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American Portraits: Midwest Mundane Vernacular Photography of Michigan





Another picture from American Portraits: Midwest Mundane, larger cover image, link to site for the book HERE

Preview or Order the book HERE

Link to Jim Linderman Biographical Material, Press and Articles, Testimonials and other Books HERE

Link to DULL TOOL DIM BULB BOOKS HERE

American Portraits: Midwest Mundane by Jim Linderman Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books #5









Jim Linderman American Portraits: Midwest Mundane.
80 Pages 2010 published by Blurb.com

Not celebration, but documentation of a people, place and time which existed briefly in captured snaps of Central Michigan during and immediately after the Second World War. In Middle America on the cusp of the 1950s, a family fights isolation with few choices, missing sons, distant neighbors and a seemingly bleak, unfortunate reality. Black and white portraits by an anonymous photographer, these are the images he left behind. Preview at right or HERE
Additional photogaphs from the book HERE
Original Photographs Anonymous, circa 1943-1948 Collection Jim Linderman

Stardust? Nope....Sand. In His LUNGS!


Ahh, the Stardust. The glory days of the Strip when you actually had to pull a lever to place a slot bet. Today, the rubes can hardly be bothered to push a button. But they do, and despite the economy, the casino up north has glamorous folks a plenty maneuvering their scooters to the changer's booth and back to the machine for button pushing just like a monkey addicted to tobacco. For the record, the legally fixed return ranges from 75% to 83% or so depending on your state. Gee...GOOD ODDS!

The Stardust history is rife with questionable dealings primarily due to Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, who ran the show. Even his wiki page is full of, I quote "weasel words" which seems appropriate.
I don't have the time or patience to summarize Tony's life, but you can "bet" if Joe Pesci plays you in a movie...you have a colorful story. I can tell you, however, that when he was found buried in a cornfield along with his brother "the autopsy performed on the recovered bodies allegedly found sand in the brothers' lungs, leading examiners to speculate that they had been buried alive" Later testimony disproved this. I'm no doctor, but I attribute it to some windy days in the early days on the strip.

Anonymous Vernacular Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

The Paintings of Camera Club Girls by Rudolph Rossi







So a few folks have received their copies of Camera Club Girls, and two wrote to say "They're PAINTINGS" and I'm like, yup. Do you think I would do a book of plain ol' PHOTOGRAPHS of naked women? Indeed, Rudolph Rossi took all these black and white nude photographs around 1950, blew each up himself to 8 x 10 (or larger) and HAND-PAINTED them all. That was sorta the point. They are tinted like many photographs throughout history, but Rossi took it to the extreme.

Group of Rudolph Rossi Photograph Details, circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman
LINK to Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE

Herbert Freeman Orlando Artist







I used to be quite involved and enamored of what was once known as outsider art and is now known as who knows what. I can only do so much, so have drifted to other things. I don't know what to call it, but I have always felt the untaught are God's chosen artists, and no artist with art training, no matter how good, important or profound, has any advantage at all over one who creates without the training. I'll even go as far as to say those without training are even MORE exceptional for the most part, as it comes from an innate, still not understood but certainly no less difficult and no less important place. When created under less than ideal circumstances, as this appears, it is also certainly a far greater accomplishment. I have no idea who or what Herbert Freeman is, but this is exceptional work. More information is at The Freeman Project.

Bro' Tom Skinner Lays a Love Bag of Skin on you (the Thrilla in Manila Paper)







I present Tom Skinner and his "Up from Harlem" to steer you the right way. Preacher Tom lays his Jesus bag on heavy in this great, great Al Hartley penned "Spire Christian Comics" to correct your behavior.  Skinner sorta invented the "Jesus Freaks" back in the hippie days.   

Spire Christian Comics specialized in taking regular comic book figures, such as Archie, Dennis the Menace and other normal (but sinning) characters and giving them a solid dose of good ol' faith. (They also had the nerve to charge 39 cents each)  Comic books for the kids at Bible Vacation Camp. 

Righteous Al was able to line up Archie and others for the series because he worked for Archie Comics. This one doesn't have the red-head in Riverdale going up to Harlem for a score, unfortunately.  "Jughead...DRIVE!"


I've been on the corner indicated in the top picture many, many times. It ain't like that, Bro.
Skinner passed away, but donated his papers to the Billy Graham Center Archives in Wheaton, Illinois. A most valuable resource, and one which will be increasingly important as research is done on right-on, high five alive messengers such at Tom (lay me some skin) Skinner.Tom Skinner Up From Harlem Spire Christian Comic 1975 Collection Jim Linderman

The Mechanix of Folk Art







All Cribbed from early 1930s issues of Home Mechanix.

Greil Marcus Writes Again. Van Morrison's voice.



