Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cruella de Vil Halloween

I was very excited when I found out about the Philly Bike Party's Halloween ride, and that they encouraged you and your bike to dress up. I already knew I was going as Cruella de Vil. Of course, I had to do some research first. I came across some amazing preliminary sketches.

Some Marc Davis preliminary sketches for the character. I love the one where' she just bundled up in her fur with eyes poking out.

Illustration of Cruella de Vil by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone, twin sister illustrators for the original book.

Using these as my inspiration, I created a cape and tutu. I draped my bike in fabric so it could be a dalmatian with me. I used a black styrofoam ball for the nose, and I backed the "ears " with pink felt. I used pink felt for a tongue. I grabbed a paper towel tube and cut it down the middle, then rolled it into a cone and glued my fabric to it for a tail. Of course I got long red gloves and a cigarette holder to complete the look!

I even won best costume for the bike ride! The ride was an absolute blast, and included a dance party in Rittenhouse Square. Spooky music accompanied us through Center City and all the way up to Penn Treaty Park.  All the work culminated in something!

Also, I was once a dalmatian on a previous Halloween. My four year old self would probably not be amused by my costume choice.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bike drawing and Portfolio

So I recently drew my bike. It's my first drawing on my iPad. Enjoy!

I also made a portfolio for work. I don't think I shared this here. Bookmaking has not been abandoned. And now I look damn good in meetings. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Biking and stopping. And riding. And stopping.

Me riding on the D&R Canal Trial

If you're a friend of mine, you know I've recently been really into biking. It's consistently all I want to do. And now that the weather is finally turning, it's not so easy to keep going on my long 10 mile nightly rides. I know I will miss being outside. It felt so wonderful all this summer to just go somewhere, watch the sun set, be on my own (relatively, I still am in a city) and push myself to do the longest rides I could. As long as it was daylight, I was riding.

The view over Falls Bridge in Philadelphia, off of the Schuylkill River Trail

Monitoring my health has become very important to me recently (this may have something to do with the advent of health insurance). I thought cycling would be an easy way to keep myself in balance. I'm not a very fast cyclist. I never have been. I'm a petite woman, so my bike - and more importantly, its wheels - are much smaller than average. I am regularly passed as if I were never on the road by those who are much taller than me. This coupled with the fact that my bike is a single speed means I often go a bit slower than riders, as it takes a lot more effort for me to get up to higher speeds.

Bridge over the Manayunk Towpath at sunset

I don't mind going slow. I don't mind meandering down the Manayunk towpath at sunset while a few other daredevils speed by me. I occasionally am overwhelmed at how beautiful stretches of the Schuylkill trail look and I have to stop and admire them. I have to take a break from biking on my seat that I still haven't upgraded. I have to rest mostly to enjoy the beauty around me. The pictures that accompany this post are about just that.

Biking in Washington Crossing State Park, NJ

I am in favor of stopping. Of slowing down. Of looking at art slowly. But most of all, I am in favor of biking slowly when you have the luxury to do so. I am in favor of stopping and walking your bike whenever you like. I am in favor of looking, seeing, drinking in the views that surround you, and not feeling some invisible force pushing you to pedal on, skip this for now/forever, because your journey is just as important as your destination.

A stop along the Schuylkill River

That is really what I enjoy most about cycling. It is so easy to just hop off and start going again. Switching between being a vehicle and a pedestrian with such ease is the biggest benefit to cycling. It is also perhaps our Achilles heel: many cyclists navigate between vehicle/pedestrian spaces without paying heed to the rules that govern them both, and consequently it is the number one reason cyclists are faced with such animosity. I am mindful of which role I occupy at all times and follow rules as such. However, I've noticed that although I am very careful with being a law-abiding citizen, many around me don't seem to view it that way.

