"GRADUATION DAY EXHIBIT"
In this picture –
Watch the window
PRESENTING AMANDA EICHER
This quarter, The Electric Review is pleased to feature the
art work of San Francisco’s Amanda Eicher.
I am an artist making devotional landscapes. In a world that often
seems (in ways designed or coincidental) to provide obstacles to the growth of
people, countries, and whole cultures, this landscape work offers new open
space, a signal.
Moreover, I do not work in symbolism: rather the references in
this work are here to pull strings, to evince connections and what underlies
them rather than to dictate meaning. These pieces are not here to be read in a
linear way; instead, they offer space, a shelter, home for a night.
As I progress through my studio work, I try to translate these
efforts into hands-on interactions with communities, developing collaborative
projects that also provide space for growth. In Colima, El Salvador; Yaounde,
Cameroon; San Francisco; and Philadelphia I have worked collaboratively with
communities interested in using creative thinking to surpass obstacles to growth
in the process of reconstructing after trauma. ~Amanda Eicher
INTRODUCING AMANDA EICHER
"- & was (re) born there:
The weightless weight
& blood -"
Are the ice
Recovers the sea
Is the teeth
Minus the words
In infinite scope
Vision of artist
pure new perfect
& then reborn
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JIM MARSHALL. Omnibus Press.
By John Aiello
Jim Marshall is a rock-and-roll legend, a photographer of immense grace and
verve who is known for capturing his subjects in the pristine
state of being
– there before the eye of the camera now frozen in mid-bloom.
And the reason that Marshall is able to capture these one-of-a-kind shots is
memorialized in the very title of this collection –
Quite simply, the personalities who have been recorded on paper and film by
Marshall trust the photographer enough to appear without masks – bare skin in
its cold natural state.
we are allowed to view a vast swatch of Marshall's color archive, the pictures
presented for the first time in book form. At once, readers are greeted with the
best elements of Marshall's unique vision – this style that records
in a single simultaneous flash.
Obviously, its this genius that
gained Marshall unlimited access to some of the century's biggest names in music
(such as Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The
Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and The Who).
Perhaps no other picture best typifies Marshall's vision than a shot of Bob
Dylan from 1963. In this photograph, a very young Dylan is seen kicking a tire
down some grimy paper-coated New York City street: The poet caught in
mid-stride, caught in mid-memory, drenched in lines of thought, blooming in
front of us like the bells of a poem; and the poet there – existing
only for the sake of himself.
Or catch the snap of Johnny Cash at
San Quentin Prison in 1969. Here, the sultan of the country-blues is seen
flipping the bird at the idea of prisons, his face suddenly gnarled in rage, his
eyes frothing cold savage anger – this raging 'fuck-you sign' to the universe at
Also note the shots of Hendrix,
Mick Jagger, Peter, Paul & Mary, Kris Kristofferson and of Dylan sitting beside
Cash – each picture come alive, vibrating with meaning, vibrating the sacred
depth of dimension.
As we review the scope of
Marshall's career, his resume speaks for itself: House photographer at
Woodstock; tour photog during the grand Rolling Stones tour in 1972; at the
center of the Newport Folk Festival (1963) and Memphis Blues Festival (1969);
and there along-side Cash as he thrilled the hard-timers at Folsom Prison in a
venue that tested both the music and the men who were making it.
However, more than the list of faces that Marshall has photographed, it's the
way that he took the pictures that stands out: As we thumb through this rich and
vibrant summary of a life, we are slapped awake by the fact that Jim Marshall
was not about posing figures and creating
Instead, like all great artists, Marshall allowed life to unfold into its own
perfect road, allowing the sweet essence of beauty to release from the motion of
the process, allowing each face to emerge – part and parcel of its own sacred
And as we thumb through this
collection of snaps from rock's one true great photographer, we come to realize
that Jim Marshall is as much a part of the musical landscape of the last 50
years as Jagger's nasty strut and Dylan's wounded half-bleat:
Like the Beatles “Sargent Pepper” and Jimi Hendrix's still-smoking guitar,
belongs right there in the
Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame –
forever a part of our
Who is Jim Marshall? In music
circles, he's someone good enough to be known only as “the rock-and-roll
Marshall began his career in the
late 1950s, gravitating toward the music world because “it was exciting and you
could get into clubs for free.” However, it only took a few snaps for Marshall's
unique and limitless talent to gain world-wide notice.
At once, Marshall's work commanded
long attention, as he came to capture so many of the great artists of our time
in their bright natural state – unposed, unhurried, unassuming. Suddenly, these
stars were just people like you and me: Living out the moment before the great
eye of the lens.
