Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Nascar Hillbilly History and Branded Razor Logo Logic

Before Nascar and their abundance of logos, automobile racers were hillbilly moonshiners who had to outrun the law. They were so good at it, a billion dollar sport was born. I recently saw a Gillette commercial full of supposedly recognizable drivers, but as I'm not a fan or follower, I'm afraid none were familiar to me. I also use the generic house brand of razor. I might not know the drivers, but I do know the logos on their tunics do not come cheap, and the cost is passed along to the consumer faster than a turbo-charged machine. Check out the bearded dude shading his eyes to see the crash...the cars are going so fast, they've already left his line of vision.

Original Auto Race photograph, Anonymous. Circa 1965? Collection Jim Linderman

Antique Plywood Jigsaw Folk Art When Modern Design ain't Modern Anymore

In one of the first posts here, way back in 2008, I pointed out that plywood is now officially an antique, thus making those beautiful early Eames chairs for Herman Miller no longer "modern" but "old" and they can be moved from the cool wing to the brown wing in decorative arts museums. Don't get me wrong...there are few things more beautiful than a molded antique piece of plywood made by Herman Miller. But "modern" is finally a misnomer. I am really sorry nothing as "modern" has come along since.

Shown here is a wall-sized plywood nick-nack holder from hell. There seems to be about twelve feet of shelf space. A jigsaw jungle of overdone, obsessive eccentricity. The apple in picture two is a big one, so you get an idea. I picked it up (with help) in an antique mall. I have NO idea what the maker was doing, but I believe either junior or the wife had to help slide the sheet of wood around as he cut it out.

I recently found a really nice type of plywood. It is a composite, but rather than crushed particles, the wood is half an inch thick and each piece molded together is about ten inches long. It even has tiny machine cut dovetails cut into it so the wood fits together for added strength. I turned it into a desk-top, unfinished...and it looks really modern.

The monster umbrella girls go in the basement, where they will await the next garage sale. I'll price them really high, but will negotiate.

Cut-out Folk Art Obsessive Victorian Decorative Plywood Shelve with Umbrella Women, circa 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

Arthur S. Mole Living Pictures and CBS Sunday Morning

Last week CBS Sunday Morning ran a nice profile of Arthur S. Mole, the genius of "living" photography. As I watched, I hoped the profile would mention connections with contemporary artist Spencer Tunick (not only because I enjoy looking at squirming masses of nude flesh) but because I thought it a natural enough comparison to make way back last October, my original post follows. (I was also disappointed not to see my primitive version of the living flag, composed of an unruly group of schoolchildren displaying a considerable lack of discipline and attention) Frank Maresca was interviewed, the Ricco Marecsa gallery has started a very nice online magazine titled Fluence you should check out. My Mole Photo is the Living Flag above, and it is way too big to fit on the scanner, so the full scale might not be apparent, the CBS Sunday Morning slideshow has more. Mole's photographs were also made into Real Photo Postcards...there is one in a bin down the road from me. Many original photographs were used as fundraisers for the Navy Relief Society located in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Original Silver Gelatin Print by Arthur S. Mole "The Living Flag" 1917 Collection
Jim Linderman

Following is my original post of October 2009

Spencer Tunick, Arthur Mole and the Living Flag

The earliest "living flag" reference I find is a group of Los Angeles schoolgirls in the 1890's. A considerable number of them are recorded in that decade so there must be earlier examples. This one is certainly from that period, it is a primitive and ragtag posing but quite charming nonetheless. I am sure the "conductor" had greater expectations when he told the children what to wear then next day. Perhaps the origin of the living flag photograph is to be found in parades after the Civil War?

Arthur Mole had it easier...his participants were used to not squirming like schoolchildren, they being all well-trained soldiers. Several of his staggering works are shown here, they are available at the Library of Congress website.

The funniest living flag is certainly the one in Lake Wobegon, which keeps breaking up as the participants with red, white and blue baseball caps leave to climb to the third story buildings on Main Street and look down. Garrison Keillor has said his living flag was based on a 1917 photograph of several thousand army trainees arranged on a football field to form the Liberty Bell, this was certainly the photo produced by Arthur Mole shown here.

Spencer Tunick, of course, does not ask his participants to wear baseball caps or anything else. To date, the largest Spencer Tunick piece has been 18,000 folks in Mexico City. He is no Arthur Mole, and the idea is getting a bit tired by now anyway.

There was a living flag made in Portugal to celebrate the country's soccer team making the finals in the World Cup, it was comprised of 18,788 women dressed in red, green and black. That one I'd like to have seen, but not as much as a Mole.

