A Virtual Tour of The Library of Congress’ Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Where there's smoke there's fire

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire”, Russell Patterson, circa 192?. Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-01589

First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this post. I have been having serious battles with my computer all week (we’re at around 18 kernel panic shutdowns thus far), and today has been no exception. Let’s just all say a quick prayer and cross our fingers that this post is not going to have to tide you over for weeks and weeks. 😉 Saving my work has become a serious tic now, though; this seems to me both good and bad.

There have been repeated threats that I was going to talk about an amazing resource for history lovers, art fans, architecture buffs, and really just about any living human being—the Library Of Congress’ Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)—with you, and today seems like a good day to do so.

How this massive online source of art, photographs, old books, sheet music, and more came to my attention I really can’t recall, but it was a most fortuitous day. The collections offered are fairly astounding in their breadth and depth, and if you ever need something worthwhile with which to devour your time, the PPOC is it.

Belle Isle Park, Grand Canal

Belle Isle Park, Grand Canal (Detroit, Michigan). Circa 1880-1899. Detroit Publishing Co., publisher. Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-det-4a05260

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Gertrude Käsebier

Hermine (Käsebier) Turner and her son in a garden in Oceanside, L.I., Gertrude Käsebier, 1905.  Public domain. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

“Hermine (Käsebier) Turner and her son in a garden in Oceanside, L.I.”, Gertrude Käsebier, 1905.
Public domain. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Last week, the Library Of Congress’ blog ran a brief post about American photographer Gertrude Käsebier (cass-eh-beer—oh, boy, dictionary writers are going to kill me now), who was one of the first female photojournalists. No doubt her place in the history of photography had much to do with this, but reading about her, there’s no doubt her personality did much to gain her success, as well. She seems to have been an extremely determined, almost single-minded woman; thus, even in the late 1800s, she gained renown for her work in an age when most women cared for family and home instead of running a business.

American Horse and wife, American Indian, Gertrude Käsebier.  Public domain, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

“American Horse and wife, American Indian”, Gertrude Käsebier, 1900. Isn’t this stunning? Don’t you wonder about American Horse, his life before and after this was taken?
Public domain, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

More than any of this, though, what drew me to her work was not only the era in which she worked—I suppose we could call it the birth of popular, publicly consumed photography in the States—but her subject matter and her reason for capturing it on camera:

After my babies came I determined to learn to use the brush. I wanted to hold their

The Manger, an experimental negative to show values of white against white, featuring a young woman holding a baby and made in Newport, R.I.  Gertrude Käsebier, 1901.  Public domain photo courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

“The Manger, an experimental negative to show values of white against white, featuring a young woman holding a baby and made in Newport, R.I.” Gertrude Käsebier, 1901.
Public domain photo courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

lovely little faces in some way that should be also my expression, so I went to an art school; two or three of them, in fact. But art is long and childhood is fleeting, I soon discovered, and the children were losing their baby faces before I learned to paint portraits, so I chose a quicker medium. – Gertrude Käsebier quoted in “The Camera Has Opened a New Profession for Women–Some of Those Who Have Made Good,” New York Times, April 20, 1913, X12

Her comment about needing a “quicker medium” did make me chuckle, and you may find yourself doing the same! Continue reading

Continuing the climb toward stardom!

CM Capture 2

Not stardom, ever, surely, but even so, I can’t tell you all just how tickled I am to be one of ArtFire’s most recent featured sellers in the artist spotlight! The article went up last week, but I’m also the gal who let her best friend chatter on for roughly an hour before announcing that (now-)Hubby had proposed. (For the record? My friend wanted to strangle me.) So I’m sending all of you over to it today!

The folks at ArtFire picked a few really good photos of mine to include, and better than that (to me) is that being featured gave me the opportunity to sit down and think again about why it is I do what I do, and clarify my own perspective and how that affects my work. It’s important for all of us to do this on a regular basis, especially when we consider that intentionally or no, our worldview often comes through in our work, especially if it is in a visual field like painting or photography.

Please hop over to Nosh and take a look, and do share away if you are so inclined.

Mobile Art Gallery in Tucson

This video about a new take on wildly popular food trucks was recently posted on ArtFire’s Nosh blog:

Fabulous idea, don’t you think? It’s probably much less daunting for artists while also providing them with a very memorable form of exposure. I also suspect many people who would not visit a local gallery—either because they don’t want to or are unable to head downtown, people who don’t even think about that possibility, and those who fear being intimidated by a gallery environment—would be more than happy to pop into a mobile art gallery such as Planet Rabbit!

