Traverse City Michigan Miniature Village! Folk Art Make-work for Unemployed Folk




I hate to even think "fall" but for many in Michigan, fall means Traverse City. More exactly, the fall foliage on the way there and back. One of the most pleasant places in the country, and at one time home of the famous miniature city!

During the depression (the great one, not the current one) the Traverse City Opera House, still standing, became home for an unusual WPA project. Traverse City mayor "Con" Foster, who was formerly a circus promoter, thought up the original project to find work for carpenters who couldn't find any building the real thing, so Roosevelt's WPA coughed up the dough! Workers were hired to create miniature models of prominent actual buildings in the city. The intricate, perfect models were then installed in Clinch Park. At one time, there were over 100 buildings.

Weather, for which Traverse City is also known, took a toll on tiny town and it was put under wraps in 1973. A local businessman eventually bought the models, and when he passed away the whole collection was willed to the Opera House, where portions of it are displayed. Hopefully, one day the entire collection will be restored and assembled again.

Amateur Snapshots of the Traverse City Miniature City 1940. (Note walkway in the shape of states, the Michigan Mitten prominent) Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman Interview on Blurb.com and Publishing Books

Original Interview Figure Photography Magazine HERE









Adventures In Collecting and Publishing with Jim Linderman
Figure Photography Magazine (Originally Published HERE)

Last month we reviewed ‘Camera Club Girls’ by collector and publisher Jim Linderman; in the course of our communications about that article, I felt that I wanted to learn more about his adventures in self-publishing. So Jim had been good enough to join us again for a closer look at the in’s and out’s of collecting art, curating a collection, and getting the work into print – do-it-yourself to the max!


Jim Linderman has written the Grammy-nominated ‘Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography’ published by Dust-to-Digital and has published six Blurb books on vernacular photography and photographic history, including the critical acclaimed ‘Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page, her Friends and the Work of Rudolph Rossi’ ‘The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography’ and ‘Shy Shamed Secret Shadowed Hidden: SSSSH! Vintage Vernacular Erotic Photography’.


FPM: Like you, Jim, I also have a fond enthusiasm for off-beat photographic trivia, retro kitsch, and forgotten documents. Before we begin talking about your self-publishing adventures, could you tell me about your collecting in general? Can you tell me a bit about your background, and how you began collecting the materials you eventually edited and published?


I always collected something, but increasingly as I age I realize I wasn’t making collections as much as I was assembling. I was always putting similar things together, in groups…to get a better understanding of them rather than a collection of things. Even then, my schemes how to acquire things and then comprehend them were more important than the physical objects themselves. I wanted to learn, and found learning easier when I had put together a group of objects on one place, but the process was most important. I guess ownership was less important than the steps required in selecting things to look for. I’ve never had much money, and always had to scrimp and suffer for things I obtained. Even early on, that shaped my eye.

One thing I do differently with my blogs and books than most folks, I think, is that I’ve always felt I had to go through the process of obtaining objects first. Nearly everything I use in my books and writings are things I have found and own. It makes me both appreciate more and learn more about the objects or images I have. If I do crib an image from somewhere, it is usually something no one would want to claim anyway…or at least not until I have put it into a context where it makes more (or less) sense than it did originally. My childhood was normal enough, Midwestern and safe. But I gravitated to the bad neighborhoods as much as I could. Beat literature, blues music and the library made me go bad!

Yeah, those damn libraries will do that to ‘ya, all right! But I notice that your collections are mostly image-based, as opposed, say, to text-based, like collecting odd poetry, for instance. Do you have a background in the arts? Not that one has to have any special training to be drawn to 50’s pin-ups, of course! We’re so sophisticated these days – socially and visually. One of the things I personally enjoy most about retro stuff is its sense of innocence. Is that something that attracts you, too?