The Mural Arts Program created this wonderful piece visible from the Manayunk Towpath. Title: Waters of Change by artist Paul Santoleri

If I am walking my bike on the sidewalk, I am met with sideways glances. A man literally attacked me once, yelling that my bike belonged on the street and I was taking up "his" sidewalk. If I pull over off the road and stop and walk for a bit, I see motorists shake their heads. Are they jealous of this middle-space that bikers occupy? Do they wish they had the power to just pull over and walk when they felt like it, and have their vehicle tow along behind them?

Biking up to Belmont Plateau offers spectacular views of the Philadelphia skyline while secluding the viewer in nature

I often walk up steep hills. I don't mind it. It's a welcome break. If the break in my journey is long, I might even listen to a podcast. Inevitably, this is where I am most often met with rebukes from other pedestrians. "Why do you have that thing if you're not going to ride it?" When I'm on a trail, other cyclists seem to shake their heads, as if me walking my bike diminishes their existential experience as speed demons.

Biking on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

This post is in favor of stopping and taking your time while cycling. Once your workout is done, why not pursue cycling as a leisure sport. I fully believe in the right of cyclists to hop on and off while following the rules of the road. And I fully believe that more of us should. Walking can easily be fatiguing and is too slow. Cycling allows for destinations to be reached with time to spare. Cycling is therefore one of the best means of seeing and appreciating all in the city precisely because it enables citizens to transition between vehicle and pedestrian status. Slow down and see your city. Stop and hop off your bike when you're interested. After all, it's how I got all these great shots.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A History of Illustration at Freeman's Auction


Interested in book arts as always, I decided to make a last minute dash to catch the last day of the books and manuscripts show at Freeman's Auction here in Philadelphia. I heard they had a copy of Alice in Wonderland with Arthur Rackham illustrations, so I was curious. I didn't know about the treasure trove of American Illustrators I was about to stumble on.


I went through and dug out my old History of Illustration notes on each of these artists. So you'll find a bunch of random observations. Unlike every other art history course I have taken, the History of Illustration class quizzed us by making us recognize pictures by the artists that we likely hadn't seen yet, so you'll see a lot of notes about artistic styles here.

Howard Pyle

I happily came across some Howard Pyle books when I began. I was pleasantly surprised regarding his masterful use of negative space in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Howard Pyle notes:
Theater was influencing art
Compositions like theater stages. Figures=actors
Replicated what theater did
Puts you into the scen, observing from within
Wrote about Robin Hood and King Arthur
Symbolist influence
Colors were extraordinary
Opened a school near Brandywine River
Unique for the time almost 1/2 of his students were women
Encouraged them to be the BEST
Modernized illustration
Father of American Illustration
Very serious about his work and taught it that way
Distinctive pen/ink style. Rich earth tones against bright primaries.
Would expose his students' work to publishers

Jesse Wilcox Smith

I was so happy to come across an entire trove of Jesse Wilcox Smith books (now if only there were some Violet Oakley books there, we'd really be cooking!). It was really lovely to see these illustrations in person in their publications, rather than on screens as I've always viewed them. This was the medium these illustrators excelled at. Wilcox Smith is almost like the Mary Cassat of illustrators - but rather than mother and child scenes, it's mostly children and nursery rhymes, and they're done a way that doesn't make me gag. Her pictures are so charming, you can see why she was meant for this field. 

Old notes on Jesse Wilcox Smith
10 years younger than Howard Pyle One of his students at Drexel and then at Brandywine
Beautiful palettes
Great sense of design
Ladies  home journal, harper's weekly, good housekeeping
Best known for Waterbabies
Classic fairytales
Used photography very well
A Christmas Carol
Realism in Work-->Very interesting
Learned the stage quality (theater) from howard Pyle
Much more intimate, subtle and engaging way to approach illustration
Amazing mural painter

I felt really inspired by Arthur Rackham's silhouette covers. 