I’d be just peachy with this sort of gallery taking off—not only could mobile galleries park themselves in the suburbs and outer reaches of the city, they could show up at local fairs and festivals, too, affording even wider publicity for the artists chosen. What do you think?

What is “realistic” art?

Arabischer Mosaizist um 735 001

Umayyad mosaics of Hisham’s Palace by Arabischer Mosaizist um 735 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As it is only a cold which has latched onto me, of course “being better soon” was my expectation. Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong, and was remiss in not suggesting you buy stock in Kleenex last Friday, because I probably account for roughly 8% of their sales right now. Whoops!

Since I have been unable to prepare anything whatsoever (other than many gallons of hot tea), I thought I’d share with you some more interesting thoughts from Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present, something I did (with a complete lack of brevity) a few months ago. There’s a lot of food for thought in the book no matter your bend, be it art, philosophy, theology, mathematics, or science—particularly as these things are so often intertwined with or affecting each other.

You may recall, from my earlier post, Barzun writing that

The Renaissance treatises declare that apart from his moral mission, the artist’s duty (and thereby his intention) is to imitate nature.

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Proper attribution of photos under the Creative Commons license

Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay.

Something I—and any consumer of online media—see a lot is people using images without proper attribution of any kind. Not only is this unfair to the original creator and anyone wanting more information about said image, it’s wrong, and that is true even when an image is licensed under Creative Commons. Not only that, but many people don’t properly attribute Creative Commons-licensed images, which is also wrong.

When I wrote my post featuring thought-provoking words from Jacques Barzun a week ago, featuring the artists of which he wrote was important (and seemed sensible to me). Happily, many of these works are in the public domain, but even so, I obtained them from somewhere, and wanted you to find them while also giving credit to the host. Of course, if you find Creative Commons-licensed things online, it may seem difficult to figure out exactly how to properly attribute the works, because one must include the title, the artist, the license, the location—but fear not! A quick search turned up this infographic explaining the whole process in very simple terms! Continue reading

Is art separable from the artist and from virtue?

Giorgio Vasari, "Justice" —1542 Meant to be viewed from below so that the figures appeared to be looking over a parapet.  Originally created for the Palazzo Corner Spinelli in Venice.

Giorgio Vasari, “Justice” —1542
Meant to be viewed from below so that the figures appeared to be looking over a parapet. Originally created for the Palazzo Corner Spinelli in Venice.

I’ve recently begun a marvellous book, and wanted to share bits of it and some thoughts about it with you today, for it has given me much to think about; I also think it will be of interest to many of my readers. The post will be accompanied not by my own work, as I do not entirely consider myself an “Artist”, but work from some of the artists mentioned and those I just plain like.

The book is so wonderful and with so much to ponder and absorb, this may end up being a series of sorts—conversation about such things is very appealing to me; moreover, the thoughts put forth seem to me very important, especially for those of us interested in or concerned about culture and art. Fair warning: As these posts are mostly my thinking things out, they’ll probably be a bit meandering!

For months, Jacques Barzun’s highly-praised From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present had been sitting on a shelf in the library, awaiting my attention (two copies, in fact—whoops!), but two weeks ago, I was finally able to pick it up (thank you, back injury!).

13 - palladio capitello 1570, By Fuzo at it.wikipedia (Transferred from it.wikipedia) [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Fuzo at it.wikipedia (Transferred from it.wikipedia) [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Though only 80-some pages in but love the book already. Barzun’s voice is terrific, and the narrative is wonderfully well-written. History books can be lively or dry; happily, this is the former sort and I’m savouring every word, even laughing out loud at some of Barzun’s remarks. He is very even-handed thus far, keeping himself from sharing his own opinion on the topics discussed, but when he does interject his own opinion (for instance, about Europe not actually being its own continent), you’re quite aware of it; it’s not posited as fact, and is thus often all the funnier for it. He’s a bit of a smart-aleck, and I have to say I like a little bit of that in a historian—otherwise, we humans simply become too full of ourselves, and that’s a bore.

At any rate, presently I am reading the section “The ‘Artist’ Is Born”. Continue reading