Leaf through Marshall's latest
collection of pictures, “Trust,” and you're punched in the face by just how many
classics this man has shot: This compendium of photos spans five decades and
myriad genres (folk, rock, blues, jazz) – with pictures from everybody from
Dylan to Zappa.
And later, when you put the book down to recover from this beautiful assault on
the senses, you have to ask –
how does he do it?
How does he manage to capture the essence of skin on paper and film?
Marshall himself doesn't offer any answer. Yet, while sitting in his San
Francisco apartment (as the framed faces of so many of his subjects peek down at
their creator from the shelter of their frames), I note that Jim Marshall's true
genius comes by way of his
This man is confident enough to let the shots come to him – there in the
unobtrusive background, watching life unfold into this invisible roll of color.
And what you see in the pictures?
Well, that's entirely up to the viewer. In the end, that's a mission for each
individual naked new eye to suckle and savor.
Can you tell me
a bit about your background?
I was born in Chicago, but I've
lived in San Francisco since I was a year old. Actually, I've lived in this
apartment for the last 27 years and have been photographing professionally for
the last 50 years.
How did your
sold my fist picture to
City Lights Books.
It was the cover for a book of poems by Lord Buckley and I was paid 15 bucks for
it. Shortly after that, I sold a picture to
– a picture of Bev Kelly for a live album. I was paid $25 dollars for that one.
Those were the first...
And your first
In '60 or '61 I shot Junior Cook and Blue Mitchell for Riverside Records. That
was a big one. Also, in 1961, I photographed Lenny Bruce at the
in North Beach [San Francisco]. That was the first roll of color film I ever
commissioned to shoot at the Newport Folk Festivals?
No! I was just there hanging out
there – in '63 and '64 I think. I was just there, taking it all in.
How did you come
to shoot those amazing shots of Bob Dylan that, in many ways, have become your
first photographed Dylan in 1963. It came about as an assignment for the
Saturday Evening Post.
That's how I first met him, and we became friendly to a degree. As a result, I
was able to get some very natural pictures of him.
In those shots,
Dylan, for the most part, looks very relaxed.
Yes, that's true. I think that was
before the pressure of stardom really fell on him.
You also took
some shots of Dylan with Suze Rotolo which are truly magnificent – to me, they
stand as the consummate pictures of young love; with those
pictures, you captured a sparkle in Dylan and Rotolo that is truly alive. How
did you record them in this naked state?
It wasn't that big a deal at the time – it was a Sunday morning and we were all
going to breakfast in New York (me, Dylan, Suze, Dave Van Ronk and Terri Van
Ronk). As I recall, only two frames were shot. It was all a very comfortable
then interjects)...I only shot
Dylan a couple other times. At
and then later, in 1965, at
in San Francisco...that was after he started his first big electric tour with
At that time, I took some pictures in the rear of
of Dylan with Robbie
Robertson and Michael McClure and Allen Ginsberg...
Tell me, what
shoots stand out?
Well, I've shot over two-hundred
thousand rolls of film. And on roll number 40 I shot Dinah Washington. That was
in 1959 at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. That I remember well.
Why does that
shoot stand out 50 years later?
Man, look who
That was Dinah Washington. One of the all-time greats.
Going back half
a century, what other frames do you deem remarkable?
I'm very proud of this book – it
contains many important pictures of mine. I guess, looking back, Johnny Cash was
one of the most important artists I ever photographed. He was a great artist.
And a wonderful man. You know, June saved his life. The day she died, he died.
Her death took took the life right out of him.
Why Cash? What
was so compelling about him and his work?
Johnny had that
about him. There was a hint of danger to him. He was just a magnificent
presence. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there. He was second to
none in the world.
How'd Cash's famous fuck
you picture happen?
That was at San Quentin at
sound check. I said: “John, let's do a shot for the warden.” And he flipped the
bird at the camera! (laughing)
Or maybe throwing it at me!
In “Trust,” the
Miles Davis snaps stand tall. How did you come to shoot the ones in the boxing
Those were shot at Newman's Gym in
San Francisco. It was on Leavenworth Street; it doesn't exist now but it was the
sister gym to New York's Stillman's Gym. Miles used to work out and he was a
hell-of-a-good boxer. Quick hands. He'd tell his sparring partners: “Don't hit
me in the mouth, I have to play tonight...”
I think what stands out about your work is
the palpable realism that washes each of these faces. You manage to catch these
artists not as celebrities, but as people.
What is your technique?