Well, I do not have a background in any formal art training at all. Sociology and Library Science. I guess you would have to call me a self-taught” collector. I do, however, have the gene. I believe some folks are born with the same DNA strand which causes crows to bring shiny objects to their nests. I’ve collected just about as many things as you can imagine. Hand-Carved Slingshots from Tennessee. Painted American Indian Suitcases known as Parfleche. Privately printed books on who killed Kennedy and UFOs. Handmade Paper Dolls. Garage Pressed Punk Rock Records. As soon as I recognize an area or genre which has either been forgotten or neglected, I’m on it like glue. I immerse myself.

That’s how the ‘Take Me to the Water’ collection of baptism photographs came about. I noticed no one had collected them before, and there certainly hadn’t been a book. So, for ten years I bought every single real photo postcard or original photograph of anyone being immersed, and when I had reached well over 100, it was time for a book and music project (for which I and Dust to Digital, the publisher, were nominated for a Grammy this year). The original photographs were donated to the International Center of Photography in New York City, I believe the exhibition opens in January 2011. That is as example of collecting in depth, until I feel I have exhausted all avenues. I have never really been a “stamp” collector, where the goal was to fill in every pre-determined slot. The art world equivalent of that is the survey show. I don’t like survey shows. I like the complete picture which can only come from a good, driven collector or curator who likes to dig.


Wow! Busy guy! And a celebrity, to boot! Given that you experience collecting and curating as creative activities, I suppose that it’s only natural that you would want to share your discoveries with others. I have always argued that art is a communal activity; that art is created to share, being a form of communication, like storytelling. Few serious artists create something and then lock it away – they (at least) hope that someone else will see their work and appreciate it, or be affected by it in some way. It’s very interesting that a collector may have that same desire to share. I don’t think that all collectors feel that way, but you obviously do. So I can see that it’s not much of a leap from putting a collection together to publishing that collection for others to enjoy. So, how did that part of your work begin? You currently have an intriguing collection of publications available, and I’ve reviewed one of them; how did all of this get started? Were you getting requests from folks, or did you simply feel like it was the right thing to do?

After 25 years in living two blocks from Times Square, my lungs were so shot three doctors told me to get out, so I moved back to Michigan and now live near the beach mere steps from where my parents raised me. As my energy waned, the web grew, so it is now possible to use it for exploring as much as I used to in the car. My attention has also shifted to smaller things, visual things, photographs, comics, paper ephemera. It is still consistent with my feelings about picking an area and collecting in depth, and there are endless topics and areas to pick from. There is also more material available, it is less expensive, and easier to make a contribution. The web makes it easy to create and share images, and I use the objects I own as starting points for little essays and observations. A little Andy Rooney sneaks in, I worked with him during my years while at CBS News, but for the most part I avoid politics and opinion and such. I see both my blogs, of which I have a dozen or so, and my books (6 and counting) as art projects of my own. When done seriously, the blog is an art form, just as legitimate as painting or sculpture. I feel the same about “sharing” as I always did. First, there is enough for everyone! I used to laugh at people who cut in line at antique shows. After all, what were the odds they would be trying to buy the same thing I was? Second, at some point in my life I decided to leave a footprint, both digital and physical. So I do a daily blog post to clear my head, and in the meantime work on long range projects and goals. I treat my books as little art projects. Think “limited edition prints” or numbered editions. I always admired small press companies, and now with Blurb and other web-based printers, it is possible for anyone to make a book. I try to accumulate an area in depth, then package up a little product. I don’t make any money on them, the publisher takes it all…but they do provide a physical object and record of something I’ve done.

