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Stephen Kroninger
March 2010
Arnie Charnick's Murals
posted:
The Eternal Puddle, 1983

On the lower E. Side, a world on a wall

By Tony Marcano © 1983 New York Daily News

 

 It’s a typical lower east side scene---patrons lining up outside of the St. Mark’s Theater, musicians perform for passers-by, winos ask for spare change.

 

 But there is something that is slightly out of the ordinary---this scene is not on the streets but on the wall.

 

 Taking his cue from everyday events in the area, artist Arnie Charnick has grabbed a slice of East Village life and transferred it onto a 10-by-12-foot mural outside the Velseka Coffee Shop at Ninth St. and Second Ave.

 

And if you happen to have a spare $3,000 and a large wall, you can take that slice of life home with you.

 

The mural, the second in a series of similar works by Charnick, is painted on three sections of sheet metal, which is easily disassembled and transferred anywhere in the world.”

 

After years of leading the life of a struggling artist---working as a short-order cook, painting signs, doing some free-lance work---Charnick got his break when Veselka owner Tom Birchard asked him to brighten up the bare, white wall on the Ninth St. side of the shop.

 

 Although he had no formal art training, Charnick found that he could earn money lettering signs. “As my lettering career developed, this guy (Birchard) hired me to paint a big, empty space on the side of the building.”

 

Soon after beginning his first work, Charnick became a neighborhood attraction. “I did the painting right on the street. The people learned about the art of painting.

 

 Although he was worried that “people would mark it up with graffiti," Charnick found that the painting, which depicted a typical day inside the Veselka as seen through one of the shop’s windows, was protected by residents.

 

 “All the people in the painting are real people from the neighborhood,” he said.

 

 The work, which took about one month to finish, stood outside the Veselka for a year, until Charnick “got bored with it.”

 

 “After a year, I said to Birchard: ‘Let’s change it.’ He asked what we were going to do with it.”

 

 The solution was to dismantle the work and offer it to an art lover with lots of space. “A guy from the neighborhood bought it and put it in his garage. The funds from the first painting financed the second one.”

 

 That second painting now hangs outside of the coffee shop, with the entire first painting reproduced as part of the second. The new work is a more expanded view of the area, with about 30 neighborhood regulars in the painting.

 

 “The first painting sold for $1,000,” Charnick said. “I’m looking for about $3,000 for this one---that involves me taking it down and reconstructing it anywhere.”

 

 He added that the sale of the second painting will finance a third Veselka work, with an added attraction.

 

 “I’ve earned the right to make my own painting out there now,” said Charnick, a 37 year old native of the Soundview section of the Bronx. “The third one will be three-dimensional---parts will be attached to the painting so that you can’t tell what’s real and what’s painted.”

 

 Charnick’s works have become so popular with restaurant patrons that he has done several murals inside the shop, depicting restaurant patrons or neighborhood residents.

 

 Other Charnick works can be seen inside Checkers, a barbecue restaurant on 34th St., off Third Ave. and in the lobby of a new structure on Water St. He has done about five publicly displayed works, along with several that are privately owned.

Luncheonette Life, 1982
photo: © 2005 Hubert J Steed
A Box Of Magazines 2
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This is my all-time favorite Beatles cover. I wasn't part of the peace and love generation so I didn't know you were supposed to hate Yoko. I was in the sixth grade when this cover came out. I thought she was great. Still do.
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back cover
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art: Daniel Maffia
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 Once again, I've been scanning some magazine covers for Robert Newman Design. These are a few. Mine are just thrown here somewhat randomly. When they appear in Robert's blog they're all neat and orderly by topic or title. That may be a reflection on how our minds work. Something to mull over while planning your summer vacation.
Recent Klein for TIME
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Karl Rove's Memoir: Act of Vengeance In Courage and Consequence , his tale of the George W. Bush years, Karl Rove disses his critics and defends the boss. No news there

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It's Her Party: The Brilliance of Sarah Palin Sarah Palin, who gave the keynote address to the Tea Party convention, is clever, deceptive and infuriating — which makes her the Republicans' most potent force

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JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: "But there’s a big difference here between the Democratic and Republican parties. In the Republican party, the base is the right wing. In the Democratic party, the base isn’t the left wing. The base is African-Americans, a lot of Hispanics, trade union people, and so on. You have a bunch of bloggers on the left, but I don’t think that they carry the same weight as the maniacs on the right do with the Republican party."
 
