence. I liked Wordy Shipmates better, for its insightful scope, encompassing the Puritans, English history and the roots of American political thought. Assassination’s a neccessarily uneven tale, in that Lincoln’s death is (still) heartbreaking and consequential; whereas Garfield’s is (by now) stupid and tragically trivial. But it’s a wonderful, funny and amazing read nonetheless, with Robert Todd Lincoln’s bizarre appearances in each of the three stories a reminder of how even the most seemingly inconsequential historical events can be connected in powerful ways. The last section, on McKinley’s shooting, dovetails nicely with another book I’ve recently read:
Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin: I’ve long-postponed a look into this very intriguing era of unfettered corporate greed, political corruption and progressivism, which speaks not only to the very beginnings of the “American Century”, but to our own era as well. I was not dissappointed. Goodwin links the tales of Teddy Roosevelt, Robert Taft and the Muckrakers of McClure’s magazine in painting a portrait of an era in great flux. The progressive era accomplished much in the way of redeeming the promise of American democracy, then dissipated as conflict over how best to reform fractured the party and opened the door to the inevitable conservative backlash. If this sounds familiar, as it does to me, then it’s a must-read. As they say, one must know it or repeat it.
Murder Me Dead, David Lapham: James M.Cain-like in its violence and bleak picture of doomed romance. Incisive yet lush black and white ink work, in dark puddles or crazed slashes or just haunting and unforgettable, like mascara on a beautiful schemer’s eyes. Lapham has always provided these wholly derivative yet compelling noir tales, because he understands that noir is about the ambience of violence in the harsh light of the extremes of the human soul.
The Best Comics of the Decade, Volumes 1, 2: It’s easy to forget that before the black and white, direct market explosion of the early- to mid 80’s ( where David Lapham, above, first appeared, that truly interesting comics were very hard to find. Many of the artists here pioneered the independent, literary album- or graphic novel-style comics now filling up bookstore shelves ( and providing one of their fastest growing categories). Could easily have been bigger, as inferior stories are included by seminal creators ( Hernandez Brothers, Bill Griffith, Jerry Moriarty), probably to make more artists fit, and others such as Alan Moore, are not represented by their best work because it was done for larger corporate publishers. But a nice return to the days when comics were still struggling to find a place in pop culture, and the corner comic store was where you went to see them grow and succeed.