Artist’s books are one of the most seldom seen forms of art. Perhaps they’ve never caught on with the public because — in our time, anyway — they’re usually associated with experimental, avant-garde art and they’re produced in very limited editions: often an edition of one.
In the U.S., Yoko Ono is certainly the best known creator of artist’s books. Although Ono’s artist’s book Grapefruit was first published in Tokyo in a run of 400 in 1964, it was reprinted in a much bigger run by New York’s Simon & Schuster in 1970, and was sometimes seen even in mainstream American bookstores during the ‘70s. Other fairly well-known American artists, such as Ed Ruscha, Raymond Pettibone and R. Crumb, have done a great deal of work with the form in the last few decades.
Unusual as artist’s books may be, you can see an entire exhibit devoted to them in Lake Charles. The show, titled Book Works, will be on display March 9-April 28 in the Art Associates Gallery in Central School at 809 Kirby St. The opening reception will be held Thursday March 9 from 6-7:30 pm.
The artist’s books in the exhibit were made by current and former McNeese art students who took a class called Contemporary Approaches to Drawing that’s taught by art professor Heather Ryan Kelley at McNeese. Each of the books in the exhibition is handmade by artists who reside or have studied in the area. The works range from traditionally bound books to what Kelley describes as “sculptural, altered books.”
Here are the artists whose books you can see: Ashlen Breaux, Chance DeVille, Katy Geymann, Ron Gibson, Elizabeth Guinn, Taylor Hickey, Katelyn Hoffpauir, Linda Rae-Leigh Johnson, Stephanie Landry, Cambridge P.J. Matthews, Shannon Moore, Devin Morgan, Alex Pate, Kip Tête, Sydney Thomas and Gabriella Trahan. Near this story, you should see a photo of Elizabeth Guinn’s artist’s book distractiFLY.
Not A Running Shoe In Sight
To the degree that there was a story in the special session of the Legislature, it was that Gov. Edwards wanted to pay the $300 million gap with the Rainy Day Fund and Republicans didn’t.
But there wasn’t exactly party unity on the matter. Rep. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, who is on the House Appropriations Committee, said, “I will vote for the rainy day fund if it means that higher education and [hospitals for the poor and uninsured] aren’t cut.”
That’s a bold and courageous statement for any Louisiana politician to make. It’s especially courageous for Abraham, since he’s a Republican.
As I’m writing this, it looks as if the special session will continue in the recent legislative pattern, meaning that legislative measures will be free of innovation, initiative and risk and will do nothing to solve the glaring, basic economic problems. I predict the same will be true of the coming regular session.
I doubt anyone is in a rush for us to get to the day when Louisiana finally gets a budget gap that’s too big to be fixed by spit and polish.
Extra: Police Go To Parades
Abraham wasn’t the only Louisianan who made a bold statement in the last few days. Enjoy this colorful word picture from Col. Richie Johnson of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office:
“It was pure ass somebody not doing their damn job. There’s no sense sugar coating it to make us sound fancy.”
Johnson was talking about Baton Rouge convict Mertis Wade, who escaped from a work release program simply by walking out the back door of the kitchen where he was supposed to be washing dishes.
Some might think Wade got a lucky break and should have taken advantage of it. But he chose to hang around the area. Why? Well, when he was captured and taken back to jail, he told police he’d left in the first place because he wanted to see his girlfriend and go to the Mardi Gras parade.
Go to the Mardi Gras parade? Yeah. He’s 25. It was at the parade (in Metairie) that police spotted him and arrested him.
I feel awful about that feller having to miss the end of his parade. Maybe the other inmates will put on a parade for him in the jail yard. Maybe if he asks them really, really nice, they’ll even throw things at him.
Cuba: Wha’ Happened?
If you’ve ever wondered what’s happened to art in Cuba since U.S. sanctions kicked in, you only have to take a 2-hour drive to get the answers.
The exhibit Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950 will be showing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston until May 21.
The exhibit includes more than 100 works of painting, graphic design, photography, video, installation and performance by more than 50 Cuban artists and designers.
Want to know more? Visit mfah.org.
The State Of State News
After I settled into work on Monday, Feb. 20, I checked in with my Louisiana news feed on Twitter. As I went about my reading, I had the sense there was an usually big number of stories about sports — even for Louisiana media. I decided to start doing a little counting.
There were 12 consecutive Twitter posts about Louisiana sports. These came from three news sources: The Shreveport Times, The Times-Picayune and Louisiana News.
Then there was a brief break for a non-sports story. It was this headline from NOLA.com: “2 dead, 6 wounded in bloody weekend: New Orleans area crime news.”
And then it was back to Louisiana sports. They were the subject of the next 14 stories, in fact. In addition to the sources noted above, some of these stories came from The Advocate, The News-Star, Houma Today and The Daily Comet (Thibodeaux).
