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High art versus Low art Witness the Elks RPPC



I had intended to take on the sticky issue of "High" art versus "Low" art today, but I smashed my thumb working in the back yard and typing is more laborious than usual. As such, i'll try to let the pictures do my typing for me.

"High" art and "Low" art is a concept which one may approach from a dozen angles. Economically (art for the rich and art for the poor) Esthetically (beautiful art and ugly art) Intellectually (smart and dumb) Compositionally (both in materials used to compose AND how the object is positioned)...by Audience (art for the elite and art for the masses) Scarcity (rare versus common, or a diamond versus "THE BEDAZZLER") Paintings versus comics, fine versus primitive, trained versus untrained, erotic versus pornographic, insider versus outsider, decorative versus functional, fine versus folk...All those and I'm only starting my coffee.

The concept implies a cultural stratification and indicates social identification. I suppose I lean towards low...being a common man myself. If you've followed the 6 months of my blog, that my taste runs right down the stairs to the artistic basement should be obvious. I like my music scratchy, my clothes worn and my fiction trashy.

A pair of images here to illustrate. Two elks. Both representations of the same animal. Both from roughly the same time period. One is "better" by even the most generous standards of high versus low... and it is most certainly BIGGER...note tiny, tiny fat man in between white elk's hoofs. (he is also an "elk" by the way...in that he is a member of a fraternal organization, hence the title of the card) But is the rag-tag, make-do stump art Elk shown less real? Less valid? Less important? Less pleasing? Nah. They're both great.

The most valuable "non-academic" folk art weathervanes were manufactured and forged. The most "interesting" folk art weathervanes were made by hand from materials around the farm. Both told the direction of the wind.

Comments welcome.

Pair of Real Photo postcards "The Two Largest Elks at Carnival Fulton N.Y." and "The Elk?" both circa 1910-1930. Collection Jim Linderman

JIM LINDERMAN The Complete List Links Sites Books Publications Blogs (except for one)



Jim Linderman sites to follow, share and enjoy. Click the blue links to see what he has been up to.

DULL TOOL DIM BULB
Centerpiece of the Jim Linderman blog network. A blog about surface, wear, form and authenticity in art, antiques, design and photography. Dull Tool and Dim Bulb were the only swear words his father ever used. Items from the Jim Linderman collection of vernacular photography, folk art, ephemera and curiosities. Weird, wonderful, wicked, smart, essential and DAILY. http://dulltooldimbulb.blogspot.com/

TAKE ME TO THE WATER: IMMERSION BAPTISM IN VINTAGE MUSIC AND PHOTOGRAPHY 1890-1950 Photographs from the Jim Linderman collection with a CD of historic early recordings. Produced by Steven Lance Ledbetter. Essays by Jim Linderman, Luc Sante. Published 2009 by Dust to Digital. Reviews, Film, Press Releases, etc. A published hardcover book 96 pages with CD 2009. Site contains film, reviews, press-kit, links. Available from Amazon and direct from the publisher. http://jimlinderman.blogspot.com/

THE PAINTED BACKDROP
The art of the hand-painted backdrop in 19th Century American Tintype Photography, this book will open a new dialog on the relationship between painting, art and photography. With stunning illustrations from the Jim Linderman collection and essays by prominent writers. To be published in a limited edition with a target date of early 2010, this will be the first book available with the "Dull Tool Dim Bulb" imprint, a new small press endeavor striving to produce unique, beautiful and profound books for the artistic audience in conjunction with Dust-to-Digital.
http://thepaintedbackdrop.blogspot.com/

old time religion Vernacular religious detritus from the Jim Linderman collection of photography and ephemera. Jesus is my jet plane and I have the Lord on speed dial. Old Time Religion is a natural line extension from Dull Tool Dim Bulb, where posts of this nature occur every Saturday night while the rest of you are sinning. Wake up, it is Sunday morning! Praise the Lord and Click to Enlarge! http://old-time-religion.blogspot.com/


THE WONDROUS WORLD OF FRANK WENDT

Behold the wondrous world of Frank Wendt. Late of the Bowery, New York City and Boonton, New Jersey. HEREIN LIE MARVELS of HUMAN and ANIMAL WONDERMENT! Astounding feats of photographic portraiture created by the illustrious Frank Wendt from 1890 to 1900 entirely for your pleasure and amusement. Your eyes do not lie. You will most certainly tell your friends and family. You will return again and again! Presented by Jim Linderman. Step up, Scroll down and Click to Enlarge!

