Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Jim Linderman on Artslant

I was recently named "Blogger to Watch for" by Artslant.com, the contemporary art network, an honor I do not take lightly! I have posted a handful of my more "artful" postings with them for about a year, they are listed HERE

True Crime! William Edward Hickman "The Most Horrible Crime of the 1920's" and a Lurid Literary Genre


I read true crime books to relax. Somehow being reassured there are people in the world a million times more horrible than I is comforting. Despite lurid come-ons bellowing from every back cover, they don't "grip me with fear" they just put me to sleep at night, and that is goal enough. If I told you the number of times I've stuffed a book with the phrase "INCLUDES 16 PAGES OF SHOCKING PHOTOS" or "UPDATED WITH PRISON INTERVIEW WITH THE KILLER" into the trash after reading it, you wouldn't believe me.

The worst part of reading true crime is the raised eyebrows of the checkout clerk...but I'm not alone. The recent Casey Anderson fiasco proves public interest in the genre persists, despite appropriate criticism that only Caucasian blonds and pretty women receive public scrutiny. Even my little sister reads them, and she's normal as can be. In fact, most readers are women...a fact which I don't understand.

My favorite serious true crime book of the last few years is When Evil Came to Good Hart by Michigan writer Mardi Link.
HUGE steps above the crappy instant books cluttering the checkout lane, it is a direct, straight, beautifully written and edited work of art which should earn an honored place in the Dewey decimal classification "364" in every library and on every bookshelf. A University of Michigan Press book from 2008, I've linked to it and you will thank me for the tip.

But back to those "16 pages of lurid photos."

Long ago, I posted a highly embellished press photograph of accused murderer William Edward Hickman to illustrate both the editing of newspaper photos and an early example of the "perp walk" phenom. (Now more common than the "Cake Walk" from the same era...cue the Ragtime music) I took my information from the reverse of the photo...no big deal, just another warped creep with confused and deadly hormones. But when an anonymous writer asked if I had any more photos, which I do, I took the time to look the loser up.

Hickman's crime has been called "the most horrible crime of the 1920's" and I need not describe it here. Shocking and disgusting it was, but when your sleeping pill is a book about a mob hit-man who killed over 100, including some left near the beautiful Delaware Gap as rat food, it hardly stands out. The Wiki article, which is extensive, goes on to tell the story of another major creep, Ayn Rand, who planned a book on this little weasel to be titled "The Little Street" the notes for which were later published in her journals. She isn't the only major writer to find inspiration in pathetic murderers. (Truman? Norman?)

This could be a longer essay than it is, but I am all about photos and art, not crime and punishment. To the anonymous writer who asked "if I had any more..." here ya go!

Group of Original Press Photographs of William Edward Hickman, all dated 1928 Collection Jim Linderman

Postcards Made from DEER Banned by the Post Office

Today's post introduces a good website and also recovers the somewhat disturbing era of postcards made out of DEER HIDE. In the postcard trade, they are now known as "leather" postcards in deference to Bambi. These are not particularly "good" leather postcards, just disturbing. As with everything, I'm drawn to the most curious and somewhat pathetic examples. There ARE some spectacular pieces around and they seem to be one of the more active areas of postcardology. Remember that woodburning kit you father finally trusted you with back in 6th Grade? These are sorta like that. Primarily desired not for their artistic skills, but for their scarcity. They were made for only about five years, from 1900-1905 or so, as the Post Office banned them (!) A shame, as the cards, or rather little squares of deerskin (let's be honest) had pre-punched holes so you could use them in craft projects. See above, a splendid example of a make-do satchel or pillow made from a small herd of them. Ingenious. It looks like a Native American bag, with the sinew-like lacing and fringe...I guess it could be. Plenty of tribes were still active in 1900, and they were certainly familiar with animal skin. Maybe they made a few.