A creative act, a statement, a point of view – the same things other artists think about – ALL of the time! I have artist friends who also curate exhibitions, and they sweat over that work as much as they do over their own paintings or photographs. So I understand your motivations completely. I think most artists look at self-publishing more as a way to expose their own vision to a wider audience than as a way to pay the rent. Like you, it’s more about sharing than anything else. The million dollar question everyone is curious about is this: does self-publishing make sense? Is it effective? Does it help build an audience? Or is it just an expensive black hole to pour money into? Every artist thinks about it. The fact that Blurb makes all of the dough is certainly disappointing to hear! But, assuming that one goes into such a project with the intention to ‘get their work out there’ rather than to ‘make a pile of dough’, can you offer the rest of us any advice on the process? Has your experience with Blurb and/or other on-demand publishers been positive? Any war stories you’d like to share?

The advantage of online publishing with Blurb is that it costs nothing to do. Literally nothing. You do all the work, with their software, upload the finished product, and they do the rest. All if it. Printing, binding and shipping. As no minimum order is required, you have NO investment in the finished product and NO inventory to sit in the garage if none sell. Of course, you can buy as many as you like, and if you want to purchase 500 copies, they would certainly be happy to do it and ship them to you.
With a “real” book, or at least one which goes through a major publisher, the ISBN process and with distribution channels, you have to invest in your product. With printing (likely, at this point, unfortunately, overseas) and shipping, you could easily reach ten or twenty thousand dollars without even selling one copy of your book. Then you have to figure out how to get it into the book distribution system (which at this point means Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the small organizations of independent booksellers) You CAN have an ISBN assigned to a Blurb book, it is a slightly more difficult process, but can be done. Since my books are art projects and a hobby, I don’t need to show a profit. Anyone who creates a Blurb book sets their own price, that is, given the cost one is charged to print each copy. Blurb is expensive… the base price is much higher than a similar book printed in quantity… so, given the economy and the trend towards e-books, I don’t see it as an alternative to publishing really. I price my books five dollars more than the cost to me. Since so few sell, and trust me, they don’t… that’s not really an income. As for selling and marketing, it’s all up to the author. Blurb provides badges one can use to link to the book, does a little indexing with search engines, but for the most part you own the book and you can do what you want. Buy twenty copies for friends. Print some to put on your shelf. But as a valid opportunity to publish to the real world, they are actually only a small step up from the “vanity” presses of old which would print, say, your uncle Charlie’s bar jokes or war memories.

Jim, I think that anyone interested in the technical details can do their own research on the quality of the various self-publishing services out there, especially since they are all evolving so rapidly; that said, my final question to you would be:
In retrospect, with the experiences you’ve had thus far, do you feel that this is still a viable avenue for artists and collectors to get their work into the world? You’ve been far down this road to date – would you do it again? Or would you consider other options? Has the trip been what you expected / hoped for? And would you recommend your route to a fellow artist?

I would absolutely recommend it. First of all, one can be remarkably creative. The software provide all sorts of options and chances to experiment… yet it is so easy to create. Just enter the project with low expectations as to sales and you’ll be happy.
I have found it useful for organizing collections… once they are documented in a book, they take on additional meaning for me and for those who can see the images. A blurb book is a wonderful way to show your work, they make simply outstanding gifts or promotional items… for the price of a piece of junk at your local mega-mall, you can give a literal work of art, and a personal one at that. Art and photography dealers might avoid yet another envelope of slides in the mail, but I guarantee they’ll look at a book sent to them. Several drawbacks we haven’t considered. The folks at Blurb have told me they have no plans to expand into e-publishing. It would be nice to be able to sell a version of your creation for the Kindle, Nook, or other readers, but no go. You CAN, however, elect to allow the entire book to be read on the Blurb site, and the page turning function is great. Digital photos on their platform actually look far better than they do in the printed books. Second, when creating a Blurb book, their software uploads each image, one at a time, into the file that is created for your book. Once loaded into their software and system, you can delete images, but you can not copy them out from the Blurb design interface. I’m sure they do it so no one can take the created book and use it for other products or publishing platforms. So when you create a book on Blurb, you should be sure you have retained copies of the images you used on your own hard drive or desktop as well. You can always, at any time, access your images online at Blurb, but you can not retrieve them once loaded into their program. Third, mistakes are permanent, you have to “republish” your entire book to fix them. EACH of my books has one tiny mistake others might miss, but every time I see them I cringe a bit. I know the Amish always intentionally leave one little error in a quilt because only God is perfect, but in a book it is just annoying!

