Artist Spotlight focuses on interesting artists, upcoming exhibitions, and articles about art and those who love it or create it.

Discover new ways to stretch your imagination, be introduced to new artists, their exhibits, and books to read about them. Expect to excite your mind. Comments are very welcome! -- Rosemary Carstens

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Come Bearing Images . . . Art Books for 2009

Art books make wonderful holiday gifts for family and friends who are deeply interested in arts, crafts, artists, and design. These are large format books that can be dipped into time and again to delight the recipient with their stories and images. The images alone can prompt new creativity among those moved by color, fine craftsmanship, and imaginative works of art. Each issue of FEAST, the award-winning online magazine, suggests a few books in this genre. Here are our favorites for 2009:

Earthlings: The Paintings of Tom Palmore, Susan Hallsten McGarry, foreword by Adam Harris. University of Oklahoma Press 2008. Tom Palmore has taken the 1970s photorealist movement in new directions, to include not only detailed portrayals of the animal kingdom but a wonderful, humorous spin on the critters’ inner lives and vanities. No one who views his gorillas, foxes, cougars, or chickens, among many others, can fail to appreciate his ability to render each perfectly right down to their last hairy toe nail; you almost expect them to jump from the canvas. But Palmore has a feeling for what he calls these “earthlings with whom we share this planet.” Each portrait incorporates incongruous juxtapositions of the real and unreal, of drawing-room settings or unlikely, whimsical companions—such as the fox with the chicken wallpaper behind him. This is art all can appreciate, for its technical virtuosity as well as its imaginings of animal’s personalities.

A Museum of Their Own: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay. Abbeville Press 2008. With text contributions by Philip Kopper. Wilhelmina Holladay is the founder of this very special and unique Washington DC museum. This book is, in effect, a memoir of its conception, organization, incredible cast of contributors and supporters, and the Herculean effort required to make the museum a reality. But don’t think it is just a dry relating of dates, dollars, and donations—Ms. Holladay tells this story with humor and humility and shares delightful tales behind the museum’s development and its major acquisitions. She introduces us to some of the world’s most talented painters (who happen to be women) that have gone mostly unrecognized through the ages. No art history or art education can be considered complete without their inclusion and once you read this book and pour over its images you will be astounded and eager to visit the museum on your next trip to DC! Much more can be viewed at the museum’s website: http://www.nmwa.org

Geoffrey Holder: A Life in Theater, Dance, and Art, Jennifer Dunning. Harry N. Abrams 2001. A glorious book about the amazing creative life of Geoffrey Holder, a man who lives fully, richly, and focuses on cultural pursuits in a way that is quite unusual today. As he says about his growing up years in Trinidad, “If you played under this tree as I did as a child, you too would believe in fairytales.” Holder is a larger-than-life figure in every way. His whole philosophy is that “you should do everything” regardless of age. Born in 1930 on the cusp of one of America’s most creative moments yet one of its most economically deprived times, Geoffrey grew up “dancing, singing, painting, and designing clothes . . . danced his way out of Trinidad and on to New York City.” A tall black man with a magnificent body and ready, joyful smile, Holder’s style in everything he does is audacious and colorful, from his dancing to his design and choreography for such productions as The Wiz, to his dynamic, masterful portraits and imaginative art works. This book inspires us all to grab life, hold on tight, but let your feet fly out behind you as the ride begins! http://www.abramsbooks.com/

Face of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits from the American West, 1845–1924, Frank H. Goodyear III, with an essay by Richard White (University of Oklahoma Press 2009). The often dramatically imagined “Old West” as seen through more than 120 photographic portraits. Face of the Frontier surveys the complicated character of the variety of people who helped transform this US region between the end of the Mexican War and the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act. Images are drawn primarily from the National Portrait Gallery collection and are accompanied by an introduction and two essays that provide historical context and interpretation. This book would be a great choice for anyone who loves the West and its history, anyone who has long imagined these people who are symbolic of a time and lifestyle long past.

John Nieto: Forces of Color & Spirit, Susan Hallsten McGarry (Fresco Fine Art Publishers 2009). One of the most original painters of his time, John Nieto is recognized worldwide for his bold, iconic representations of his Native American heritage. At last there is a book that does his work justice. More than 180 color plates present a cross-section of this prolific artist’s work and depict people and animals in a joyous mélange of vibrant color. Whether you select this book for someone already familiar with Nieto’s style or for someone who will be discovering it for the first time, they will be dazzled by his vigorous color work, his energetic flurries of masterful brushwork, and the glimpse into an, original, imaginative mind. Trade, deluxe, and collector’s edition with an original painting are available. http://www.frescobooks.com

Celebrate the holidays with books!

--Rosemary Carstens
Editor, FEAST

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