Since Rackham is such a household name, I focused my precious hour on most of the Jesse Wilcox Smith books (and others I'll get to in a moment). Sorry I don't have more to show! Here are my old Rackham notes:

  • Had many assignments before he found his style
  • HIs first major work was Rip Van Winkle
  • Next masterpiece was Peter Pan 
  • Did Alice in Wonderland
  • Also did adult nice books: A Midsummer Night's Dream in 190
  • Combined fantasy and realism
  • Subdued palette
  • Anthropormorphised trees

And of course, I looked at the Alice in Wonderland copy. Which, although racked with all the Rackham books, was illustrated by Peter Newell? I haven't heard of him before, but each page had such a painstakingly detailed border

Accompanying starkly different illustrations (though nonetheless beautiful):

Ever since I entered, this book and its wonderful title font was calling to me. Edmund Dulac sounds like a familiar name, but I can't find him in my notes. I've Wikipedia'd him so he's not as mysteroius, but stumbling upon this book felt so wonderful. It made me think a bit more on the collaboration that illustration is between two creative people, a writer and an artist. Sometimes, that collaboration goes just perfectly. A lot of these are detail shots, because I couldn't help myself. Whoever bids and wins this book is a very, very lucky person.

Title page reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsly illustrations.

Caption: A circle of mist seemed to be settling around them.
Caption: And then, leaning against a mass-grown crumbling tree, was a spirit-like being out of another world.

Caption: It was the miraculous bubbles.

My favorite illustration of all:

You can bid on this beautiful book here, and I will live vicariously through you and your expendable income. 

Some more exhibit shots:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

November Events

Image: William James Glackens. Vaudeville Team (detail), c. 1908–1909. London Family Collection

What: First Friday! William Glackens Opening Party: Vaudeville
When: Friday, November 7, 6 - 9 pm
Where: The Barnes Foundation
Cost: Members Free; $25

What: 3rd Annual Small Wonders Group Show
When: Friday, November 7, 6 - 10 pm
Where: Arch Enemy Arts
Cost: Free

What: Philly Bike Expo
When: Saturday, November 8 & Sunday, November 9
Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center
Cost: $12/day, $20 two-day-pass

What: Micromanias
When: November 7 - 10
Where: Little Berlin
Cost: $12

What: OACCE 3rd Annual Town Meeting: Exploring Philadelphia's Cultural Ecology
When: Wednesday, November 12, 5:30 - 8:30 pm
Where: The Philadelphia Clef Club

What: Museum Council Fall Event
When: Thursday, November 13, 6 - 9 pm
Where: The Woodlands
Cost:  Earlybird Individual Member: $15 - only available until 11/1
          Earlybird Non-member $20 - - only available until 11/1
          Individual Member $20
          Nonmember $25
          Student member $15

What: State of Young Philly Kickoff
When: Friday, November 14, 6 - 8 pm
Where: ImpactHub Philly
Cost: Free

What: 6th Annual Cadence Cycling Foundation Gala
When: Saturday, November 15, 6 - 7 pm
Where: Founders Hall at Girard College
Cost: Member Gala Ticket $75
          Non-member Gala Ticket $100

What: Weaving a Diverse City
When: Sunday, November 16, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Where: Southeast by Southeast Storefront
Cost: $10

What: November Women Bike PHL Happy Hour
When: Tuesday,  November 18
Where: Garage Philly 5 - 7 pm
Cost: Free

What: Makers Mixer
When: Wednesday, November 19 6:30 - 9 pm
Where: Philadelphia Art Alliance
Cost: Tickets $5, Drinks $5

What: Rain Barrel Workshop
When: Thursday, November 20 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Where: Philadelphia Horticultural Society
Cost: Free

What: The History Hunt Winner Reveal
When: Thursday, November 20, 6:30 - 8 pm
Where: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Cost: Free, registration required

What: Hot Chocolate Bar
When: Saturday, November 29, noon - 2 pm
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences
Cost: $6.95/person

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Catch me at...

