Wednesday, August 25, 2010


close up of planchette's vain warning, fake cyanotype (inkjet on paper)

green restaurant is having a ouija board contest. Good luck finding the requirements for applying on their website, but through some connections of Robrt's we secured the instructions.

This is really a great way to procrastinate: get sidetracked by a project you totally had no idea was out there, and when you find it, you just have to do it right away.

So, this morning I looked into some stories about ouija boards. One that struck me particularly strongly was an article about a group of people who, while having a reading on the "planchette", were warned of a murder that was happening right next door to them: "Come, come immediately, disaster approaches, I see it coming, it is there, I will help you, be calm, passed, passed."

original photograph

A treasure trove of old images, that Kristin recently shared with me, contained this wonderful photo of a trio, sitting together in a living room eating what appears to be chocolates or cookies from a box. The glow coming from the window provided a wonderful ethereal quality and I just had to "photoshop" in the planchette and create the mock seance.

Since I love cyanotype with text, I wanted to create a "fake" print using photoshop to make the page that wonderful blue. I used archival printing paper and inks and here it is.

planchette's vain warning, fake cyanotype (inkjet on paper) 8x10 inches

The remainder of the story reads:
Thereupon the neighbors banged loudly on the door and windows of the house where the murder was committed. The planchette had previously warned them that it was advisable to discontinue.

The number of murders, robberies and other crimes of violence has very much increased lately in the Capital, which formerly enjoyed the reputation of being safe and orderly.
~ February 3, 1923

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It was hard to imagine a sweeter illustration than a jelly doughnut for squishy, my last word in the Art House Co-op Canvas Project. In my ever curious, research-oriented mind I discovered help in the great doughnut vs. cruller debates of the early 1940s.

The New York Times: Sept 23, 1941 from the Associated Press: Washington, Sept 22

...the National Dunking Association, with headquarters at 50 East Forty-second Street, NYC, urged today that a similar service (the difference between) doughnuts and crullers (be performed).

Bert Nevins, vice president of the association, made public a letter to Paul V. McNutt... complaining that in some States, particularly in Pennsylvania, doughnuts, the round cakes with the hole, are called "crullers," an appellation reserved in other sections for a dainty that is shaped in a twist.

In reply Pierre Van Dyck of New Brusnwick, NJ wrote to the editor: Sept 29, 1941

Des gouts il n'y a pas a disputer. [There is no accounting for taste] Some like 'em firm in texture, made with baking powder. Others like 'em soft and springy, made with yeast. Some actually like 'em with jelly in the center or white frosting on top (there are people who admire Hitler).

Granting to every man his preference, I like only the kind made with baking powder. Twisted or in the form of a life preserver, I don't care. But the texture is paramount. I'd like to be able to order, in a restaurant or dining room, either doughnuts or crullers (I don't care what they're called) and get a firm and crumbly, not a squishy, spongy cake.

The debate rages on for another two years.

Doughnut or Cruller? by LH Robbins, The New York Times, Dec 12, 1943

This article states that so many people have written in to address the correct definition. A housewife from Connecticut passes down, from her great grandmother, the "truth about doughnuts... (they) are made of raised dough, cut into circular pieces and set to rise. After rising they are dropped into a kettle of fat, where they puff up into balls and become brown on the surface. Crullers and fried cakes, on the other hand, are made of dough leavened with baking powder – in colonial times soda served instead."

Ted Robinson chimes in: "I must set you and the Manhattan bakers right... The doughnut is made of raised bread dough, sweetened. The cruller is made not of bread dough, but of batter, and is twisted. Batter too, is the material of fried cake, and most commercial 'doughnuts', so called, are really fried cakes."

So much for the debate, and whatever they are called, they continue to be a delicious and well loved treat. And so I'll end as LH Robbins did with this, the Optimist's Creed:

"As you ramble thru life, Brother,
Whatever be your Goal,
Keep your eye upon the Doughnut,
And not upon the hole."

doughnut, cruller and fried cake inspiration from Wishill's on 15th Ave and McDowell

Saturday, August 7, 2010


For the Art House Co-op Canvas Project, my second word was backslider, another rather interesting one. And one which I have not had occasion to use in a sentence, although, I do understand this one. "How do you illustrate backslider?" I pondered. Until I did some research in The New York Times archives and this is what I found.