"Living Flag" photograph Anonymous c. 1880 Collection Jim Linderman

Amlab is Coming to YOUR Town Dummy! (with Woody Deforest?) Vent Figures

Amlab (if I'm reading the gothic script correctly) may be coming to your town, but as his route card is empty, I wouldn't wait up. He has some nice friends though...clearly wooden and handmade, none of that paper-mache crap which passes for dummies these days. I suppose there are even a few made out of medical quality artificial skin in the works somewhere. It is unfortunate his friends are unnamed here...one of the best things about vent figures, like mobsters and rappers, is their names. Just a few famous dummy names? Jacko ( later stolen by the New York Post to refer to a contemporary musician) Knucklhead Smiff, Shorty Jones, Woody Deforest, Hanley Head, Joe Flip, Farfel, Charlie McCarthy, Cecil and I am sure hundreds of "junior" "little" and "tiny" somebodies. Other than a good name for your foil, the other skills required are talking out of the side of your mouth, misdirection, drinking water and NOT checking your luggage. Keep Knucklhead right with you...he's your best friend. "Sir...are you checking your bag?" "What? Woody Deforest!"

Amlab Route List, circa 1900 Collection Jim Linderman

Ministers in the Nude (!) Bait and Switch for the Lord

Click to Enlarge the Truth

I am sure Reverend Turvey's message was valuable and sincere...but I certainly question his questionable tactic of promising to run a film showing "daring pictures of ministers in the nude performing a wedding ceremony." Even I would have gone to see that. A post today also on my old-time-religion blog

Newspaper ad for Evangelist A. J. Turvey, circa 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

First and Oldest Scottville Clown Band Photograph?

A little help out there Michiganders and Michiganians? Found in Midland, Michigan, an 8 x 10 photograph of what I believe is one of the earliest, if not THE earliest photograph of the Scottville Clown Band. WHAT? You don't know about the Scottville Clown Band? The clown band was formed in 1903. I believe the photo shows a 48 star flag, which was first flown in 1912. Midland is just over 100 miles from Scottville, which is just about how far I would expect a 100 year old photograph to travel. On the other hand, there is a moose. I do not know if the big fellas were found this far south in the state. Somewhere in between here and there, someone dropped their ink pen on the trombone player. Do any of you modern day clowns recognize Gramps?

Following cribbed from Wikipedia:

Scottville is the home of the Scottville Clown Band which performs at over 60 parades and concerts each year all throughout Michigan.

The Scottville Clown Band's roots date back to 1903 when a group of local merchants dressed in costume and performed for local festivals. At that time, the group dressed as hillbillies. In the 1920s, the group became known as the Scottville Lady's Band and the (male) members dressed in drag. This group lasted until the outbreak of World War II, when many of the band's key members joined the service.

In 1947, Ray Schulte, owner of Scottville men's clothing store Schulte & Thompson, re-formed the band as the Scottville Clown Band. They made their debut at the 1947 Scottville Harvest Festival. They also played for the Ludington Fourth of July parade in 1948.

Word spread about the band and it soon was performing outside the Scottville-Ludington areas, including the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival. The band has played every Coast Guard Festival parade since 1950.

Today, the Scottville Clown Band is a non-profit corporation with over 300 members. It performs over 60 times a year for parades, concerts, entertainment tents and private celebrations. Profits from performances and merchandise sales help maintain the band's extensive music collection and its coach. The band also maintains the Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarship Program, which provides thousands of dollars a year to children going to music camps.

Original photograph, circa 1912+? Collection Jim Linderman

Earlier than Spirograph? Of Course! Magic Pattern and a Box Full of Tiny Drawings

Click to Grow and Show!

You may think there could be nothing more trite on an art blog than a post on the Spirograph, a toy Kenner claimed rights to, and I guess they did and do. This, however, is the "Magic Pattern" from Japan, which has no date but from the box it certainly goes back earlier than the tiresome plastic gears on the Kenner toy I had as a kid. They always slipped JUST as I was finishing a design.

There was earlier a cool drawing thing known as "Hoot-Nanny" in 1929, shown HERE on Peabody Penquin's Spirograph collection site...and the 1960 or so "Dizzy Doodler" is fairly common. There was also apparently an even earlier child's toy called "The Marvelous Wondergraph" shown in the 1908 Sears catalog. However, no one has contributed THIS box to the Universal Brain yet, so here you go.

What is FAR more fascinating to me is the over 100 teeny tiny drawings I found inside the box under the rickety machine. Not bad, eh? Trippy! They are so beautiful, I'd love to frame each one individually...but anyone who saw them would sneer "oh...spirograph."