I'm going to start dumping events here, because I'm tired of emailing them to everyone. Follow links for more information and registration. THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED AS OTHER EVENTS ARE MADE PUBLIC. Look for a November post around October 20th. Hope to see you out and about!

Upcoming Events
When: Saturday, October 11, 11 am
What: William Glackens and the Illustration of Modern Life
Where: The Barnes Foundation
Cost: Members only, free

When: Monday, October 13, 7 pm
What: Public Lecture: Land Buoy: A Marker of Three Journeys with Jodi Pinto
Where: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Cost: Free

When: Thursday, October 16, 6:30 pm
What: ‘Staches and Spirits Party
Where: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Cost: $25

When: Friday, October 17, 7 pm
What: Drink Beer, Save Cats
Where: Yards Brewery
Cost: $45

When: Monday, October 20, 5:30 pm
What: Cultural Alliance 2014 Annual Member Meeting
Where: The Franklin Institute
Cost: Free for members, $25 non-member

When: Thursday, October 23, 5 pm
What: Women Bike PHL October Happy Hour
Where: Frankford Hall
Cost: Free

When: Friday, October 24, 6 pm
What: Young Professionals
Where: The Barnes Foundation
Cost: $15 members, $30 non-members

When: Saturday, October 25, 7 pm
What: Philly Bike Party 2nd Annual Halloween Ride
Where: Philadelphia Art Museum Steps
Cost: Free

When: Sunday, October 26, 9 am
What: 23rd Annual Lupus Loop
Where: Memorial Hall
Cost: $20 registration

When: Sunday, October 26, 10 am
Where: Fairmount Park
Cost: Free

When: Sunday, October 26, 1 pm
What: Bike Ride to Conshohocken Brewery
Where: Start at PMA steps, ride to brewery via the Schuylkill River Trail
Cost: Free

When: Tuesday, October 28, 6 pm
What: Arts, Culture, & Tourism Listneing Tour & Community Meeting iwth Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown
Where: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Cost: Free

When: Thursday, October 30, 5:30 pm
What: Trail Update – Building and Planning the Network in Philadelphia
Where: Academy of Natural Sciences
Cost: Free

When: Thursday, October 30, 5:30 pm
What: Art As Activism: Can Art Affect Social Change?
Where: Art Sanctuary
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Today was #AskACuratorDay. This is a blog about everything I learned, because I need somewhere to put it all, and twitter is confusing. And this blog morphs and changes as I feel like it, so...we're doing something a little bit different here. And it's my blog, so I can do whatever I want.

My first question was inevitably to the Isabella Stewart Gardner, my favorite museum in the US. If you haven't seen it, for the love of god, go to Boston and check it out.

Then I tweeted the NYTimes referencing Holland Cotter's amazing Memory Museum Article. They didn't respond. ;( Still go read that article, it's great.

MoMA deemed it better not to answer me. Maybe they're still ashamed of their American Folk Art Museum debacle, though I swear I wasn't referencing it.
Learning more about Sonia Delaunay  (that's the book) from the PMA (please excuse the typo)...

And a wonderful convo with the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The picture the reference, Abandoned Doll by Suzanne Valadon, can be found here on Google Art along with a bio of the artist.

The Abandoned Doll, Susan Valadon, 1921, Oil on Canvas, National Museum for Women in the Arts

The Newseum gets points for the best answer that was most RT'd. 

I could hardly believe my eyes when Yaelle Biro from the Met responded to me. Find the book here.

The New Museum's response rang the best, and truest. For I love Ragnar Kjartansson. Videos of the pieces mentioned are below. 

Bliss by Ragnar Kjartansson, timelapsed....

The End by Ragnar Kartansson, Icelandic Pavillion, 2009 Venice Biennale

I had to ask one of my favorite organizations in Philly, the Association for Public Art, what their thoughts were.

 Paradigm Gallery had one of the most fruitful discussions with me.

And I couldn't resist finding out some street art "curation" from local Philly bloggers Vandalog and Streets Dept. 

And that was my lovely day today.