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Why We're Failing Our Schools The government has billions to spend on public education, but teachers' unions are standing in the way
 

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Does Obama's Education Plan Make the Grade? The President's plan for education reform is a good start. Here's how to make it even better

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The CIA Double Cross: How Bad a Blow in Afghanistan? The lethal attack on the CIA by Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi raises doubts about the reliability of America's allies in the war in Afghanistan
 

Unraveling the Middle East Muddle Obama's push for an Arab-Israeli peace is floundering. It's time to focus on what's actually achievable
 

 Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column for TIME magazine. These were art directed by Cynthia Hoffman and Andree Kahlmorgan.
Picasso LIFE 12/27/68
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The entire issue is archived here. LIFE: PICASSO: Special Double Issue.
This issue of LIFE had a huge impact on me as an eleven year old living in the village of Orefield, Pennsylvania.



A Box Of Magazines 1
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panel from the comics serial "The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist," written by Michael O'Donoghue with art by Frank Springer.
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 This issue of LIFE, published in 1968, had a huge impact on me as a kid.
Marcel Duchamp
 From time to time over the past few months I've been scanning in some magazine covers for Robert Newman Design. Some he posts, some he doesn't. Robert generally organizes them by topic or title. He's built an impressive archive of design and illustration. The link is below.
Face Fun in History
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Seeing Hanoch Piven's post of his upcoming phone app reminded me of my own Face Fun done several years earlier. That brought to mind a number of these mix and match books and toys that I'd seen and been influenced by over the years. If any of you have more to add or images to share they'd be most welcome.
Perhaps the Granddaddy of them all. Great Granddaddy? Ole' Million Face.
"Originally created by Carey Orr, who was an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, and first produced in 1925 by the Face Corporation of Philadelphia (corporations had a sense of humor back then, don't you think?). And now reproduced by your friendly neighborhood optical toy company. It's not an optical toy per se, but I thought it was very cool when I first found a very beat up old original. It was taken into the intensive care ward of Photoshop and reconstructed to look as good as new. It was this original toy, and these images, on which was based the "Changeable Charlie" toy of the 1940's, 50's, and 60's. There are 11 different blocks, each with 4 different images on each face: a head/hat block, right & left eyebrows, left ear, left eye, right eye, right ear... etc etc. You can turn any block and each combination fits in with all the rest to create a brand new face. The resulting combination is 4 to the 11th power (4x4x4x4x4x4x4x4x4x4x4) or 4,194,304 different face combinations. Working at the rate of one change per minute, eight hours per day, six days per week, and fifty-two weeks per year, you can see every combination in exactly 28 years, 8 hours, 58 minutes and 48 seconds. A true heirloom toy. 6 x 7.5 inches; full color images on wood blocks.
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 I have no idea what this one is called. I bought one in a shoebox at a flea market some years ago. It used to hang on my studio wall where it got bumped a lot and the pieces fell to the floor and scattered. The head shape has small magnets embedded into where the eyes, nose, mouth and ears are to go. It came with sever variations of each, much like the later Mr. Potato Head. If anyone has any more information on this I'd love to hear it.
 Here are two views of an ear from the above toy. Notice the metal piece embedded into the ear so that it sticks to the magnet on the head.
 I don't have any information on this one either. Perhaps all the info we'll ever need is right on the package.
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 Of course, some wonderful examples of mix and match are to be found in books.
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Facetasm: Creepy Mix-And-Match Book of Face Mutations, A more recent take on the form by two of comics' greatest contemporary artists, Gary Panter and Charles Burns.
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Carin Berger's terrific ALL MIXED UP (thanks to Marty Blake for reminding me about this one and for providing the scans)
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ALL MIXED UP. Ms. Berger's website where you can flip the pages and create 13,000 characters online.
Funny Face: An Amusing History of Potato Heads, Block Heads, and Magic Whiskers. I haven't read this book but I assume it goes into greater depth about some of the toys depicted in this post.
Special thanks to Steve Wacksman, Deadlicious and Hanoch Piven for their inspiration and assistance in this post.