Magic Pattern Japanese Toy (Box, Metal and Wood Drawing Machine) and 100 original drawings, circa? 1930? Collection Jim Linderman

Bill Kresse Modern Master of Vintage Sleaze

A tribute and profile to the late and much missed inker Bill Kresse, who drew work over 50 years ago that looks pretty darn good today.


If ever there was a vintage sleaze cartoonist from the 1950s deserving a retrospective showing at the Drawing Center, it would be Bill Kresse. As modern as a Herman Miller Eames chair and just as timeless, his early gag work for sleazy digests stands out for many reasons. Lush and creative, the women all sharp, angular shoulders and heavily detailed dress, the fellas all whirring, confused and excited motion, fevered and flushed. All players in a Kresse panel are happy to be alive and participating in this retro-human game. Fingers and heels like spikes on the dames, gunboats as wide as shoeboxes on the guys. Several things distinguish a Kresse cartoon from the 1950s...One, he always took time to put glass over the modern art on the wall (as if he aspired to the same treatment, which he now deserves) and the large, undulating ribbons of bold black ink which surround his characters in elegant swerves. Surprisingly, his work has not been anthologized much that I can tell. Bill Kresse published a book way back entitled "An Introduction to Cartooning" with the subtitle "It's a Magic World" and in his case, it must have been. Although drawn and sold to over the counter girly cartoon pulp digests, these figures are always clothed (in dresses Lady Gaga could only imagine, if that) and although emotions are at a peak, for the guys anyway, the gags are always harmless, human and honest. Great work from a great artist. Kresse went on to do panel work for New York Daily Papers and had a series for which he became well-known, "Super Duper" and even worked with Terrytoons. An under appreciated master who created work which looks better today than it did 50 years ago.

A nice note from DEVLIN adds the following :
Kresse also did work in ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE in the mid-'60s, which stuck out like a sore thumb stylistically. I never learned his name until reading an article about his newspaper work in an issue of HOGAN'S ALLEY

Good Wood, The Keno Brothers, Liberace and John Waters

I have always wanted to take a class in wood types. Every time I see the Keno brothers on Antiques Roadshow gush over a native poplar tulip or yellow pine, I swoon like my dear old aunt Myrt used to over Liberace. I guess...I never actually saw her swoon, but when we cleared out her place, there were sure plenty of his records in those 78 rpm sleeves. No offense, guys. Seriously, I love watching them. Never have I seen anyone on television who obviously enjoyed their work so much, except possibly Dan Rather on election night. They know their field and their field is old wood. Wood safe from oxidation through tight construction, primary wood used sparingly with liberal use of secondary wood, delicate inlay wood, crests of wood...even fake aged wood almost gleefully pointed out to average Joe who thought he owned an American treasure. Not to worry Joe, it still has "decorative" value, but not really.

The delicate inlay here comes from what I believe is a Southern lift-top box which belonged to my Grandmother, which I believe once belonged to an earlier relative of hers. It is a beautiful thing, but I am afraid I do not know the wood types, of which there are easily four or five. I would have brought it to the show in a paper bag when they were here last year, but tickets were a benefit for the fledgling PBS station and too dear.

Just for the record, and since I hate to evoke the house of Liberace in any manner which might seem less than deferential, Johnny Mathis is quoted in John Waters new book "Role Models" (The funniest book I have read in a long time...and if you think I'm dropping names, HE somehow manages to mention Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Clarabell the Howdy Doody Clown, Nancy Reagan, Johnny Ray, art dealer Matthew Marks, Tim Burton, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Grandma Moses, Tab Hunter, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West, Jeanne Moreau, Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles, Dorothy Malone, Tim Burton, Miles Davis, bank-robber Willie Sutton, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Carlos the Jackal, Charlize Theron, and more in ONE ESSAY ALONE and make it work...
I won't be creating hyperlinks for them all) he "loved" Liberace "because he used his money." Okay...I'll create a link for Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

Details from Wooden lift-top box, 1920? Collection Jim Linderman

Satan and Adam Sterling Magee and the One Man Band

One Man Band! This circa 1890 enterprising inventor in the top three photographs could do it all...and presumably without electricity! I can't tell if his fly is down, but he is certainly playing with everything else. What a contraption. Other famous one man bands you may or may not know? Dave Grohl, who did the entire first album by Foo Fighters, Sir Paul, who did it without the other moptops, and MY personal favorite Jesse Fuller, a blues man who played the "footdella" for the bass while busking on street corners. Fate Norris of the Skillet Lickers did the same but added bells.

I used to see Sterling Magee play on 125th Street in Harlem. No, not the Apollo...the STREET. Mr. Magee, also known as Satan from "Satan and Adam" a salt and pepper blues duo, had a regular gig worth taking the A-train for. Satan was once called "The Fastest Guitar Player in the World" and he might have been, but his amp was so cheap it all came out like one glorious distorted note. He used a foot operated drum and cymbal thing while plugged into a lamppost near the Studio Museum of Harlem.

