Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Atomic Ranch Magazine PRINTS MY LETTER (!) Mid-Century Chair with Amateur Design Mastery


Having abandoned Manhattan for Michigan three years ago, and having been fortunate enough to purchase a 1963-built ranch house in beautiful condition, ATOMIC RANCH has become one of my favorite magazines. Which is why I sent them a few photographs and a question about the child-sized mid-century design chair I found in an antique mall. I thought it a most sculptural homemade piece with superb design...a tiny Calder in my living room! But it had no manufacturer listed, it is clearly a homemade or, hopefully, a prototype.

Two years went by and I never heard back from the magazine. Much to my surprise, here it is in the Summer 2011 issue with my photos, my chair, my question and my bananas! They seem as puzzled as I was, but the effort sure is appreciated.

Now what Atomic Ranch doesn't know is that in the intervening two years, I FOUND THE ANSWER! I'm not printing it here, who wants to spoil the fun? I'm going to wait and see what kind of guesses come in and send them the answer after.

It is a beautiful little chair...and since I now live less than a gallon of gas from Herman Miller, My eye is increasingly shifting from folk art to retro modern whatever. Plus, I have a house to fill!

Thanks to Atomic Ranch. It is a superb magazine, I recommend it highly, and their website HERE provides a generous sample of what they do. I only wish it was a monthly instead of a quarterly.

Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE

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Folk Art Dancing Dan Limberjack Jig Doll Jiggerman Limberjim Dancin' Dan the Yankee Doodle Dancer Articulated Figure

A limberjack, AKA jig doll, slapjack, jiggerman, limberjim, dancin' dan, paddle puppet and yankee-doodle dancer (and articulated figure if it is mounted on a museum base) is actually a wooden musical instrument which consists of a doll with loose joints on the end of a long stick, the legs of which the human performer causes to tap rhythmically on a thin wooden board like a clog dancer. The one here happens to be tied to a ruler, thus giving a measure of the man while he dances. The photograph of a REAL limberjack is an original snapshot from the 1930s.

Clog Dances ARE like songs...trace them to Ireland or Africa, take your pick. Wiki says clogging may even be traced to the Cherokee. John Lee Hooker did it sitting down like a stationary tap-dancer. "Buck dancer" is probably the most common term, or flat-dancing, foot-stomping and
like the whittled doll it is also known as jigging, hence the jig doll name. Whatever, it is the percussive sound made by clogging which is important and also why the dance itself looks ridiculous. Stay loose!

Original photograph and carved wooden figure, both circa 1930, both collection Jim Linderman



Early Paintbox Set Fraktur Pigment in Bottles Art History Early 19th Century Paint Set




The collapsible tin paint tube was invented in 1841, and by 1860 or so they were in general use. Early watercolor paint sets with powered cakes are seen on occasion, but sets like the one above with corked and bottled colors to be mixed by the artist are scarce indeed. In around 1827 (?) the British company Ackermann sold a paint box, but an auction catalog indicates "early marked pigment bottles are almost unheard of to be found..." so certainly an entire set such as this is scarce indeed.

"PIGMENT ANALYSIS OF EARLY AMERICAN WATERCOLORS AND FRAKTUR" by Janice H. Carlson, & John Krill is an analysis of the composition of early American Fraktur paints published in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation in 1978. It concluded fraktur painters used commercially available pigments and illustrates a similar kit (without bottles) HERE, a paint set from the Mercer Museum of The Bucks County Historical Society. It is called a Fraktur Painter's Box. The article has been cited frequently, but I find few other examples of sets this early either illustrated or discussed.

Certainly the earliest painters had to mix their own pigments with oil, and some materials were even stored in bladders. It was apparently dangerous work...the chemicals were toxic when inhaled. Considerable study has been done on British painter J.M.W. Turner's paint box HERE which also includes analysis of dry pigments found in test tube like bottles after his death.

The box itself, which I presume is original (?) has hinges and flat head screws which were in common use around 1900 or so.

I welcome comments or contributions to the history of a set like this. Could this be one of the earliest commercial paint sets existing?



Buffalo Coat Tintype Man Buffalo Bill and the Clothing of the West

A fine gent in his stylish Buffalo Coat. Actually, I am going to guess the coat is a photography studio prop to help tenderfoots look like they've been to the Wild West. And I should know, being a distant relative of Buffalo Bill. True. William F. Cody and I are related. Now that does not mean I am proud of him...in fact I can't really tell you anything at all about him!

