Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Memoir of This Date in History

I wrote this memoir in November 2009, to commemorate 22 November 1963.

Le Mort d’Arthur

Mr. Dilley’s bulk obscures the diagram of intersecting lines as he labels the intersecting points. The shoulder of his tweed jacket is smudged with chalk dust where he brushed against the chalkboard.

“With lines MG and VY being parallel and line CL bisecting the lines at a 70 degree angle,” he drones as he finishes the last label with a flourish, “indicate on your paper which angles are the corresponding vertical angles, alternate interior angles and alternate exterior angles, if, of course, there be any.”

A review quiz! We haven’t looked at this angle stuff for weeks, and now he throws in a quiz. I think I remember this, but I confuse congruent with corresponding; or are they the same? I hate this; I hate this; I hate this. Just don’t call on me when we correct it. I know he will! I hate geometry!

Muffled static erupts on the speaker over the door, as someone fumbles with the microphone in the office broadcast center. Mr. Lucas’ voice is faintly heard urgently speaking to somebody else out of microphone range. Mr. Dilley frowns at the interruption, and we students take a break from paper and pencil with audible sighs.

“Students and teachers,” intones Mr. Lucas hesitantly, at last speaking into the microphone. “There is … we ... we feel that an announcement needs to be made at this time. The president … President Kennedy was shot in Dallas just a few minutes ago.” There is gasp, a shout, a moan from various students as Mr. Dilley slumps into his chair like he himself were shot. “Everyone remain calm. He has been rushed to a hospital. We have no more details at this time. We will try to play the radio broadcast over the intercom to keep you informed. Please stay in your rooms until lunch. School is not over; no one is excused to leave the campus.”

The fuzzy radio news bursts through the speaker that rattles with the volume. They adjust the volume down and up and down until we can actually hear what the commentator says. “Dallas … President’s motorcade … Texas school book depository building … three shots … Governor Connally … approximately 12:25 p.m. … sniper… Mrs. Kennedy … blood covered dress.”

The class numbly stares at the speaker over the door as if it were a television set. We struggle to visualize the horrendous event 1200 miles away while the limited details are repeated over and over by this reporter and that witness. The chaos and hysteria reminds me strangely of the old news reels of the Hindenburg disaster or the bombing of Pearl Harbor I have seen on television.

I do not like Kennedy or his silly Camelot thing everybody is hyped-up about, but I certainly don’t want him shot. I am a sixteen-year-old Republican, born and bred, but I don’t want the President dead; I just want him voted out of office. What kind of person would even think of shooting the President, and who would be stupid enough to actually do that?

As time creeps slowly on, the radio becomes a blur of background noise. I am only hearing part of it. Girls are comforting one another while crying and blowing their noses and parading back and forth to the waste basket to deposit used tissues and grab a few more from Mr. Dilley’s desk. Mr. Dilley has said nothing about no one working on the quiz. Leaning back in his chair, fingers peaked at his chin like Dürer’s Praying Hands, he stares reflectively at the ceiling listening to the radio.

The other boys in the room seem stoic. I don’t know how I am supposed to feel right now, maybe they don’t either. What I do feel is empty, hollow, disconnected from everything around me: lost. Maybe that feeling is from shock or disbelief or maybe just plain sadness mingled with fear for what comes next.

Just after 11:00, the broadcast cuts to an official news release, and someone named Malcom Kilduff speaks into the microphone. Through the jostle of bumped sound equipment and garbled voices and an airplane fly-over he says solemnly, "President John F. Kennedy… died at approximately 1 o’clock … Central Standard Time today … here in Dallas. He died of a gunshot wound … in the brain. Dr. Berkley told me it was a …a simple matter of … a bullet right through the head.”