Is it at all surprising that while there was a run of 26 out of 27 stories about sports Louisiana was right in the middle of a special legislative session that would determine the course of the state’s economic future? Why am I even asking that question? Not even a weekend’s worth of Mardi Gras parade pictures and stories was able to make a dent in the succession of sports stories running early on a Monday morning — a prime time for sports competitions of all sorts.
A big wheel in local media once told me that only one in five people in SWLA is a sports fan. If that’s true, some people somewhere are very, very confused.
Everybody Forgets This Column
I looked at it week after week, month after month. I knew it was just a matter of time until I wrote about it. The time finally came.
What I’d been looking at was a simple red box. It was full of Nestle Hot Cocoa Mix. Someone had brought it into the office. And then that same someone forgot about it. Now, it just sat on a shelf. Forgotten.
On the box was a short poem about the cocoa that had been written by the marketing team for the Nestle corp. The poem read:
THE POND FINALLY FROZE …
WE SKATED UNTIL DARK
NOBODY FORGETS THOSE DAYS
It may be true that nobody forgets those days. But apparently, somebody at Nestle forgot that periods go at the end of sentences.
The photos that accompany the poem show a young couple with their very young daughter. These three people are obviously properly dressed for extremely cold weather.
This gives me the notion that the pond freezes over pretty damn often, and if these people like to go skating, they go skating quite a bit. Naturally, I can’t help but wonder why “nobody forgets those days” of skating when there are many, many days of skating year after year after year.
I would have found the little poem much more engaging if it had read:
THE POND FINALLY FROZE.
WE SKATED ‘TIL WE SAW THE ALIEN SWIMMING UNDER THE ICE.
NOBODY FORGETS HOW DADDY SCREAMED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL.
I would even have gone for:
THE POND FINALLY FROZE.
WE SKATED UNTIL DARK.
IT WAS OK.
BUT NOBODY REMEMBERED IT.
THERE WAS NO REASON TO.
Anyway, bottom line is that little three-line poem up above was the best marketing the people at Nestle could come up with. What’s the matter? Can’t Nestle afford to hire good writers?
Nestle can afford anything. As I write this, Nestle is the single largest food company in the world. Its present value is in excess of $250 billion.
I know there’s a widespread tendency for college students to stay in the Lake Area after they graduate from an institute of higher learning located here. But with $250-billion companies shelling out big bucks for marketing language as mediocre as what we’ve just seen, if you have a solid background in marketing, you’d be a fool not to go to the big city. Even without trying, you’d improve on the status quo. Do you know you have to put a period at the end of a sentence? You do? Great, you’re hired.
And this best part is, you won’t be working in Louisiana. You’ll be working at a place where you’ll be paid the kind of salary that’ll make you a millionaire in four or five years. So break out the hot cocoa (even though you will one day forget that you drank it).
Saints Preserve Us From Frizzy Hair
A doctor — the Louisiana term for any person with a doctoral degree — is on the verge of achieving great things in Baton Rouge because his daughter has frizzy hair.
That’s right. His 13 year-old-daughter has frizzy hair. And it’s just as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s just awfully bad.
The daughter uses the word “pain” to describe the condition of having frizzy hair. The WAFB (Baton Rouge) reporter who brought the story forward helped to explain the pain by stating that Louisiana’s rate of humidity creates “a constant battle” for those afflicted by the scourge of frizzy hair.
In every battle, one must fight an opponent. Just who is the opponent in this battle? Why, one’s own hair, of course.
The poor, suffering daughter’s father — we’re going to quit calling him a doctor now — decided to gird himself for this battle by reading two long books about hair. He then asked hair product companies for samples. After creating a variety of mixes of these samples, he found a mix that greatly alleviated his daughter’s painful frizziness. He decided he wanted to put the mix in a bottle and sell it to people.
Of course, LSU’s Innovation Park decided this was a project worthy of throwing money at. The father is now producing 1,600 bottles of his hair care product — Lubricity — each day. I get the sense that he’s doing all right.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of this project? Well, Dad says, “it helps people.” He says he’s run into customers who tell him the product has “changed [their] life.” The whole thing is, he says, “fulfilling.”
I imagine! I can’t help wondering how different this family might be if Dad had just sat down with his daughter one day and said, “Honey, your hair looks just fine. And even if it didn’t, you’d be OK. You aren’t your hair. You aren’t even your appearance. You’re OK just the way you are. You don’t have to do a thing.”
WAFB wasn’t the only media venue to air this story. Our own KPLC found that the story merited reportage.
Meanwhile, even with the advent of Lubricity, the battle against frizziness goes on. I’ve had frizzy hair for 60 years and I’ve never even bought a comb. But of course, I don’t have a PhD.
As for using Lubricity, I can’t even afford generic dandruff shampoo. I’ll know I’ve really made it when I can buy something that costs more than VO5.