I have always taken Van Morrison for granted. Even during last years recent touring reconstruction of the masterful album Astral Weeks, (The masterpiece he painted twice, Moondance being the second) his voice has always just seemed part of the world. Just as he always wanted and repeatedly sang, his work popped up from the radios not as a surprise at all, but as a pleasing sensation everyone was familiar with (and always, ALWAYS turned up as directed and sung along to) but never thought much about. Like the late Alex Chilton, he has always been a comfortable presence like plant shoots in spring, a rusted chain link fence around the lake, a limb slowly wavering in the wind, but never troubling and never in the way.

The only time I saw Van Morrison perform was the early 1980s and he was short and round like a giant freckled toad. When he took out his saxophone and raised it to his lips, the instrument rested nearly horizontal on his belly and the horn pointed directly at his face, but I knew the stage held greatness.


Marcus has created a slight book for him, far less smart than "Invisible Republic" (which was a better title than "That Old Weird America") but no less essential. Three chapters in, I was pulling out the old bootleg of the Moondance demos, Just Van the Man and a few tentative musicians. Mine come from the wonderful Scorpion Three CD bootleg which is all of his music I need. There are certain times when hearing that voice, the only Irish red-headed voice I know, tinker and capture "Domino" in every manner, (a "harmony" version, a "rap" version, a "flute" version...) is so soothing it just makes all seem well. He eventually nails it, and "Caravan" and "Everyone" (you don't recognize the titles, but you've sung along) are a revelation with just his voice, and it makes me long for the days when vocal imperfections and mistakes could be spun into gold by a true artist.


Half of the musicians who mattered moved to Woodstock before the big concert, before it was tie-die heaven, because Dylan and the Band were there. They all wanted to be in the Band. Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Bobby Charles, even George Harrison came calling and many stayed. They all went to Woodstock when Dylan lived there and the Band was figuring out what came after Little Richard, drunken sock-hops and the whirlwind Manchester. Soon it was mostly booze and drugs, but for a time it was Laurel Canyon in the Catskills. Marcus caught on early. He reviewed the original releases 40 years ago for Rolling Stone. I realize this book review is hardly that...one should always wait until you finish the book and turn the music off. But the book has already given me an appreciation which was always there and needed goosing. To me that means, already, Good Book.

Jim Linderman Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page and her Friends: The Work of Rudolph Rossi


For over 50 years, the extraordinary Hand-Painted Original Photographs of Bettie Page and nude models of the 1950s taken by Rudolph Rossi lay hidden. Now, for the first time, over 100 have been published in Camera Club Girls by Jim Linderman. 114 pages, 35 pages of text and 180 pictures, the book tells the story of the informal groups of early camera enthusiasts in New York City who paid ten dollars each to photograph naked women, including Bettie Page, in dingy studios and outdoor excursions. As much the history of early erotic photography and Times Square smut as it is the story of the exceptional personal vision of an artist, master photographer and painter which has not been told until now. The photographic find of the decade, and an amazing story which combines passion, painting, photography and early porno in a tale never told. Preview 15 pages of the book at right and order.

Draw Like Daisy Mager





One of the most prolific children's illustrators in history was Daisy Mager, but you wouldn't know it by searching Google. Sometimes I fear nothing began before Al Gore invented the internet. I've seen Mager's work all my life, but try to find her biography. Even finding a first name took some time. These were published by Saalfield, a company which operated in Akron, Ohio and did primarily children's instruction books, toys and paper dolls. They lasted nearly 100 years, but had the bad fortune to go out of business just before the internet came along, so Daisy will ever remain a nobody. Saalfield's library and archives were purchased by Kent State University the year they went under. I'm sure more information on the prolific and perpetually positive Mager is to be found there, as the artwork alone held by the school is 89 oversize boxes...but it is midnight, this is only a blog post, and Daisy Mager only taught me to draw and connect the dots, not look stuff up.

8 children's activity books illustrated by Doris Mager 1953 (from a set of 20) Collection Jim Linderman

Spring 2010 at Dull Tool Dim Bulb


It is spring indeed, flowers are popping. Progress too! DULL TOOL DIM BULB BOOKS will announce the FOURTH BOOK in the series of limited edition Art and Photography books very soon. Stay Tuned.

Child's paper weave Flower, circa 1890 Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman Foam International Photography Magazine



(Click to Enlarge)

I am pleased to have a brief article and profile in the Spring 2010 issue of Foam: International Photography Magazine. As Foam is likely the most beautiful (and interesting) photography magazine published, this is quite an honor. Please follow the links to Foam and consider ordering a subscription or purchasing some of the back issues. Advertisers? This is a splendid publication to reach the worldwide art market, photography or otherwise, as the coverage of the booming European creative fine art photography scene is exceptional. The Spring 2010 issue alone is over 200 outstanding large pages.

At the Circus in Black and White (Japan style) #18





Number 18 of "At the Circus in Black and White" provides proof the circus knows no borders.

Group of early Japanese Circus Postcards, date unknown.