The bell rings. It’s time for lunch, but nobody moves. Mr. Dilley pulls himself up from his chair and walks to the door, and we follow like sheep. I shuffle through the hall of silent whisperings and exit the building into the cool air of a glimmering gold, fall day. So, what do we do now?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day Memoriam 11.11.11

I dedicate this Veterans' Day to the memory of my friend, Warren Guthrie Harding ,Jr., who died in Vietnam in 1968. I wrote two memoirs about Warren during the six years that I  participated in a memoir writing workshop sponsored by the Jordan School District. The first was written in 2007, and the second in 2010. I present them here in memoriam with pictures I took at the Vietnam War Memorial and the only photos I have of Warren.

At The Wall

It was a physically stressing position, leaning into the polished, black granite wall trying to hold the strip of newsprint with one hand snug against the third name from the bottom of the panel and rubbing the graphite pencil over the incised letters with the other hand. I could feel my face reddening with the strain of holding my body at that awkward angle. My eyes teared with a flood of sorrow, regret, anger, and maybe a twinge of survivor’s guilt as the W-A-R-R-E-N appeared on the paper. The paper shifted slightly as I rubbed the pencil over the G, but I finished the name even though it was crooked.

I took the second strip of paper and smoothed it over the letters, but this time I held the strip on the left side with my knee giving me a free hand to hold the paper straight as I rubbed over the letters again.

When I stood, my legs were a little unstable, my face was flushed, my eyes were wet, and my breathing was shallow. Looking at my reflection in the black, mirror-like stone of the wall, I took a couple of deep breaths and steadied myself. Backing away from the panel, I almost bumped into a man who had been watching me; watching me and the dozens of others along the angling gash in the grassy slope on the north side of Constitution Gardens.

“Oh, excuse me,” I stammered as our eyes met.

“No harm done,” he said with a mild British accent. He was about my height, a few years older, but thinner. He wore a brown plaid shirt, a light tan blazer, blue jeans, and a bemused smile that was very close to a smirk. “Tell me,” he said, glancing leisurely left and right along the 54,000 names. “I don’t quite understand. What does all this mean to Americans?”

Looking at him with my mouth open, I couldn’t even explain what it all meant to me, or what I was feeling at that moment let alone what all this means to millions of other “Americans.” How do you give an answer that covers ten years of friendship with the very first kid you met when you moved to California: or guilt at not having time to talk the last time you saw him when he came by the house to say good bye; or unspeakable grief standing by an ugly, black gash in the cemetery grass on a beautiful hill above San Diego Bay; or the vague thought that your name could be on that wall if an ulcer the size of a small bullet-hole in your gut hadn’t been enough for a jocular corporal to stamp your selective service papers with a 4F? How do you meaningfully answer “What does all this mean?”

“I can’t say. I don’t know,” I said haltingly, with my pencil in one hand and two WARREN GUTHRIE HARDING rubbings, reverently held in the other, fluttering slightly as the afternoon cooled. “There’s no easy answer.”

“Hmmmm,” he said, frowning at me like a tourist disappointed with his tour guide. Losing interest, he pivoted smartly to the left and ambled down along the wall shaking his head.

Turning to the wall, I had one last, long look at myself reflected among the names; one last, lingering touch of the incised letters; one last, wavering breath and sigh before returning to the top of the slope and my patient wife.

That Boy

I try to focus on the words, but my attention is drawn to the ships and small boats plying the San Diego harbor far below the slope of close-cropped lawn I stand on. The chaplain’s words mingle with the chittering of the black birds in the towering pine trees that shelter the endless rows of cold white headstones resting in peace in the bright early afternoon sun. My thoughts wander.

“What are you doing in here?” my mother asks. She can plainly see that I am watching television. It is a warm, late August afternoon outside, and it is cool in the den with the lights off and the curtains pulled shut.

“I’m watching television,” I answer innocently, though with an underlying twinge of rebellion.

“Why aren’t you outside playing with that boy that came to the door?” She demands.

“It’s hot outside and I don’t want to go play football in the street with a bunch o’ kids I don’t know!” My sister and I are still miffed about being ripped away without warning from our friends in Hobbs, New Mexico, to be plopped down in a rental house in Westminster, California, three weeks before school is to start. The only advantage we can see to the move is that now we have twelve television stations to watch instead of three.