I don't have a technique.
I want someone to look at a picture and say, “what a great picture of Coltrane
or Dylan or Jagger.” Not “what a great picture
by Jim Marshall.”
I want to show the
best parts of the person
that I can.
This book is called Trust.
And that's quite a ballsy title. Why that word to describe this collection?
Over the last 50 years, people have
given me their trust – with no restrictions and no limits. And I will not
violate that trust. In 50 years, I've never had a lawyer or artist or agent or
manager call to complain about any picture I took. And that's not a bad record.
Not a bad record at all....
For more on Jim Marshall, see his
Or see this feature in
To order go to
THE OTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN
MOMENTS: BOB DYLAN BY BARRY FEINSTEIN. Omnibus Press.
By John Aiello
Barry Feinstein is regarded as one of rock-and-roll’s visionary photographers.
And he’s come to this place in the pantheon because his pictures serve not to
embellish their subjects, but instead, to investigate the inner-workings of
their souls – teaching us valuable insights about ourselves in the process.
In sum, Feinstein looks to eschew ‘technique’ in favor of spontaneity – above
all else, his work intends to memorialize a scene in icy frames
as it is happening.
One fleeting glance at the amazing pictures of Bob Dylan collected here and you
will see that Dylan obviously trusted Feinstein enough to allow him entrée into
his world, allowing the photographer to memorialize him on two of rock-and
roll’s signature tours.
“With these pictures, I set out to create a visual image that people would have
no other way of seeing,” says Feinstein. “In essence, I was out to catch the
soul of Dylan and put it in front of people. Basically, I am giving the audience
a way of seeing the artist in such a way they’ve never seen before. And really,
I think I accomplished that here beyond any doubt.”
Make no mistake, in the annals of rock history, Dylan’s 1966 world tour (and his
subsequent 1974 comeback tour following an 8-year hiatus from live performances)
are the two most energized concert runs ever to take place: With Dylan chanting
his poems in the midst of the frenzied guitar-driven stomp provided by The Band.
“The music Dylan was making was sensational,” recalls Feinstein. “It was simply
incredible. Back in 1966, there was some fleeting anger when he started playing
the electric stuff, but he was able to quickly overcome that as the audience was
swept up in the passion of the moment.”
More than anything, Real Moments
builds a record of Dylan’s private and public faces – this poet who’d been
thrust into the neon lights, his every move charted by fans and media. Yet,
behind the scenes, stood a different Dylan – captured here in ever-so-intimate
terms by photographer Barry Feinstein, his work resonating with clarity and
honesty and purpose (showing us ‘the other side’ of Bob Dylan that exists just
beyond the hollow lips of the skin).
Focusing now on one of Feinstein’s shots of Dylan circa 1966, we actually are
allowed to peer into the thirsty ghosts of bone as they reinvent Dylan’s face in
the split-hooved flash of the moment (tasting each freight train of music as it
roars through the muddy wilderness of the poet’s blood).
As noted, this book recounts Dylan’s two mega-tours in pictures, and hard-core
fans will passionately devour every shade of every picture; the highlights
indeed seem endless:
Note the shot of Dylan with the flower lady (page 90) – the poet’s eyes
inquisitive and piercing, cutting to the naked heart of her story. In addition,
a snap of Dylan’s hands holding a cigarette (the
invisible outlaw Of Rock and Roll at pages 106 and 107) is absolutely
mystical as we dissolve into the marriage of one artist recording the depth of
another. And a picture taken in Dublin in 1966 (page 122) shows Dylan on the
telephone, smoking, a coffee cup and a Coca-Cola bottle on the table flanked by
a shaving razor (the musician heavy-eyed and exhausted, showing the wear of too
many days on the same road). Finally, sip long from a Feinstein shot taken in LA
in 1974 (page 150): With Dylan frozen on his back on the floor, eyes closed,
mediating before the music starts.
Many fans will check out Real Moments
and likely wonder just how-in-the-hell Feinstein got such access to Dylan. Yet,
that question answers itself: Feinstein was asked to chronicle Dylan’s road
because his work is very much the same as its subject – striking through the
nerve of the core, documenting the moment in blood
as it occurs (this man on a mission
to illuminate the world that exists just beyond these transparent labyrinths of
All in all, Real Moments marks the
finest collection of photographs from Bob Dylan’s most vital periods, these days
and nights when he seemingly took over the world with his visionary songs now so
perfectly encased in kinetic storms of guitar & organ & drum. It was a time
that, thanks to Barry Feinstein, history will never forget.