Artist As Author/Parsons
posted:
The Illustration Program  at Parsons The New School for Design presents
The Artist as Author -- a symposium on self-illustrated texts in history and contemporary practice.
Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 3 - 8:30pm in Wollman Hall, 5th Floor, 66 West 12th Street, NYC
Free and open to the public

Patrica Mainardi (CUNY Graduate Center) on Popular Prints and Comics.
Emily Lauer, (MA MPhil CUNY) on William Thackeray's Vanity Fair illustrations
David Kurnick (Rutgers University) on The Theatrical Impulse and the Illustrated Novel.
Ben Katchor (Parsons The New School) on Picture-recitation.
Jerry Moriarty (School of Visual Arts) presents his latest project: Whatsa Paintoonist?

The participants:
Patricia Mainardi: Show and Tell, Popular Prints and Comics
The development of comics from serial narration is familiar to us, but the parallel trajectory of comics from popular prints, called Images d'Epinal  from the town in Eastern France where they were principally produced, is virtually unknown.  Popular prints are virtually ignored in histories of comics because they are assumed to be derivative, produced by semi-skilled artisans for an unsophisticated rural audience. Nonetheless, while urban audiences saw the birth of comic books in the 1830s, with the first publications of Rudolph Töpffer, rural audiences by that time were already quite familiar with colorful popular prints of sequential narration. By the last decades of the nineteenth century the Image d’Epinal and the comic strip had cross-fertilized and morphed into our modern comics.

 Patricia Mainardi is Professor of Art History at City University of New York, where she teaches at The Graduate Center.  Her publications include Art and Politics of the Second Empire: The Universal Expositions of 1855 and 1867 (Yale, 1987), which received the College Art Association Charles Rufus Morey Award for the best art history book of 1988; The End of the Salon: Art and the State in the Early Third Republic (Cambridge, 1994); Husbands, Wives, and Lovers: Marriage and Its Discontents in Nineteenth-Century France (Yale, 2003); and many articles and catalogues. She is currently completing a book: Another World: Illustrated Print Culture in Nineteenth-Century France, which includes chapters on caricature, book illustration, popular prints and comics.

Emily Lauer: Signs as Designs: Thackeray’s multivalent Vanity Fair illustrations.
William Makepeace Thackeray was an artist as well as an author, and gained his reputation as a satirist through both his written and drawn "sketches" before his first major successful novel, Vanity Fair. When he approached his publishers, the fact that he could illustrate his own written text was a useful bargaining chip. This paper explores the way his illustrations in that novel form part of a hybrid textual experience. The many different types of illustrations – full page plates, half-page woodcuts, and historiated initials – all serve multiple functions. Thematically, the novel deals with issues of artifice and multi-layered pretending, and the illustrations provide a tangible clue to the way visual representation in this novel has complicated relationships with the written text, as well as with the composition of both the page and the storyworld Thackeray creates.

Emily Lauer, MA MPhil, teaches Children's Literature at Hunter College, where her students routinely say brilliant and helpful things about illustrations. "Signs as Designs" is part of her PhD dissertation, "Drawing Conclusions: Visual Literacy In Fiction," which she will defend later this Spring at the CUNY Graduate Center.


David Kurnick on The Theatrical Impulse and the Illustrated Novel
David Kurnick is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University. He is working on a book called "Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel of Interiority" about major novelists with frustrated theatrical careers.

Ben Katchor on Picture-recitation
Ben Katchor's picture-stories appear in Metropolis magazine. His upcoming collection of weekly strips, The Cardboard Valise, will be published by Pantheon Books. His most recent music-theater collaboration with Mark Mulcahy, A Checkroom Romance, was commissioned and workshopped in 2009 at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and will be performed at Lincoln Center in 2010. He is an Associate Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City. For more information visit www.katchor.com <http://www.katchor.com/>

Jerry Moriarty, contemporary picture-story artist discusses his latest project:  "Whatsa Paintoonist?"