“You get out there right now,” she commands as she flips the off switch on the television. “That boy made an effort to come over here and invite you to play with the kids in the neighborhood, and you are going to play!”

“I don’t want to!” I protest, as I reluctantly drag my carcass off the couch.

“I don’t care whether you want to or not. Now, get out there,” she insists while pushing me out the door. She probably locks it so I can’t sneak back in later. I can feel her eyes glaring at me from the living room window as I slowly meander up the street, glowering with head bowed and hands jammed into pants pockets, toward the noisy kids.

That boy that came to the door is the first to see me shuffling up the street. He leaves the knot of kids and comes over to stand in front of me on the sidewalk. He is tall like me and stocky, but still thinner that I am. He has thick, dark, wavy hair, a round face and a beaming smile.

“Changed your mind, huh?” he says, thrusting out his hand. “I’m Warren. Warren Guthrie Harding, just like the President.” I shake his hand and we become best friends for the year I live in Westminster, and good friends for another seven years after that.

Warren is a simple, honest country boy transplanted to California from South Dakota. He is four months older than me, and we are in the same grade at Johnson Intermediate School, eighth. When school starts, he shows me around and introduces me to kids he knows from the year before. We don’t have any classes together, but I stop at his house every morning, and we walk the three blocks to school. After school, we hit his house for a snack or a drink. We can’t watch television at his house because his mother usually has laundry stacked in the living room every afternoon with the ironing board stationed in front of the television and American Bandstand. We go to my house to watch the reruns of adventure movie serials. My favorite is about two Boy Scouts lost in South America; his are the Westerns. We go trick or treating together this year for the last time, and our families join together for Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

When I move five miles away to Huntington Beach, Warren and I ride our bikes back and forth on weekends. At least once a month we stay over at one or the other’s house on a Friday night. I like him staying over at my house because we sleep out in the camper shell and don’t have to be quiet, and we each have our own bunk. When we stay at his house, we have to share a double bed in his room. He thinks he is being funny by poking me in the ribs at all hours of the night. He calls it tickling; I call it torture. But a few bruised ribs are worth it because his mother makes the best buttermilk pancakes in the entire known world: thin like crepes with a slight rubbery texture.

We see less of each other as we go through high school, and his family moves to Long Beach for a few months. But at least once a month we go to a movie, or a football game, have a sleep over, or spend a Saturday at Knott's Berry Farm or Pacific Ocean Park. Our high schools are rivals, and we have to be careful when going to football games. I am almost beaten up at one game when I raucously cheer for Huntington Beach as the team makes a stupendous touchdown play while we are sitting in Westminster’s section of the stadium.

After high school, we don’t see each other very often. Warren joins the army. I start college, go on a mission and return home to my job at Disneyland. The last time I see Warren he is on his last day home from Vietnam on a two week furlough to visit his ill father. Warren spends most of his visit talking to my father in the kitchen. I am distracted, rushed to get ready for the closing shift at the Disneyland Main Street Camera Shop and don’t have time to sit a chat. We shake hands as I usher him to his car and wave as he drives away.

“Well,” says my father as I return to the kitchen, “he came to say goodbye.”

“I know,” I say, glancing at the clock and snatching my keys.

“No,” he said. “He came to say, ‘Goodbye’.”

A volley of rifle fire jars me from my reverie. The shrouding flag is lifted from the casket enclosing his shattered body, folded and presented with solemnity to his mother. The small clutch of mourners ambles to the waiting limousines that have driven us the hundred miles from the mortuary to this lovely slope of grass in the Rosecrans National Cemetery. My legs are stone; they will not move. My thrumming heart is strangling me; I cannot breathe. My vision blurs staring into the black gash in the earth. Waves of grief entomb me, and my weeping is like retching with dry heaves. Warren’s uncle returns from the limousine and tenderly rests his arm across my shoulders. Whispering comfort, he gently draws me away from the pit and that boy.

