Sunday, December 9, 2018

Tony Drehfal Engraving | Braiding Sweetgrass

Braided Sweetgrass © Tony Drehfal
Above In recent years, an old friend and fellow artist, Tony Drehfal from Nashotah WI, has become a devotée and skilled practitioner of one of our favorite art forms, wood engraving. He recently produced an image of strands of sweetgrass that had been braided by his wife, artist Jeanne Debbink. By the fortuitous meeting of minds, it has now been used as the cover of the Japanese edition of a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer, titled BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (as shown below). You can learn more about Tony and his extraordinary prints at various online sites, including this one, and this one, and this one as well. And of course on Instagram.

Cover of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Winsor McCay | Brute in the Brain Illustration

The Brute in the Brain by Winsor McCay
Above An early uncharacteristic illustration by legendary comic page illustrator Winsor McCay, titled "The Brute in the Brain" (date and source unknown).

•••

Cornelius Weygandt, On the Edge of Evening: The Autobiography of a Teacher and Writer Who Holds to the Old Ways (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1946), p. 107—

In 1902 we went to Ireland…As we got off the ship there were women selling gooseberries on the quay. I had often heard of the proficiency in bad language of alewives. I was now to hear it. It was the time of the Boer War. A Tommy came by with a hat about the size of a teacup on one side of his head and the strap from it around under his chin to hold it in place. He said to the woman with the gooseberries, "Mother, how much the gooseberries?"

"You blank blank bastard of a blankety blank blank. I'm not your mother, and you may be very sure that I wouldn't have been. I'd have no child by a man that would get the like of you." And more of the same. And more of the same. I had been told by numerous kindly Irish people that the gooseberries in Ireland were as big as English walnuts in America. It is true they were. I was waiting for the old woman to show her dexterity by driving them at the offending Tommy, but she didn't. They were, I suppose, too previous. I had been intending to buy some, but she lost the sale. I was too afraid of what she might say to me to offer to buy any of them.

Let's Pretend | A Radio Series from the 1950s

Poster by Roy R. Behrens (2018)
Among the most vivid memories of my early childhood is that of listening to a fantastic children's radio program called Let's Pretend. I no longer recall any specific stories. All I remember is how powerfully engaging the performances were—as if they were visual, when in fact they consisted entirely of voices and sound effects.

Recently, I've been reading the autobiography of Terry Gilliam, the only American member of the Monty Python troupe, titled Gilliamesque (New York: HarperCollins, 2015). On page 9, he recalls his own American childhood, and the experience of reading books, in which a child may often engage in "translating that mental picture from two dimensional into three." How clearly I remember that in my early years of reading books. But then he goes on—

It's the same with the radio, which was all-powerful in America at that time [the early 1950s]. There was a children's radio show called Let's Pretend, which was one of my very first gateways to the fantastical. 

Mine too, for which I will always be grateful.