Visit Jim Linderman’s Websites:
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books
Dull Tool Dim Bulb the Blog
Vintage Sleaze
Old Time Religion
The Wondrous World of Wendt
The Painted Backdrop

Kopeefun Cartoon Cuties Copied!









WHOA! I don't think the kind folks at Woolworth's intended our little KOPEEFUN consumer to use this magic transfer paper to copy hot, pre-code comic babes! Maybe the older brother got into the pack?

Kopee was magic. All you had to do was rub! A tracing paper impregnated with some mysterious chemical which would allow you to lift images right off the pages of your comics! I think this is what the copyright statement means when they say not to be stored "in any retrieval system."

Carefully preserved in a package from 1941. As you can see, the manufacturer had numerous suggestions for use. Well...I'm just glad our little wicked rubber had "extra sheets"

Magic Kopeefun Paper Pack of Extra Sheets with Handmade Rubbings 1941 Collection Jim Linderman

Gene Bilbrew Dream Book (The Pharoah Knows)











I have certainly made it no secret one of my favorite artists is the junked-out and largely forgotten illustrator and fetish cartoonist Eugene Bilbrew, an African-American artist who worked with a who's who of Times Square sleazy scoundrels during the 1950s and 1960s. All my blogs have some "Bilbrew stew" but until now I have not posted the Bilbrew DREAM BOOK! He did the cover in 1972, shortly before passing away too early (robbing us of who knows how many fascinating pulp covers.)

There are literally thousands of Bilbrew illustrations floating around the web, most of them in sites you do NOT want to visit. I prefer the wacky drawings Bilbrew did for the several lines of paperback books printed by Satellite Publications in the mid-60s, but when I googled the Dream Book up, not on the web yet! Hardly seems fair. Here you go.

Warning...do NOT google Bilbrew...this is a family blog!


Dream books are still to be found anywhere the lottery is played or someone wants to "know" if their dream means they'll get the job or find the mate. Pharoah's Dream Book of Numbers can help you find power and wealth. One way is to sell Dream Books.
I suppose Aunt Sally's Policy Planner is the most famous Dream Book, but there have been many. A reproduction of Aunt Sally's is available HERE.


Pharoah's Dream Book of Numbers (cover illustration by Eugene Bilbrew) 1972
Wholesale Book Corp. NY, NY Collection Jim Linderman

Square Dance Culture (for Squares) Do Si Do Indeed!






Sociologists would call it a cult, I guess...maybe a ritual? Collective madness? I'm talking about a dance. For squares.

Ranking right up there with the Twist (Popularized by one "Chubby Checker" who took his fake name from Fats Domino, get it?) and the Pogo (jumping up and down like a fish on a hook while aiming some gobs at the performer)...the Square Dance is a curious relic now. That's not to say it isn't still practiced! There are probably as many Square Dancers around today as ever.

I suspect the Square Dance is the only cool (sorta) dance not invented by the brothers. At least I've never seen an African-American square dancer, but my racism will hopefully be corrected by submissions. It would make a great scene in a film by Tyler Perry, wouldn't it? Tyler...call me!

Some fun facts.

There used to be entire record labels devoted to the genre.
George Balanchine "did" one in 1957 as a ballet.

The square dance tempo is 120 to 128 Beats per Minute. Techno!

Cartoonist Chuck Jones, who invented Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, was a big fan. So big, in fact, he drew the poster ideas above!

Believe me, this is a craze which will sweep the nation. You heard it here first.

I once saw a gay square dance collective sweep down Fifth avenue, and though it was a parade, their feet were hardly touching the street!


