Humans have been making art of the earth and out of the earth for millennia. In the contemporary world these works are, variously, known as Earthworks, Land Art and Environmental Art. The inspiration found in nature is limitless. For some artists inspiration isn’t enough; they have to get their hands dirty! Stone, soil, water, sand, air and trees are just some of the materials used to re-shape the natural landscape.

You can get an introduction to the subject by viewing Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art and by reading The Spiral Jetty Encyclo: Exploring Robert Smithson’s Earthwork through Time and Space.

Time, temperature and seasonal cycles transform earthworks revealed in Projects by Andy Goldsworthy. For Ra Paulette, caves are his canvas. Check out the film, Cave Digger. You’ll find a self-taught sculptor who transforms interiors of hillsides into sandstone sanctuaries.

Is not earth the ultimate work of art? Everywhere, stunning displays writ large and small in simple and complex glory. Nothing is wasted. The environment makes use of everything. More than any previous time we are, acutely, aware of our impact on the planet. In the film Waste Land, artist Vik Muniz returns to Brazil and one of the world’s largest landfills, Jardim Gramacho. Catadores or pickers cull through mountainous heaps of garbage collecting items worthy of recycling. Here’s where the art comes in, as in Raw + Material = Art: Found Scavenged and Upcycled. Gramacho’s initial idea is scrapped. He and the pickers create a collaborative work that has larger implications than first imagined. Just as earth is the great recycler, we are, daily, realizing the need to become great recyclers, too.

Artists have a knack of making use of what society deems unusable. Artists turn items that are deemed unusable into objects of art. Check out the possibilities of reclamation in Art Without Waste: 500 Upcycled and Earth Friendly Designs, The Elemental Journal: Composing Artful Expressions from Items Cast Aside and Trash Origami.

Artists make new and unexpected uses of old, unfashionable and unwanted objects. A splendid example of fashion being refashioned is in the work of Nick Cave. So, get bold! Strut your stuff with Cut-Up Couture and Refashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials.

Get earthy! There’s an abundance of ideas for maintain the health of the planet. Art-full inspiration can be found in the resource list E(ART)H.

~ posted by Chris

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Baseball Culture in Cuba

Stateside we sometimes say that baseball is as American as apple pie. Baseball is also the Cuban national sport, so you might say as Cuban as the national dish, ropa vieja. How did it start there?

In the USA, we have our myth of Abner Doubleday laying out the ballfield and explaining the rules to his sporting friends in Cooperstown, NY, back in 1839. In Cuba the myth centers on a first game in 1874 between teams from Matanzas and Havana, with the players having been taught to play by sailors from a visiting American ship in Matanzas Harbor for a repair. Yale professor González Echevarría explores the origins of Cuban baseball, and why this may be a false origin story in The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball. He looks at baseball and society from the first amateur leagues in the 1860s to modern times, examining the paradox of Cuba’s love of America’s pastime while maintaining pride in national independence, including separations from Spanish and American identities.

The Cuban love of their national sport is highly present in an exhibit currently at the Central Library of Ira Block’s photographs, Baseball: Culture in Cuba. The immersive and large scale photos bring the viewer right into the scenes from the streets and playing fields.

Here is a list for books and movies about Cuban baseball, culture and history, prepared to accompany the exhibit.

~posted by Carl K.

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New Nonfiction Roundup – December 2017

Get a head start on 2018 with host of health, fitness and self-improvement books.  A pair of essays from great thinkers and a pair of memoirs from fierce survivors round out December.

12/5: Bobby Flay Fit: Food for a Healthy Lifestyle by Bobby Flay. The popular chef returns with a new cookbook for people interested in healthy foods that don’t sacrifice flavor.

12/5: Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party by Brendan Francis Newman & Rico Galliano. The hosts of NPR’s Dinner Party Download eschew leisurely brunches for lively dinner parties. Continue reading

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Hungry Like a (Dire) Wolf: Cookbooks Inspired by Our Fandoms

It all starts with a good book. Then a book series. Then, inevitably, a television series or a film. Your fandom is growing, but how can you satiate the hunger? Maybe you seek out your fandom at a convention, and try out cosplaying… What’s left?! What else can you do?! Fanfic, sure, sure. But you’re starting to get actually hungry. How about bringing it all home for a fandom-themed dinner party with friends? Dress up as your favorite characters! Read that fanfic aloud, for all to hear! The finale, of course, is the food! The Library, as it happens, has quite the collection of fandom-associated cookbooks:

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook

Always wanted to try your hand at making Hot Pie’s hot pies? How about drinking some hot mulled wine that would keep even the Night’s Watch warm? This official recipe book includes over 100 recipes, divided by geographical region, and even includes a guide to dining, Westerosi style. Continue reading

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New fiction roundup – December 2017

12/1: The Mansions of Murder by Paul Doherty – In the 18th outing for Dominican friar Brother Athelstan, he must figure out how someone committed two murders and escaped from a locked church with a king’s ransom. For lovers of locked room mysteries and historical fiction.

12/1: If the Fates Allow edited by Annie Harper – Five LGBTQ holiday stories of hope and romance set during the Christmas season. Continue reading

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Favorite Picture Books of 2017

The “Best Books of the Year” lists are out in abundance, and your Children’s Librarians from the Seattle Public Library are eager to share some of their favorite books of the year as well.

Picture books will always be my favorite format for children’s books. There’s so much variety, so much invention, and they simply provide a perfect way to explore the world one book at a time. You are never too old to enjoy the magical combination of illustration and storytelling, and 2017 was a particularly great year for picture books. We have 50 favorites to share with you!  Below are just a few books I found particularly special.

Every year, I seem to find one picture book I want to share with everyone, and this year that book was The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy. It’s a fantastic read-aloud, and little ones will surely want to crow along with you! Kee Kee Kree Kee!  Colorful and quirky illustrations bring this story of resilience to life. The town is too noisy, and its residents are up in arms. But when a new mayor begins to enforce a glut of rules, the town does finally grow quiet – too quiet – until this determined rooster shows the citizens just how important it is to sing your own song, and to sing a song for others. It’s a nuanced exploration of community building and social justice. Continue reading

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How to Succeed at Gifting Books this Holiday Season.

Books make the perfect gift, except when they don’t. Few presents are such a joy for a reader to open as a well-chosen book, but we all know that sinking feeling when a literary gift strikes out. Giving a book can be an emotional minefield, as the books we share are reflections our ourselves, bound up with our own values and sense of self. Rightly or wrongly, it is like giving a piece of yourself. For an amusing consideration of this, check out Jen Adams’ diverting collection The Books They Gave Me, which shares 200 anonymous accounts of literary gifts, and how wonderful and terrible those results can be.

The trick about bookish giving is to try to find something that your recipient will enjoy, rather than something you enjoyed. Continue reading

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