Banned Graphic Novels

“The Sandman comic series and graphic novel have been challenged and banned in libraries since its publication. Gaiman’s graphic novel has been challenged and removed from some libraries because of “anti-family themes,” “offensive language,” and for being “unsuited for age group.” Most often, opposition to the series has arisen when it has been shelved in the young adult section of the library.”- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (

Challenged in the Marshall, Mo. Public Library (2006) because some members of the community deemed the book “pornographic” and were concerned that children would be exposed to the book. The library director was quick to defend Blankets, citing the many professional reviews that praised the book while also warning against “the slippery slope of censorship.”

In 2010 a suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul parent tried to remove Bone from the school district’s libraries. She objected to the gambling, smoking and drinking and the sexiness.

Fun Home first came under fire in late 2006 in Missouri for its frank sexual content, which was considered inappropriate for children. The memoir was added to the syllabus of a University of Utah English course in 2008, but a student objected to having to read it and contacted a group called “No More Pornography” to fight the required reading.

Despite its accolades and critical praise, Maus has been challenged for being “anti-ethnic” and “unsuitable for younger readers.”

In a 2012 article on ICv2, Nick Smith of the Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California, writes about a challenge to Maus:

“In the library world, books are challenged all the time, mostly for making someone uncomfortable with their own view of the world. In our library system, Maus was challenged over its portrayal of the Poles. The challenge was made by a Polish-American who is very proud of his heritage, and who had made other suggestions about adding books on Polish history, for our library’s collection, so it was not out of the blue. The thing is, Maus made him uncomfortable, so he didn’t want other people to read it. That is censorship, as opposed to parental guidance.”

Despite making both ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten  in 2007 and Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults as well as featuring non-human main characters, Pride of Baghdad is frequently challenged for alleged sexually explicit content.-

In July 2010, a patron of the Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio, challenged the inclusion of the collected edition of The Dark Knight Strikes Again in the library’s collection. There is no media coverage of this challenge to be found online, but the American Library Association’s Office fro Intellectual Freedom helpfully provided a few more details from their database. The unknown patron (OIF removes identifying details from challenge information released to the public) complained that the book contained sexism and offensive language and was “unsuited to age group.” Despite the challenge, the library retained the book and now holds two copies, which are shelved in the Teen

n 2009, two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of Black Dossier from circulation. Sharon Cook, a full-time Library Assistant who objected to sex scenes in the book, initially followed the library’s established challenge procedure available to all patrons. She requested that the book be moved from the Graphic Novel section (which she thought was too close to Young Adult) into Adult Fiction. The committee considered her challenge and found that the book was properly

The inclusion of the compiled Watchmen in school library collections has been challenged by parents at least twice, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. The first Watchmen complaint, at a high school in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was reported in October of 2001. OIF removes specific identifying details from the information it releases to the public, but the high school library in Harrisonburg holds a copy of the book, so it appears the challenge was unsuccessful. The second challenge, from May of 2004, took place at a school serving grades 6-12 in Florida, but the city and outcome are

The Death and Rebirth of the Polaroid

Documentary About the Death and Rebirth of of Polaroid Pictures

In February 2008, Polaroid announced that it was ceasing production of instant film. ‘TIME ZERO’ is a documentary that tells the story of the last year of Polaroid film in three acts. 

Polaroid was invented by Edwin H. Land in 1948. Read more about him below in, Insisting on the Impossible and Instant Image.


Act I introduces the magic of Polaroid through the perspective of Polaroid artists and former employees of the corporation. 

Act II begins with the discontinuation of instant film and covers the grass-roots movement to keep it alive. 

Act III centers on ‘The Impossible Project’ and follows their against-the-odds effort to reinvent instant film.

The film was created by Polaroid enthusiast Grant Hamilton, and it premiered on April 28 at the Independent Film Festival in Somerville, MA — three miles away from Polaroid’s former headquarters.

