The Internet has been very good to us this weekend, serving up three different sources of artistic delectation. I almost called this blog post, "Things That Make You Go ‘Wow.’ "
The first deliciousness comes by way of author/artist Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s terrific blog. She pointed us in the direction of Straight Lines Designs, Inc., cabinetmakers and furniture fashioners. This is design straight out of an animator’s dream—bendy, twisty wooden cabinets, tall dressers with arms akimbo, coffee tables that melt, or even (bad table!) piddle on the carpet in steel with one dog-like hind leg raised. There are cabinets with star-burst holes punched out their middles, dressers that "explode," gravity-defying bureaus whose midpoints appear to be gnawed by beavers. You have to see them yourselves. The site is a little slow to load, but it’s definitely worth the thirty seconds.
Not only is the furniture fun, but it’s breathtakingly well crafted and beautiful. Take your time browsing; playfulness abounds. (Even the name of the company, Straight Line Designs, is tongue-in-cheek; there is rarely a straight line to be found in their creations.) So this is Drool #1. We’re dreaming of a flying pig bookcase. What do you dream of?
Drool #2 comes courtesy of Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose blog, Cynsations, is a treasure trove of information and inspiration. I know her as a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and there she is often referred to as the Energizer Bunny, since no one understands how she can manage to teach and blog and write fab novels at the level she does. But she does, and we sit back and enjoy the wealth. This weekend’s offering was a set of brief videos about the work of illustrator William Low, a classically trained artist who now works on computer; he is a veritable Wacom virtuoso. The videos show Low creating one of the paintings for his new book, Machines Go to Work, and I was interested enough to dip in, just for a minute, just to get a sense of it. Well, I was sucked in by watching the artist at work, seeing his hands fly assuredly across the computer drawing tablet, and marveling as broad "charcoal" sketch marks turn into a complex, beautiful piece of art. I admit I’ve always had a bias toward ‘real’ painting, but William Low has changed my understanding forever; what he does is real painting. I love his quiet enthusiasm; it’s clear he loves to let people into his world. He would make an excellent teacher. My only wish (yo, Macmillan! help him out here!) is that his website would also offer IndieBound.org as a book vendor. (Thanks also go to children’s book expert Leda Schubert, for providing some source material to Cynthia L-S.)
Last, but absolutely not least, and most time-sensitive, Drool #3. My eyes are already bigger than my pocketbook viewing all the original art up for bidding at the ABC Children’s Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction this coming Friday at the Brooklyn Marriott. There are 152 paintings, sketches, drawings, even a baby dress with hand-sewn decorative smocking up for bidding. Every year, I am touched by the generosity of the artists who donate their work—no small gesture at any time, but especially moving given the tough economy—to support children’s bookselling via the Association of Booksellers for Children. (Disclosure: I’m on the ABC Board, so I’m extra delighted to see the quality and quantity of the donated work. This auction is a significant part of what allows us to provide education and programming for booksellers throughout the year.) These gifts are appreciated possibly even beyond the artists’ reckoning: by ABC members, by eager art collectors, by publishers happy to see their artists enjoy a lot of attention on a night filled with children’s book luminaries. Karma should be coming to you artist/illustrators by the bucketload.
I am tempted to list all the artists; in fact, I am more than tempted, I am driven by gleeful astonishment to list the names of every artist whose work people attending the auction will have a chance to take home: Adam McCauley, Adam Rex, Adrienne Yorinks, Ann M. Martin, Annette Cate, Babette Cole, Barbara Lehman, Betsy Bowen, Betsy Lewin, Bob Barner, Brian Selznick, Bruce Degen, Catherine and Townsend Artman, Catherine DeJong Artman, Chris Raschka, Chris Van Dusen, Christie Gregory, Dan Yaccarino, David Carter, David McPhail, David Shannon, David Small, David Soman, D.B. Johnson, Deborah Noyes, Diane deGroat, Diane Goode, Don Brown, Doug Kennedy, Ed Young, Edel Rodriguez, Elisa Kleven A, Elisa Kleven B, Elizabeth Sayles, Emily Arnold McCully, Gail Gibbons, Giselle Potter, Grace Lin, Hans Wilhelm, Helen Lester, Henry Cole, Holly Hobbie, Holly Keller, Ian Schoenherr, Jack Prelutsky, James L. Barry, James McMullan, Jan Brett, Jan Pienkowski, Jane Wooster Scott, Janet Stevens, Jarrett Krosoczka, Jerry Pinkney, Jez Alborough, Jill Wolfson, John and Wendy, John Hassett, John Rocco, John Stadler, Jon Agee, Jon Buller, Judy Schachner, Julie Paschkis, Kady MacDonald Denton, Katherine Tillotson, Kathryn Otoshi, Katie Davis, Katy Schneider, Kevin Henkes, Lane Smith, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Laurie Keller, Lois Lowry, Loren Long, Lori Eslick, Lynne Rae Perkins, Margot Apple, Mark Teague, Marla Frazee, Mary DePalma, Mary Jane Begin, Matt Phelan, Maxwell Eaton III, Melisande Potter, Melissa Sweet, Mo Willems, Lisa Brown, Nancy Carlson, Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Nancy Tafuri, Nancy Willard, Nicola Bayley, Nina Laden, Patrick McDonnell, P.D. Eastman, Peter Brown, Petra Mathers, Ponder Goembel, Rebecca Emberley, Richard Cowdrey, Richard Jesse Watson, Robert Neubecker, Rosemary Wells, Roxie Munro, Ruth Lercher Bornstein, Sharon Watts, Simms Taback, Sophie Blackall, Steve Jenkins, Sue Heap, Susan Estelle Kwas, Susan Jeffers, Susan Meddaugh, Susan Roth, Tao Nyeu, Ted Dunagan, Ted Lewin, Tina Matthews, Todd Parr, Tomie dePaola, Vincent Kirsch, Vladimir Radunsky, Wendell Minor, and Yan Nascimbene. If that is not a drool-worthy list, I don’t know what is.
In anticipation of some fierce silent auction shenanigans, I would just like to say in advance to Carol Chittenden, owner of Eight Cousins, bookselling guru, and fellow bidder: I think it’s my turn to walk away with whatever we are fighting
ver this year. And Mo Willems, I am on to your red-wine-spilled-on-the-bidding-sheet tactics. Clear beverages for you around the auction tables this year, mister. As for me? I plan to strategically alter the angle of the artworks I’m ogling bit by bit, so that by the time the bidding closes, they will be facing backward. Brilliant, no?
We hope you’ve enjoyed the visual artistry of the incredible artists represented in this post, and invite you to tell us what’s on your wish list: whose art would you most love to hang in an honored place at home or in your studios and bookstores? What piece of fantastical furniture would you create if you could?