Rare Books: Large and Small


The Arts Division has a very good sized collection of rare books and folios. These rare items are reference and they must be used in the library.  Although these can’t be checked out it is worth the trip to see these items that you will not see in other Monroe County public libraries.

So while looking in our stacks I am come across some small handmade books. They are interesting little books that book artists will find interesting. One of them measures 2 1/4 inches across. The first one I found is called ABC Gem Box: A Display of skill in Typography. Is is by Kurt H. Volk and dated 1941. It was published in a limited edition of 500 copies.


This book is in a clam shell box and consists of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Each letter is done in a specific typographic font. Consists of 27 folded leaves (folded to 13 cm. X 17 cm.), one t.p. and one leaf for each letter of the alphabet, each with a cut-out on the first recto revealing the “gem” on the second recto. It’s simplicity itself—27 typographic arrangements, each printed on a folded page behind a cut-out window, all of them tucked into a small box. According to the Volk organization  ” it is the practice of the Volk organization unceasingly to direct its sense of form and fitness to making distinguished typography. Our aim is to discover and use the new type faces, embellishments and mechanical methods.”



The next book is called Sunday in Monterey. It is a  book of woodcuts by Antonio Fransconi, dated 1964. This is an accordion style book with folding panels, it measures 5½x2¼. The book is made up of 58 accordion-folded pages which open to 127 inches, revealing original color woodcut illustrations of the piers, boats and houses of Monterey.



Here is a sample of his other woodcuts from a different book.


Other works by this artist at MoMA and here.

The books above are examples of very small sized rare books.

The two listed below are from the Art’s division folio collection and are very over-sized.


This Frank Lloyd Wright book is a massive volume of plans and designs. It’s title is, Buildings, Plans and Designs. It measures 16 inches across and 25 inches high. Along with the plans there is a book about Wright and his work and describes each one of the 96 designs. Due to it massive size, I’m guessing this one is for Wright fans only.


The other folio I found is a stunning collection of Navaho drawings and symbols. It is called, Where the Two Came to Their Father: Navaho War Ceremonial. This one measures 18 .5 inches across and 24 inches high. This work takes its title from the richly symbolic creation legend of the Navaho people, which they incorporated into their blessing ceremony for tribe members headed to battle. Having observed this rite during World War II, when native Americans were for the first time drafted into the U.S. military, ethnologist Maud Oakes recorded the legend and made reproductions of the beautiful ceremonial paintings, given to her by the medicine man Jeff King.



Come in and take a look at these rare items in the Arts Division.


Caution! Artist @ Work! 2013-14 Season Line-up

It’s back! The Arts Division of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County will feature a different artist once a month with its Caution! Artists at Work! 2013-2014 program series. We will host a different local artist or musician who will be working on a piece right in the Arts Division. Patrons are welcome to stop by and observe an artist painting or listen to a musician playing. These programs happen on the third Saturday of each month from 1-3 PM in the afternoon on the second floor of the Bausch & Lomb Library building. We look forward to seeing there!

We hope you will stop by and see our local talent at work! Call 428-8140 for more details.

Woodcut artist Heather Swenson demonstrates her technique for Rochester Public Library patrons. Photo credit: Judith Schewe. Caution! Artist @ Work! was also featured on the Library As Incubator Blog!

Here is this year’s line-up…

September 21Alicia Fink, precious metal clay jewelry artist. Metal Clay (PMC) is a product from Japan.  It consists of microscopic particles of silver or gold suspended in an organic binder to create a pliable material with a consistency similar to modeling clay.  Alicia has been certified by the Precious Metal Clay Guild and by PMC Connection and has taken workshops under Celie Fago, an outstanding Senior Teacher for the PMC Guild.  She teaches PMC jewelry making in the area Continuing Education Programs, at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery and at her studio.

October 19 –  Paula Marra, felted animals and creatures. Paula, of Queen Mab Fairy Houses fame, returns to the Central Library this fall to demonstrate the wildly popular craft of felting.

November 16Sandra Kemp, gourd artist. Sandra Kemp’s beautiful gourds have been displayed in the Eileen Reidman Display Cases in the Art’s Division. She will demonstrate her unique gourd artistry this fall.

December 21Karen Barber and Linda Taggart, hammered dulcimers. Karen and Linda are members of Striking Strings Hammered Dulcimer Ensemble directed by Mitzie Collins.