Tintype Photograph Anonymous circa 1870 Collection Jim Linderman

(See The Painted Backdrop Book HERE) Available for Purchase from BLURB.COM


I Listen to the Wind Music in Vernacular Photographs from Dust to Digital Steve Roden Changing the Way one Looks at Sound

I am pleased to try conjuring up the first review of Steve Roden's music and photography project with Dust to Digital, "...I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs 1888-1955"

Sight and sound meet in perfect balance here. Roden discovers, acquires and appreciates audible ghosts. It matters little whether they are heard or seen, the beauty is in between. Objects of wonder float in the air, and in certain photographs you will literally see physical notes surround a band, amateur performers with non-existent audiences their only friends, elephant ear trumpets, harmony in half-filled glasses and an orchestra in the Ozarks. A real monkey-grinder of a book/CD. All collected by the artist and designed by another artist, John Hubbard.

The sounds included on the discs are pictures as well, home recordings and musical obscurities etched with stylus tools, spinning lathes, somehow lifted from fog now dispersed. It is hard to describe the antique photographs and sounds here, but I certainly can not quibble in any way, it is an astounding collection. The book/cd will literally do the impossible: Change the way you look at sound. That is something.

The project is not available until August, but I would put in an order early if they will let you. Suffice to say, this is an essential purchase for ANY musician, musical archive, institution or library, and likewise any photography collector or organization. 51 recordings on two CDs and 150 photographs.

Steven Roden has also been producing a beautiful blog.

Dust to Digital has also announced their ambitious upcoming projects, as well as some brief notes about previous releases reproduced below. Make sure to browse!

Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955 (DTD-20): Compiled and edited by acclaimed artist Steve Roden, this hardback book/2 CD set is slated for an August 2, 2011 release date. We will have more details available very soon. Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM (DTD-22): Compiled and edited by Jonathan Ward, of Excavated Shellac fame, this 4 CD box set showcases 100 recordings made between the 1920s and '60s, all of which are available on CD for the first time. A release date has not been set, but expect the compilation in stores by November. John Fahey "Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You" (DTD-21): A co-production with Revenant Records, this 5 CD box set features 115 tracks, most of which are available on CD for the very first time. We expect this set to be released in late September or early October. Never a Pal Like Mother (DTD-19): Check out what The L.A. Times and The New Yorker had to say about our latest offering. Rev. Johnny L. Jones "The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta" (DTD-17): Wire Magazine recently featured several unreleased tracks from Rev. Johnny L. Jones' massive reel-to-reel archive. The recordings, some of which date back to the 1960s, can be heard here. Ain't No Grave: The Life and Legacy of Brother Claude Ely (DTD-15): We produced a video featuring vintage Brother Claude Ely film footage that can be seen here. Goodbye, Babylon (DTD-01): Last month, we got to meet Paul Simon and had a lot of fun talking about old-time music and different reissues. On his latest record, Simon samples a sermon by Rev. J.M. Gates that appears on our first release, Goodbye, Babylon. Simon confirmed our suspicions that it was in fact legendary record producer Brian Eno who gave him a copy of the box set. Last year, Eno threw all the rules aside and declared our 2003 release his 2010 Record of the Year.

Disclaimer: Dust to Digital also published my book, so I am biased.


19th Century Folk Art Portrait of a Young Woman Tintype Photograph collection Jim Linderman

A splendid, half-plate tintype photograph of an even earlier folk art portrait of a young woman. My fashion expert dates the portrait to 1825 or 1830, I'm going to say the tintype was taken thirty or forty years later. Taking photographs of paintings was far more common than one may think. One of the powers of the tintype was their ability to be sent in the mail, and many a family portrait was photographed and shared. Additionally, because of floods, fires and mold, often a photo of a painting is all that remains.

This particular photograph was preserved in an album. I would like to hope the painting remains as well, but chances are probably slim. Look closely and you will see it had water spots on it already. At the top, directly above the figure, the pin used to hold the piece in place to be photographed is also seen.

Art historians and folk art collectors alike prize 19th century photographs of paintings, in particular when it may document a missing piece from an artist's body of work. I have not identified either the original artist or the photographer, certainly, and I suppose I never will. Suggestions as to the identity of the painter are welcome...maybe I got double-lucky!

Charming in either medium.

Half-plate Tintype of a Folk Art Portrait Circa 1860 Collection Jim Linderman

See also The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography 1860-1920


Weegee Bettie Page and the FBI The Last (?) Unpublished Photographs and What Weegee told the FBI about Bettie Page

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

What if you could put Bettie Page, the most influential pinup model of the last 50 years in the same room with Weegee, certainly one of the most famous photographers in the world...and he had a camera in his hands? I'd say it would be so juicy even the FBI would be interested. And it appears they were!

