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the public library

Book review — How do we love thee, public library? Robert Dawson counts the ways

[Roberta reviews a photographer's attempt to document American public libraries. The resulting tome provides a good public service for all. -- the artblog editors] Dawson’s citizen-archiving Robert Dawson‘s photo book, The Public Library, is a wonderful example of citizen-archiving. Dawson is not an academic; he’s a photographer and a library-lover, and his 192-page hardcover book trumpets its library love with straightforward joy and ownership, like a volunteer marching band playing a Sousa march in your neighborhood Fourth of July parade. The many color and black-and-white photos taken by the photographer over the last 18 years of traveling around the US are great. ... More » »

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Reviews of two books on artists and their studios

[Andrea reviews divergent approaches to documenting artists' processes and workspaces, finding that the second book is inappropriate for young artists, because it will give them unrealistic expectations. -- the artblog editors] Sarah Trigg is an artist who became fascinated with the range of curiosities she found in fellow artists’ studios. Focusing on specific categories, which she terms “mascots,” “collected objects,” “makeshift tools,” “rituals,” “residue,” and “habitat,” Trigg set out to record her visits with 100 colleagues who represent the range of artists working in the U.S. She described her approach as “anthropological”. Trigg knew only a handful of these colleagues ... More » »

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Books on new approaches to art and its institutions, part II

[Andrea reviews two more books; one focuses on artists who eschew the market completely, while another focuses on the effects of travel and displacement on art-making and curation. Read her first installment here. -- the artblog editors] Purposefully missing the market While most artists support themselves with work beyond the art market, this book is about those who have chosen, as their art practice, not to produce objects that circulate within a market economy. It is an extremely welcome and well-researched survey that should be of great interest to both artists, and scholars who are concerned with alternatives to the current winner-takes-all, ... More » »

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Books on new approaches to art and its institutions, part I

[Andrea recommends two books taking a different look at the way art is categorized, displayed, and interacted with, and looks at a similar process currently in action at the Netherlands' Van Abbemuseum. -- the artblog editors] Reclassifying artists This collection of essays is a welcome, clear-eyed, and clearly expressed examination of contemporary art’s production and reception. Ben Davis is committed to and involved in politics that support social change, and skeptical of much of the current rhetoric around art and politics–such as the assumption that collectivism assumes a radical, political stance. A seriously informed, progressive Marxist, Davis defines class according ... More » »

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Bright nights in the Big Apple — a review of Tod Seelie’s Bright Nights: Photographs of Another New York

[Nate pinpoints exactly what makes Tod Seelie's photographic explorations of New York stand out from the pack. -- the artblog editors] These days, it is nearly impossible to discuss the Empire State’s First City without mention of exorbitant living costs, insidious gentrification, and, depending on to whom one is speaking, the decay of the “old” New York–a city divided into countless neighborhoods rich with culture and a unique New York energy. This nostalgia for a less-refined NYC is absent in Tod Seelie’s Bright Nights: Photographs of Another New York. Taken over a period of 14 years, the images in Seelie’s ... More » »

Haas and Hahn, Philly Painting, 2012. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Book review — Mural Arts @ 30

[Rachel reads the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's recent book, which includes essays on the organization's projects, history, impact, and goals. -- the artblog editors] Thirty years of making murals The first words encountered set the scene: change, value, place. Mural Arts @ 30, the latest publication from the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, explores the contemporary identity of the organization as it examines itself. The book highlights the program’s 21 projects completed since 2009, using their concepts, partnerships, and imagery as ways to talk critically about mural painting, public art, and social change. As Mural Arts celebrates its 30th anniversary with ... More » »

The Goldfinch, a novel by Donna Tartt

Book review — The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

[Libby wrestles with the length of celebrated novel The Goldfinch, but ultimately concludes it's worth the read. -- the artblog editors] Forget about the eponymous Fabritius painting. The reason I tore through Donna Tartt’s bestselling, mega-sized novel The Goldfinch is the almost Dickensian tale of a boy unmoored from his family and drifting through households and locales in a surreal state of drug-and-alcohol-induced stupefaction, all the while holding on to that invaluable painting, “The Goldfinch,” packed in a pillowcase. The painting of the bird is real–a small, rare 17th-century Dutch masterpiece housed in the Mauritshuis in the Hague. In the fictional world of the book, ... More » »

Joan Mitchell Foundation archives. photo: Rice+Lipka Architects

Books for artists, part 2

[In her second installment of books for artists (find the first here), Andrea focuses on best practices for creating and organizing an archive, offering tools and an example of one artist's approach. -- the artblog editors] Free downloadable workbook The Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Career Documentation for the Visual Artist: An archive planning workbook and resource guide is available as a free downloadable PDF. I attended an early-morning session at the recent College Art Association‘s annual meeting in Chicago because the staff from the Joan Mitchell Foundation was presenting resources they have developed as part of their Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) program. ... More » »

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Books for artists, part 1

[In this and a following post, Andrea shares her top picks for books aimed at artists. From running a studio and budgeting for supplies to negotiating with gallery owners and creating professional relationships, these books can be invaluable resources for those involved in the art world. -- the artblog editors] For artists starting out Twenty-one years ago, with a new MFA from Yale, Sharon Loudon moved to Brooklyn and soon faced the crucial question not raised in graduate school: How was she going to sustain a creative practice while trying to survive? She asked the same question of 40 artists ... More » »

Front cover - "The Unfeathered Bird" by Katrina

Ornithologist as Georgia O’Keefe

[Michael discovers a kindred spirit in an author who lovingly, painstakingly dissects and illustrates hundreds of bird species. --the artblog editors] I first saw Katrina van Grouw’s “The Unfeathered Bird” (Princeton University Press; Princeton and Oxford, 2013 ) in the window of Princeton’s only bookstore. I was surprised. After all, had I not definitively nailed the subject of unfeathered birds in my poem with that title? She was not only stealing my title, but had expanded it into a coffee table art book. Beaks, bones, and beauty Birds crash into glass windows. I was sitting, typing some essay off in ... More » »