January 18 – Mary Housel-Demanchik, painter and book artist. Mary is an Art teacher at Rush-Henrietta Middle School and Adjunct Professor at Nazareth College. Mary’s artist’s books have been featured in the Central Library’s 2011 and 2012 Art of the Book exhibits.

February 15Randy Pollok, Rochester Ukulele Support Group. The Rochester Ukulele Support Group (RUSG) meets on the first Thursday of every month. They learn tunes, new techniques and share info about the world of ukulele. Randy and friends will be on hand for ukulele fun!

March 15Mia Sohn, decorative Ukrainian eggs. This art form is based on a 5,000 year-old tradition. It is a wax resist process on actual eggshells. This art form is known as ‘pysanka,’ which is a Ukrainian word meaning ‘to write.’

April 19 – Kathleen Barry-Wagner, landscape painter. Barry-Wagner is a Rochester area artist associated with the Outside the Box Art gallery and part-time art teacher who will be doing a demo of how to paint a landscape. She will be available to talk about use of color and  perspective and looks forward to answering any questions you may have about painting in general.

May 17Nancy Valle, ceramist. Ms. Valle’s work has been featured at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. Her ceramic studio is located on the top floor of a former shoe factory that flourished in the early days of Rochester. Nancy also offers clay workshops in her Rochester studio.

Sharon Core: Early American

Are the works of Sharon Core paintings or photographs? One
thing is certain, they are beautiful, and they are photographs. To write about
this new book of her photographs, called
, one must understand the work of American artist Raphaelle Peale.

To create her realistic photographs, Sharon Core looked to American still-life painter Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825)
for inspiration. Core created these old-master styled photos with fruit she
grew, and with period porcelain and table settings she has collected to duplicate the
works of Peale. American painter Raphaelle Peale was the son of well-known
artist, Charles Wilson Peale. The elder Peale is best known for his painting,
The Artist in His Museum
The Artist in His Museum
The younger
Peale’s work was quite different from his father’s and his contemporaries.
Raphaelle was drawn to the quietness of the still life, he creates
almost an
austere or
melancholy atmosphere within his paintings. 
Peale avoided any suggestion of opulence as often
seen in 17th century Dutch still life. 
By the age of twenty-one, Raphaelle Peale was
recognized as America’s first and leading still life painter
and between
1812 and 1825 he painted over one hundred of them.
Most of Peale’s paintings are small in scale. He left a legacy of vibrant jewel like still
lifes depicting objects such as fruit, vegetables, and meat.
Peale’s paintings differ from his contemporaries with the strange
atmosphere he has created within them. His still lifes take on a strange
quality, they seem to take on the artist’s own body. American art scholar, Alexander
Nemerov has written extensively on the younger Peale and he seems to feel the
still life objects are imitations of Peale’s own body. Nemerov writes “Raphaelle’s
paintings simulate the artist’s own physical existence projected into the objects
of perception.”
Core’s photographs depict the younger Peale’s work down to
the last detail. It took her many long hours to track down the seeds necessary
to grow the heirloom species depicted in Peale’s work.  She had to hunt down through flea markets and
Ebay the Chinese porcelain and tableware prevalent in his canvases. 
Core has made note of the strange physical characteristics
in Peale’s work that scholar Nemerov has noted. 
Peale placed scars and bruising on his objects almost to make them extensions of his own body so Core has made sure we see slight
traces of life in these in inanimate objects, such as bruises, scars, and the rotting flesh of the food.  Some fruit seem to caress another piece through a “finger”
as seen in Lemons, (plate 18 in the book).  In the photograph
Apples in a Porcelain Basket (plate 6) we can almost see an “eye”
depicted as a rotting area on one of the apples. Brian Sholis who wrote the essay for the
book, Early American, says, “ they display the physical presence and variety of
human bodies.”
Core has paid close attention to the lighting Peale used and
how he placed his objects. From Peale’s paintings to Core’s photographs the
diffused lighting source is not known and the backdrops seem to disappear. Compositionally
Core has placed the objects exactly life Peale’s, objects are centered and tend
to be arranged in pyramids. Peale placed his objects very close to the viewer
so one could see all of their detail and Core has followed this compositional detail
as well.
As much as Core seems to depict Peale’s work down to the
last detail such as securing the exact same piece of porcelain Peals used she
has used his work as mimesis for her work. Peale used flat canvas and paint to give dimensionality
to his work while Core uses her camera to make the dimensional objects in front
of her to look like flat yet highly detailed reproductions of Peale’s work.