The way most cool thing about a square dance is the caller. A Svengali who stands in the front of the room and directs the participants with his own special patter. Sorta like rap done by a guy with a bandanna around his neck. Inflection and technique is critical, and each caller develops his own style. Think cattle auctioneer with exceptional rhythm!

To see a color film which will give you great pleasure or nightmares, see THIS

(Warning....it is SMOKING HOT!)

Elmer Anderson Returns with a Powerful Show of Incomprehensible Images! Art of the Lowest Order!





My second staggering post devoted to the most remarkable talentless artist in postcard history. Previous Post is HERE. (Collect them all!)

Group of Elmer Anderson Postcards, circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

The Quest of Pioneer Jim (With Patience, Tribulation and Faithful)




"Pioneer Jim" shuttles past a "X-7" guided missile on his way to the fair!

"Pioneer" Jim left Amarillo, Texas in April, 1963 on a spiritual quest...to guide his mule-driven chuck wagon into New York World's Fair where he expected to set up a youth camp and program. Along the way he would spread the good word and shared tall tales, the primary one, I guess, being his primary message. The Mules, "Patience" and "Tribulation" pulled while the horse "Faithful" was towed behind. I think Jim used him for quick trips to the convenience store at stops. Also along for the ride was "Wolf" the dog...who was found on the way and joined up.

He made it to Newark New Jersey...The Evening Independent reported him stuck in traffic there in March 1964. That is a pretty rough stretch of road, right near the airport and constantly under repair. I've been tied up there many, many times , forced to choose between the tunnel or the bridge. I'll tell you one thing...if my trip had been delayed by a fake cowboy jesus freak in a covered wagon, I'd certainly flipped him off when I finally whizzed by and so would most New Yorkers that I know. Sorry...we're always in a hurry, you know.

Did Pioneer Jim make it to the World's Fair? Well, if he did, no one cared. I can't find any accounts of his visit. I do find a brief clip which suggests they didn't let him in, but the story isn't worth paying for document delivery cost (at least for me...) and another one which seems to locate him limping back through Connecticut.


Also a post on old-time-religion the blog.

Pioneer Jim Publicity Brochure 1964 Collection Jim Linderman

Plus You Could Wrap Fish in Them! Talking Kindle, the Radio, The Newspaper and Coast to Coast AM


OK, I'm sure not many who read this blog will be too thrilled about it, but my Kindle will arrive in a week or two. (I never had to wait a month for the NEWSPAPER to be delivered) The point being that newspapers are croaking, but this little girl found use for one.

One of the Kindle features I am really looking forward to is that it will TALK. It has two tiny speakers. I don't know if it will read ANY book, with a robot character recognizing audio function, or if I have to buy a "talking book" to use the feature. I'll let you know.

My house sits in the shadow of a huge Lake Michigan dune, and the siding is aluminum...so my radio reception is HORRIBLE. I have to listen to my UFO, remote viewing and crypto-news on Coast to Coast AM all the way from Kentucky for some reason.

WHAT? You DON'T LISTEN to Coast to Coast AM?

Bill Ward aWARDed Second Annual "Lead in his Pencil Award!


Those of you who dare enjoy my tribute to inappropriate, sexist, forgotten comic artists from the sleazy sixties may enjoy my annual "Lead in his Pencil" award given this year to Bill Ward HERE.Check out my books

Frozen Moment When One Sees What is on the End of the Fork. Sham Brands, Wright County, Wrong Way to Produce!

How many of you think ONE HUGE DISGUSTING DIRTY CHICKEN FACTORY should be able to sell 338 million eggs under the names "Sunshine" “Mountain Dairy” “Farm Fresh” “Shoreland” “Dutch Farms” "Sun Valley" and "Pacific Coast" ?

William S. Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch, but Jack Kerouac gave him the title, saying "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork." Well folks, it's 50 years later but here is your frozen moment.