Satan also made art, and I spent a day in his apartment while he showed me his trippy, cosmic, Sun Ra holograms made out of plywood and such. Sorta like primitive Rubic's cube toys but shaped like stars and each with their own particular logic only Mr. Satan could interpret. I went with a friend, he later told me that was the longest afternoon in his life. I wasn't surprised to learn he had a nervous breakdown not long after, but what DID surprise me was the extent of his Wikipedia entry! He never told me he played with a transvestite duo known as "The Illusions That Create Confusion" but he did mention James Brown and King Curtis, both which were true. He also made a few early singles and with Adam, a few LP records but they gave him a better amplifier. Too bad. He sounded great with the one he carried on a modified shopping cart.
I don't think this fellow had as much soul, but I'd have taken the subway up to see him play too.

Group of Frank Wendt Cabinet Card photographs collection Jim Linderman

Tintype Dolls a Collection of Tintype Images

Group of five tintype photographs, circa 1860-1880 Collection Jim Linderman

If you are interested in Tintypes, Folk Art or the history of Painters, Painting, and Photography Also see my newest book The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography
available for purchase or preview now. THANKS!

The Painted Backdrop takes a whole new look at the relationship between painters and photographers in the 19th century. Is it true the camera replaced the brush? Maybe they got along far better than we've always thought. The SIXTH book published by Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books, catalog HERE.

Camera Club Girls: Bettie Page and her Friends Review from Lethal Dose

Lethal Dose is a mind-bent chunk of REALLY good hair, acceleration, rock and roll, napalm-hot dames, clips from far underneath the underbelly and a dizzying work of genius/love. Think every influence Lux Interior had crammed into a two minute dream and add a trucker's sized dinner of Nodoz. If you live within the metropolitan New York City area, think WFMU and the Hound on a loud distorted speaker. Then add some color. Really bright ones. So I was thrilled to see the linked review of Camera Club Girls HERE.

Art, Alcohol, a Friendship Never Fulfilled and Tony Fitzpatrick

Tony Fitzpatrick is one of the most amazing people I have ever met but do not know. I'm GLAD I don't know him. You see, Tony came to my house to visit over 15 years ago shortly after I had stopped drinking. Mr. Fitzpatrick was an artist and a damn good one, he still is. After ten years drunk I was a recently sober art collector. Tony won't remember this, he'll barely remember me...but at that time, after confessing I was sober for the first time in forever, he asked me the question of four secret words exchanged between alcoholics. I said no, that I was doing it myself. Tony, after having only met me for the first time. looked me right in my eyes with his...his clear, powerful, serious eyes which only artists have, and said "If you ever feel like a drink again, you call me first."

I have never had to.

Memory is an amazing and curious thing. All of us go through our lives with hardly a thought about how we affect others. What to us might be a flippant comment, a friendly greeting, an abusive finger...could well stay with someone for years. It could stay with them forever. I guess it has to do with timing and chemicals.

I could write a biography of Tony Fitzpatrick here with the standard sources, but he and others have done it for me. Suffice to say, he is a father, an artist, a blunt former pug and poet, a tough mother for ya, one of the brightest lights in Chicago and one of the most honest people I have met but never knew. However, like most of my friends, I knew he was there the whole time, and that is what mattered.
Today Tony and I are a few tentacles away from each other on Facebook. I haven't written him, he hasn't written me. But I know he is there. Still.

The images cribbed here are early work I can only assume are now owned by fortunate and proud collectors, if any want the images removed let me know. There is already a solid 25 years of good work behind Mr. Fitzpatrick and I could find more. Tony has done other work you have seen, most of Steve Earle's CD covers feature one of his works, as have others. He exhibits frequently at prominent galleries and his work is owned by prominent museums. His website is HERE

The Painted Backdrop Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography

Available NOW! The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography The previously untold story of 19th century painters and their influence on American photography during the tintype era. Never before examined in detail, the book contains over 75 rare, unpublished original tintype photographs from the Jim Linderman collection. A Grammy nominated writer and collector who has been called "the perfect subject for a Harvey Pekar comic" this book is informed with Linderman's wit and continues his examination of previously overlooked art and photography subjects. 80 Pages, 8' x 10" with essays by Jim Linderman and Kate Bloomquist. Linderman's most recent photography book was Camera Club Girls which tells the story of the amateur photographers who met to take nude photographs during the 1950s, discovered model Bettie Page, and started a revolution in erotic art...all through the work of one never before published artist.

Behind the Sitter i...
By Jim Linderman DUL...