Friday, June 29, 2012

The Peony

It all started with the photo above--Kari Herer's image of peonies which we bought for the baby for her first birthday. Reason? Her middle name is Peony. Her sweet head is kind of like a peony. And she makes me love the flowers even more than I did before. Next thing I knew I was finding peony photography everywhere. To the point where I now have a sizable enough collection of images saved up to warrant their own post. Thusly--

Alica Paulson

Kate Spade tumblr

Chelsea Fuss (three images above)

Grace Bonney

Photo by Jen Gotch, design by Bri Emerey

And, because I cannot resist--here's Mabel Peony herself.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

At Last We Come to the Final Poem in the Sixty-One-Poem-Long Series About the Fall of 2005

November 30, 2005
I was sleepy in bed

and gave Bill step-by-step instructions
about exactly how to pack his lunch
just the way I do it

First you take out the bread tin
now open it
now open the bread
now reach in under the first two slices
don’t take those
take the next two down
put them into the toaster
set it for two minutes
close the bread bag
but before you put it away in the tin
get out a cookie
open the cupboard
get out a plastic bag
put the cookie in the bag
close the bag
put the bag with the cookie in it on the counter where you’ll see it in the morning
now put the bread and the cookies away in the tin
close it
and put it away
now open the refrigerator…

image source is here

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fact of the Matter

The American Library Association has put out a great infographic (delivered to me via the awesome book publishing blog Galleycat, and shown in its entirety below) to demonstrate how funding is down but usage is up. And important message and one we could all stand to be reminded of. While this these facts are of course super-germane to the subject of the book, one of the most interesting bits, to me, is not directly book-related: The very pertinent reminder that 35% of Americans do not have high-speed internet in their homes (and with the way websites are designed these days, not having "high-speed" internet might as well amount to not having the internet at all). So much of public life--forms, bureaucracies, appointments, and so forth--seems now to be set up on the assumption that everyone can just go online and do it (whatever the relevant "it" maybe be). We are not reminded nearly often enough that such sentiments are elitist and wrong.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baby-Art Craft Project

So I wanted to give some pieces of Mabel's artwork (mixed-media: felt pen and assorted stickers) to her grandfather, my dad, for Father's Day. But just handing over a few loose sheets, endearing as they are, didn't seem like much of a gift. So I dug around and found this little box which holds little squares of notepaper for keeping on your desk and jotting notes on--and, using paper-glue and bright yellow duct tape (on the inside), covered it with the baby drawings. I like to make things. But I don't generally find a ton of time for art or craft projects in my day-to-day life, so when I do find the chance to do something like this it's all the more exciting. Not to mention I'm just really happy with the way it turned out.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The main reason we were in Boston a month ago was to orchestrate a meeting between these two baby cousins (and, tangentially, so their respective parents could meet their respective niece and nephew, and also hang out together). Their historic convocation was documented in Polaroid form here, at the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Gardens. We believe Mabel is sitting on Ouack.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Out and About

I stopped by Spoke Art gallery last night and got to chat with the fine folks there about art shows, art books, and everything in between. Also got to check out their current show of Casey Weldon's highly entertaining work:

And how nice it was to see a table of books for sale in their front window--including one from my very own employer:

Last week I also stopped by the Randall Museum, shocked to discover there was a museum in the city I'd not only never visited, but never even heard of until a few months ago. 

Turns out that's because it's not a traditional art museum.

Although it does have this cool art/science piece, Windswept, on the outside of the back of the building, featuring hundreds of tiny free-wheeling compass thingees that move with the breezes.

But for the most part it's a children's discovery museum. Full of live animals (chickens! owls! starfish! honeybees!), stations to build block building and then make earthquakes to see if they fall down, a well-stocked puppet theater, and a toddler playroom full of toys and designed to look like tree-house. It was basically like getting to run amok in the biggest coolest preschool classroom ever. Needless to say, Mabel and the other kids I was with loved it.

image sources:
here, here, me, here, here, and here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Next to the Last Poem in the Long-Running Series About the Fall of 2005

November 29, 2005
In the supermarket

there was a European girl
standing in front of the dairy case
taking photos of the Coffee-mate

And when you looked at it
yeah it was worth photographing
We’re talking almost as much shelf-space as is devoted to milk
Row upon row of red and brown and blue and green plastic bottles
Creepy when you think about it
though not without aesthetic possibilities
in the hands of a good photographer
And probably a lot creepier too
if you’re from elsewhere
overawed and vaguely horrified

