Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Civil War era Folk Art Sheet Iron Barn Eave

A hand-cut two sheet iron eave from one of the first barns built in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.  Several pieces were preserved, this is the longest portion.  Hand cut decorations.  
Collection Jim Linderman

Camera Gals ! Nightclub Photographers and the Hindenburg. Sam Shere Master Photographer.

Sam Shere 1942 for See Picture Thrills Magazine

Sam Shere 1942 for See Picture Thrills Magazine

Sam Shere was a master photographer. You might not know the name, but you know one of his works.  Think "OH, the humanity…"  Mr. Shere took the well-known photograph of the Hindenburg disaster.  Apparently the International Center of Photography owns the original, as their PAGE HERE indicates it was purchased in 2003.  Iconic…and if a photo can be described as gripping, this one qualifies.  The photographer is quoted as saying "I had two shots in my big speed graphic but I didn't have the time to get it up to my eye. I literally shot from the hip--it was over so fast there was nothing else to do."  Amazing.  There was also newsreel footage of the disaster.

A working photographer gets up in the morning to capture events which he can sell, but I believe Mr. Shere loved everything about his  work.  The excitement, the equipment and using his skill to create art.  As seen here, he took a few pictures OF cameras too.  The other images here were published in the second issue of SEE Picture Thrills in 1942, three years after the Hindenburg.  Just two from the feature which was titled "Camera Girls Take Over" and documented women working as nightclub photographers during World War Two.  Specifically Shirley Seiler and Lillian Johnson.  Articles during the war about women taking care of business on the Homefront were not unusual, but the piece is hardly the typical "Rose the Riveter" story.  6 photographs of the women photographers at work, developing images and sliding them into souvenir folders for the patrons.

Shown in the photo above (cropped, as it is printed in the original magazine larger then a scanner can handle) are the legs and equipment of the intrepid supper club women photographers.

Although the article was titled "Camera Girls Flash Trim Limbs: Photogenic Nightowls (sic) Don't Give Two Hoots for the Traditional Birdie" this is no traditional puff-piece.  The photos are crisp and striking, and not just for the "limbs."  It documents a little known photography profession which would be worthy of a museum show. Souvenir nightspot photos have not had an institutional showing that I know of.  The profession, of course, has been virtually eliminated by the images taken by smart phones.  A few photo journalists ARE still at work.  For example, some wait at the finish line and sell images to marathoners as they finish.  Still, the once popular "industry" taking place at nightclubs all over the country is largely lost. 

The hard-working women here were creating memories in hard copy, not mere digital blips. 

Interestingly, one of the most handsome websites on the photographer appears to have been made for a class assignment.  It reveals Sam Shere had been sent to the location of the Hindenburg fire to capture "society type" photographs.  Indeed, it appears he barely made it there in time.  Just another shoot.

Additional photographs by Sam Shere can be seen at the Getty Images Life Magazine pictures site HERE and the Corbis site HERE.  Perhaps the best biography of the photographer is HERE on a website which indicates that despite taking one of the most recognizable images in history he died virtually alone and penniless.  Perhaps he should have taken more photographs of limbs.

NOTE:  The magazine SEE PICTURE THRILLS was published by Collegian Press starting in 1942 and the copyright on the magazine was renewed apparently in the 1970s, but I do know know if they retained the rights to the original images sold by free-lancers.  As far as I can tell, there is no official website or source for the photographs shown here, or for the photographer.   

Artist Lisa Petrucci and the Cultural Uplifting of Film and Art. Something Weird?

 Artist Lisa Petrucci and the Cultural Uplifting of Film and Art.  Something Weird?

While one of the greatest cultural institutions in the United States is SOMETHING WEIRD VIDEO, yesterday was the annual announcement of culturally significant films added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.  One of the picks?  TOP GUN.  Hmm.  That film is already preserved on millions of video cassettes taped from viewings on television, but then we do seem to love our war pilots. I hope the screening in DC happens to mention that at least one singer turned down an offer to contribute to the soundtrack because the film glorified war.  When Top Gun came out, sales of hip "bomber" jackets jacked.  I have no idea how many millions saw the film, but Seven million bought the LP.  It all "Take(s) my Breath Away."  The timing is suspect…are we about to enter another "Danger Zone?"  I have never seen the film but was given no choice about the songs. The radio air was polluted with them for years. The film has also spawned a crap-load of war video games…it's the war gift which keep giving!

The REAL culturally significant films are the 2,500 films found and saved by the late Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video.  If you don't know about the company, you should.  In fact, of you don't know about Something Weird Video you simply haven't lived.  God bless them, and God bless Mr. Vraney.  Something Weird's idea of a war flick is, say, the Biker movie She Devils on Wheels where the only weapon is female fists and shivs.