(With an insightful foreword by Dylan
compatriot Bobby Neuwirth, who fills in the hollow blank spaces left by
Feinstein’s final camera flash).
TOURS 1966-1974: THOUGH THE CAMERA OF BARRY FEINSTEIN.
MVD Video. This video captures images
from two of the classic tours of rock, bringing the eye of the official tour
photographer brimming into bloody life. Feinstein’s pictures, a stunning array
of snaps that capture Dylan in the holy midst of creation, are augmented by an
in depth interview with the photographer himself – Feinstein’s sense of purpose
and humor escorting the viewer through rock’s golden period.
Set in concert with Real Moments,
this film allows us to gain some valuable insight into an artist who has evaded
labels and categorization for almost 50 years.
To order go to
PICTURES OF AN AMERICAN SONGWRITER
FOREVER YOUNG. Douglas Gilbert. Text by Dave Marsh. De Capo Press.
By John Aiello
The young Bob Dylan built a mystical sound and cut a captivating pose -
-a singer searching for truth who could paralyze motion with a single look with
a single flash of his eyes.
In this collection of photographs (just released in paperback) Gilbert
is on assignment for Look Magazine, shooting a series of photographs of
an American songwriter who was taking the world by storm.
At the time, Dylan was a spry 23 years-old, at work on his transitional
album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. It was a magic period - supple with
hope and energy, awash in the poetry of motion and silence; and it was a magic
period: Each hour drunk on echoes as lonesome troubadours shuffled road-to-road
across the stagnate crucifixes of darkness.
In Forever Young, Gilbert’s pictures were taken over a short two
week period, and they capture Dylan in his raw, pure, unmasked form. One of the
most stunning series of snaps include photographs of Dylan at the typewriter,
flanked by cigarette and ashtray, suede jacket soft against the naked white
walls of the background - the poet alone writing the liner notes to Another
Side. These pictures show a pensive and thoughtful Dylan, separated from the
prying eyes of the audience, compelled by a vision within -- a man beyond the
essence of blood and skin now trying to express the sounds of the silence in
In addition, the photographs of Dylan with Allen Ginsberg are vital,
depicting Dylan's place within the history of the modern poetry movement. More
than anything, Dylan bloomed in the frame and shadow of the Beat Generation,
giving it a voice and a presence and a persona that simply could not be
dismissed. Gilbert's pictures of Dylan and Ginsberg show a common-bond and
burgeoning brotherhood -- these poets now reborn as one and driven by the same
deep sense of spirit.
The text of Forever Young is written by seminal rock journalist
Dave Marsh, and his perspective serves to synthesize the history of 1960s'
popular music in the elegant and lilting prose for which he became famous.
Simply, this book is an absolute must for all fans of Dylan and also
for casual students of the folk idiom. As Gilbert shows us, the face of Bob
Dylan circa 1964 forever changed the way America’s songs would be written and
To order go to
OUT OF TIME. Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969. Dan Nadel. Abrams.
By John Aiello
I founded The Electric Review in order to write about books like
this, to shine a worthy light on visionary artists who somehow were lost in the
unforgiving shuffle of commerciality, who somehow were denied the opportunity to
shape their medium.
Here, Dan Nadel (who directs the Grammy-Award winning culture
studio/publishing house PictureBox) has created an anthology which pays
homage to the great voices of comics-past, these men whose strips were never
quite able to intersect the roads of the mainstream. Above all else, this book
shows that those artists whose work found its way onto the landscape of popular
culture were, in many instances, not the most talented folks around; instead,
they were only the ones who made it.
Art Out Of Time is divided into five primary
sections (“Exercises In Exploration;” “Slapstick;” “Acts Of Drawing;” “Words In
Pictures;” “Form and Style”), and it serves as another stunning addition to
Abrams’ vast catalog of titles that have come to alter the way the world
witnesses both art and the artist.
In this particular work, Nadel sets out to show that what we know may
not be whole story (insofar as American comics are concerned). For instance, in
the “Slapstick” section, the work of Milt Gross is spotlighted, and we can see
everything from the “Dick Van Dyke Show” to “Three’s Company” in these panels.
Even a cursory glance shows Gross’ work to be subtle and deep, demonstrating a
refined command (genius) that was obviously years ahead of its time. In
addition, “Words In Pictures” showcases Harry Hershfield and Boody Rogers --
illustrators whose pieces are piercing dark and searching, promoting the reader
to hunt the hidden meaning of the message.