Later I heard her talking to a store employee
about how many different kinds of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal there were

So I observed all this
but uppermost in my mind
was the fact that I had never seen the wall of Coffee-mate there before
though this has been my weekly grocery store for two years now
I didn’t even know you could buy non-dairy-creamer in the dairy case
Yet there it sits
right between the milk I buy
and the yogurt I buy

Much as I hate to beat the poor old dead horse
of this ever-recurring theme
of all the things I never saw though they were right in front of me
and then suddenly did see them
It’s hard to ignore that it’s now happening almost daily

image source is here

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

They Stack Up Really Well

A few weeks ago I snapped the above picture of some art books holding up a leopard clutch in the window of high-end San Francisco retailer Wilkes Bashford. I didn't think much of it at the time except just a general sort of "ooh! art books!" feeling. Then this morning I found myself taking another such photo--this one of a stack of what I'm pretty sure are actually fake tomes (though I do kind of wish 80s Collected Thoughts, Vol. 1 was real). What you can't see is that they're holding up a very cute little portable stereo thingee--this because they're in the window of high-end audio equipment store, Bose.

And this reminded me of an email I got a few months back from an author of mine, with an attached grainy photos from her sister-in-law, showing said author's very nice book on display in the window of a high-end Manhattan home decor boutique. At this point in the story, are we or are we not surprised that the store was not actually carrying the book? 

Of course the past-masters of this classy trick of visual merchandising are relatively-high-end clothing retailer J. Crew. They display art books so beautifully, so lovingly, throughout their stores that it's enough to make an art book editor weep (though whether she'd be weeping from pleasure at the gorgeousness of the homage, or frustration at the fact that few if any of these books are actually for sale, is unclear).

Don't worry, don't worry, I'm not in the mood to go on some sort of impassioned rant on this subject of books as furniture, books as pedestals, books as peripheral, books as--absolutely literally--window dressing. I'm more in the mood to just note and observe the world of books as I find it, and let you draw your own conclusions.

image credits
top two photos: mine
third photo: Josie Iselin's sister in law
fourth and fifth photo: Quintessence

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nothing Like a New Dress

So this week is the week that all the editors at the fine publishing house where I work get up in front of bunches of sales and other company folks and "launch" our Spring 2013 books. Since these coworkers of mine must start publicizing, marketing, and indeed selling the books long before they actually exist as finished objects, this is their introduction to the list--each editor gets up and gives presentation about each and every one of his or her (mostly her) books, complete with fancy visual slides and so forth. And today is mine. And, as luck would have it, what should arrive in the mail late yesterday afternoon but my new dress from British clothier Toast! And, seriously? I am utterly enamored of this garment. If there's anything that makes you feel more ready to get up in front of dozens of people and talk for half an hour (other than, I suppose, preparation), it's got to be a new dress. Oh, and heels.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Playing with the Slinky

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, when we go to put Mabel down for her nap, instead of falling asleep she sits in her bed and talks and croons to herself. Our routine is to let her do this for about twenty minutes--during which time she will often eventually lie down on her own and drift off--but on the occasions when she does not, we pull her back out and proceed to play the fun game of walking up, and then back down, the five flights of stairs in our apartment building. An activity she enjoys immensely and which also wears her out enough to fall asleep when we put her back into her bed afterwards. On this particular day in March we included the added bonus of the slinky.

Turning to Turner

I saw the above painting by J.M.W. Turner at the MFA when we were in Boston last month, and he's been on my mind ever since. Without getting into any art historical or art critical territory, I must say that I just really like Turner. Maybe it's because, as my English lit professors were so found of saying, we're all still really Romantics, but almost more than any other painter he seems to me to capture the way light, and the world, really do look--not literally, of course, but emotionally, in those moments when you're feeling most receptive to the the beauty and joy inherent in things. Woo-woo as that sounds, I stick by it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The End is Now in Sight for the Ongoing Poem Series About the Fall of 2005

November 28, 2005
The roasting pan

Bill and I had been saying
maybe we should buy a roasting pan to cook a turkey for Christmas
(only drawback to amazing turkey dinner at Negri’s on Thursday was
no leftovers
Fortunately, Jen and Tom shared their
turkey sandwiches on soft bread with cranberry and lots of mayo
with us on Friday)
but Mama said no
don’t yet
she’d ask the aunties

So when we went back there on Saturday to trim the tree
she had obtained from Ellie and Be-Ba what is possibly
the most beautiful roasting pan in the universe
beat-up speckley sky blue enamel
oval shaped and straight sided
with a lid almost identical in shape and size to the pan
Gorgeous in that way that only kicked around old stuff can be
Yesterday I made a home for it on top of the cabinet in the kitchen
where it shines forth in all its mellow patina-ed glory

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Art Books Ascending

It's always interesting to have your anecdotal experience borne out by statistics. Case in point: I couldn't tell you how many times in the past year or so I've had various publishing types bring up in conversation the idea that visual books, and specifically art books, are the ones that aren't going away. And I keep saying, yeah, I'd be a lot more freaked out if I were a fiction editor. The most voracious fiction readers, however fond they may be of the smell of paper (and they are), if they are in the ninty-nine percent and have to think about funds at all, have got to inevitably just be finding more and more that it just makes sense for them to buy nine-dollar ebooks instead of twenty-nine dollar hardcovers. But a visual book--at least with current technology--still really needs to be in good old-fashioned physical print-book form in order to function the way people want it to. 

So, earlier this week, along comes a set of slides from a talk given at the most recent Publisher's Launch conference by Phil Ollila, chief content officer for great big book distributor Ingram. Well, it turns out one of the handy things about being a great big book distributor is that you have access to all sorts of interesting sales data. Including the info pictured above, about how sales of art, photography, design, and other visual books in traditional print form are on the rise, as fiction declines due to e-reader sales.

As an avid reader and lover of fiction in book form myself, I can't help but be saddened by this confirmation that the number of people walking into bookstores and buying novels really is decreasing. But as an editor of, and champion for, art books, I can't help but be heartened. To help me cope with my mixed emotions I present you with the above photo of one of the world's largest bookstores, El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, which is heartening by any measure.

Image source for top photo of The Strand is here, image source for bottom photo of El Ateneo is here

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Schiaparelli and Prada

So, as I mentioned last week, one of the highlights of my New York Trip was getting to see the most excellent fashion exhibition "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" at the Met. I really cannot overstate how much I loved this show. The critics are apparently quibbling that it's not really a Major Blockbuster like last year's Alexander McQueen show was, but you know what? Really? Who cares. As far as I'm concerned it's flat-out glorious.

Utterly delightful clothes by two top-notch designers, compared and contrasted in all sorts of interesting, beautiful, and thought-provoking ways? In my book, that's enough and more than enough.

And that's not to mention the super smart curation. I'm actually kind of amazed and impressed that someone, somewhere, had the good sense to give such an in-your-face curatorial vision free reign. All kinds of interesting devises are employed to make various points about the differences and similarities between the two designers' work--and yet it's never too obvious, never dumbed-down.

In truth, you're being hit over the head with several themes (including the old chestnut: is fashion art? which is tackled in such a bold up-front way as to effectively preempt any of the usual boring conversations folks generally insist on having on that topic every time a fashion exhibition is mounted at a major museum--clever!) and yet it's such an entirely salutatory experience that you're left without the tiniest trace of bother from the buffeting.

The most striking of these curatorial elements is the video: a film by none other than that most joyfully exuberant of directors Baz Luhrmann that pairs the real Miuccia Prada with actress Judy Davis playing Elsa Schiaparelli for a series of "impossible conversations" across a long table. It's the first thing you see when you walk into the show, and then bits and pieces of it reappear throughout.

It's utterly weird and wonderful and, as I say, it seems amazingly lucky that whoever thought up this wacky idea was allowed to get away with it.

And then, of course, there's an utterly fabulous book (with all kinds of fancy production bells and whistles, naturally) which I now, just as naturally, covet.

My one and only quibble with this otherwise excellent show is: Where's the lobster dress? Arguably Schiaparelli's most famous creation (other than the introduction of hot pink into the public consciousness), the collaboration with Salvador Dali, above, is only referenced in the show in a grainy black and white photograph.

The dress is not only a legend in its own right, but Prada has also created a tribute to it--as worn above by the inimitable Ms. Wintour--so the absence of either gown from the show does seem like a pretty glaring omission. You've got to figure there's a story there. But you know what, that's ok. What's fashion, after all, without a little imagined backstage drama? The show is utterly lovely and I utterly loved it, lobster dresses or no.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I mean, come on! This adorable bare-legged daughter of mine hugs her from-infancy boyfriend, who, in response, doesn't hug back, but just leans into her with the not insignificant weight of his large toddler head. Could anything be better?