Cross Writing Cross Written Text




Two 19th Century "cross written" letters. Cross writing was a technique to save paper when paper was scarce. Every scrap mattered at one time (one of these is dated 1823) so the writer, upon reaching the end of the page, would turn the paper 90 degrees and add a second layer of text. Once it becomes familiar, the mind adapts easily and cross written letters are surprisingly legible. Charles Darwin famously used the technique.
Original Post from Dull Tool Dim Bulb the Daily Blog
Two Early 19th Century Cross Writing letters, Collection Jim Linderman

Evolutionary Proof in St. Louis FUNNY MONKEYS!!!!!






Well, you certainly can't say the St. Louis Zoo hasn't done their part to prove evolution. These fellas, named Becky, Ellen, Tony, Cecil and, I kid you not, "Little Chief Pancho" seem to have fully evolved right out of their "near to nature haunts" as the reverse of one card reads. Apparently, their primates are so advanced along the evolutionary scale, they willingly play their favorite tunes while Mike XXX and Ben XXX conduct wielding baton clubs. (I know these cards date to 1950, but I still feel compelled to hide the trainers names to protect them from PETA) Appropriate that these cards are attributed to the "Zoological Board of Control" I realize it is hard to stifle a laugh while seeing harnessed chimps forced to circle a track on miniature horses...but please. Intelligent Design may have given us ordained dominance over the little guys, but we can still show some dignity.

Group of Post Cards depicting "The Famous St. Louis Zoo Chimpanzees" 1950-1952 Collection Jim Linderman

Mr. Daniel, "Singin and Dansing Comeden" Minstrel Card


He might have gotten more jobs if he wrote more clearly and spelled better, but it is a beautiful little handmade piece of early showbiz. Maybe his incorrect spelling was part of the act. On reverse, "Plantation Show" is penciled in. Click to Enlarge

Hand Drawn Minstrel calling card, c. 1870 Collection Jim Linderman

Twice as many curves, and she's got 'em! What Men Want #1







Graphics from various c. 1950 sleaze "Cheesecake" and "Film Study" brochures. Collection Jim Linderman

At the End of the Road you Meet God


REPENT and BELIEVE the GOSPEL



Ralph and Martha Palmer and their Bus Post Card Newport News, VA c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Lost Weekend in Wax (Horrors in Wax #10)


Wax Ray Milland (real name Reginald Alfred John Truscott-Jones) stars as wax Don Birnham, who goes on a legendary bender and emerges with a new friend...OSCAR! In the depicted scene, wax Birnham is thwarted in his attempt to cash in his typewriter for a stiff snort...the pawn is closed for a Jewish holiday. In the book, Don was secretly gay, but 1945 audiences weren't quite ready for that...a hopeless drunk was startling enough. Ray plays two roles for his kudo...Don the writer and Don the ravaged whiskey guzzling bat seeing rummy. The scenes of "Hangover Plaza" were filmed at Bellevue. In real life, Milland blamed a bad perm given to him for his performance in Reap the Wild Wind for his premature baldness, thus reducing him to second banana roles. Milland is also known for the shortest Academy Award acceptance speech in history, and it is a record which will stand. He said not a word, just bowed and left. For earlier entries of Horrors in Wax, click the subject heading below.

Dexter "SceniKrome" postcard, c. 1950. Collection Jim Linderman

Wise Kid, A Bad Fall, Praying Boy & HI-HO Thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride






Also Known as Bakelite.


Newspaper Specialties, Inc. Puzzle Toy Box, Bakelite Pieces 1933
Collection Jim Linderman

"Whittlin" C. A. Hughes Champion Whittler of Arkansas (Meet the Press)


There is a stereotype of whittlers being lonely old men. This photo does absolutely nothing to dispel that notion.

Original Photo, Mena Studio, Mena Arkansas 1927 Collection Jim Linderman

The Glamour and Glory of Gambling (In Natural Color)



Someone needs an new publicist. I guess back when this card was taken, the mob still ran the table and quality control was less important then where Frankie was playing that night...At any rate, note the slogan of the post card company who produced this card. If the boss saw this, someone would be pushing up cactus.

