Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fartsy Arts

So I have a soft spot for quirky art. Velvet paintings of Dogs playing poker... Images of theLast Supper starring breakfast cereal mascots... sculptures built from old army men and spray painted gold.

If it's weird... I appreciate it.

So in my meanderings, is it really a surprise that I would find and love and collect a few quirky art books?

Today's entry is dedicated to books collecting some quirky art subjects... but just a fair warning, not all of them were bought at Goodwill. In the spirit of this site though, they were all bought either second-hand, at salvage/surplus stores, or I just can't remember where I bought them, and I'm sharing them anyway.

In Maine there's a chain of surplus and salvage stores called Mardens and three of the books I'm sharing today came from these stores. In fact, there will very likely be further entries on this blog dedicated to things I've found at Mardens, because the deals are so good, and the shopping is so random, it sometimes feels like a thrift store with a few notable exceptions.

So here is a shot of my collection as it stands so far. A nice, weird assortment of various different topics.
For more details, hit the jump!

First up, the Goodwill buys:

I think one of my absolute favorite concepts for an art book ever has to be the "finding things all over the place that have something in common" concept. There are three books of this kind in my collection, and by far, I think my favorite is "Elvis is Everywhere" from Clarkson Potter Publishers, with Photographs by Rowland Scherman.

Elvis has gone beyond being a single man and has expanded into a cultural phenomena that so prevalent that his name or image can be found almost anywhere, as this book illustrates. Each photo has a different feel to it, as the presence of the King takes on a different resonance with each shot. Some of the pictures are much less interesting that others, but as a collection, this is solid fun. Belfast, ME Goodwill. .99 cents.

The next book is a collection called "Bathroom Graffiti" (for what I hope are obvious reasons) from Mark Batty Publisher. It is a collection of photographs by Mark Ferem that spans the US, Canada, and Mexico.

As base as you might expect it to be (which some of it is EXACTLY as base as you'd expect...) it actually paints a really interesting picture of... I'm not sure what exactly. Bathroom culture? An effort at mass communication? A strange collection of messages to stir the soul? A demonstration of the potential for boredom to inspire creation... even in the crapper? Ellsworth, ME Goodwill $1.99. 

Next up we have the first of two books detailing plastic cameras. "Plastic Cameras: Toying With Creativity" . is a book from Focal Press by Michelle Bates. While it's more of a technical guide to photography than an art book, there is still a ton of beautiful photography to be seen between it's pages. The tie that binds here is of course things that have been photographed with various kinds of plastic or "toy" cameras. It's the stuff that people used to do before Instagram was invented to make things look like Instagram. 

The focus of this book is heavily on specific photographers and what they have accomplished with their cameras. There are also several chapters dedicated to camera models and developing techniques, but I mostly just like it for the pretty pitchers. Ellsworth, ME Goodwill. 2.99

Next up we have the first of the Mardens buys. "If You Find the Buddha" from Chronicle books is a collection of photographs by Jesse Kalisher. It focuses on well, finding Buddhas. Another spin on the Where's Waldo? artform demonstrated by Elvis above, all the pictures contain one form of Buddha or another, in various striking situations and landscapes. 

Sometimes the Buddha is hard to find, and sometimes it's just Buddhas as far as the eye can see. Again, it's the context of each photograph that affects the viewer in different ways. There's no real religious connotation to the collection, other than the obvious on-the-nose kind, in fact more than a few of the photos are more than a little irreverent. Ellsworth, ME Mardens. .50 cents (on clearance at a salvage/surplus store!)

The second representative of plastic cameras in my collection is "Fantastic Plastic Cameras: Tips and Tricks for 40 Toy Cameras" from Chronicle books, by Kevin Meredith. I have to say, after picking these two books up I am starting to crave a few plastic cameras of my own to play with. I love the results some of these cameras achieve. And the idea of a semi-solid piece of chintzy plastic making all that magic right in my hands appeals to my nature very nicely.

This tome really pushes more about camera brands and techniques. There's just a ton of cool photography that appeals to the Goodwill Geek's mentality. Ellsworth, ME. Mardens. 1.99. 

Second to last in the collection is "Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration" from Chronicle books (lots of chronicle books at Mardens it seems) by Troy Paiva. It is a book of haunting photographs taken in deserted urban areas all across the US.  

Old hotels, train stations, naval bases, all in ruins with photographs of the detritus left behind, all in electric lighting effects designed by Paiva. These photos are a seeming dream come true for any fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. Ellsworth, ME. Mardens. 2.99

Last up is "Joe & Sally" from Penguin Books (who else?) by Willy Puchner. This is a book that I know I picked up on clearance somewhere, and I can't remember for how much. But this book was love at first sight. It's a photo journal of a seeming madman who carried a pair of enameled polyester penguins named Joe and Sally ("A cheap camera hangs around Joe's neck... Sally's toenails are painted red") around the world for three years, and photographed them in various famous (and more than a few not-so-famous) locales.

(Hey look! A buddha! And... the shadow of my camera...)
This book is every travel enthusiast's dream... played out by two penguin statues. But as still and unresponsive as Joe and Sally may seem in each photograph, it is the juxtaposition of these stolid observers in dozens of different environments that gives the viewer pause. It's ridiculous how the ridiculousness of these two explorers affect you... ridiculously. 

So that's it for today! A collection of weird art for weird art lovers. All under $3.00 apiece! Enjoy. 

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