Luc Sante on Real Photo Postcards: The New School Lecture

I might be a little slow on the draw here, but The Parson's Department of Photography at the New School has loaded Luc Sante's lecture on Real Photo Postcards given in conjunction with publication of his book Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard. The link here is a rare opportunity to watch and hear an entire lecture by an important scholar (and see plenty of the images from his book) Link and text following is provided by Exposures, the Aperture blog. The video is presented in two parts.

As part of the Parsons Department of Photography at The New School Lecture Series, writer and critic Luc Sante gave a talk at Aperture Gallery last November on his new book, Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard, 1905–1930, which was recently excerpted in Aperture magazine, Issue 196. The full version of this talk is now available to view on our multimedia page divided in two parts.

This clip below is an excerpt from the event where Luc Sante explains how he started collecting postcards thirty years ago. He then reads the introduction to his book going through the development of photo postcards with the dissemination of pocket cameras in the first half of the 20th century and the particular style of this non-academic American vernacular art.

To watch the full version, click on these links below:

Part 1, Part 2

The FIRST Abstract American Art The Parfleche







It is almost as if there used to be an unspoken, institutional refusal to acknowledge the beauty and validity of Native-American Art. To admit the culture or peoples you are discriminating against (or unfortunately, slaughtering) is capable of creating art which reaches or exceeds the contributions of one's own dominant culture is somehow inconvenient. Thus Indigenous Antique Native American Art has for the most part (in the relatively short history of European culture in the Americas) been traditionally relegated as "artifact" rather then art. Somehow, it is easier to explain away the treatment of a culture if you dismiss or avoid their contributions of an artistic or spiritual nature. This has certainly changed over the last few decades, as splendid and exceptional examples have finally been placed in spotlights before the "correct" people and presented as the art it is rather than storing the objects in the back room of the Natural History Museum.

That there is moral, ethical and often legal baggage in collecting (and owning) Native American art is undeniable. It is a rather splendid irony that some of the most beautiful examples ARE baggage! The Parfleche. Although produced by the thousands by virtually every tribe within reach or trade of Buffalo skin, the word is not recognized by my spell checker. Parfleche, basically French for "against arrows" is applied to hard, durable cases and objects of dried hide as they could do just that. Deflect the tip of an arrow. The Indian backpack, saddle bags or suitcase otherwise known as Parfleche is itself a wonderful functional adaptation, but each tribe also imbued them with colorful patterns which appear similar, but as with all art forms, as one becomes familiar it is easy to discern between motifs and tribes. Collectors of American Indian Art may know about beaded objects, woven objects and pottery...but painting was involved as well! Painted Drums, Shields and Parfleche are, I believe, the best kept secret in American Art.

Among collectors, of which there are not too many, I suppose Plains tribe examples are most common. Other groups, Plateau even Southwestern, produced the Parfleche as well. The technique was the same...stretch it out, stake the ends to let it dry and fold the object like a giant wet burrito into a rectangle. It will stiffen hard as rock. Then decorated with vegetal dye, maybe some urine, (yep...just like Andres Serrano) or pigment with family, tribal or spiritual design. Each roughly two foot long case would hold family items, documents, clothing, even food as it was carried on horses, lashed to packs and hung in tents. Early Native American painted objects are rare, but exceptionally beautiful. The FIRST ABSTRACT ART produced within these shores, they belong not in museums of relics or artifacts, but exhibited as fine art alongside the art of European cultures.

To my knowledge, the Parfleche has never been presented in a major exhibition on the East coast, although they turn up in antique shows and isolated pieces are occasionally seen in folk art gallery shows. Santa Fe galleries and institutions exhibit them more frequently. The National Museum of the American Indian in New York owns splendid pieces but I don't think more than one or two are shown at any given time. They look like Mondrian, but they are much, much older and far less "valuable" though no less important.


The "best" are Buffalo, old and pre-reservation era. Later examples were produced for trade (and tourist trade) from cowhide. Reproductions, recent examples and even some made to deceive exist. Smaller items such as medicine bags were also produced, these often were stitched rather than lashed and have bayeta trade cloth "selvedge" sewn on the edges with sinew. Authentic matched pairs are particularly desirable and though "price is in the presentation" it is not to difficult to find splendid pieces on the market.

The major work and exhibition of Parfleche remains the 1994 book by Gaylord Torrence. The American Indian Parfleche: A tradition of Abstract Painting broke ground when it was published, and remains one of the most beautiful books on art ever produced.
Jim Linderman

1928 Perp Walk of Edward Hickman Los Angeles "Fox Slayer" Meet the Press


"Interest in Edward Hickman, Los Angeles "Fox Slayer" of Marian Parker has not laxed since his trial and death sentence, judging from this picture of the crowd journeying to Richmond, California to get a glimpse of the young slayer as he was hustled from a train to a ferry bound for San Quentin Prison to serve a life sentence. Hickman is bareheaded and sweater clad. Manacled to him and at the right is Welby Hunt, his pal in another crime, who was sentenced to life imprisonment."

Anonymous Press Photograph, hand-embellished 1928 Collection Jim Linderman