Released in 2013, Flex is Kings is a documentary following the lives of young African-American flex dancers over a two-year period. Flex, an undulating, free-style street-dance, originated in Brooklyn, New York and is centered around Battlefest, where dancers face off to find out who flexes best. The filmmakers do an incredible job using artistic camera shots and beautiful staging to capture the evocative, athletic nature of flex dancing. Focusing on the community of dancers and the struggles they face, the movie is an elegant reminder of the power of dance. Read More..
What inspires the artist to create? Is it borne of a deep connection with the instrument or medium? Is it a need to connect one’s inner life with the outer world? Is making art about influencing change or creating beauty or making peace? As this process of creation is unique to each of us, the possibilities are endless. Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Art Environments offers a glimpse into the world of artists whose works “challenge long-standing ideas about what art is and what it can be.” These artists, often self-taught, tend to focus on spiritual and mystical themes and have sometimes been categorized as outsider, visionary, or folk artists.
Author Phyllis Rose wants to take you on a literary experiment like none other. The Shelf: From LEQ to LES opens in the stacks of the New York Society Library, where Rose has taken it upon herself to read across a single shelf of fiction in order to learn about a variety of novels in a completely arbitrary way. “Usually we choose our reading from a preselected list of books, compiled by reviewers, award panels, librarians, teachers, and professors,” Rose explains. “What about all those books that are never read at all, never even considered? Let me, I thought, if only for a change, choose my reading almost blindly. Who knows what I will find?” Read More..
I walked into the Carnegie building that chilly spring morning as the newest employee of the Lawrence Public Library. The library had moved to its temporary location and this all-staff gathering was an opportunity to meet as team and envision our library’s future. The keynote speaker that day was Nancy Rosenwald who, having recently helped elevate her South Carolina library to Best Small Library in America, was there to share her expertise. Rosenwald invited us to be “agents for change” in this profession of “vital and transformative work”. She spoke of public libraries as “third places”, free grounds for social interaction that are not in the home or work sphere, where the magic of community can unfold. “Foster the human connection,” she urged us, “love the children and get to yes!”
It was inspiring. And it got me to thinking: Where would we be without our public library system? Read More..
For some of us, the beauty of a book lies in the solitude, the way we dive into the pages and lose ourselves in the gentle current of others’ lives. The world falls away, time is contained and dispersed through the whim and work of the author. Left to revel in silence, the reader listens only to sound of the imagination. For others, a book is something to be passed around, a currency of connection that can spawn ideas, spur inspiration. A coffee table book, a novel read aloud to a lover, a family’s favorite bed time story: we crave these literary tangos much in the way we savor cooking together, sharing a good movie. Lately I’ve taken to keeping a few interesting library books on my coffee table, ready to be recommended to family and friends. Today I’d like to share with you a few excellent shareables, all new to our library, and all relying on photography to tell their unique tale… Read More..
From printmaking innovator to social and sexual instigator, Andy Warhol was nothing if not a groundbreaker. “Popular opinion crowned Andy Warhol (1928-1987) as the ‘Prince of Pop’, an artist who created a pantheon of pictures that became icons of American consumer culture in the 1960’s.” Thus begins Andy Warhol by Joseph D. Ketner II, a thoroughly enjoyable glimpse into the life of a renowned and unusual celebrity artist. Raised in an immigrant, working class family during the Depression, Warhol rose through the echelons of New York art society to become one of the defining figures of the 60’s. “His eccentric personality and his entourage of acolytes captured media attention and altered the cult of celebrity.” A compact, accessible book with a nice sampling of Warhol’s works, Andy Warhol is a great place to dive into this artist’s complex history.
The book is part of a series published by Phaidon Press called Phaidon Focus. Phaidon lauds the series as offering “accessible, up-to-date, authoritative, enjoyable and thought-provoking books on internationally renowned modern masters.” Other artists featured in the series include Warhol contemporary Robert Rauschenberg, abstract sculptor David Smith, and figurative painter Francis Bacon. Phaidon itself has an interesting story as a publishing house that has focused on high quality, affordable books, especially art books, since its inception in 1923. Founded in Austria with an emphasis on history, philosophy and literature, the press was forced to move to England when the Nazis annexed Austria during World War II. Despite this setback, the press continued to thrive and expanded its operations to include a wider array titles focused on art and academia. According to Phaidon’s website, the press now has “over 1,500 titles in print, featuring the finest creative work from leading innovators in all areas of the arts, architecture, design, photography, cinema, travel and food.” Look for Georgia O’Keeffe, the latest in the Phaidon Focus Series, to be released in March.
If you’d like to peruse Warhol’s art instead of reading about his life, Andy Warhol Portraits, also published by Phaidon, boasts “the most comprehensive collection of Warhol’s portraits.” It’s a wonderfully big, glossy book that showcases well-known figures such as Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Truman Capote. Possession Obsession: Andy Warhol and Collecting, another beautiful book by Phaidon, documents Warhol’s art acquisitions and displays items from his $30 million dollar estate. For a great in-depth movie on Warhol’s life, the library also carries PBS’s Andy Warhol: a documentary film. And if you just can’t get enough, Warhol’s prolific legacy can be enjoyed at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the largest museum in the United States to focus on a single artist. – Rachael Perry, Adult Services
When you’re exploring a delicate or taboo subject, seeking out books for guidance and insight can be very helpful. I have recently come across Honoring Menstruation: A Time of Self-Renewal, and it has aided me immensely on my personal journey. Although author Lara Owen introduces it as “the story of my journey into the menstrual mysteries”, the book develops into a much more multifaceted attempt to understand the role menstruation plays in our collective psyche and the steps a woman can take to understand and embrace her moon-time. Read More..
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I have always been intrigued by items that carry a reminder of their past: a postcard with a hasty love note scrawled on the back, an antique photograph bearing the names of long forgotten family members. As a child I would pour over vintage Valentines, crumbling wedding certificates, and aged photo albums, imagining romantic scenarios and lives already lived. It seems I’m not alone in this interest: I first stumbled across author Ransom Riggs’ through his book Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past. Riggs, also a photo aficionado, crafted a book solely to celebrate found vintage photographs that bear some kind of written message from their past. I was transfixed by the book’s premise and enthralled by the combination of the photograph with its message. So imagine my delight upon learning that Riggs had recently written his first novel, combining found vintage photographs with an unusual, captivating storyline. Read More..
If you’ve been in the library lately, you may have noticed that our last display featured intriguing, unusual, and inspiring true life stories. As Mark Twain put it, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” Well, after spending the last month combing our library for the wildest true life stories to display, I’ve found quite an array of unbelievable tales- explorers living amongst killer ants, extreme gardeners and their giant gourds, Michael Jackson‘s life story. Yes, I thought I had seen it all…until I came across a shocking new documentary called The Source Family. Read More..
I love Frida Kahlo. I love the brutality and the deeply personal nature of her paintings, the abandon with which she lived her life, her fierce devotion to her country and her lovers. I am intrigued by the mysteries and the ambiguities of her life. The way my coworker Kelli swoons over Abe Lincoln, growing giddy at the thought of holding a lock of Lincoln’s hair…that’s the way I feel about Frida Kahlo. Read More..