Not only does the horrendous poop-filled machine egg factory sell under sham pleasant “happy” brand names, The NY Times reports that Wright County Eggs has “had run - ins with regulators over poor or unsafe working conditions, environmental violations, the harassment of workers, and the hiring of illegal immigrants.”

It’s well past the time to bring back the local farm folks.

The Perfect Headstand in Ohio 100 Years Ago



Good work, Maine Burrell from Sydney, Ohio!
Large photograph with newspaper clipping of event. Circa 1920?

The Secret of All Along The Watchtower and Bob Dylan


The Greatest Rock song ever written is without a doubt "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan. Never mind that Jimi Hendrix did it better and Bob has been playing Jimi's version ever since. It has confounded critics for decades, but a simple trick makes the whole song and narrative make perfect sense. Read on.

For 40 years, when Bob Dylan plays "All Along the Watchtower" (as he is now in his tour of the States...travel on, Minstrel boy) It has become THE showcase for whoever has the honor of being Dylan's lead guitar player. Robbie Robertson was first and set the standard...well, maybe Mike Bloomfield. This year's model is again Charlie Sexton, and sexy he is...Handsome as any rock and roller can be, square-jawed, slim...and girls just drop their panties overboard for Charlie. I hope Papa Dylan gets him on the bus safe every night.


The song was written up in Woodstock in 1967-1968 when Bob and The Band were living together, basically taking advantage of a well-earned vacation and creating the Basement Tapes (No, not the sullied and tainted CD called the Basement Tapes for sale on Amazon) The 6 hours of songs Garth Hudson recorded which have only seen light through bootleggers. It looks like I have waited so long they will NEVER come out on a real disc now...since a sequence of bits and bytes suffices for music today. Digital dross wouldn't have scared Garth. He is a natural born tinkerer and could have recorded the songs on a pimped up Morse Code machine if they asked him to. For some reason, I think Garth Hudson knows ways to transmit music we haven't even discovered yet.

The point is that the greatest rock song was immediately transformed from a quiet, acoustic fairy tale into a raging howl of hell-fire and steam by Jimi Hendrix, and I can't think of a more effective cover, one which literally convinced the writer it was better, and so MUCH better he added the later version to his permanent repertoire. Let me tell you...to improve on anything Dylan does is no small feat.

But the post is about the song, Cribbed here from Bob Dylan.com and no, I am not selling ringtones. This, children, is a song.

All Along The Watchtower By Bob Dylan

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”


“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”


All along the watchtower, princes kept the view

While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl

Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl


Copyright © 1968 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1996 by Dwarf Music


So the Secret? The mysterious secret of the greatest rock song ever written, a standard for the last 45 years? It is simple... Dylan reversed the paragraphs, or phrases. The "correct" lyrics, and the secret of the song's mystery is revealed when placed in proper order.


All Along The Watchtower By Bob Dylan (Reversed Phases)
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view

While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl

Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl


“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief

"There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth

None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”


“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”



Remember, it was Dylan himself who said "the first one now will later be last"

So there you go....still plenty of room for guitar pyrotechnics, and we won't be as confused as the confused joker any longer. Simple as that. While listening to Hendrix, you might take a second to realize this is a trio...all the sounds are being created live by three musicians and only ONE of them from Mars.

Oh. one other thing...there should not be any confusion what the song is about in either version. It is about recording contracts, managers and an artist being taken advantage of. Again...Simple!

by Jim Linderman








How to TWEET for REAL! (I'm not kidding...) Bird Calls


Want to learn how to "Tweet" for REAL? Here is your chance, and you'll thank me later. Click to this link to select and listen to hundreds of BIRDS! I'm serious...my favorites are the Owls, and you'll be amazed how many different species and sounds there are. Thank you Mr. Peepers! (Wally Cox for you young'uns...you know...Marlon Brando's "roommate") True, look it up. I am afraid the site does not include the legendary "purple-shafted-nut-slinger" which caused so much hilarity on the old Dean Martin show (again...something I couldn't make up) So EASY even LARRY KING could do it! "So tell me...what's this "Tweet" thing?"