Jerry Moriarty has taught painting and drawing at The School of Visual Arts in NYC since 1963. A prolific artist, writer and illustrator, his work has appeared in Raw magazine, Kramers Ergot, Comic Art Magazine and The Best American Comics, 2009.  In the 1980s and 90s, he produced a series of subway posters for The School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Corridor Gallery in Soho, SVA Museum,  Cue Foundation, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His latest book, The Complete Jack Survives, was published by Buenaventura Press in 2009. He was interviewed by Chris Ware in The Believer (art issue) in 2009. He was the recipient of an NEA grant.

Krokodil: A Gift From The Vortex
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1923
This arrived in Saturday's mail from my friend Larry Fisher. Larry runs THE VORTEX in Brooklyn. If you've never been there I suggest you make the trip. Larry has a great eye for unusual finds----like this one. There are 216 images in this anthology, published in 1990, I scanned about 30 here. Any information would be deeply appreciated.
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Alice In Wonderland
posted:
Barry Moser
 I've long been a fan of Lewis Carroll's ALICE books. I've also been a fan of the many intepretations of the work by illustrators over the years. Here are some of my favorites.
Barry Moser
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Lewis Carroll
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Lewis Carroll
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Kim Deitch
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Julian Wehr
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Julian Wehr
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J. Otto Seibolt
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Lisbeth Zwerger
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Helen Oxenbury
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Robert Sabuda

Greg Hildebrandt
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Ralph Steadman
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John Tenniel. This book also includes many of his PUNCH cartoons and illustrations.
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"Dozens of artists, from all decades, all parts of the world, and all styles have illustrated Lewis Carroll's literary legend over the last 100 years. The Art of Alice in Wonderland is the definite work on the subject, bringing together this remarkable art for the first time, and illuminating a book that will forever influenced children's literature and adult imagination. With a stunning eight-page fold-out of artwork and 150 other delightful and important photographs and illustrations, this book is like a rich gallery of Alice art. Organized by character, the book takes the reader on a guided tour through the Wonderland of the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and the other beloved characters who have entered every child's and adult's imagination. All the while, the authoritative yet accessible text informs the reader about the fascinating symbolic meaning of this enduring tale."
 Since I was a kid I've often considered creating my own images for Alice In Wonderland but still haven't gotten around to it. Maybe some day.
not a book but a brilliant intepretaton just the same, Czech animator Jan Svankmajer's ALICE. In this clip Alice enters the Court and meets the Queen of Hearts.
A recent purchase. Mary Blair's production art for Disney's ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
Grosz in America
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Lower Manhattan/New York I, 1934, oil on canvas
I've long been a champion of George Grosz' New York work which I've always felt was too easily dismissed. One of my first Drawger posts was a collection of street scene watercolors he painted for a 1930s issue of Vanity Fair. Though his reputation will always rest on the Berlin work, if you look at his New York period with fresh eyes you may find much to admire.
I decided to do this post after stumbling across this catalog during a recent visit to a bookstore. I had no idea it existed. I completely missed the recent exhibit at David Nolan. Consider this an art consumer alert.
"The Dada caricaturist, draughtsman and painter George Grosz (1893-1959) spent more than half of his creative career--27 years--living and working in the United States. The effects of this emigration upon his art were once widely deemed to be wholly negative, since it seemingly marked a rejection of aggressively political satire: "I had simply lost all interest in human weaknesses and individual foibles," wrote Grosz in his autobiography, "and the further I drew away from them, the closer I felt to nature." Grosz was particularly passionate about the art of watercolor--so much so that shortly before his death in 1959 he began to write a book on watercolor technique--and his innovations in this area, alongside his caricatures of New York life and his more apocalyptic war paintings, have at last been retreived from the respective shadows of Grosz's own earlier work and of American Abstract Expressionism, which reigned supreme during Grosz's American years. This is the first book devoted to this crucial phase in his life."
photo: Stanley Kubrick
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