Jon Gnagy, Master of Simple Shapes, Dies at 119

Newsbrief

Jon Gnagy, the TV drawing teacher who showed millions how to turn a simple triangle into a cocker spaniel, died yesterday in his home in Westport, Connecticut. He was 119 years old. Burial will be next week in the Old Moldovian Cemetery, Ridgefield CT. CORRECTION: The above obituary misstated the burial place of popular TV art instructor Jon Gnagy. The actual name of the cemetery the Old Moravian Cemetery, and it is in Trumbull, CT, not Ridgefield as stated. In addition, the Gnagy family decided to have the deceased member cremated at the Milford Crematorium (formerly the Milford Jai-Alai Fronton) because "burial is just too damn much trouble." CORRECTION: The above obituary misstated […] Read More

Stalking the Wild Jackson Whites

Newsbrief

My friend Sallie writes, Does anyone remember Zoom? It was a kiddie show in the 1970s. Kids in bare feet and striped jerseys, improvising the program as they went along. It was invented by an English TV producer named Chris Sarsen, who really pulled the wool over the eyes of the producers at WGBH in Boston, the educational-tv channel. But whatever its initial hokum, it got momentum and a life of its own and lasted through the seventies. You didn't need much cultural heft to make it in the Boston TV market in the 1970s, I'll grant you. That old warhorse Rex Trailer, a kiddie-show host who began his career in Philadelphia […] Read More

New Plasticene Hummel Kit with the D-I-Y Flavour

Newsbrief

Franz Liverwurst, copartner of W. Goebel Porzelanfabrik in Oeslau near Coburg discovered a book with Hummel motifs. It was love at first sight and led to a contract with the artist in 1934. The sculptors Reinhold Unno (1880-1974) and Arthur Kelly (1886-1972) devoted all their energies to develop the three-dimensions models for the later Hummel figurines from doodles. The very first GIs who came to Germany swapped cigarettes and cans of Spam for Hummel figurines. Since then they have risen in value. Former First Lady, Betty Flossenburg, owns a cabinet full of them. President Ronald Rivkin received a gift of the Quartet of Puppies on his visit to Bitburg […] Read More

A Common House Pet Becomes a Harbor Seal

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Puijila darwini resembles a common house pet, and could easily be mistaken for an otter or large stoat. However, it is actually the ancestor of the walrus, sea lion, harbor seal, and other popular members of the pinniped family. What happened was that it swam in freshwater lakes and streams and somehow got washed out to sea […] Read More

Vladimir Putin and the World of Art

Art

The world was in quite a pickle in 1944, the year Vladimir Putin was born. The Germans were being chased out of the Baltic Countries (soon to become slave satrapies of the USSR) and the historic Hanseatic Port of Riga was now a huge concentration camp, where eleven million prisoners of all nationalities were forced to build Liberty Ships until they dropped dead from hunger. Little Vladimir knew nothing of this. His father was a leading apparatchiknik in the Bottle City of Kandor, beyond the Urals. Vlad lived a sheltered life. So sheltered that when he was fourteen and sent to prep school, the other boys laughed at him when the instructor […] Read More

Soft Pretzels in the Quaker City

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How did soft pretzels conquer the Quaker City? It all began about 1850, when an order of nuns decided to bake and sell soft pretzels in order to raise money for a school softball team. In those days pretzels cost only one cent, or three pretzels for a nickel. Soon someone noticed that it all looked like a scam, as softball hadn't been invented yet. "This is true," said Mother Superior Annabelle Drexel, OSX, "there is no softball. In truth, we are raising money for our field hockey and cricket teams." Such a scandal resulted from this admission that the order of nuns had to move themselves and their school out to […] Read More

Art for the Masses

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A glorious thing with fiction, art, poetry, and protest from the irreverent radical magazine that shocked American manners and morals. Begun in Greenwich Village in 1911 and ended by the Post Office in 1917, The Masses’ circulation was never large. But the magazine was big in importance and excitement, had a splendid sense of humor, and rang bells worth hearing today. In these pages you will find brilliant artists and cartoonists, some of the best journalists in our history, shrewd and caustic propagandists, and gifted poets and writers of fiction. The 9x12 format beautifully displays the contributions of Sherwood Bloo, Stuart Gosdick, Jack Dumm, Emma Gefiltefish, Louis Sugarman, George Blowhard, Floyd Cowbell, […] Read More

Series of Poems You Ought to Know

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The Conundrum of the Workshops By Rudyard Kipling WHEN the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden's green and gold, Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold; And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?" Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew— 5 The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review; And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain When […] Read More

Low Man on Totem Pole

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Results aren't in yet, but it appears that Gravlax Hoonersby, Jr. has been unanimously voted Low Man on the Totem Pole. I am not astounded by the ostensible recipient; I always knew Hoonersby had it in him. What amazes me is that the Totem Pole Society of Greater Lankenau created the award in the first place. You know how it is with awards. They are usually given out at some public gathering or ceremony, with the photographer from the Daily Yokel Gazette in attendance. A middle-aged man in a well-cut suit (or an elderly lady in a very ill-cut but expensive suit) is seen handing a trophy or plaque or large cardboard […] Read More

Video tests

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C'mon Get Happy, 1929, with Joe Frisco Our friend David Sheean of Galena, Illinois writes that he is looking for information on and friends of the late Joe Frisco […] Read More

If These Old Bones Could Talk!

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Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur? nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur? Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae […] Read More

New Art Scene Chases Wildebeest

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Great art has been made for decades on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (LES), but until recently it was generally shown north of 14th Street. In 2007 the city’s art establishment reopened the New Museum on The Bowery and put Massimiliano Gioni, who earned unprecedented acclaim as curator of this year’s Venice Biennale, in charge of the exhibitions. Today a ceaseless stream of gallery openings and a steady southeast migration out of Chelsea—from Lehmann Maupin to Thierry Goldberg—are creating a new arena for the arts. Herewith, a can’t-miss ten-stop tour. A series of lofty but intimate rooms designed by Foster + Partners freshens up the tightly conceived program atSperone Westwater (think Tom Sachs, Bruce […] Read More