Nadel should be commended for writing this book and saluting the lost
visionaries of the comic-art-scene who far too few people know about. Moreover,
Abrams should also receive sincere thanks for having the guts to publish
this material, for it truly serves the mission of the commercial publisher - a
mission to educate the masses and document history and influence myriad forms of
In Art Out Of Time readers will be greeted with a vast electric
sampling of heretofore unknown cartoonists whose work is at once riveting and
inviting. Like some tattered underground lit anthology that contains four
or five of Kenneth Patchen’s unknown picture poems, this book is about the magic
and mysticism of discovery. In the end, it’s only about cracking the pages and
enjoying the ride.
To order go to
amazon.com, or go to
IN THE MIRROR. 1945-2004. Photographs by Richard Avedon. Essay by Anne
By John Aiello
Richard Avedon’s sudden death on October 1, 2004 robbed the world of one of
its pioneering photographers, for Avedon was known as a voice of broad ability,
an artist who came to capture the vibrant undertones of the world though which
Woman In The Mirror is an amazing addendum to Avedon’s career - a tour de
force of visual imagery recorded in the full color lines of life itself. As a
photographer, Richard Avedon was able to deftly catch his subjects in their
natural state, in turn, recreating paths of reality through the sacred eye of
his camera. Accordingly, Avedon’s images are both stark and supple, boisterous
and reserved, absolute and vague -- lost in layers, infinite in dimension.
Writes Art historian Anne Hollander in her brilliantly conceived summary of
this master’s work:
"From cool Dorian Leigh appreciating her frontal image in a bathroom
mirror, to warm Lorraine Hunt Lieberson feeling her rich Botticelli hair come to
life through his lens, Richard Avedon repeatedly showed that whenever he took
the picture, the woman and the performer were one and the same; and that each
was really Venus, in one of her infinite disguises."
The pictures collected in this volume never fail to strike the heart of the
viewer. As Hollander infers, Avedon works in realms of shadow and shade, his
subjects washed in blank color -- these pictures about people and community
suddenly melding together to create this great twisting dance of life.
As the title professes, this book is about Women -- a stunning
statement to their nuance and endurance and vibrancy. Obviously, Avedon was
enthralled by women and he shared this admiration via his art. As a result,
these pictures throb and ache with sensuality, their understated elegance
documenting the photographer’s obsession with the secret eroticism of human
If Avedon’s mission was to write a record of beauty in all her various
shapes and sizes -- then this book testifies to his triumph. Flip open Woman
In The Mirror to a random page and you will be captivated.
For example, the picture of Twiggy -- hair splayed across the quiet landscape
of the pages-- is sexy and ethereal, the image splashing over the eye like long
dollops of blood. The photo of singer Janis Joplin captures both her weariness
and splendor in one magnificent instant. The image of writer Isak Dinesen circa
1958 immerses us in the naked mysticism of her eyes as they pierce invisible
skin and cut us at the heart-core of the soul.
In each of Avedon’s photographs there is both wistful purity and deep
eroticism -- the sensual symmetry of these pictures will immediately engage the
eye as it moves down the razor-points of the edge, forever marking us in the
electric magic of the unwritten moment. Writes Hollander:
"We can see the mirror as the hungry eye of art, waiting for the woman to
enter the frame and complete herself as a picture. Any picture of a woman is an
extension of her mirror, with the artist’s eye going further than hers,
expanding the creation the woman begins when she sees her own image."
What more can the reviewer hope to add to Ms. Hollander’s eloquent
observation? It’s all about the frail lines of Avedon’s pictures. It’s all about
the way the truth of their symmetry captivates and inspires the stationary
motion of the eye. It’s all about standing here in the moment, allowing woman
to remove her many sensual masks and reveal the perfect being at the core of the
This volume is highly recommended to libraries at both the college level and
private sector, capturing the beauty and depth of women. This selection would
make a wonderful Christmas gift for aficionados of the medium and, specifcally,
for fans of Avedon who died in his place as one of the greatest photographers of
ALSO RECOMMENDED BY RICHARD AVEDON
IN THE AMERICAN
WEST. Photographs 1979-1984. (Book release to accompany the 20th anniversary
national traveling exhibition of the original show). Richard Avedon. Abrams.
These photos bear witness to the faces that make up the landscapes of this
American West. Readers will find the key to this collection in its understated
elegance: like stills of some Peckinpah western shot in the modern era, the
barren eyes and supple topography of skin splitting into shadow will bludgeon
and stun, at once calling us back to memories of our own roots, at once
revisiting thoughts of the personal journeys that brought us here.
This volume is recommended to both college-level and public libraries.