To HEAR the BIRD OF YOUR CHOICE click on the eNature.com Site HERE. You'll be late for work, promise!

Review Jim Linderman The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography 1860-1920 by Joey Lin

Review of Jim Linderman The Painted Backdrop by Joey Lin Anonymous Works




View Original Review with Additional photographs HERE


Slogging through the dross of daily online auctions, I'm used to being disappointed 99% of the time. Cyber-picking can be a sort of self-flagellation, but when you find a hidden jewel the payoff makes it all worth it. I sort of feel the same way with self-published books. The theory is good, with online sites like Lulu and Blurb giving us all the ability to become published authors. Unfortunately, as I've browsed through the majority of self-published titles available, most are of the "these are my best Aruba shots" photo books that, while sometimes beautiful, leave me a little unfulfilled.

Fortunately there are others, like Jim Linderman, who look at the technology as an opportunity to expose the hidden corners of old (sometimes weird) America. Like Jimmy Allen's seminal book on lynching in America, Linderman has a knack for discovering untold stories and introducing them to a wider audience. His latest book, The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography 1860-1920, tells the previously untold story of 19th century painters who painted the backdrops of the then ubiquitous tintype photos. It's an incredibly interesting history and you suddenly find yourself looking for the subject behind the subject.

The Painted Backdrop is one of two of Linderman's books currently in the running for a People's Choice Award in the Photography category of Blurb.com. What's great is that for a limited time you'll be able to preview and read the entire books.

The Painted Backdrop Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography 1860-1920
Click Here to preview the book and vote!

Camera Club Girls Bettie Page and her Friends: The Work of Rudolph Rossi
Click Here to preview the book and vote!

If you like them (which I'm sure you will), make sure to put a vote in before August 20th!

Art of Sandra Ford Comics or Fine Art? Trixiefishstabber Draws an Unearthly Line



















Visual artists have four careers...early, middle, mature and posthumous. Blue chip? Or far more likely...no chip at all.

Trixie Fishstabber, also known as Sandra Ford had a good start once, but before progressing to the next stage she stopped to raise children. She drew, she sold, she quit, she raised children, and now draws again. So can she skip a step? Maybe, just maybe, the delay in her career allows her to skip right to mature, and yet retain the fresh, experimental, child-like traits of an emerging artist.

No thesaurus can really describe her work. It is certainly "other-worldly" or more appropriately "no-worldly." Ethereal as ethereal can be, and in an endearing way. These are not threatening images, but at every glance they are odd, and remain so after seeing a good number of her drawings. Sandra Ford seems both at ease with nature and a world which doesn't exist, and she excels in sharing her personal visions of a world which lives somewhere in between. One can debate the meaning of "visionary" or "self-taught" as Sandra does in our interview, but I do not think one can question the popularity, appeal and acceptance this artist is likely to receive.

Every work shown here is pencil on paper, though she also paints and has experimented with other materials. Most are quite small, but she has worked larger. She sells her work on the web and social networks, and it is not uncommon for her to receive an extraordinary number of "thumbs-up" for every image she posts.

I interviewed Sandra to learn where these delicate, curious drawings come from.

Well, we certainly should start with your name, and where the handle Trixie Fishstabber came from. Do you spear fish?

Nope, I don't spearfish, but I fish, a lot. And I love making up strange names, usually for others, but one day, Trixie Fishstabber came to me and I instantly knew it was my alter ego, my AKA. Trixie is my mischievous side, she's the one who sneaks in the rear door of the carnival side-show. We have the exact same sense of the absurd, she is a light hearted free bird who loves downtrodden underdogs, anthropomorphism and juxtaposed emotions and hates the mundane...Sandy is the name my friends use, Sandra Ford; if it's all business. The duality is entertaining and efficient, Sandy grows a garden, bakes bread, forages and practices Qi Gong, she is serious and sensitive. It's a good balance.