Mr. Vraney did have a secret weapon. though she is hiding in plain sight.  Mike's partner in exploitation cinema was the much loved painter Lisa Petrucci.  A personal hero of mine and a progenitor of the "low-brow" art movement which just keeps moving along.  Ms. Petrucci has considerable art world bonafides, such as a degree in Art History from Bradford college in Massachusetts. She was also director of the Pat Hearn Gallery and the Bess Cutler Gallery.  Both at one time not only ground-breaking, but their influence remains today.

Lisa was a rebel then and now.  She left the hoity-toity of the upward-nose Manhattan art world for the other coast, and was soon creating the paintings for which she is known.  Lisa's enormous collection of kitsch is also admired, but it was her own paintings which took off like an F-14A Tomcat Jet.  Since 1993, her Kickass Kuties have become the standard for, well…kickass cuties!  It is the name of the 2009 book which collected many of her major works.

Like prominent painter Philip Pearlstein, who is famous for placing objects from his folk art collection behind his nudes, you will see some of Petrucci's shelf pieces in the background of her paintings once in a while.  Others have described her work better than I ever could. Feminist with an extra cute twist.  It is enough for me to simply show a few here with her permission.

Here, Lisa takes inspiration from an archival quality film clip of Aleene Dupree from the Something Weird inventory and pairs it with her rendering of same.  Top Gun?  Please.  THESE are culturally uplifting Library of Congress.

Petrucci's paintings are loved and treasured.  They have also, unfortunately, been scarce for a little while.  Ms. Petrucci has been running the business started by Mr. Vraney and the paintings have slowed down a bit.  Who can blame her?  She is preserving and making available one serious big chunk of popular American culture, even if some of them appeared only at the Drive-In.  What is more American and deserving of national recognition than that?

You CAN enjoy Lisa's work at THE ART OF LISA PETRUCCI and send her best wishes. 

Pair of Miniature Carved Bee Skeps in Mustard Paint Folk Art Toy Sculptures Antique

Pair of Miniature carved Bee Skeps in Mustard Paint.  At least that is the only thing I can figure.  My guess is that these were carved for use in a handmade toy farm tableau or some type of decoration?  Clearly old and with thick mustard paint.  Each 3 inches tall, and remnants of green paint on the base.

Folk Art Carved Wooden Toy Bee Skeps (?) 

World's Smallest Cabinet Card Photograph. Trade Card for Photographer Hemphill circa 1900?

An extraordinary cabinet card trade card and picture business card for a Pennsylvania photographer at the turn of the century named Edward W. Hemphill.  Hardly larger than a penny, which is unusual enough, but note his "portrait" which appears to show the photographer (?) peering through a monocle.  Fantastic!   Obtained from one of my favorite photography and antique dealers Natalie Curley, who I have mentioned here before.  See some of her objects for sale HERE

Miniature Cabinet Card Photograph circa 1900 (?) Collection Jim Linderman

19th Century Folk Art Drawing Kings Corner Schoolhouse Ohio by Ora Maxwell

The artist has included a pump, a weather vane, a bell and a notice tacked on the building.  
19th Century Folk Art Drawing Kings Corner Schoolhouse Ohio by Ora Maxwell (You may also enjoy seeing the book Eccentric Folk Art Drawings of the 19th and 20th Centuries HERE)   Collection Jim Linderman

Old Make-do Weathervane with Propeller Folk Art Sculpture

Make-do Weathervane with Propeller Folk Art Sculpture No Date Collection Jim Linderman

End of Day still Today? Folk art Doorstop 20th Century

"End of day" refers to the practice of potters creating whimsical pieces when they are winding down...A practice I thought had ended long ago.  Yet this Arc-Welded piece appears to be just that.

20th century Whimsical "End of Day?" piece cut steel.  Doorstop?  Collection Jim Linderman

Early Automobile with (a) Character Painted on the Radiator!

Early Automobile with (a) Character  Painted on the Radiator! Original photograph collection Jim Linderman.  Thanks to Curley's Antiques.

19th Century Folk Art Handmade Jack In the Box Folk Art Toy

My second 19th Century Folk Art Handmade Jack In the Box.  A little prize for a child way back when, and for a handmade toy collector like me today.  See other example HERE.

My WPA Sculpture Restoration Project

WPA era sculputure of a woman, and my restoration project for the last five years.  I'm not a fast worker!  This is from over 100 pieces, with many to go.  Figure is 20 inches tall and nearly three feet around.  Worth saving.  When all the pieces are firmly attached, I'll make a paste out of the "crumbs" which I saved as well and fill in some cracks.