(From PetaPixel).


Read more about Polaroid below.



Reblogged from Art Happenings

Artist of the Week

Mark Rothko

Today (as this is being written) is painter Mark Rothko‘s birthday. Born September 25, 1903, in Dvinsk, Russian Empire, he is referred to as an abstract or expressionist painter, and rejected both of those labels. Rothko is known for his rectangles of at first brilliant and later on somber color works.

His father emigrated to America because Jews were blamed for many of the evils that plagued Russia.  Although he was a brilliant student he did not show any special art talents. Like his father he was more intersted in the rights of workers and that of women.

Rothko went onto Yale where he and a friend founded the statistical magazine, The Yale Saturday Evening Pest, that made fun of the Waspy and elitist community.

Rothko soon dropped out of Yale and in 1923 he visited a friend who was at the Art Students League of New York. It was here he saw his life as an artist take form. He encountered artist Arshile Gorky his first vision of the world of the world of the “avant-garde”. Along with Gorky he met fellow Russian Jewish artist Max Weber. Weber’s influence provided Rothko a way to see that art could be used as a means of expressing emotional and religious feeling.

Mark Rothko, The Omen of the Eagle,1942, National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.43.107

Rothko ‘s work during the early 1940’s was symbolic and contained abstracted figures. Yet Rothko felt unfulfilled by this imagery. He felt art should reflect social and the human condition. Rothko felt, new subjects and a new idiom had to be found. He said, “It was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes….But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it.” (quote from Wikipedia). Rothko saw a deep connection between primitive art and children’s art. He began a book in 1936 that he never finished about this connection. He saw modern art as being derived from primitiveness much the way a child’s art looks. He also observed that one who is creative begins with color.

Mark Rothko Red, Orange, Tan, and Purple, 1949 Oil on canvas 84 1/2 x 68 1/2 inches (214.5 x 174 cm) Private collection ©1999 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko

In 1946 Rothko moved into painting with blocks of color. Although not a term used by Rothko himself, these works were called multiform paintings, devoid of figures or landscapes, these works took on an organic form. Large blurred paintings made up of blocks of color, Rothko felt they took on their own life and reflected what the figure never could. These large organic canvases are the style Rothko would work in until his death.

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Seagram Mural sketch), 1959 , National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.43.156

Untitled, Black on Grey, 1970


Rothko’s work began to darken dramatically during the late 1950s. Eventually his works went untitled or were given numbers. Some art historians attributed the darkening of his canvases to his poor health and depression. Rothko committed suicide on February 25, 1970. His work is represented in major museums and galleries around the world. There of course is so much to be written about Rothko’s life and work.  See the sites below and view the collection of material the Central Library’s Art division owns about him.

Happy Birthday, Mark Rothko: Rizzoli Press Publishes ‘Mark Rothko, The Decisive Decade: 1940-1950’. from the Huffington Post.

Mark Rothko at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The Rothko Chapel. Rothko at MoMA.

Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection. Rothko’s Legacy at PBS.

Rothko Exhibits

Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950 at the Columbia Museum of Art
September 14-January 6, 2013

 Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950 celebrates one of the world’s most influential and best-known artists of the 20th century by featuring 37 paintings, watercolors and works on paper, which are drawn largely from the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

 After its showing at the Columbia Museum of Art, the exhibition travels to the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio (February 1 – May 26, 2013), the Denver Art Museum (June 16 – September 29, 2013) and the Arkansas Art Center (October 25, 2013 – February 9, 2014).

Mark Rothko Retrospective of the artist’s most important works

NN Art Librarian@Central

Wendell Castle: Volumes and Voids at Friedman Benda Gallery NY

October 25, 2012 – January 26, 2013

If you are in NY you’ll be able to view Wendell Castle‘s new work at the Friedman Benda Gallery. The gallery has not published a catalog yet.

