A rich, beautifully illustrated historical account for art lovers and prairie deco devotees.

LEE LAWRIE'S PRAIRIE DECO

HISTORY IN STONE AT THE NEBRASKA STATE CAPITOL

An art history book focuses on the man who shaped the prairie deco architectural style.

This fourth edition of Harm’s homage to Lee Lawrie, who sculpted the renowned Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan and others notable pieces, explores additional works by the artist. The book covers a lot of ground, opening with Lawrie’s ancestry and the significant events in his youth that led to his fascination with sculpture and his early development as an artist. He immigrated to the United States from Germany as a child and began studying sculpture at the age of 14, when Henry Richard Park, a “prominent Chicago sculptor,” hired him as an errand boy. Lawrie worked his way up, eventually getting assignments to create minor sculptures. The author, who has been researching Lawrie for 20 years, zeroes in on the artist’s works at the Nebraska State Capitol. Harm laments that the Capitol sits in relative obscurity despite ranking among the five most significant buildings of the art deco era. Lawrie and a collaborator “crafted the scheme of the building to be a sort of giant textbook.” The volume traces the development of the prairie deco style, inspired by Lawrie’s marriage of art deco and prairie architecture, which was intended to reflect and honor the Midwest’s environs and history. Chapter 17 concentrates entirely on the Sower, his statue that symbolizes the relationship between farmers and agriculture in Nebraska. It depicts a man casting seeds in hopes of growing crops to feed his family. Several of Lawrie’s other striking sculptures at the Capitol honor Native Americans, the state’s first settlers. Written in easily understandable and flowing language, the text will especially appeal to historians and academics interested in art deco, architecture, Great Plains history, Native American culture, and the United States government, law, and politics. Stunning photographs of Lawrie’s designs and period images of the artist, many of them occupying full pages, make the book pop. Heavily illustrated (more than 50 photos in the first 50 pages, a balance that continues throughout the work), the volume will engage casual readers who may get bogged down in the long, scholarly passages. The book goes a step beyond most art histories, deftly bringing readers into Lawrie’s creative process and philosophy through his articles, speeches, letters, and never-completed autobiography.

A rich, beautifully illustrated historical account for art lovers and prairie deco devotees.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9839030-9-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Leelawriedotcom

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

IS THIS ANYTHING?

“All comedians are slightly amazed when anything works.” So writes Seinfeld in this pleasing collection of sketches from across his four-decade career.

Known for his wry, observational humor, Seinfeld has largely avoided profanity and dirty jokes and has kept politics out of the equation. Like other schooled jokesters, perhaps most famously Bob Hope, he keeps a huge library of gags stockpiled, ever fearful of that day when the jokes will run out or the emcee will call you back for another set. “For the most part, it was the people who killed themselves to keep coming up with great new material who were able to keep rising through the many levels,” he recounts of his initiation into the New York stand-up scene. Not all his early material played well. The first piece in this collection, laid out sentence by sentence as if for a teleprompter, is a bit about being left-handed, which comes with negative baggage: “Two left feet. / Left-handed compliment. / Bad ideas are always ‘out of left field.’ / What are we having for dinner? / Leftovers.” He gets better, and quickly, as when he muses on the tininess of airplane bathrooms: “And a little slot for used razor blades. Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much, they’re using up razor blades. Is the Wolfman flying in there?” For the most part, the author’s style is built on absurdities: “Why does water ruin leather? / Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time?” It’s also affable, with rare exceptions, as when, taking on a mob boss persona, he threatens a child with breaking the youngster’s Play-Doh creations: “Nothing wrong with sending your child a little Sicilian message once in a while.” One wishes there were more craft notes among the gags, but the ones that are there are both inspiring and gnomic: “Stand-up is about a brief, fleeting moment of human connection.”

Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982112-69-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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