Warren G. Harding, Jr. 11 July 1947 - 28 February 1968

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pet Peeves with American Speakers of English

On the 10th of October, my wife and I went to the Hale Center Theatre in West Valley City to see My Fair Lady. I wasn't that excited about seeing the show again since I have seen the show and the film several times, except for the fact that our good friend, Mark Knowles, is playing Henry Higgins in this production. It was an excellent production, and Mark did a wonderful piece of work as the curmudgeonly Higgins. One of the early songs in the show is Henry Higgins's "Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" After going though a litany of deplorable English pronunciations, Higgins says "the Americans haven't used it (English) in years!" Amen!

This is one of my "pet peeves," i.e. the lousy pronunciation and deplorable grammar of American speakers of English. It is not isolated among the young and illiterate, but is rampant in those who are supposedly well educated and should know better. The flattening out of diphthongs, sliding vowels and vowel pairs is epidemic in American speakers, and to hear such lazy pronunciation drives me crazy. Just ask my wife. I hope it is just laziness and not out right ignorance. My great fear is that being forced to hear incorrect language I may begin to speak the same way. I hear this in the speech of students, their parents, newscasters, advertisers, politicians, and broadcasters ad infinitum. Examples of this vocal crime: pronouncing "feel" as "fill," "meal" as "mill," "pail/pale" as "pell," "sail/sale" as "sell,"  and too many others to list.

Perhaps fifteen years ago, I saw a sign posted on a huge pile of dirt which said, "Dirt for sell." The writer's incorrect pronunciation of the word "sale" had led to his misspelling of the word "sale!" I see this phenomenon quite often in children and adults. They mispronounce and therefore misspell. I have seen four times in the newspaper this week the incorrect spelling of "than" as "then," as in "more then" or "less then" instead of "more/less than." Are there no proofreaders anymore?

The death of grammar is accelerating because grammar is no longer emphasized or even taught in school language arts classes. Supposedly, children will pick up correct grammar if they read a lot of books. Unfortunately, too many of the books children and young adults are reading have egregious grammar problems on top off the atrocious grammar they hear every day. There is the age old problem of "who/whom" and "can/may" and, of course, subject/verb agreement problems, but in the last few years there has been epidemic of the infamous use of the reflexive personal pronoun "myself" in place of the correct and simple subject or object personal pronouns "I" or "me." Some nincompoop must have thought using "myself" sounded upper class and started the corruption rolling. Now everyone from the President of the United States to the language arts teacher uses that corruption. Hearing that abomination is like ice picks jammed in my ears. I want to scream at everyone who blathers that ridiculous affectation.

But the true dagger in my heart is the death of the subjunctive case of "to be." It is a lost cause. Too few English speakers and writers use it any more even if they know what it is and how to use it. But if I were king, and I wish I were, I would drub grammar and elocution into every man, woman, and child so I might save my poor assaulted eyes and ears from seeing and hearing the murder of the English language one mispronounced word, one poorly constructed  phrase, one run on or fragmented sentence at a time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Postal Art

These are some envelopes I did last June for graduation cards for some of my former students, my Venturing Scouts, and the son of dear, old friend which I have never posted on this blog. I have fallen way behind in my blogging.

I need to begin my Christmas card envelopes soon, or I will run out of time. I have not started my Halloween cards yet!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting "Hacked" Is a Heart Wrenching Experience

Well, it has happened, through my negligent stupidity, my long time email account is corrupted and lost to me forever. Last Friday my account was hacked and hijacked. The password and security answers were changed within minutes, and scam/spam was hitting the in-boxes of my friends and relatives. I quickly received a phone call from a friend telling me I had been hacked. These scumbags who steal accounts and corrupt the Internet with spam and scams are certainly thorough in their practice of evil.

I contacted MSN immediately and tried to reclaim my account, but the MSN account retrieval site is useless. No, it is worthless! One must have a photographic memory to supply the information required by the site. Even so, I did give more than sufficient information, email addresses and subject headings to prove that I am the true owner of the account. Not once, but three frustrating times. In fact, I gave an email address and subject line that I had used less than an hour before I was hacked. I don't think the person or machine monitoring the reclamation site could identify an elephant in a police lineup of cats.

