Artist, Expert in American Impressionism and Fine Art Consultant Yen Azarro Thursday, May 17th at the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown

Join us on Thursday, May 17th at 7 pm when we welcome Yen Azarro, an exciting young artist, fine art consultant and previous Director of Chicago's Madron Gallery which deals in American Impressionism, Modern and contemporary art. Yen is rapidly becoming a go-to person in the area for appraisals, art consulting, art installation, photo styling, graphic design, illustration and murals.

Learn the difference between fake and real when Yen shares examples of art paintings and prints, and explains what to look for while you are treasure hunting antique paintings and objects of art.

In case you were wondering, the photo on the left is a fake Vermeer by Van Meegeren one of the world's most successful art forgers!

Mark Rothko & "Red" At The Performance Network Theatre

Tuesday May 8, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Love art? Enjoy the theater?

Performance Network Theatre and the AADL present an enlightening evening focusing on Mark Rothko, the famous abstract expressionist painter and the subject of the Tony Award-Winning play "Red" (now showing through May 27 at the Performance Network). UM History of Art Department PhD student Grant W. Mandarino leads the discussion on Rothko's life and work. Gain insight into the artist's life before attending one of the theater's performances.

The Performance Network Theatre is located at 120 East Huron St in Ann Arbor. There is no charge for this lecture, however there is limited seating - so please arrive early.

Power Photographs by Platon

Have you ever come acrossed a book and opened it up, not knowing what to expect, and then found pure beauty? That is this book. The contents are head-shot portraits of world leaders. It doesn’t sound exciting, I know. But these images are quite captivating. Here were we have some of the world’s top leaders such as Muammar Qaddafi, Tony Blair, Hugo Chavez, Yukio Hatoyama, and Barack Obama, staring into the lens for a brief moment.

The collection of photographs of these men and women, of these presidents and prime ministers, were mostly taken during a weekend at the United Nations building. Each image is sharp as a tack and the emotion of the subjects pours through. Some emote tyranny or normalcy, while others appear dignified and heroic. What is amazing is that no image is unflattering to the subject, and I don’t mean literally. Definitely grab this book if you’re into portraits.

For other books featuring stellar photography, check out this collection now on display on the 1st floor Downtown.

Today: Kids! Submit Your Art for Jurying for the 2012 Kids Art Fair

Sunday May 6, 2012: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

The Kids' Art Fair is Back!!

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, will be accepting artwork from young artists in 3rd - 8th grade to be juried for the 2012 Kids' Art Fair to be held at the Townie Street Party on the evening of Monday, July 16.

You need to attend only one of these three sessions at Pittsfield Branch: Sunday, April 29 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Wednesday, May 2 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm or Sunday, May 6 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Interested young artists should arrive with samples of their work and be prepared to talk to judges. Please arrive at least an hour before the session closes to make sure you have time to show and discuss your art work with each Juror. Jurors from the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original will score the work. During the jury session the artists should be prepared to show and discuss their artwork to the judges.

The Jury is a great opportunity for young artists to discuss their artistic process, talk about meaning, and hear gentle critiques and suggestions.This is a great chance to see the jurying process at work - and a unique opportunity (if yours is chosen) to be able to actually sell your art! Additional information may be found at artfair.org.

Drawing Lab: Sketching the Human Hand

Saturday, April 21 | 1:00-4:00 PM | Downtown Multipurpose Room

Drawing the human hand makes many artists cringe. Trying to get all the bones, joints, blood vessels, finger positions, etc. correct is tricky business. No worries. Patricia Underdown, a faculty member at College for Creative Studies will first demonstrate how to master drawing the human hand. Then it’s your turn. You’ll study a hand model and begin drawing. Drawing supplies will be available.

Here's your chance to grow artistically, whether you're an amateur or a professional artist.

This event is for adults and teens (grade 6 and up).

Unsolved Mystery....Solved?

Eerie coincidences, unexplained voices coming through television sets, cryptic, even rambling messages appearing as if out of nowhere embedded in seemingly impossible parts of city streets...somebody knows something about the Toynbee tiles, but nobody's talking....

For decades, people have been happening upon hundreds of these mysterious tiles in cities as far west as Kansas City, as far north as Boston, and as far south as Santiago, Chile. Yes, even Detroit has a few, though it's not really clear if both are still there or if they've been paved over. All have a variation of the same message:

Toynbee Idea
in Kubrick's 2001
Resurrect Dead
on Planet Jupiter

But what do they mean? Who put them there and how? Who is Arnold Toynbee, and what does he have to do with 2001: A Space Odyssey? Are the Toynbee tiles messages from aliens? Time travel blueprints? Paranoid and even anti-Semitic rants? 9/11 predictions? Just another form of street art?

Like a lot of people, I'd never heard of this mystery before. I stumbled upon it just as if it was a Toynbee tile itself when I checked out the fantastic 2011 documentary, "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles." Deliciously creepy, even spine-tingling at times, with otherwordly music and strangely-lit interviews with colorful characters, this film does a great job of explaining the phenomenon...and just might even solve it. Originally a Kickstarter project, the film went on to receive several accolades including Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival. If you plan to watch, I'd recommend staying away from Wikipedia beforehand as it could ruin a bit of the suspense-factor here. Those who remember the show "Unsolved Mysteries" and fans of "The X-Files" will appreciate the style of this documentary!

