Pick of the Week: Fischerspooner New Truth

fischerspooner new truthFischerspooner: “New Truth”

Fischerspooner: New Truth edited by Meredith Mowder is a book about the art and journey of the band Fischerspooner in the beginning. It`s 336 pages, and large format bombard you with a well curated and exact viewpoint of how Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner formed the band in 1998 and made their amalgamation of sound, art, and everything performance art,  the art pop project that just happened to release music. Fischerspooner is one of those bands of my 20`s who were my soundtrack to everything I did, even though their music itself seems so random and hard to pinpoint what exactly made it brilliant and meaningful. For my group of friends at the time Fischerspooner was EVERYTHING, and I think out of us 10 or so people we had never actually even seen Fischerspooner madness live. We just fed off of the music and videos, insane interviews and the rumblings of what happened live in New York. These two art majors from the Art Institute of Chicago made this happen from what appears to be a shear will to make music and preform, and I can tell you the amount of time in the book during interviews that Casey Spooner talks about experimental theater will make you roll your eyes a little. The book is love letter to this aspect of the band, as it documents the 1998 to 2003 period of their `band ‘career in-depth to an extent I think only a truth lover of art would appreciate (and maybe an appreciation of the band). The art pop performance project entailed a group of 25 performers and artists at the beginning and this book shares much of their story as the two central figures. There are ticket stubs, slides, album artwork, set lists, grainy photos of shows, professional photography of set and props, and wigs. There is also essays by curators and others in the art scene and an interview of Casey and Warren to give context to what you`re viewing. The book is largely trying to give the background to the project itself, and all the little elements that were obsessed about and apart of each unique performance during the beginning. Yes, there is a full page of a fake moustache, followed by a press photograph of a member of the band wearing it. That`s what you should expect when going through this book, if nothing else. And yes, I loved it, every moment of it.

a look at book:

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Pick of the Week: Haunted Air

haunter airHaunted Air

Haunted Air by Ossian Brown is a 216 paged book that shows off one man’s collection of vintage Halloween photography, from ghosts to ghouls. It includes a foreword by David Lynch and a prologue by Geoff Cox and a brief historical note. It contains hundreds of devilish photographs taken on Halloween from the turn of the last century, and even includes one tintype that is likely dated back before 1900s.  The photographs themselves are haunting and encapsulate the spirit of the holiday and incredible for one man’s personal collection. I enjoyed the way the photographs are presented as is, which I feel is important when showing vintage photography. However and this something I normally don’t talk about in my reviews as monetary value is very subjective to the person, I felt Haunted Air was lacking in the quality and quantity for the price I paid. The book is about two times too big for even the largest of photographs shown inside of it, the photographs are just swimming in white background and I think that greatly detracts from them. Not to mention about 50% of the pages don’t even feature any photography on them at all, leaving so much wasted space and adding to the book feeling lacking; the 216 pages probably yields less than 100 photographs which is kind of absurd to me. As well none of the photographs have any information on them, no dates, no locations, nothing about their historical context except and inferred interpretation that they are taken around Halloween. Not to mention with a quick Google search you can find the finest and creepiest of all vintage Halloween photography that exists that is vastly and far superior to any photograph you will find in this book. I understand one man is not going to have all the greatest Halloween photographs from a certain period of time at his grasp but why create a book of your collection if it isn’t worth being seen in its entirety? As well the foreword by David Lynch is most likely included at the beginning or at all mostly because of whom he is (and I love his movies). It’s not even close to a decent foreword as it basically can be summed up as “I had a friend who showed me these photographs and I like them”, it doesn’t even mention the core of the collection is based around the holiday so if you picked up this book and read the forward and wanted to gleam what the concept was, you couldn’t. And on the other hand the prologue is basically paragraphs and paragraphs about what can be described as poetry about Halloween using even word in the dictionary that is even remotely connected to the holiday. At times I didn’t even know what Geoff Cox was on about, it sounded like he was describing murder half the time. I also have a bone to pick when he says “These are pictures of the dead” – no they are not, they are photos of people who have most likely died but they were very much alive in the photo. It’s a rubbish thing to say when there are many examples of photography of actual dead people, a morbid and fascinating practice of the last 1800s that on its own is far more hauntings and fascinating than this entire collection. The historical note is the only thing I enjoyed reading and should have been at the forward as the photos are nothing without their historical context to begin with. I adore vintage photography, and if this book was half the number of pages and half the price I would be raving about it right now despite not being the greatest example of vintage Halloween photography. I’d love it just because it was one man’s collection and I respect the work he must have done to collect it. However it’s not, it’s a grossly overpriced and completely lacking in almost every way. If you are dying to see more vintage Halloween photography than what you can see for free online, it’s the only book like it so like me you may want to have it anyways despite of what I’ve said but if you don’t fall into the extremely niche subsection – I wouldn’t bother.

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Spring Reads

spring reads (11)I don’t know about you but I love hearing about what people around me are reading. However I find online most websites/blogs I run into are geared mostly to YA novels (which I have no interest in) or post about very niche genres that for someone like my who dips my toes into various genres it seems too hard-core (that probably isn’t the right word but that’s how it feels). For a long time now I’ve wanted to find a way to share what I’m currently into reading without having to necessary do a review. I think it is a great thing to share but I also don’t want to feel like I’m doing a High School book report. I love getting intellectual about art books which is why I review them but I honestly feel like I have very limited knowledge about the history of comic books for example so most of my insight wouldn’t be that in depth enough to justify a review. Spring Reads was born out of all that and hopefully I will be doing one post every season to share with you guys great books/comics/zines and everything in-between that I’m reading. Also no plant was harmed in the making of this post, I just happened to amputate one of my lovely vine plants (that had grown as long as the length of my kitchen) by accident right before I planned to take these photos and I thought what better way to immortalize is before it died than use it as a bit of decor.

Biography

spring reads (13)The Dirty Version: On Stage, in the Studio, and in the Streets with Ol’ Dirty Bastard is a biography of the late ODB by his best friend Budda Monk and rap historian Mickey Hess. I’m half way through reading this book and it’s a compelling read. I am a long-time fan of ODB, and never knew much about him beside his persona and Wikipedia page so I thought this would be a good read. The author Budda Monk can be self-severing at times but you do get a sense of what Dirty’s life was really like behind the scenes. Anyone with a deep connection with their best friend knows that they sometimes know us better than ourselves. While I love biographies of musicians and don’t think you necessary have to be a fan to read most of them, due to the writing style of this book I wouldn’t recommend it as a standalone but if you have any interest in his music or rap history in general this is worth it.

Art

spring reads (8) spring reads (6)Fischerspooner: New Truth is a larger than life book (book size pun – hoo hoo) about the synth-pop/performance artists group, put together by no other than Fischerspooner. It’s really a book for fans of the group so it’d probably not be very interesting to anyone else. They just happen to be one of my favourite musical artists so it was an easy decision to pick up. I do actually plan on reviewing this book sometime this summer, so far I have only skimmed it and it looks like it has promise but might suffer a bit from self-indulgence.

spring reads (9)Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups was actually a spur of the moment purchase last month and I am so glad I did. It’s a beautiful book showcasing many of Elvgrens pin-up illustrations; in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to squeeze in all of them. Highly recommend if you love pin-ups or illustrations from that era. In fact I’d recommend it even if you aren’t – his work is sublime. I loved flipping through this book and I plan on doing a full review of it in early June.

Fantasy

spring reads (3)Tales from a Perilous Realm is a collection of fairie short stories from J.R.R. Tolkien, accompanied by illustrations from long time Tolkien illustrator Alan Lee. Included are the short stories: Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, Smith of Wootton Major, Roverandom and poems of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Even though Tolkien is one of my favourite writers I just can’t seem to finish this book. I feel like I shouldered through most of this book so unless you are a Tolkien fanatic I’d probably skip out on reading this. It has an academic foreword which although informative is desperately dry. I also found parts of the book much weaker than I usually find his writing (the poems are not my favourite thing). Highlight of the book is the story of Roverandom which is precious and a must read in my opinion even if it’s more aimed at kids. I also enjoyed the story of Farmer Giles of Ham.

spring reads (2)Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country & Memory Prime are two books I found last week at a used book store on the way out to dinner and just had to get. I’ve just recently rekindled my love for Star Trek after rewatching the first two seasons of the original series and can’t get enough. Plus for $2 each it’s hard to not give them a shot. The first one was written after one of my favourite Star Trek movies and the second one, well it has a badass cover. I can’t wait to read these, it’s my first time reading anything in the Star Trek extended universe and I have no idea if these two will be any good. Excited to read! There is hundreds of Star Trek books so it’s hard to really start off but I think used books are a great way to get into an established fan base.

Gaphic Novels & Comics

spring reads (4)The Sworn Sword was original written by George R.R. Martin, adapted by Ben Avery, and illustrated by Mike Miller. This is the second book in a two part series of prequel graphic novels to accompany the existing graphic novels for A Game of Thrones (adapted from the original books). I’ve been having a hard time finding time to read Martin’s books and was curious to check out the graphic novels to get a better idea of material without necessary having to dedicate all my time to reading (lazy I know). I thought I would start with the prequels and work my way up to the other graphic novels. I have already read the first one and just finished reading The Sworn Sword earlier this week. I love the art style of Ben Avery and these stories stand alone as is, no prior knowledge about Game of Thrones required. With the lush illustrations and great story, both are easy recommendations. I plan of picking up another set of these to gift to my younger brother for his upcoming birthday. Worth checking them out if you are a fantasy fan.

spring reads (12)New X-Men Academy: Choosing Sides 5/6 is a comic I found while in Toronto this winter. It was in the $1 bin and after searching the whole store for a comic to buy I didn’t feel like walking away empty handed. Although I haven’t heard good things about this particular series I thought I’d check it out as I mostly only read vintage X-Men from the 70s and 80s and haven’t fallen in love with any of the newer series. It’s decent, and I probably would pick up the rest of them if I found them in a compilation.  For $1 I can’t complain. Let me know if there is a series of X-Men you love because I’m dying to sink my teeth into a good storyline.

Zines

spring reads (1)The two zines I pick up as far this spring are Uncommon Spaces & Everyday Places Vol. 2 by Erin Dorbin and Fur, Hide, & Bone by a community under the same name. Uncommon Spaces is photography zine about Erin’s trip down the transcontinental roadway in the US. All shots are taken with a vintage Polaroid 195 camera using expired Polaroid and Fujifilm 100C film. It’s a lovely collection of photographs and I have no doubt it will be a future zine of the month! The second zine Fur, Hide, & Bone is a mixture of drawings and stories about their favourite pieces of bones, taxidermy, and leftovers from dead animals. I really wanted to pick it because I’ve always been fascinated by dead creatures and terrified at the same time from an early age. Although I don’t think I would ever start my own collection I wanted to read about others and this zine was perfect for that. I love the illustrations the most.

Random

spring reads (10)Lighthouses Of Atlantic Canada: A Pictorial Travel Guide to Lighthouses of Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, which is a mouth full and not actually my book. I bought this for Victor because he has an obsession with lighthouses (no idea where he got that from) and wanted a book of lighthouses in our neck of the woods. He wants to use the book as a guide to figure out which lighthouses are accessible so me and him can go on adventures to visit them. Which is a grand idea and I hope this year we can knock a few off our list. We already sat down together and went through the book picking out our favourites. I just wish we had a car then we could make a much better go at it but I have faith. The book itself is really helpful as it has instructions on how to reach each, lovely photos and plenty of information about each lighthouse. So if you are into lighthouses or live on the East Coast and want to find something to do this summer this book is great.

Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading this Spring!

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Saturday Review “Paper Cutting”

papercutting

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

                  Paper Cutting complied by Laura Heyenga highlights the resurgence of paper cutting art in the last few years and featuring 26 international artistes who are currently creating innovative and intricate pieces of work in176 pages. It starts off with a preface by Rob Ryan which is delightful and captivates why people get into paper cutting as a way to express their artistic desires. The preface is followed by a 10 paged introduction by Natalie Avella that is informative and a bit long winded. Natalie’s introduction starts off strong explaining the origins and history of paper cutting and how it started out in China in 600CE up to the current resurgence of interest in the craft. After the strong start, she goes into brief detail about contemporary artists and their choice of mediums and subject matter. At the beginning it feels informative but lags toward the end when it starts to feel like someone gave her the list of what artists were going to be featured in the book and ask her to write a paragraph blurb about their work. This would have work if it had been incorporated into the book in each artist’s section, it is not however and each artist section already contains a blurb describing the same things without Natalie Avella’s personal impressions and to make matters more repetitive there is biography in the back as well. However containing each blurb into the introduction creates this weird flow. In fact the structure of the introduction gives it away as she just uses paragraphs for each artist almost eliminating any flow at all from one artist to the next when reading. It would have been nice if they had insisted on structuring the book this way to also perhaps included artists that were not featuring in the book to give a complete canvas of paper cutting artists. This is a minor issue, as honestly although I do read introductions but I do not get much value from them in art books. The inclusion of artist’s work in the introduction was the only thing really propelling me to the next page. So introduction aside this is a beautifully put together book with a variety of types of paper cutting artists who use a plethora of materials. It does not just single out artists who white stock paper, instead showing colors and installations,  shadow pieces and pretty much all the types of paper cutting that exist currently. The work featured in this book is captivating, and faithfully captured for our eyes. I especially enjoy the installations and the shadow pieces which were shot wonderfully. Each artist is given several pages with multiple pieces of work shown, with the information on each piece like date, name and sometimes materials. I love how they’ve created each artist name in paper cutting font, it is a simple but elegant touch. Speaking of nice touches, the book sleeves include paper cutting in them, with the front sleeve having flowers and the back birds.  It was the first thing I noticed about the book and I adore it. This is a magnificent book and as soon as I caught my eye on the cover at the Architecture Centre’s gift shop I knew I had to have it. My experience before reading this book with paper cutting was always seeing student work at Universities and it always amazed me then and this books gives you a look into a fascinating medium and wonderful pieces of art. Its really must have, and a great way to see fascinating contemporary art.

A look at the book:


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Saturday Review: Folk Photography

folk photographyFolk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard 1905-1930

Folk Photography by Luc Sante is a 160 pages book about his personal collection of real-photo postcards taken in the 1900’s. Luc Sante is a writer and critic from New York area who started collecting real-photo postcards in the 80’s and over the years accumulated around 2500 postcards. The book contains over 100 of postcards that he handpicked to display. He also outlines the history of real-photo postcards and their significance in America’s history as well as his criteria for which postcards he decided to show from his collection. He provides a detailed 37 page intro that for any person curious into the real-photo postcard world will find invaluable and interesting. For others it may appear a little long winded. I personally love the intro as it gives the reader a look into the man, Luc Sante himself as a collector and his mindset with putting together this book. It makes it more personal, and this book being a collection of only his collection of postcards is just that, personal. I think it adds a lot to the book knowing more about Sante as real-photo postcards are very prolific and if you’ve ever looked for them in antique stores you’ll know they come in stacks upon stacks. One thing I really love about the book is that under each postcard there is as much information as possible about the individual postcard, photographer, date, anything writing on the back, and sometimes a description about what the photos is depicting taken from historical information. My favourite photographs in the book are the portraits, as I love old portraits as they are usually quiet strange and creepy. There is a great mixture between rural life, still life, events, portraits, and group shots. The one thing he is really missing is landscapes however he explains in the intro why he made the decision to not include. He has an amazing collection and if you are interested in real-photo postcards or antique postcards or history this book will please you and be a delight to flip through. If you are looking to see professional vintage photography from that time, this book may be a bit of a disappointment as none of them will blow you away and that is understandable as real-photo postcards were treated much like we use Instagram today. The book very niche but seeing as there are not many books documenting this hobby it’s an interesting one to have on your shelf.

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Saturday Review: Tara McPherson “Lonely Heart”

lonelyheartsLonely Heart by Tara McPherson

Tara Mcpherson’s first book “Lonely Heart” from 2006 shows us her illustrations, comics, silkscreen posters, and personal art. The hardcover 119 page book captures her beautiful artwork which explores the idea of sexuality, emotions and relationships. The one thing I love most about her illustrations is that she is always fearless and bold and isn’t afraid of showing us confident and strong women. Her work often explores relationships and frequently she uses the image of women/men with their heart removed in a very creative way of an actual shape of heart being removed from their body. I find her use of this imagery as very effective and grapping. Her pieces are very captivating to look at and her use of sketch paper to show her outlines of her illustrations is very innovative. I love the inclusion of this type of material in her art book. Lonely Heart also shows a lot of her silkscreen posters that she has made for a number of rock and indie bands like Green Day, Beck, Liars and others. I absolutely love her posters and I was introduced to her work by them. They are probably my favourite tour posters I have come across. I would be delighted if I could find one to hang on my wall (having the book must do sadly as they usually are for shows in the US) and it helps that she makes them for really great bands. Her work is very modern and feels at home with current surrealist and lowbrow artists, with its mixture of dark and sweet (slightly gothic approach). It’s definitely a good book to flip through and out of her 3 current books it is my favourite. Good for fans or anyone who likes their art with a bit of darkness and bubble gum sweet.

 

 Click below of images of the book:

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Saturday Review “The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer”

theblackapple, the black apple, paper doll primer

The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer: Activities and Amusements for the Curious Paper Artist

Paper Doll Primer is a “160 page fully illustrated wondrous oddity – equal parts art and craft book” done by artist Emily Winfield Martin. It explores the world of paper dolls and helps show you how to make your own paper doll and other paper crafts. There is 21 of Emily’s whimsical characters included with accessories and clothing options as well as 16 paper dolls that you can customize and create yourself with her helpful hints and ideas. Her characters are so cute and adorable and the back story that is provided for all of them really sets the tone. Her dolls are much like her artwork and have their own unique personality to them. Its fun to just flip through this book without even taking out the scissors. She provides backdrops as well for the dolls which help creates an overall story. My favourite inclusion though is the customizable dolls,  she even provides useful hints on every page on ways to draw, color and personalize them. There is even clothing and accessories to be customized too and she gives you patterns to use on the clothing. Plus she includes a few other paper activities for you to try. Paper Doll Primer ends up satisfy the sweet tooth for paper dolls you may not even realized you had. I’ve been a fan of paper dolls since I was a kid and have started a small collection of them and was delighted when I found this book from her, especially since I’ve been a long time fan of her artwork. When I received it, it defintly satisfied my expectations. The only downside I could find to her sweet book was that the pages are not made with hard stock, the quality is higher then regular paper (which is used for the clothing sections of the book) but the rigidness is not the type you’d find for most paper dolls. I haven’t had a heart to cut a paper doll out of the pages in the book so I cannot vouch for how sturdy the paper doll would be but definitely it would have been a nice inclusion for some pages to be made with card stock. As well all pages in the book are double sided except the clothing in the first part of the book. It does appears though that the dolls are on opposites sides of the paper to one another so you could cut them both out, however you would loose forever the written stories she created for her dolls as wells as all the tips on how to customize the blank dolls. All of the customized clothing/accessories, scenes, and backdrops are not so lucky, cutting these would mean potential wrecking the opposite side. However the book can be forgiven as its delightful and has so many hints to inspire you to go the further step and trace/create your own dolls on harder card stock. Its simply good to know that Paper Doll Primer  isn’t an one stop shop for paper dolls and if you were wishing to cut into the book you would be potentionally missing out on some parts, however there is plenty of inspiration and ideas for you to start your paper doll project.

Here are some shots of the book:

 

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