I asked, nay, begged them to shut down the account if they were not going to restore it to me, but it is still up and spamming and scamming all my friends. So if you receive a message saying I am in London, don't believe it. I am not there and never have been there. I don't have a cousin there who needs an operation. And while I could use 2700 dollars, don't send any money to the scammer because I will not reimburse you and neither will the scumbag scammer who is pretending to be me. Beware and be smart.

On Tuesday, MSN sent an email to my alternate email address with a survey about their account retrieval site. I am sure that they were looking for a bucket load of praise and satisfaction. They didn't get it from me. I told them exactly how angry and frustrated I am with their worthless site, without profanity or vulgarity, but in no uncertain terms. I also told them a couple of things they could do to actually help victims of these scumbags. They haven't responded. I assume they are ignoring me again as they did all weekend when I needed help.

Be aware and be safe. It can happen to anyone, and there is no help for you when it does.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Am Glad I Don't Have Turner Classic Movies!

A few years ago, I broke down and bought a basic cable package through Concast. I have no interest in all the other channels offered on the higher paid packages. In fact, there are a whole lot of channels on the basic cable that I don’t want and never watch. I have always wanted to have Turner Classic Movies channel, but I don’t want to pay a lot more money just to have that one channel. I would gladly trade all the basic channels I don’t want or use just to have TCM.

I spent most of the last week up at my family’s time share condo at Snowbird. My parents bought the time share thirty years ago, and for many years they drove up to Salt Lake City from California to spend the week at Snowbird. My wife and I would drive the children up the mountain two or three times during the week to spend time with grandma and grandpa and swim and hike. Now it is just my family that uses the time share if my brother or sister doesn’t make the trip from California.

Anyway, this year I had Tuesday night and Wednesday at the condo alone because everyone else in the family had to work. The condo has TCM, and like the fool that I am, I turned it on. Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), staring Claude Rains and Vivian Leigh had just started so I watched it. Then Dream Wife (1953) with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, a pleasant little comedy, came on. This was followed by the non-musical version of Kismet (1944) staring Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich. Since I like both of them, I stayed up to watch. (He and his voice were magnificent as the “king of beggars,” and she was silly, but beautiful, as the “queen of the vizier’s harem.” James Craig was totally miscast as the Sultan of Bagdad, but I do like him in The Human Comedy (1943), one of my all-time favorite movies with Mickey Rooney, Fay Bainter, and Frank Morgan.) Finally, after midnight, and blurry eyed, I turned off the television and dragged myself to bed.

Wednesday morning, after sleeping in till after eight o’clock, I again tempted fate and turned on the television. I came in just after the beginning of The Green Promise (1949) with Walter Brennan, Natalie Wood, and Marguerite Chapman. It was Natalie Wood’s birthday, so all the films on Wednesday morning had her in them. The next film was Our Very Own (1950) with Jane Wyatt, Ann Blyth, Farley Granger and Natalie, followed by No Sad Songs for Me (1950), a real tearjerker with one of my five favorite actresses, Margaret Sullavan, and Wendell Corey, Viveca Lindfors, and birthday girl, Natalie. The last film I watched was a real turkey as far as I am concerned: The Silver Chalice (1954). I have seen it before, so I didn’t watch every minute of this silly sword and sandal drama with hokey religious trappings. Natalie was a young slave girl near the beginning of the film who grows up to be Simon Magus’s (Jack Palance) girlfriend (Virginia Mayo). I think this was Paul Newman’s first big part as Basil the young sculpture. The sets of this dreadful mess were obviously sound stages with all straight lines, angles and black backgrounds looking more like modernistic stage sets than epic movie scenery. Natalie certainly wasn’t as good as a teenager in this film as she was as a child in the first three.