Search for a photograph of Bettie Page taken by Weegee. One appears on the International Center of Photography website, which is appropriate as Weegee's widow Wilma Wilcox donated his extensive archive to the museum in 1993. The photo actually appears on Fans in a Flashbulb, the museum's exceptional blog.

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was personal friends with the model, for years living only three blocks apart from each other just off Times Square (Weegee on West 47th Street and Ms. Page on West 46th Street), a walk one can do in less than five minutes, even Weegee with a cigar. There is a story reported that Weegee once climbed into a bathtub fully clothed with Bettie hoping for a better photo until she literally kicked him out. But until now, very few of the photographs Weegee took of his beautiful acquaintance have ever been publicly shown.
Cass Carr, Harlem jazz musician and promoter of amateur camera club outings also had a space in the very same neighborhood at 218 West 47th Street (a mere two blocks from Weegee's house) which he called the "Concorde Camera Circle" with a rudimentary studio. I believe the revealing studio shot here showing other participants snapping away was taken at Carr's place. It is typical of Weegee to create his own particular view in a photographic setting. The one thing you do NOT want to see in a photo of Bettie Page is other men, but there you go. Leave it to Weegee to turn the camera on the cameramen.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

Carr also arranged outings to local farms and parks for camera club participants prior to forming the Concorde Club (previously known as the Lens Art Club) but he changed the club's name after being arrested along with others for promoting an outing in South Salem, New York. Some accounts have Weegee arrested at a camera club outing along with Ms. Page, if so it probably would have been the South Salem, New York shoot on July 27, 1952.

One thing I can confirm is the outdoor photographs here were taken at Headley Farm in New Jersey, as the gas pump has figured in other photographer's pictures. Also present at the shoot, which took place on September 9, 1956, were photographers Art Amsie, Arnold Kovacks, Don Baida, and an unknown woman photographer seen here on the left holding her own camera with the boys.

As far as I know, this unknown woman's pictures of Bettie have not turned up, but we can now say Bettie was photographed by at least three women, the others being Paula Klaw (Paula Kramer) and Bunny Yeager (Linnea Eleanor Yeager)

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

The Weegee photographs (and there are more) are beautiful pictures of the model in her prime. Striking poses of a young model obviously both aware of her talents and enjoying the session. That they were taken by one of the most interesting and talented photographers in history adds to their charm and importance.

The photographs Weegee took of Bettie Page have never been shown, and it is an honor I do not take lightly. It is also the reason the copyright notice I have placed under each image is not to be ignored.

One of the Weegee photos of the model taken in a studio is notable primarily for the unusual bikini Bettie wears which she would have made herself! It was a talent she was proud of, but maybe she should have stuck with store-bought. It also appears in a cropped version on a website or two, but in poor and possibly purloined quality.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

The other Weegee image from the ICP collection which has appeared on the web is a cropped print showing Ms. Page in virtually the same pose taken at the same day by four different photographers.

Another Weegee photograph here shows Ms. Page in a make-shift studio not as yet identified. It could be either of their own apartments, as Page was known to pose individually on request and for her standard modeling fee. It is not known (to me anyway) if Weegee was in the habit of hiring individual models, but he did sell and publish other cheesecake photographs in news digests and quite likely some joke and gag publications. I would like to think Bettie gave him a freebie on this one!

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

But what of the FBI? Recently the FBI released several documents on Bettie Page, likely in response to repeated requests. As we know, the model was harassed and hounded by zealots and government agencies during her modeling years. Once being called by the Kefauver Committee in conjunction with their investigation of Irving Klaw, and earlier in relation to an obscenity bust in 1956 Harlem (in which the amateur bondage model was asked about "ping pong paddles" and a riding crop. She denied being involved, and also denied knowing of any photographs of the sort being produced in Harlem.


In the the newly released FBI document pictured here I noticed a most interesting story hiding in the redacted print! Half way down, note the passage enlarged here which indicates photos of the model were "turned over on 5/25/60...by (name omitted) also known as (name omitted) a photographer who resides at (location omitted.) Now I do not know of any other New York City photographer working with a short pseudonym who took pictures of Bettie Page! So there you go... it now looks like we can add Weegee to the long list of artists who have been pestered by the long arm of the law.


Now if I were writing this for a tabloid in the 1950s, when the neighborhood all three principles called home was known as "Hell's Kitchen" I would have titled this 'WEEGEE SQUAWKS TO FEDS" but to be fair, anyone with the slightest connection to "dirty" pictures was vulnerable to such puritanical procedures, when the laws attempting to define obscenity were far more strict than today. So let's call them all pioneers rather than pigeons.