When and where did you start drawing?

I started drawing in High School. But I did not relegate drawing to just art class, I drew weird cartoons and passed them to my friends in every class and I got into trouble daily and the next day did it all over again. Finally a counselor informed me there was no way I was going to graduate with an A in Art and failing almost every other class. So I quit high school right after that, the decision was a no-brainer. This took place in Southern California.

I know you did some earlier illustration before taking time off to raise a child. How did that sabbatical change your drawings?

Yeah, wow, it is hard to describe what it was like sitting at my drawing table surrounded by all the art supplies I had stockpiled over the years. The day of reckoning; was it still there? Could I get the flow back? Would I be any good? It took nearly a year of continued practice and then it came and what a nice surprise to find how much I had matured, that I had the patience I didn't have before and the patience is what allowed me to fine tune detail and take complexity up a notch. But that first year was frustrating too and extremely overwhelming.

Did you take art classes? You indicate being "self-taught" and I wondered what that expression means to you.

Good question since I recently read through a long forum debate about what 'self-taught' means. The rather arrogant input into that discussion was that you could not have any outside influence what so ever. Well, that's ridiculous, I'm not out to invent crayons or discover a new color and I don't live in a cave... so to me it means I don't have a Masters of Art, I took art in high school. That's it. If I want to oil paint I have to figure it out from square one. I like having that challenge and the freedom is exciting but on the down side, I spend a lot of time in that learning environment making mistakes and sometimes wondering how an art education would have influenced me or more likely, corrupted me.

The "Comic-Con" movement seems huge. Do you see your work fitting into the cartoon and illustrated book movement, or are you rather seeking a "fine-art" place. Is there a difference?

In all honesty, I had to look up Comic-Con. I only had a vague idea of what it encompassed. Hmmm. I suppose my work could fit in that genre, I will have to learn more about it. I really like the idea of illustrating my own weird little book or someone else's. I think I am leaning toward the lowbrow side of fine art. I don't really know, I have had experience working with fine art galleries when I was a curator for a lithographer in Santa Fe and the whole experience left a bad taste. I disdain elitism and the fine art world thrives on it and people make a LOT of money. I don't see myself participating on that level if I want to live with myself and my ideals. So, with an open mind, I reckon I will find a niche most comfortable and obscure, but I am not in any hurry!

Your work, which I find very hard to describe, seems cute but profound, childish but unique, even just plain strange. Where does it come from? These are not real creatures, but they don't have an alien feel either.

The recesses of the mind, somewhere between the right and the left. I call it 'drawing organically' for lack of a better term. I start with an eye and from one eye the creature emerges. It is rare for me to use reference and rarer still that I have any idea of what I am drawing until it is finished. I snicker to myself a lot during the process. If get the same feeling that I had when I was four and went on some of those bizarre children's rides at Disneyland, I know I'm on the right track.

I have read other artists writings about the subconscious flow, some of them think they are tapping into universal energy. I don't know about that, maybe it's just about shutting up some of the left brain to get into a quiet trance akin to meditation. I ponder it frequently especially when I draw something I know I did not know how to draw before, and I just did it like it was no big deal. It is incredibly mysterious, it's a city built of curiosities and populated with idiot savants, kinda fun but scary. It's where weirdos hang out in Detroit warehouses and try to force feed ice cream to their hapless and stupid looking victims... it's almost insane to try to pinpoint anything about it.

Sandra Ford communicates at TRIXIEFISHSTABBER HERE, the artist's blog. She currently sells available work her online ETSY shop HERE.

Sandra Ford (Trixiefishstabber) Drawings 2010 ( A, E, F, G) Collection Jim Linderman
Sandra Ford (Trixiefishstabber) Drawings 2010 (B, C, D) Collection of the Artist