liebsten blog award


guess WHAT? i had an happy surprise yesterday. my dear friend maia from conundrum bestowed upon me the liebsten blog award. hooray! (go visit her blog—it's a marvel of art + fashion over there.)

the liebsten award is for blogs with fewer than 100 followers. i really like little tokens of appreciation like this, because it's a chance for some lesser-known bloggers to get some recognition for their lovely work.

now it is my turn to give the award to five other blogs that i love. so here are my five:
  1. folkloric
  2. butter + brass
  3. primoeza
  4. pink o'clock
  5. commas + clauses
i thoroughly enjoy each of these blogs. they are full of art, fashion, history, + little stories—fully deserving of said award. pay them a visit and you'll see why.

and, in the meantime, have yourself a grand thursday...!


on reading books & their covers: it's complicated

i wish i'd taken my college reading assignments way more seriously. as freshmen, we were assigned so many wonderful works of literature... but their greatness was lost on me, because instead of reading them, i often (but certainly not always) managed only to skim. nowadays, i am disgusted with my past self for being so flippant about what i now view as lost opportunities. in my present situation as a bookseller, i constantly update and add to my list of books to read. it is going to be an uphill battle to actually try and get through that list, and skimming through the classics in college sealed my fate of having to reread them now. sigh.

this made me ponder the somewhat frivolous question of book covers + their impact on a reader. what if the books i read in college had had fabulous covers? would i have read them more thoroughly? (i think this thought process might be a result of crossing an artist with a bibliophile.) let's have an example:

fig. 1

i read the austere-looking white noise on the left, as opposed to the artistically rendered one on the right. i  believe that a book's cover communicates something about its contents to the reader, so maybe my idea of the novel would have been different if we'd read the same book with a different cover. h o w e v e r, if i were to hear a college freshman argue that a cover changes one's reading experience, i would totally roll my eyes and think to myself that the cover design is beside the point—because white noise is a masterpiece, no matter what it looks like. en fin, i don't believe that a book's cover will influence one's opinion of the contents... and yet, i cannot deny my love for beautiful book covers that say something to me.

anyway, speaking of beautiful book covers that say things—
i've talked about peter mendelsund before. i love his simple, geometric and often spare designs. before, we talked kafka. (those still haven't released, but i am kind of counting the days until they do.) today, let's talk about dostoevsky, whose book notes from underground was one that i read in college, but very poorly, and therefore remains on my to-read list. ahem.

what crazy person wouldn't want to read these!? i'm just saying.

but listen: i stand by what i said before: it really is the work itself that matters. i love both art + literature dearly, but i never avoided reading something because it wasn't pretty enough. (seriously. perish the thought. and let's be honest, i skimmed some of the classics in college because i was a lazy, unenlightened 19-year-old.) (also, let's talk about how many ART books have ugly covers....)

the fact is simply this: when a good book has an equally good cover, it positively gleams with an irresistible quality! and that is that.

in conclusion, i hope you all have a wonderful tuesday!
h a s t a p r o n t o!



i went to the cy twombly exhibit at the art institute a few years ago and fell in love with the things i saw—fearless vibrant color, paint-soaked boundless brushstrokes. all coming together to make these living, resonating works of art—!

these are the kinds of paintings that make me want to jump into a giant barrelful of pigment and run around leaving color footprints everywhere, squeezing paint out of my hair. is that odd? i just love color, and i love that cy twombly puts together colors that belong together. in a way, his art is hedonistic to view, because the subjects in his paintings are rendered loosely enough that form and hue get equal attention. you get to soak in the color without necessarily studying it... although i suggest studying it a little, because twombly isn't shy or careless about what colors he mixes together.

b r i g h t + f e a r l e s s !

now, let's have a good old monday, shall we?


two songs

saturday is for nice small joys.
i hope you find that these little tunes suit—

—and make your weekend a small amount more joyous.



a different niffenegger

ha-ha. yes, there are two similarly-named sylvias in the world... but what about niffeneggers? teehee. i saw rachel niffenegger's work at the museum of contemporary art and thought it was remarkable, to say the least!

now listen... these are scary. they almost conjure cave drawings, albeit contemporary and colorful ones. niffenegger manipulates and experiments with heads + faces in her work. i know not everyone appreciates this type of imagery, but there's something about an artist who gets so deep into her subject that something ominous emerges from her efforts. sometimes you just don't know what that will be. so i appreciate it, and i can somewhat relate to it. and i definitely admire it.

i couldn't find an artist's statement, so i don't know the what/why of niffenegger's art. perhaps that is her statement. but you can go here and here to find out more about her.

O sweet friday! have a good one, all.


melville house

the art of the novella.

as envisioned by melville house publishers. i love love LOVE these little books! they are lovely and small, and colorful, and the series includes novellas by authors from near and far. i've always wanted to read moby dick, but since it is a little scary, i've picked up benito cereno instead—partly to get a little preview of herman melville's writing style, but also to read an author who has been on my to-read list forever.

forever, i tell you!

they are like little jewels, aren't they? leading to the undoing of bibliophiles everywhere, no doubt.
and so i had to share. teehee.

cheers, wednesday!


heart of gold

i want to live,
i want to give!

such simple words—

i love this rendition of neil young's "heart of gold." i hope you will too. usually for songs that are so classic, i can't bear remakes—but i make an exception for jane weaver here. the song is heavy with sadness and resignation, edged with hope. it is haunting. perhaps especially in the wake of tsunamis and earthquakes, frightening manmade clouds hanging over japan and soon the rest of the world.

but it is a pretty song, just the same.
what do you think?