So, after wasting all Wednesday morning and the night before watching seven movies onTurner Classic Movie channel, I am glad I don’t have this channel on my basic cable package. If I did, I would be getting even less done by wasting my whole life watching television: BECAUSE I LOVE OLD MOVIES.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Previewing The Help

On Thursday the 14th of July, my wife, daughter, niece and I were able to see a preview showing of the film The Help, based on the best selling novel The Help. I was pleasantly surprised by the adaptation of the many storied novel. I do feel that substance of Mini's "horrible terrible" is revealed maybe a little too soon and made almost the focal point of the film and made to overshadow the more important issues of the story. (It has been a few months since I read the book, but I seem to recall that the full revelation of the "horrible terrible" had a more shocking impact even though many hints were placed along the way.) Of course, revealing it early does give the Hollywood types a chance to giggle and chortle over the multiple use of "four letter words."

Anyway, we all, having read the book, enjoyed the movie. It is a harsh glimpse into the harsh times of racial prejudice. I hope we have come a long way from these attitudes. The actresses did a superb job, and I hope there will be several award nominations in several categories for this film.

On Friday the 15th, my wife and I saw the last Harry Potter film. We both enjoyed it, and thought it was a fine finale to the series. I liked the vindication, somewhat, of poor ol' Snape, who I always thought had more to him than hating Harry. It has been a few years since I read the last book, and I can't remember how it was handled in the book. I will have to read the last book again; I read all the others a second time to prepare for the final volume. I was sad at the end, because it is the end, and there isn't any more.

Saturday evening I watch Great Performances on PBS. It was a movie version of Verdi's Rigoletto, staring Placido Domingo in the staring roll. It was a beautiful, high quality production, but it lacked something that a true opera experience must have: show-stopping thunderous applause, cheers, and bravos after solos, duets, and that fabulous quartet in the last act.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Ride with the Valkyries

Last Saturday my wife and I went to the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast of Die Walküre at our local multiplex theatre in West Jordan. I had been looking forward to this event all season. I am a big Wagner fan. I have even said that one must love opera to just like Wagner, and I love Wagner. Not his politics, prejudices and life style, but his glorious music. I once heard Jim Swejda on KUSC quote or make his own statement that Wagner used up all his goodness in his music and had nothing left for his "real" life. At lease that is what I remember him saying after these many years. We were at the theatre from 10:45 until about 4:30. There was a thirty minute delay at the beginning because they were having trouble with the set computer.

Anyway, my wife is not as great a fan of opera as I am, but she does go with me to the broadcasts from time to time. She was looking forward to this production as well I, but perhaps, not with the same degree of enthusiasm. We both thought the principle singers were stupendous, the acting well done, the emotional tension tremendous. And we quite enjoyed the set, or the "machine" as the cast and crew call it, especially how it was used in the Walkürenritt "ride of the Valkyries" and the magic fire at the end of the opera.

Deborah Voigt
 Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde) was quite attractive and delightful in her flowing red wig hefting her spear and shield. We saw her last  in La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) as a blond. Bryn Terfel (Wotan) was imposing and powerful. Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund) was electrifying. His voice and passion remind me of my favorite Siegmund, Lauritz Melchior, at least in the recording made in 1941 with Astrid Varnay as Sieglinde. I am looking forward to seeing him next year in Faust. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde) was lovely, and the passion and tension and acting between her and Kaufmann drove the first act to a wild and emotionally satisfying conclusion. I could watch and listen to the last half of the fist act over and over again.

One of my favorite parts of the HD broadcasts is the backstage interviews, and the live camera shots of the crew changing and preparing the sets for the next act. The Met crew is fantastic as they work against the intermission clock.