College-level photography instructors might want to further consider American
West as a supporting class text because of the way Avedon uses portraiture
to create a moving body of work that also records the generational history of a
place. ~John Aiello
To order go to
amazon.com, or go to
I SEE IT. John Loengard. Vendome.
By John Aiello
For generations of Americans, Life Magazine captured the many untold
stories of their country. In words and pictures, Life dissected the
layers of our communities and expanded our collective consciousness.
Yet, those stories only told half the tale. In addition to the articles that
we devoured, it was the stunning pictures that actually summoned the characters
to life and whittled at the faces until they swelled with sweet and supple
In this collection, we hold some of John Loengard’s most revered work. As a
photo-journalist for Life, Loengard was one of the most influential
‘eyes’ behind the camera that his craft ever knew. Moreover, his work was not
only special for what is presented, it was also important for those soft and
undefined spaces it left bare -- the artist allowing the smooth and shadowy gray
of a wall or stairwell to be the text of the picture, confident enough to let
the metallic sheen of the background make the movie.
"I think of John Loengard, however, as a perceiver of inner realities,"
writes University of Virginia Literature Professor Ann Beattie in her eloquent
introduction. "[A]nd that is, again, why I think of him working as a novelist
You see, more than a photographer, Loengard is a master of the senses,
struck only by the scenes that rattle the brittle human nerves of the mind. To
this end, Loengard’s images are never born in contrived poses. Instead, he lets
people and things unfold into being naturally, as the camera stands in the shade
of the passing hour and records the moment. Like skin cloaking bone, the process
is sweet and natural -- unforced and pure, a perfect unadorned extension of the
breaths we breathe.
Unforced and pure. A perfect crystalline new and undistorted world. And
"When I look at his photographs, my silent reaction is, ‘Really?’ Not that
there is anything there to make me doubt them; there’s nothing phonied-up or
self consciously artsy. Quite the opposite: Really, you’re telling me these
people , inhabiting the same world I do, have been stopped in time without
giving the impression that time has been stopped long enough to make a
definitive, nondefinitive photograph? They resonate instead."
This book represents some of the most memorable pictures to ever grace the
pages of Life -- a graceful and moving account of a People and its
country as they slowly turn together toward the next century. Accordingly, every
image is a veritable print meant for center-stage on the high tongue of your
living room wall; my guess is that different readers will likely be struck by
The pressed pleats of cadets moving toward a distant line, fists in bent
clench, somehow come to reproduce the anguish of the soldier leaving home for
some war-torn landscape in some unnamed land (page 71). The Reverend
Jesse Jackson, alone and contemplating the path that took him on this search for
Christ as our eyes dissolve into the wooden cross that hangs from the long bones
of his neck (page 94). The Beatles in the pool, circa 1964, a quiet and
happy swim, a moment away from the crowds that eventually consumed the joy of
the music-makers (page 127). Princess Vera in her cottage, one closed
eye peering through the walls at the next stage of the next world in a
completely new life (page 126).
In these photographs, we find secrets about ourselves: the threads that bind
a nation to its People and bind closed their beautiful gnawing cold horrific
wounds. And our wounds actually lay naked in these pages of pictures -- a pool
of disparate images flowing together to reveal old holy mysteries of faith and
hope and pain. And in these photographs, the mirror of America is split wide
open, its mouth agape, its soul uncovered by so many soft black-white
Finally, in these photographs, a thousand separate worlds come together
simultaneously to draw the same breath. To quote Ms. Beattie again -- the images
"resonate." And resonate again with the human flavor of our blood.
To order go to
amazon.com, or go to
NO QUACK: A BOOK OF DOCTOR CARTOONS. Danny Shanahan. Abrams Books.
By John Aiello
This engaging new release by Abrams greets the changing seasons with humor
and good cheer -- poking fun at one of the more easier ‘targets’ we have at our
Here, New York cartoonist Danny Shanahan (whose work is widely known having
appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, Time and Esquire) uses the
medical profession as the subject for this brand new book of sketches. And from
page one he hooks us -- like reading through the Sunday funnies, I’m No Quack
offers a few delicious moments away from life’s trials and troubles so we can
enjoy a hearty belly laugh.
There are 120 panels here, and each bears Shanahan’s tell-tale style -- the
lines of his characters born in the rumpled ruins of reality jump to immediate
life in our minds. And as this happens, we come to readily identify with their
plight. How many men, in for their annual prostate exam, haven't experienced the
fear and trepidation that Shanahan captures in his piece depicting a nutcracker
in the role of urologist?: "Turn your head and scream."