James Mortimer, a true renaissance man: chess champion, editor, publisher, writer and photographer was born in Virginia, moved to Paris, and later spent most of his life in London, meeting and befriending members of high society and theatre. A close friend to Napoleon III, Mortimer was the last person to see him alive and helped procure shelter for the exiled imperial family. First article:

January 28, 1877
The New York Times: London Correspondent

One has almost ceased to hope that the moral tone of the theatre can be much changed in our day... The Duke of Newcastle is credited with backing the Royalty management, which has revived "Orphee aux Enfers," with Mme. Dolare and Miss Kate Santley, and the stalls are filled with a crowd of the leering young sprigs of fashion who used to be so constantly devoted to the Gaiety... Unfortunately, as a rule these "patrons" of dramatic art select for distinction some woman who is incompetent as an artist and who possesses no attribute in any other direction that can atone for her usurpation of the place of a respectable woman and an actress. Her next step is to get Mr. Mortimer, of the once decent Figaro, to publish her portrait in one of his catch-penny photographic albums or sketch-books, and then she gives a reception to all the aristocratic riff-raffs and hangers-on of her acquaintance, and she is enrolled as an artiste and a lady to be envied even by the capable women who have to play in the same theatre and perhaps receive their salaries almost from her hands. The truth is these uxorious lords are a public nuisance, and in these, days of new newspapers, started to discover grievances and pluck out abuses from the body politic and social, it is surprising that they are not held up to the nation's scorn and contempt.

This was the response:

February 13, 1877
Letter to the editor, The New York Times

Not a Backslider

Your London correspondent... is good enough to mention "Mr. Mortimer, of the once decent Figaro," and to couple my name with an odd jumble concerning the morale of the London stage... I am accused of publishing, in one of my "catch-penny photographic albums... " the portraits of members of the theatrical demi-monde, and, by implication, of aiding worthless characters to enroll themselves as artists to be envied...

I don't know how nor why I have stirred up the billiary secretions of your correspondent; and a long familiarity with a vile world has rendered me sufficiently callous to opprobrium of all sorts to whisper in your contraternal ear that I don't care. But as I have personal friends in New York who knew me in my virtuous youth, I wish to be allowed to reassure them I am not a backslider, as your London correspondent insinuates. The Figaro is, I flatter myself, as decent as any secular print of this ribald age, and as you will see by the enclosed list the ladies and gentlemen who have favored me by sitting for the photographs which appear weekly in one of my publications include members of the royal family, Lords, Commons, historians, painters, poets, dramatists, and popular actors, not one of which photographs has ever been published through solicitation, or any other motive than my own free will.

So far as the "catch-penny" charge is concerned... If to do this for three pence be a "catch-penny" operation, I must plead guilty to the indictment.
~ J. Mortimer

Friday, August 6, 2010


The assignment from Art House Co-op:

We're creating a visual encyclopedia where each artist is asked to visually interpret three words that are assigned to them randomly and were submitted by the Art House community onto 4x4 inch canvases. A visual encyclopedia book will then be created that includes at least one canvas from each artist. An exhibition will be held at The Brooklyn Art Library on December 3rd, 2010.

My reaction:
My first word is inculcate. I admit, I did not know what it meant, so first things first, look it up:
in·cul·cate [in-kuhl-keyt, in-kuhl-keyt]
–verb (used with object), -cat·ed, -cat·ing.
1. to implant by repeated statement or admonition; teach persistently and earnestly (usually fol. by upon or in ): to inculcate virtue in the young.
2. to cause or influence (someone) to accept an idea or feeling (usually fol. by with ): Socrates inculcated his pupils with the love of truth.

Hmmm. Why did this suddenly make me think of nuns? Yes, I did go to catholic school until 7th grade. So, I took an old photo of nuns here and transfered it onto the canvas. Then using a school house font, I thought it would be fun to illustrate the word the way I had looked at the cursive alphabet above the blackboard for seven years when I was so young.

The book page was ripped out of an old volume about the reign of Elizabeth the First of England. Who, although cut ties with the catholic church, as rumor goes, wanted to be represented as the iconic images of the virgin mother. Somehow that all ties together in my mind.

This is the first in my series for the canvas project.