Read more:

The American Pioneer of Still Life by Edward J. Sozanski


Art Show: Sharon Core by Vicky Lowry

In Focus: Sharon Core 

Sharon Core Early American
Raphaelle Peale Still Lifes



FREE Art Reference

ngaSelected as one of the Best Free Reference resources of 2012 by Library Journal, The National Gallery in Washington, DC, houses one of the largest collections in the world of painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts from the Middle Ages to the present.

“At the gallery’s website, information is available for more than 110,000 objects, with images provided for 20,000 of them. The site is searchable by keyword or phrase, and users can unearth teaching resources or in-depth studies and search the collection by artist, title, or subject. An extraordinary and easy-to-navigate resource.” – Library Journal, March 1, 2013


Dandies and Muses: Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity


A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates fashion, art and their love of fashion  in 19th century Paris. This exhibit  illustrates how artists such as Monet, Seurat, Degas,  and other Impressionists responded to fashion between the 1860s and mid-1880s. With both masculine and feminine attire exhibited  we see the dialogue between art and fashion of the late nineteenth-century Parisian looks that inspired art of the day.

Fashion between those years was at its most beautiful. Opulent fabrics, the corset, tiny waists, stripes, gloves, bustles, and bows, all raised femininity to its highest. This was a pivotal time period for fashion and for Paris when the city emerged as a fashion mecca.

During these years Parisians saw a radical change in their city. Broad new avenues were places to be seen and the department store came into vogue. Ready-to-wear was suddenly available and the proliferation of fashion magazines allowed urban dwellers to see what they could expect in the new shops that were opening along these boulevards. Paris was a place to be seen and with so many choices the bourgeois women might change her outfit up to eight times a day.

As women and men began to look their best artists of the time period began to paint them in their high fashions. The mood portrayed by the Impressionists was one of vibrancy and seductive beauty with tightly corseted waists and elaborate decolletes that were on display in ballrooms and at the opera. An almost party like atmosphere was on display in art at this time. That atmosphere can be seen in Monet’s painting Luncheon on the Grass and in Jean Beraud’s An Evening Soiree.


Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Luncheon on the Grass


 Jean Beraud An Evening Soiree

In Bartholomé’s In the Conservatory, he painted his wife standing in a sunlight conservatory wearing a tightly corseted light summer frock. This exhibit pairs Bartholomé’s this life-size portrait portrait of Prosperie de Fleury Bartholomé in her purple striped dress with the actual dress she posed in.


Artists such as Manet and Degas shared an interest in shopping and both admired seeing the man as Dandies in their dark suits or frock coats and cuffs. This look contrasted with the opulence of the female companion’s attire. Monet particularly transferred this interest into his brightly colored paintings full of women and men both smartly dressed.

Some highlights of this exhibition include Monet’s Luncheon on the Grass (1865–66) and Women in the Garden (1866), Bartholomé’s In the Conservatory(circa 1881, paired with the sitter’s dress), and Degas’s The Millinery Shop(circa 1882–86) from the Art Institute of Chicago; Renoir’s The Loge (1874) from The Courtauld Gallery, London; and Cassatt’s In the Loge (1878) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

NN ArtLibrarian@Central

The Art Division has a large selection books about this time period as seen below. This is just a sample sample of what we own. Click on image to access our catalog.













Becoming Modern: Armory Show Artists at the MAG

January 25-May 12, 2013


Gaston Lachaise, Standing Woman (1917). Gift of Charlotte Whitney Allen.

In 1913 the Armory Show in New York City shocked American artists and audiences with the radical abstractions of the European modernists. Later that year the Memorial Art Gallery opened its doors in Rochester, a city of predominantly conservative tastes at the time.

The Armory Show refers to the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art that was organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors. The exhibition ran in New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory, on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets, from February 17 until March 15, and became an important event in the history of American art, introducing astonished New Yorkers, accustomed to realistic art to modern art. The show served as a catalyst for American artists, who became more independent and created their own “artistic language”.

On the 100th anniversary of both events, this exhibition at the MAG will explore how the Gallery’s history and collection have been shaped by the avant-garde art in the Armory Show and the Rochesterians who came to champion it. It will include over 35 paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by modernist masters including Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Stuart Davis and John Marin.




Some artists who exhibited in the original Armory show in 1913.

European Artists




American Artists