It’s material like this that makes No Quack note-worthy: by tying
together our every-day fears and realities to the world of medicine (who doesn’t
loathe those outlandish prices and big-doctor egos?), we’re able to drink down a
laugh at ourselves in the process. And that, then, is the purpose behind any
artistic work: to command the frail face of the audience into the delicate webs
of its construction.
As every writer will tell you, humor is one of the most difficult things to
pull off on the page: there are just too many variables that can steal the power
of a joke and render it forced and contrived. Cartoonists not only have this
problem to do battle with, but must also fight the tendency to draw too ‘big’ in
an effort to corral the reader and not let go.
However, Shanahan -- a widely respected artist throughout the world -- has
avoided these pitfalls by keeping things contained and simple, one quick swipe
of the pen cutting to the core of our world and reducing it to a chuckle and a
Take a second look at the panel which shows a doctor with the whole of New
York City on his examination table: "I’m going to prescribe something to help
you sleep," Shanahan writes here, recording the neurosis of a country in the
dark humor of a single line.
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A Century of Living by The Sea. Julius Shulman. Juergen Nogal. Text by Richard
By John Aiello
For several decades, Malibu, California simply was the place to live.
This sea-side community drew throngs of celebrities (Bob Dylan even took up
residence there in the mid-seventies when he moved to California) -- a idyllic
and picturesque Garden of Eden on earth.
This pictorial compilation recently released by Abrams captures the allure of
Malibu in majestic terms. Julius Shulman is regarded as one of the premiere
architectural photographers to ever take a snap, and these pictures evidence
exactly why: the suppleness of these marvels of modern-day construction shines
through every page, bringing to life a world many of us have never seen before.
The other photographer featured here -- Juergen Nogal -- is no slouch either:
his work is widely known in artistic circles for its subtle grandeur, and this
style plays off the grand shine of Shulman nicely. In short, the two together
build a feast of color and texture for the eye to behold.
Meanwhile, the introductory notes have been written by Hollywood journalist
David Wallace, who has corralled this rarefied LA world in perfectly-framed
"Malibu, California, is one of the most ballyhooed places in the world,
famous from Arizona to Zanzibar as a fantasyland inhabited by the glamorous, the
privileged, and the lucky. It has been described as a ‘state of mind,’
‘a celebrity ghetto,’ ‘away of life,’ and ‘almost the
last ocean frontier.’ It’s name has been used to sell everything from
cars to booze to barbie dolls..."
Malibu is divided into 9 sections, and is formatted by decade. Each
chapter (decade) features some of the most stunning homes to be built in that
period. Centerpieces can be said to grace each and every page, but of particular
interest are the shots of the "Windcliff" domicile (page 134) and the
Streisand Deco House (at page 172). These pictures speak to the true core of
this book: the depth and incisiveness achieved by the photographers is of the
For a book of pictures to be deemed worthy of taking up residence in a
personal library the images must be vivid and stark and skeletal with dimension
- all at the same time. Further, the images must capture the interest and
the sensibility of the viewer and propel him to want to investigate a subject in
deeper terms. And that’s just why we are featuring this work. To reiterate, it
creates a feast for the eye which will not be forgotten.
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REMEMBERED, THE RIVER BENEATH THE LAKE. Photographs and Text by Linda
Butler. Stanford University Press.
Reviewed by Frank Aiello
In 1956, an aging Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward by taking
a swim in all of China’s great rivers, including the Yangtze. As part of this
"Great Leap" into modern industrialization, Mao proposed to harness the energy
of the Yangtze, the "dragon’s tail" of China’s rivers, long-noted as an
unpredictable force of natural energy.
In 1992, a decade and a half after Mao’s death, the Chinese government, over
the opposition of the international community, began the development of the
Three Gorges Dam. When this development concludes in 2009, a wall of concrete
607 feet tall and 145 miles long will extend across the Yangtze, destroying all
or parts of thirteen cities, 140 towns and 1,351 villages, in turn forcing the
relocation of more than 1.3 million people:
"On June 1, 2003, the reservoir that will forever change life along the
shores of the Yangtze began to form. During the twelve days that followed,
people on shore watched as landmarks disappeared. The rock formations and rapids
made famous by poets and painters sank beneath the water, never to be seen
again. The water lapped over the rubble that once nurtured the cultural life of
its inhabitants. Hundreds of thousands of tangerine, plum and apricot trees were
now but stumps in the ground, slowly drowning. The textures of history — the
tracker’s paths, the perfectly aligned limestone blocks that made up the walls
and towns — were enveloped by the waters of the lake."