My wife wants to go to New York and see a production live just to say we have been there. I like the HD live broadcasts because it fills the theatre screen, you can see their faces close up, and you have fascinating entertainment during the intermissions. But still, it would be fun to see an opera live in the Met.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Artists' Books Show at University of Utah: "Booking a Brouhaha"

When the Artists' Books class ended, the final book project from each student and juried books from earlier assignments were arranged in an exhibition titled "Booking a Brouhaha." The show also displays the collection of "books" made by each student for an assemblage project and the collaborative mail art produced during the class. The exhibition will be in the Special Collections Gallery on the 4th floor of the J. Willard Marriott Library on the campus of the University of Utah. The exhibition will run through May during library hours. In June the collection will be transported to Jackson, Wyoming, for exhibition through the summer.

I was able to spend a little time helping to set up the show, and had the opportunity to arrange the display of my two books that are in the show. Here they are in the display cases.
Eighty Million Dead

RAMdom Memory
Here are some pictures of setting up the books for the displays and some of the finished display cases. There is a wonderful variety of work produced by the members of this Artists' Books class. A few of the students were art majors, but most of the members came from various back grounds. Most were young (20s) university students, but there were a few old timers in the mix. I was one of the oldest, if not the oldest participant. I had to really stretch my creative muscles this semester.

Mary Toscano, Exhibitions and Book Arts Coordinator, arranging a display for the case.

Mary by the display case we just finished.
 This is the book arts studio where Chris McAfee and Marnie Powers-Torrey, the Artists' Books instructors and talented, accomplished artists in their own right, and for   whom I have great admiration, are feverishly working to finish grading. On the tables in the studio are some of the books being arranged for the display cases. I can only remember a few of the artists' names, but those I do remember I will label.

This is Patti Pitts' work. She is a textile artist, who makes beautiful dyed silks. This is a bracelet of small silk bound books.

The following photos are the cases in the exhibit area which were finished before and while I was there to help.

The two photos above show the contents of the assemblage to which each student contributed one "book" item. Each student in the class made an edition of 35 so that all class members have one piece of the other student's work. The book I contributed is the cream-colored book lying in the middle. My favorite in this assemblage is Louise Levergneux's City Shields, photos of manhole covers, which is seen in the top photo, lower right corner. Her work is in several museum and university collections. I felt privileged to work with her in this class.

This book is striking when held and seen up close. It commemorates the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in April 2011. The book behind it and shown in the next two pictures is by Joe Carter, a fine artist with paintings in several local galleries. His realistic paintings are so precise that they can be mistaken for photographs.

This interesting accordion fold book is by Michael Hurst.

This is Louise Levergneux's final book, based on her name and all the songs that have the name "Louise" in the title or the lyrics. Each page is created like an old 45rpm record. The stack of "records" fits in the metal canister.

This is Patti Pitts' final creation containing several books within the larger book and telling a story of the discovery of silk.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Artists' Books, Part 7

This was the final project for the Artists' Books class. My original idea was to publish ten Coptic bound copies of twenty memoir pieces that I have written during the last seven years at a Jordan District Writing Memoir class.  I was planning to title it Random Memory, because the memoirs are not in chronological order. The instructors said it was a good project for a different class, but not for an artists' book class. It wasn't "avant garde" enough. So I had to start over on my idea.

I wanted to keep the memoir idea and the title, but I had to think of a new way to present it. I happened to see an article on Inca quipos, the long knotted strings that were used as memory aids to recall information. This reminded me of the "book mobile" that I made several years ago to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of mount Jordan Middle School. The two ideas combined in my mind as the form for my final book. Long strings of photo cards depicting random events in the last 63 years.
The 50th anniversary book mobile, 2005.
As I progressed, the idea of computer memory, RAM -random accessible memory, came into the picture. I found an old slide set box with two cassette tape containers and some nonfunctioning pieces of computer equipment, and the idea became solid. Our school computer tech gave me some obsolete RAM sticks and I was set to put everything together.

I made 150+ photo tags at random and of various sizes from my photo collection and tied them on the strings attached to the computer pieces. On the backs of some of the tags, I printed exerts of the memoirs I had planned to print. In each of the cassette cases I put a folded blue print: in one a diagram of a computer memory circuit, and in the other a scan of the human brain. I retitled the assemblage: RAMdom Memory.