a different sylvia

sylvia plachy is a photographer. i've seen her photographs in the new yorker and they take on several personalities—some quiet, others uncontained. perhaps that's because she engages in "photography pure"— roaming, looking, until a particular view + composition strikes her and she reels it in.

i found these photographs here. they are from a joint show she did with her friend, fellow hungarian photographer gyorgy beck. it was called "metaphysical landscapes."

there's such peace in these photographs, but it's a very wild peace. grasses rush + are pulled along as the dog makes its way through the snowy trees, wind blows during sunrise in alicante, old branches creak in the transylvanian woods.

landscape photography isn't plachy's usual line. as new yorker visuals editor elisabeth biondi says,
indeed, when asked what she means by “landscape,” she gives a little sylvia smile and indicates that her understanding of the word includes the metaphorical. a dreamy picture of something resembling a fish tank is a kind of interior landscape, at least according to sylvia.

this kind of idea is what draws me into an artist's work.
have a lovely thursday, dears!


softly cubist

tamara de lempicka led a very glamorous life. born in poland to wealthy lawyer/socialite parents, she was educated in lausanne, switzerland and vacationed in italy and on the french riviera. she met her future husband at the opera. (of course.) after her marriage, the russian revolution took place, and her husband was snatched up by the bosheviks. through her upper-class ties, de lempicka managed to free him, whereupon they fled the country. they traveled to copenhagen, then to london, and finally to paris, where they got along by selling heirloom jewels of their families. it is also where she began to paint and gain a reputation in the bohemian art world of the 1920's.

she eventually ended up in the united states. she weathered the great depression and world war II well, meeting such prominent artists as de kooning and o'keeffe along the way. de lempicka died in cuernavaca, mexico in 1978.

i am intoxicated by stories of people traveling and going everywhere, surviving events we still talk about today, meeting these characters that make up our history. of course, de lempicka rather abandoned her family to do so. she carried on affairs with both men and women. and the lady had an attitude. in the '70s, she complained that society lacked the "breeding" that she'd been so inspired by previously.


i love these paintings because of the "soft cubism" she employs + her art deco style. her paintings border on being fashion illustrations... albeit ones that take three weeks to finish. they are full of silk and privilege, vividly rendered. they let you daydream a bit, wish that you had a silk dress or two in your closet.


what if?

i love books. i'm not troubled by e-readers, but i do wonder at those who appreciate them. another screen in my life... no thank you. i love the feel of a book, the heft, the scent, the way it fits on the shelf. and the idea of reading dickens on an e-reader... it would feel so wrong in so many ways.

this little strip makes a point about e-readers and imagination. what might become of a person who never got to exercise theirs? how ironic that imagination is what fuels our technologies, endangering itself in the process. (strip found via jacket mechanical.)

or read it here (in a larger size!)

i just have such a love affair with my memories of stories seizing my mind and galloping around madly with it. i wonder what i'd be without books being such a huge part of my life. and would i be the same if i'd read them all on-screen, instead of in worn pages read over + over?

just thoughts—


dr. dettmer

brian dettmer is from chicago. he takes books and makes them into painstaking, breathtaking sculptures, carved with surgical precision, drawing the nickname "book surgeon" from some. he never adds, replaces or implants anything. he uses old encyclopedias.

 in his statement, dettmer explains the connection he feels with these books:
the age of information in physical form is waning. as intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history.
my work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.
 i think maybe everyone can relate to these ideas, and thus these sculptures. i know that each of us hesitates at the thought that the details of history, even as it happens today, might be slipping through the cracks of our new technologies.

you can read a short interview with the artist here.

and then you can go have a fabulous (albeit cloudy again) day!


seams of the clouds

it is a cloudy day today. how can it be wednesday already? why does march seem to be flying by so fast?
today i want to share another poem by anne sexton. i love her fairytale poems so much. that is all. a wednesday poem + some artwork to send you off...! have a lovely day.

from anne sexton's "cinderella"

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter cinderella:
be devout. be good. then i will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
the man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.

cinderella was their maid.
she slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like al jolson.
her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for cinderella.
she planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
the bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

next came the ball, as you all know.
it was a marriage market.
the prince was looking for a wife. all but cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the big event.
cinderella begged to go too.
her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
the white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
no, cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
that's the way with stepmothers.

cinderella went to the tree at the grave and cried forth like a gospel singer:
mama! mama! my turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
the bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little gold slippers.
rather a large package for a simple bird.
so she went. which is no surprise.

her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

as nightfall came she thought she'd better
get home. the prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. back to her cinders.
these events repeated themselves for three days.
however on the third day the prince covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
he went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
the eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
the prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
that is the way with amputations.
they don't just heal up like a wish.
the other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
the prince was getting tired.
he began to feel like a shoe salesman.

but he gave it one last try.
this time cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.


cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.

regular bobbsey twins.
that story.

images: alphonse mucha (1+2), margaret evans price (3+4), andy warhol (5+6+7), '50s paper dolls (8).


bookish saturday morsel

of course.
it's a book rainbow!
thanks to my spanish pal(s) for sharing this.
hope you're having a great day.



a rainy morning, windows open, curtains waving in the chilled air. today i've heard three flocks of geese passing by, and one of the groups was raucously exulting that their travels had reached their end. i can't tell you how much i love hearing the wild geese marking the season's change. it makes my heart swell.

this is something that nature dictates, something that our hands cannot grasp: the whisper in the ears of wild animals, telling them what to do and when.

i love that at this time of year, i can still hear the ancient language of something beyond my reach. it is an opportunity to feel the beauty of distance and mystery, to sense the quiet power of what nature deems necessary.

ever since i learned this poem in fourth grade, i've felt this way. maybe you do too.

sweet weekends, everyone.