Linda Butler’s superb photography and exquisite prose chronicle the
displacement of the natural wonders of the Yangtze in the name of inexorable
progress. Some of her photographs are reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ photographs of
Canon De Chelley in 1941 and 1942, while Butler’s depiction of the gaunt faces
of the displaced and dispossessed sometimes evoke comparisons with the Civil War
photography of Alexander Gardner and Timothy Sullivan.
Butler’s photographs will also be exhibited in select (and unfortunately, too
few) museums. Hopefully the reception of this text will provide the incentive to
expand that exhibition schedule and allow a broader audience the opportunity to
view these visual masterpieces.
Recommended to all libraries in both the college and public sectors as a
general reference text.
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© Frank Aiello. 2005. All rights reserved.
Frank Aiello and The Electric Review.
Frank Aiello is an attorney who has practiced law in
California since the 1970s, including criminal defense, civil and probate work.
He holds a History degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a
Law degree from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco; he
has also studied Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science extensively.
Reach him via
The Electric Review.
OF FANTASIES. Jean-Louis Gaillemin. Abrams. Salvador Dali, who died in
1988, was an artist born in the idea of diversity, and his great body of
work is a living testament to this: ground-breaking pieces in different mediums
include stunning paintings, drawings, book illustrations and cinema sets (to
cite but a few examples). More than anything, Dali’s work was steeped in the
invisible heat of dreams, and he purged the wealth of his subconscious daily in
an effort to draw the sweet milk of the muse from the holy muscle of his being.
Sometimes, Dali’s images were dark and stricken with a secret
horror; and at other times, they were angelic and softly translucent (torn by
the sudden contradictions of this life). Dali, in the midst of the great bridge,
routinely pitted good versus the impulse of evil, pitting the dark of night
against the silky evening walls of the light - his work becoming what the mystic
poet William Blake once referred to as "the marriage of heaven and hell."
Heaven and hell was indeed Salvador Dali’s territory -- that hidden place
between reality and coma smoke, that house where the painter Hieronymous Bosch
once dwelled, chasing ghosts through the thirsty mirrors of moonlight. Make no
mistake: this is Spielberg’s world of celluloid fantasy reduced to its primitive
form on canvass -- the images whipping us with an undeniable realization:
without the roads that Dali had suffered to build, many of the science fiction
films and cartoons that have come to embody the complexion of 21st century
America would not have been developed.
In this pocket-sized book, art-historian Jean-Louis Gaillemin has
presented a different kind of study: rather than lean on the typical and tired
analysis of Dali’s structure and technique, Gaillemin focuses on the private
power of the artist, exploring the way Dali would use his ‘state of mind’ to
construct his pieces -- part poet and part architect -- building art from
the poison rubble and perpetual motion of the human psyche.
Appropriate for both art historians and novice students of
Salvador Dali. Recommended to both college and libraries as a general reference
- the writing here is at all times crisp and sharp, revealing much new
information on what made Dali an artist who would change the shape of expression
for countless generations of painters.
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ALSO OF NOTE FROM ABRAMS
PAUL II: A POPE FOR THE PEOPLE. Heinz-Joachim Fischer. Luigi Accattoli. Arthur
Hertzberg. Hansjacob Stehle. Marco Politi. Abrams. Pope John II has
been a sometimes controversial figure in the annals of The Catholic Church -- an
erudite and complex leader whose personality is both insightful and naturally
deep, directing his parish through the heart of this troubled era. And
John Paul is the first book we’ve seen that strives to capture some of
this man’s many facets - a tidy union of essay and photograph:
"The Pope therefore recommends a return to Europe’s Christian
roots, which encourage the priority of law over force, and respect for the
rights of individuals and nations. But he also reminds us, as none of his
predecessors ever had, of the contributions of other cultures to the Christian
European tradition - Roman, Greek, Germanic, Slavic, Jewish, and Muslim. To
counter the ‘deep crisis in values’ in present-day Europe, he does not recommend
a return to the ‘confessional state,’ but rather a Christian ‘humanization of
Page 56-57 (by Stehle)
The 139 plates collected here (111 in color) give those
readers who’ve never had the chance to see the Pope in person an opportunity to
get the know the man through pictures. What’s best about the text is that is
does not just center around his work at the helm of the Catholic Church, but
instead chronicles John Paul II’s whole life, giving us a taste of how the
consciousness of this enigmatic leader was actually shaped.
Serves as an invaluable resource for all Catholics and followers
of the church. Would further be recommended as a general reference in public
sector libraries as a religions of the world title.
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