Wendell Castle is an American furniture artist and a leading figure in American craft. He is often credited with being the father of the art furniture movement. (From Wikipedia).  He resides in Scottsville, NY, outside Rochester.

Items in Central’s Art Division.

Visit the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY to view his work.

Local Composer DM Stith

DM Stith

Recently WXXI radio personality Brenda Tremblay interviewed Rochester composer, musician, and graphic designer DM Stith.  Stith’s music has been used in the trailer for the motion picture “The Impossible.”  In the interview, Stith describes how  “little ditties” that he recorded as he was playing around on the piano ended up in a Hollywood movie.

Follow this link to hear the interview and to see the movie trailer

The 30 seconds of music in the trailer are just the latest of his accomplishments. Stith released his critically acclaimed first album, “Heavy Ghosts,” in 2009.  According to the review of “Heavy Ghosts” in New Musical Express, “There’s a time between sleeping and waking that’s occupied by DM Stith – weaving our sleep with hypnotic spells, wild chorals, plucked strings and primitive keys.”  In 2010, DM Stith toured with Sufjan Stevens.

His latest project is “The Revival Hour” along with JM Lapham

To find out more about DM Stith, visit his website

Stith is a graphic designer as well as a musician.  Here is one of his photographs of a local landmark cast in an eerie light.

Kodak tower of terror

Art and Artists in Fiction

I’m currently reading a book by Christopher Moore entitled Sacre Bleu: A Comedy ‘Art and started thinking about other novels that I have read with art and artists as the subject matter. I appreciate art and love learning about art and even sometimes making art, but I am by no means an expert on the subject. Working in the Art Division has helped me gain more knowledge but so has reading fictionalized accounts of art and artists like in Moore’s book. Yes it is a farce, but the characters are real artists (Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh among many,) the paintings do exist and the history of art during the time when the novel is set is accurate. The story is fun and it makes the artists seem like they are real people, not just dead artists. There are many writers that have found inspiration in art, artists and often times one particular work of art.

Tracy Chevalier has found success with Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Lady and the Unicorn. Both books with art themes; the former’s inspiration being the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s great enigmatic artwork of the 17th-century and the latter celebrates the lavish French tapestries of the late 1400’s.

Susan Vreeland is another author who has been inspired by art. In her novel Clara and Mr. Tiffany Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered. Her debut, The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, is not just for art lovers; read it if you enjoy love, human drama, and American cultural history.

For a full list of works of fiction about art, paintings, artists, sculptors, painters,etc. you can go to Goodreads.-JS

Winslow Homer Fans Take Note: His Studio Reopens in Maine this September

The Portland Museum of Art reopens the studio of Winslow Homer. This is the home and studio where Homer lived and worked from 1883 until his death in 1910. Workers restored the wood-walled studio’s exterior to its original colors, replaced the second-floor balcony, stabilized the foundation and replaced windows. The home will be open for public tours on Sept. 25.

If you are not familiar with the work of Winslow Homer he was a 19thc. American landscape painter and printmaker. He is considered to be one the major figures of American painting. Although he painted many American scenes he is best known for his marine paintings.

On the Trail, c. 1892, watercolor over graphite on paper, Gift of Ruth K. Henschel in memory of her husband,
Charles R. Henschel

Homer was self-taught and began as a commercial illustrator and then moved onto oil painting where he produced many landscapes before moving onto watercolor. Many of his works have become depict classic images of nineteenth-century American l life, children at play, farm girls, and hunters and their prey, yet others reflect on man’s primal relationship with his natural world.

Homer moved to Prout’s Neck, Maine in 1880 and began painting his famous images, where he captured the peacefulness of the Maine coast the ocean and the coastline. This later work is a contrast to his beginnings where he depicted the horrors of the Civil War. Homer died on September 29, 1910.

View some of Homer’s work at the National Gallery of Art .

Read up on Winslow Homer with these selections from the Art Division.

Photos from the studio in Vanity Fair.