Titanic Inspired Fabulous Fiction Firsts #324

April 15, 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the RMS TITANIC on her maiden voyage. Locally, check out Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum, running through September 30, 2012, as well as other related programs.

The media is feeding the renewed interest with high-profiled and pricy (£10 million) projects like Julian Fellowes' (creator of Downton Abbey) four-part miniseries called simply - Titanic that will premiere Saturday, April 14 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. Like Downton, the focus is on the divide between the classes.

Not to be outdone, publishers have timed their release of 3 first novels inspired by this historic event.

The Dressmaker by DC political reporter Kate Alcott is a "vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young seamstress who survived the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy."

A highly-anticipated debut, The Lifeboat * by Princeton grad. (Architecture) Charlotte Rogan, (with glowing endorsement by Emma Donoghue, J.M. Coetzee, Hilary Mantel, Tim O'Brien and Valerie Martin) sets the scene in 1914 when a young and newly-minted heiress is on trial for her actions during the three weeks she spent on an overcrowded and under-provisioned lifeboat after an explosion at sea. A provocative, complex psychological drama that examines instinct and morality. Read the New York Times review and author interview.

"Time travel, airships, the Titanic, Roswell ...David Kowalski builds a decidedly original creature that blends military science fiction, conspiracy theory, alternate history, and even a dash of romance..." in his debut The Company of the Dead *, which promptly won 2 SciFi Awards when it was published in Australia in 2004.

In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy--nephew of John F. Kennedy, and a major in the Confederate army, is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order -- even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves.

"Imaginative, monolithic, action-packed", "(a) magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters."

David Kowalski is an obstetrician and gynecologist living in Sydney, Australia.

* = Starred review

The Art of Emblems

The art of emblems goes way back to the “impresa” which wealthy people used to create their personal mythology. An emblem or logo may represent schools, countries or even types of gardens. Emblems can be windows into cultures and eras of human history. Of course Ann Arbor’s emblem has something we are famous for. One of the most recent popular emblems plays a dramatic role in the book , The Hunger Games, also coming soon to a theater near you!

The Secret World of Walter Anderson

“There once was a man whose love of nature was as wide as the world. There once was an artist who needed to paint as much as he needed to breathe. There once was an islander who lived in a cottage at the edge of the Mississippi, where the sea meets the earth and the sky. His name was Walter Anderson. He may be the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.”

So begins The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass, a youth biography of the Mississippi artist. Known as the “homegrown Van Gogh”, he sketched and painted the natural world of the Gulf coast from the 1930s to the mid-1960s. He also carved sculptures, made furniture, created murals, decorated pottery and wrote poetry. He was driven by an intense desire to produce his art and express the beauty and transcendence of nature. “The heart is the thing that counts, the mingling of my heart with the heart of the wild bird; to become one with the thing I see…”

He was brilliant, reclusive and eccentric, living on the edge of sanity in a small cabin and making frequent excursions by rowboat to Horn Island in the Gulf, where he camped in primitive conditions for weeks at a time, sketching the turtles, birds and waves. In his cabin, he kept one room locked and completely off-limits to his family. When he died, and they opened “The Little Room”, they found every square inch had been painted with glowing, vibrant colors, depicting a Gulf coast day from dawn to night. It was his secret and it is magical.

This book is a beautiful introduction for young people to his art and life. The first part is useful for lower elementary students for doing biography reports, but could be read to younger children as well; the second part (the author’s note) expands the information to be appropriate for middle school or even the curious adult. In trying to learn more about this artist I found several books in MeL which were wonderful.

Walter Anderson’s art is worth spending time with. See some images of his artwork here. If you happen to find yourself in New Orleans, the Walter Anderson Museum is a day-trip away.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #304

My reading gets downright frantic when the "Best Of" lists start showing up at the end of the year. Glad this one made the lists.

Named by both the Kirkus Reviews' as one of the Best of 2011 Mysteries, and a Library Journal Best Mystery of 2011 Stealing Mona Lisa * * was published to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the theft of the most recognized painting in the world from the Louvre in 1911.

First-time novelist Carson Morton (professional musician, screenwriter, and playwright), "smoothly blends fact and fiction while evocatively exploring the era's seamy underbelly."

Paris, 1925. On his death bed the Marquis Eduardo de Valfierno recounts to a young reporter his audacious plan to steal the Mona Lisa, and the elaborate scheme to pass 6 forged copies off into the hands of American tycoons with insatiable appetite for the unattainable. As well orchestrated as the plan was, it was undone by nature - human and otherwise, when "love, lust, jealousy, greed, and murderous revenge come into play, along with excessive rains and the worst flooding in contemporary Paris history."

Stealing Mona Lisa is a "sophisticated, engaging caper, complete with a richly imagined group of con artists and a historical mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end." The twisty conclusion will leave you wondering about the authenticity of the art on museum walls !!

For a historical account of the famous heist and largely unsolved mystery, try R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: the mysterious theft of Mona Lisa (also in audio).

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler is "part fast-paced thriller and part social history," and an unwieldy and engrossing account of life and crime in belle époque Paris, with the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa serving as the centerpiece.

One last thing...do allow for the author's exercise of artistic license with the chronology of the Paris flood which actually took place the previous year, as captured in these vintage photos. You might also find fascinating Paris Under Water : how the city of light survived the great flood of 1910 by Jeffrey H. Jackson.

* * = starred reviews

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