Expired Library Books


We see many torn, shredded damaged books here at Central. Some fall apart on their own and others get damaged accidentally. Photographer, Kerry Mansfield, who claims not to be a a big reader, has photographed some of these discarded items that she buys from from other libraries. She may not be a big reader but she finds the molded and damaged book to be of interest enough to photograph it. Her photographs turn the abandoned book into an artifact complete with mold, mildew, tears, margin scribbles or broken bindings. The New York Times’ Lens Blog, has a slide show where you can view her photographs.

She started out photographing children’s books and books for teens, such as the well known Dr. Seuss book, “Hop on Pop,” and obscure ones like Evelyn Sibley Lampman’s “The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek.” She then turned her camera to books for adults like  Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” You see them on the Lens Blog.


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



Gravity of Light: Mike and Doug Starn

From Art of the Peculiar, the Creepy, the Beautiful.  
”Light is thought, light has gravity, light is what attracts us. The sun is what we want, who we want to be, who controls us. It is the future and the past. A Light too bright to look at, although light itself is invisible. The collection of light is black, and contradictorily, black is the absence of light. Black is both the void and the reservoir of what we need.” — M+D Starn

Descartes claimed that the blind see with their hands; it is a positivist view that to touch something, to determine its contours, is to know it: I “see” it, therefore it is. But this idea does not so much redress but renew the gulf between seeing and knowing: the classic mind-body problem. Centuries later, the French phenomenologist philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty refocused Descartes’ analysis. “There is no vision without thought,” he wrote. “But it is not enough to think in order to see.” In other words, our bodies—our vision—are the permanent condition of our experience, and thought is born by what happens in and on the body. We are conductors; absorbers and emitters of the universe’s energy.

Since well before the Renaissance, light has been used for and understood as a metaphor for illumination, spiritual or intellectual; light is the opposite of dark. Pure light is the carrier of energy at once the message and the messenger. And the news is this: light can bring, in equal measure, life and destruction, energy and fear, illumination and obscurity.”

In their most ambitious project to date, Mike and Doug Starn present Gravity of Light. This exhibit is part art sculpture, part photography, and part scientific experiment that includes a carbon-arc lamp that mimics the sun. This arc lamp is very much the center of the show as it is brilliant and noisy. The 13-foot tall carbon arc lamp is so bright visitors must wear safety glasses in order to protect their retinas. 


The lamp is a facsimile of Sir Humphry Davy’s “voltaic arc” used in the first discovery of electric “artificial light in 1804. The peculiar thirteen-foot-tall mechanical structure at its center is titled Leonardo’s St. John or This is my Middle Finger (2005). In the painting by da Vinci, St. John the Baptist shrouded in darkness, is lit up and points his finger to the heavens, indicating the path to enlightenment.

da Vinci’s St. John

The Starn version of St.
John’s gesture has been digitally replaced by one of profanity. As Martin Barnes,
senior curator of photographs at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, writes,
this gesture “is like a rebuff, aimed at paltry human confidence in the
face of eternity. Pure light is the carrier
of this awesome power, at once the message and the messenger.”

So much about this installation is unique from the carbon-arc lamp illumination to the location of the exhibit. Although the Cincinnati Museum of Art sponsored this exhbit its location is not within the museum. Holy Cross Church at the Mount Adams Monastery is the place where you can view the Starn show.

Holy Cross Church is an old abandoned church. You can see the faded paintings and religious images on the wall. The whole building is in disrepair and the Starn imagery, large and beautifully photographed contrast with the crumbling bricks and faded religious iconography. Each of these photographs each deal with the theme of light’s effect. One of their large moth photographs shows the insect from a previous exhibit, Attracted to Light. The moth is attracted to the light which often leads to their own death, yet they can’t resist it. It is what human and non-human crave, the light, that which helps us to visually see or to see the spiritual light.

Another piece is of the Buddhist monk Ganjin, it towers over us at the opposite end of the church. Ganjin was blind yet with an inner vision. He saw the black is still filled with light and saw the light inside of himself, found through a form of Eastern religious discovery. He too like the moth was attracted to the light not in the physical sense but in the spiritual one. 

Light can be a blessing but can also bring death through the blinding light of the carbon-arc lamp. Light can bring, in equal measure, life and
destruction, energy and fear, illumination and obscurity.

The Starn exhibit is put on by the Cincinnati Museum of Art and closes on December 30, 2012. You can read about the show in the accompanying book Gravity of Light.



The Scariness and Brilliance of the Starns’ ‘Gravity of Light’

Books in the Art Division’s collection. Click to access the catalog.


Ken Burns Documentary: The Dust Bowl

A film by Ken Burns, THE DUST BOWL, chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.

In April 1936 a young photographer named Arthur Rothstein showed up in Boise City to take photographs for the federal government’s Resettlement Administration.

Rothstein’s boss, Roy Stryker, believed that pictures could be a powerful tool to show not only the multitude of problems the nation was facing, but what the government was doing about them.

Over the course of seven years, as the agency became part of the Farm Security Administration, Stryker would launch an unprecedented documentary effort, eventually amassing more than 200,000 images of America in the 1930s taken by a talented cadre of photographers, including Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Marion Post Walcott, John Vachon, and Dorothea Lange.

Below is a small sampling of items found at the Central Library. Click on image to view the catalog.





Birth of the X-Ray and It’s Place in ART

The X-ray was discovered 117 years ago today, in 1895, by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen. “Röntgenograms” or “Röntgen rays” as the physicist referred to them, is electromagnetic radiation of short wavelength produced when high-speed electrons strike a solid target.

Radiography is the process of making a radiograph; producing an image on a radiosensitive surface by radiation other than visible light.

Radiograph of nature

Artists and art historians have been inspired by and utilized radiography to create and uncover works of art. In Art in the making : underdrawings in Renaissance paintings by David Bomford, radiography, infra-red photography and reflectography were used to discover underdrawings in paintings of the Renaissance period.

Photographer Man Ray’s photogram, “a cameraless picture formed by the action of light on an object in direct contact with light-sensitive material” and termed and a rayograph by Tristan Tzara, was first produced in 1921.

“The rayographs revealed a new way of seeing that delighted the Dadaist poets who championed his work, and that pointed the way to the dreamlike visions of the Surrealist writers and painters who followed.”-Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Some of Man Rays Rayographs

Rauschenberg DVD

“…This compelling film offers a rich mixture of visual images and engaging commentary that eloquently reveal the man behind the ingenuity”–Container.

Booster (1967), a key work produced at Gemini G.E.L. features a six-foot-high x-ray image of Rauschenberg’s body. It was the largest hand-pulled, single-sheet print ever made at the time, challenging painting’s dominance as a medium. Seemingly random images suffuse Booster, including a chair, an astronomical calendar, two drills, and a photograph of a man in the midst of a long jump — offering viewers an opportunity to bring their own interpretation to the work.-National Gallery of Art


Haunted Art and Photos

The genre of haunted art is an old one. A ghostly backstory can give special allure to paintings that otherwise would simply pass as pictures of unsettling children or messy still lifes. Yet, this venerable niche has lately gotten an Internet-age boost: On eBay and craigslist, claims that this or that painting is haunted by some otherworldly spirit abound.

Read more at Artinfo

Ghostly Gallery at the American Museum of Photography

Simon Marsden Photography. Click below for more

Click below to access DVD info