(c) Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

I would like to thank the International Center of Photography for allowing me to use the above unpublished photographs from their archive to help illustrate this discovery and story. If you are not an active member or supporter of the museum, please take the time to join.

Jim Linderman is author of Times Square Smut and The Birth of Rock and Roll

 "Times Square Smut" available now covers the same time period as the above in detail and publishes numerous works by African-American artist Eugene Bilbrew unseen for over 50 years. Times Square Smut will tell the story of denizen and mobster Edward Mishkin, who printed and sold proto-porno soft-core books using the artist's work on 42nd Street at the same time Irving Klaw was publishing photographs of Bettie Page. In the meantime.  The Birth of Rock and Roll might be the most unusual music book you have ever seen!

C-Monster My Favorite Art Critic in the World, C-Mon Chases Fame (and Google)

I don't post enough about people I admire ( and rely on) as often as I should. The post below is cribbed from the outstanding, required, essential, growing and FABULOUS contemporary art survey blog C-Monster.net. and while not a characteristic post, it is delightful and I thought I'd share it.

Normally, C-Mon who writes under a real name as well (including significant cover stories for Art News and such) is one of the busiest art writers around, and she literally travels the world for unusual takes on the contemporary art climate. She is adventurous...and fearless. Insightful, hilarious, serious, well-informed, opinionated, lively, colorful...I'm just getting started. I could provide her real name, but anyone smart enough to follow the real art world at the doorstep of the museum should find it easy enough.

The site's links alone are art gold. She has entertained me for a long time, and has been my eyes in the Art World since I left New York City, and believe me, she is a comer She has a couple of other high-profile gigs which you will come to understand if you follow her regularly.

C-Monster.net is a daily visit for me. If you like any of my "nearly art" sites, you will love her 'REAL" art site, and l will personally give a free t-shirt to anyone (within reason) who doesn't agree it is a great, important and worthy site to follow.

(Offer limited to 5 free t-shirts, and I don't expect to have to mail out even one.)

My 15 Nanoseconds of Fame

Cruising in Brooklyn

I made it onto Google Street View while riding my bike in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Museum. (Full disclosure: I saw the Google car and followed it for a few of blocks because that’s the kind of cheap, internet fame whore I am. Sorry, Joerg.) The whole thing inspired me to look up some of the addresses I’d lived in over the course of my life on GSV— the vast majority of which aren’t online because my family had a penchant for inhabiting incredibly bizarre, out-of-the-way places. It was a trip back in time, except it wasn’t, because I’m seeing all of these spots in the pseudo-present. (A selection: the place I was born in, the road leading to the house we lived in when I was 10, the donut shop where I used to ditch high school English class and the college dorm that was the site of various inebriated indiscretions.) Which brings me to this highly interesting essay — which I discovered by way of Conscientious — about photography in the age of GSV.

Excerpt from the June 13, 2011 C-Monster.net HERE

Punch Card Reel Hit Art of Gambling Vintage Gambling Card Graphics

Large vintage poster-size punch card. Take a Chance!

Unused! Circa 1940? Collection Jim Linderman

Browse and Purchase Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE


Tintype Painted Backdrop Book Review The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter by Jim Linderman


A nice thoughtful review of my book The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography 1860-1920 appears on the Art Site Ululating Undulating Ungulate by Deanna. A brief excerpt below... and link to the complete article HERE

"Have you ever thought about the painted backgrounds in antique and vintage photographs?


Well, you aren’t alone.

Until I read The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography, by Jim Linderman (with an essay by Kate Bloomquist), I hadn’t either.

In fact, the story of and between 19th century painters and American photography really has never been told — or, I should say, “hasn’t been explored” until Linderman came along and looked into it via his collection of antique tintype photographs."

"The author / collector states: “This is an art book about painting and photography (or vice-versa) and how they met in a certain time and place.” Ever since the camera arrived, the debate about the merits of photography as an art form has raged (admittedly Ansel Adams helped sway a lot of people that it is), and this book and its 75 antique tintype images certainly is part of that debate. It also raises the question about whether or not the painted backdrops used behind the people in the photographs are art, folk art, or ephemera from the photographic industry. But it’s that last part, “how they met in a certain time and place,” which really gets to the core of things, the thrilling things, for me. That’s where we get to the historical cultural contexts."



Rustic Vaudeville from the West Paquin Family of Performers RPPC collection Jim Linderman

What a delight to have seen this family troupe perform. Late 1930s Family Paquin who played the Western Circuit with Snake Chamers, Musicians, Contortionists and more, all from the same stock! See More HERE

Collection of Real Photo Postcards Jim Linderman Collection

Browse and Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE