Monday, August 31, 2009

The Anonymous Stone Carvings of Chicago's Lakefront

Long before blogging hit the online world, Bill Swislow created a site documenting his own set of interests including but not limited to, every homemade Gyro sign in Chicago, sock monkeys and the Great American Root Beer Taste Test.

I'd been a long-time fan of the site but along the way stopped checking in as he took a break from updating the site. Luckily for all of us, not only is the site still online but there are now periodic updates with new content.

The site itself is frustratingly non-linear (you somehow always get lost in his links, but in a good way) and decidedly non-designed but that's part of the charm. Besides, how can you not like a site that highlights these little known public stone carvings along Chicago's Lakefront?

Click Here for the article.

Circa 1920's Folk Art Sculptural Whimsy

Click image to enlarge.

Available at Allan Katz Americana.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Modern Photography of Maynard Parker

As you start in on your Saturday home improvement projects (or not), enjoy this narrated slideshow on the work of Maynard Parker, courtesy of the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

Outside of having one of the best botanical gardens you'll ever see, the Huntington is also one of the world's great cultural and research centers. They recently acquired the entire archive of the work of Maynard L. Parker, a Los Angeles-based architectural photographer who captured mid-century suburbia for Sunset, House Beautiful and more.

Click Here or on any of the pictures above to view the slideshow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Alabaster Bust of a Soldier "Made for My Darling Wife" Italy, January 1945

A Few Good Books...

I love my bookshelves. My wife says I spend more time arranging them than actually reading them and I think she's right. I have a wall of cubicles that I alternate with books and folk art and other treasures and to me it's my private space to endlessly curate. I always love seeing how people arrange their favorite books and objects. It's like a small glimpse inside their head.

Many of these books (Click on the images for a larger shot) can be found on Amazon by clicking the links at the top of the page (yes, that's a shameless plug because I get a few cents for every book purchased through those links). But seriously, I find that to be the best way to list some great books that I find interesting and you may too, if you like some of the stuff that I post.

All of these books are great but I'll highlight a few that I think are crazy deals. (HINT: I tend to not be too anal about buying a book in pristine mint condition. It just needs to be in decent condition, so I typically will buy a book used from a bookseller and save myself some money.)

American Vernacular: The followup to Ricco/Maresca's seminal American Primitive. Both volumes are indispensible for anyone interested in sculptural folk art forms. Starting at $9.95 for a used copy is ridiculous!

Fun Along the Road: American Tourist Attractions: A really fun book highlighting roadside tourist attractions. Starting at $.97 for a used copy.

The Flowering of American Folk Art 1776-1876: Another bible and must have for any folk art collector, although this one from a slightly earlier time and focus. Starting at $14.45 for a used copy.

Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge: An amazing and really fun book on outsider photography. $6.09 for a new copy is crazy. I may just buy another copy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

1934 Album of Nazi Trading Cards - "The New Reich"

Who knew they made these? Can you imagine..."Oooh, I got a Goering!"

Completely disturbing but an interesting document nonetheless.

Available here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Playland at the Beach Carved Figures

Interesting story to these strange double-sided figures...They were acquired a few years ago from a man in San Francisco who actually bought them when he was a kid. He told me the story of how there used to be an old man at the Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, who had a big bucket of branches (that he probably got from Golden Gate Park across the street) and just sat there all day long making figures. He said the old man also made other things like horses, cars, etc. but they were more expensive so naturally the kids couldn't afford them so they opted for the little men figures. You ordered them and then came back to pick them up after the paint had dried. They were 10 cents each.

It seems that it was no coincidence that an artist like this would be at Playland at the Beach. The owner was a man named George Whitney or "Barnum of the Golden Gate" as the Saturday Evening Post described him in a May 20, 1950 article. Pre-Disneyland, "Playland at the Beach" was America's biggest amusement park, which sat next to San Francisco's famed Cliff House, which Whitney also owned. If you can find the original Saturday Evening Post article, it's definitely worth a read. I only have a hard copy of it unfortunately.

Here's a site that has a few images from Playland at the Beach: Click Here.

19th Century Folk Art Running Man

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Early 20th Century Folk Art Wood Plane with Carved Head

Found in North Carolina.

For sale here.

19th Century Folk Art Prairie Doll

Hand made with a solid wood torso with original crackled paint and cloth arms and legs. Measures 18 1/2" tall.

Currently for sale here.

My Biennial #4

Jared French
Egg tempera on gesso panel
11 1/2 x 17 1/2"

Friday, August 21, 2009

1930's Folk Art Carved Figures

A husband and wife, both quite blocky with swiveling arms and retaining their original flesh-colored, gray, and black paint. American, ca 1920-1940; she is 18" high and he is 17" high.

Sold for $1,035.00 at Cowan's.