Anyway, I learned about my leather "cards" from Postcardcollector.org which is a fun and worthy site. They encourage folks to show off, so the site is full of goofy examples, and their seems to be a good dialog going on. I just joined. I suggest you all do too. HERE

Leather handmade postcard bag, circa 1910 From Postcardcollector.org

Group of Primitive Leather Postcards, circa 1905 Collection
Jim Linderman

Art Blog Influences Art. Cafe Selavy Photography and Dull Tool Dim Bulb Jim Linderman

I consider blogging a legitimate art form. I consider one who blogs an artist if they intend to create art using blog technology as a medium. I do, anyway. One of the most flattering events in an artists life has to be knowing you have influenced other artists. Last year I corresponded briefly with an accomplished, thoughtful, anonymous photographer who was dealing with artistic issues, motivations, and influence. We traded a few mails and went our own ways.

So googling myself up recently (yep...I proudly admit to seeing if I'm still alive once in a while) I came across a post I play a role in...by that very same artist who reached out 6 months ago, and dang if the work hasn't progressed with a small bit of my taste at the end of the fork!

Original Post from Cafe Selavy November 2009

"In researching old carnivals and circuses, I ran across several bizarre and useful sites. Way led to way and I found that many of them originated with one man, Jim Linderman. I immediately wrote to my friend:
I found this guy on the internet. I've written to him to ask if I can put up some of his collection. It is wrong, so wrong, and so much of what I want to do in my work.

My friend is. . . well, I don't want to give too much away, but he is a creative fellow and a scholar and has thought as much or more about this as/than you or I. He wrote back that art is a "vile and violent business," and that much of what artists do is "horribly horribly wrong." I guess he's right. Art, I mean, has always been an accepted way to talk about the taboos of a culture. It allows us to express the intersections of our world view where our grasp of things do not fit together neatly, where the language of our culture leaves us no other way to express this chiasma. Art is one way of talking about a culture's dirty little secrets.

Whatever that means. "Art" is now that thing in the chasm, a cultural embarrassment.

But Jim Linderman's collection is worth looking at, I think. You'll want to do it alone with the doors closed, maybe. If your mother walks in while you have one of his sites up, she will know immediately by your posture and the look on your face that you are doing something you don't want her to know about. You will protest, of course.

"What? Why are you looking at me that way? I wasn't doing anything!"

I'm having a bit of trouble with Blogger right now, and I'm not in the mood to fight it. I will post more about Linderman's collection tomorrow. Or look at the sites and send me your thoughts and I will make a post out of them. Ciao."
Cafe Selavy November 2009

I won't name the artist, as his work is anonymous...and i'll respect his privacy. If he contacts me, I will ask him if he wants his name shown, or if I should forward any comments. I will share his post on me though. There is good photography on both his sites, they follow.

Cafe Selavy HERE
A Few Days One Summer HERE
Original post on yours truly HERE

Millard Hopper World Unrestricted Checkers Champion!

William Hopper, undisputed (excuse me..."Unrestricted" ) checkers champion. Born 1897 and learning the game in Greenwich Village (where checkers still rules the streets in certain neighborhoods) He had a good, if unusual mentor...famed baseball pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants Baseball team, himself a top-of the line checker player, shared his moves with William and a champ was created.. There were more sopisticated checker stylists, but Hopper practiced the GAYP technique (Go As You Please) rather than the methods which require one to play several moves ahead.

So Good was Hopper, he taught Checkers on RADIO for a brief time in the 1930s. While demonstrating his chops at the 1939 World's Fair, Hopper took on 5,000 challengers and only lost three times. Hopper also ran a booth at Coney Island, I imagine it was a "beat the champ" game he never lost.

But with the war, the game of checkers took on new meaning and Hopper jumped to new responsibilities. The Troops. He was recruited by the Salvation Army U.S.O to teach his skills to the boys. Our heroes were facing long hours in foxholes, bunkers and tents... and the game they had played at home was perfect to bring soldiers together and pass the boredom. It is said Hopper entertained over 1 million serviceman and traveled 150,000 miles. In fact, Millard was profiled in Life Magazine, November 16, 1942 teaching the game to marines bound for war. And you know what? Dear Millard kept on...the photo above has him still sharing his skills to a group of wounded vets four years AFTER the war ended. THAT is the sign of a true King. Crown him!

Greatest Fights of the Century! (Ape Sees Stars)


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