Reno Gambling Post Card Circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Big Chair, Big Man, Big Deception Big Time (Meet the Press)




In his recent book "After Photography" Fred Ritchin discusses how photographs have been manipulated for years, but that in the digital age trickery is even more prevalent. "The myth of photographic objectivity has concealed fakery as old as the medium itself" he says, and this is indeed true (as the photo here indicates). LONG before Time and Newsweek were darkening O.J. Simpson to make him look scary, and touching up the President for reasons unknown...and long before the average sagging stomachs of hollywood glamor girls and boys were being airbrushed for the grocery store checkout line, the media trusted themselves more than their readers. Witness the harmless, but no less deceiving treatment of "A Big Man in a Big Chair" which is exhibit number one above. An original press photograph of 1921 from my collection, When I purchased it I noticed the jolly fat man seemed to be a less shiny texture. Sure enough, I pried him from his chair and found a tiny fat man underneath the ORIGINAL corpulent gent in his straw hat! For reasons unknown, and which I can not even fathom...some editor decided the consumers of his newspaper should see a slightly larger man in the chair. Odd, since the whole POINT of the story was to illustrate the size of the swivel on wheels. Curious, but no less devious.
Original Press Photograph and paper insert 1921 Collection Jim Linderman

Seeing Mystery Spots









Actually, the real mystery to me is how these guys can wear their pants so high. There are numerous "mystery places" in the US, three of them are shown in these postcards. Mystery spot, number one, come on down! The black and white images are early photos from Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Ca. They are still confusing hordes of tired drivers, see their web "spot" here. Mystery spot number two is actually a Mystery HOUSE and operates in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore, (although they have since changed their name to Cosmos Mystery AREA) and are represented here by the mystery of a big-eared father and his big-eared sons. Here even JUNIOR wears his jeans around his chest. Mystery Spot number three, seemingly in a sauna, shows here an attractive young woman in saddle shoes and a woman in extra precarious position due to her high heels. Three is in Michigan, of course, and still thriving as well. They claim one million visitors, each who will "no doubt remember your visit" for years to come. There are no less than 25 similar identified spots in the United States, and I would love to visit every single one.

Group of Mystery Post Cards c. 1950-1960. Collection Jim Linderman

QSL Amateur Radio Operator Post Cards Dude!








Basically each of these cards says "dude, can you hear me now?" A fad of the 1960's and a way for nerds and freedom fighters alike to chat around the world before the web, these cards were sent by participating amateur ham radio operators to confirm reception and are now collected for their graphics, historical content and such. I cribbed the following from Wiki, you can read ALL about them here. "QSL cards are a ham radio operator's calling card and are frequently an expression of individual creativity — from a photo of the operator at his station to original artwork, images of the operator's home town or surrounding countryside, etc. They are frequently created with a good dose of individual pride. Consequently, the collecting of QSL cards of especially interesting designs has become an add-on hobby to the simple gathering of printed documentation of a ham's communications over the course of his or her radio career"

Group of QSL cards 1961-1962 Collection Jim Linderman

Departed Dearly (Dead in Detroit) Post Mortem Photography



Usually on seeing a post mortem photograph, my thoughts are of the deceased and the family, but today I am dwelling on Mr. Babas of Babas Studio in Detroit, who must have specialized as he took both. This type of outdoor memorial was less common in the United States than in Europe, perhaps both show families not long after joining the melting pot. At each job he would have the casket taken outside and positioned, arrange the flowers and family, and then not say "smile". A dreadful way to make a living, but then, as you can see, the alternative is worse. As in many photographs taken in the early 20th Century, the act of posing seems more important to the participants than the event. I am sure it took their mind off the loss and their own mortality for a spell and may have brought a certain closure through documentation.

Two Post Mortem Photographs, each 11 x 14, Babas Studio, Detroit. c. 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

Precise Pair of Tintypes The Painted Tintype


I haven't posted a tintype in a while. I am not sure if this splendid pair of tintypes depict a husband and wife or a brother and sister, but I do suspect the young man's impairment saved his life. He clearly has one leg shorter than the other, and since these would have been taken around the civil war the disability may have kept him out of the army. (My book The Painted Backdrop will be published in 2010)

Pair of studio tintype photographs, circa 1865 Collection Jim Linderman