Napoleon on the Nile at the Frye

 How did 19th century artists and scientists come to rediscover Egypt and the Middle East? How did the images and explorations of those artists and scientists spark “Egyptomania” as a cultural phenomenon?

Two museums in the Puget Sound area try to answer those questions with complementary exhibitions that look at Egypt and the Middle East through the eyes of those 19th century artists and scientists.

Monumental figures of Pharaohs carved from the living rock, impressing and intimidating Continue reading “Napoleon on the Nile at the Frye”

La Semaine de la Bande Dessinée/The Week of the French Graphic Novel

Do you thrill to the adventures of Tintin, intrepid boy reporter, and his fearless dog Snowy? Have you laughed out loud at the antics of Astérix and his merry band of Gauls? Or found yourself absorbed by Marjane Satrapi’s recollections of her girlhood in revolutionary Iran in her graphic memoir Persepolis?

Whether you knew it or not, you were reading bandes dessinées (literally translated as “drawn strips”), or BDs. Bandes dessinées are stories drawn and written by French and Franco-Belgian cartoonists, what we in the United States call “comics” or, more recently, “graphic novels.” Unlike American comics, however, BDs have enjoyed a more exalted cultural status in France and Belgium, where they have long been regarded as “the ninth art.”

From August 13 to 17, the Alliance Française de Seattle will celebrate this genre with a series of free events around the city known as La Semaine de la Bande Dessinée. This year’s featured guest is Parisian cartoonist David B., author of the award-winning graphic memoir, Epileptic. David B. will be at The Seattle Public Library on Saturday, August 16 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. to talk about his life and work. You can find more information about other events in the series on the Alliance’s website.

If you can’t make it to these events, and you’d like to learn more about bandes dessinées, Continue reading “La Semaine de la Bande Dessinée/The Week of the French Graphic Novel”

Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library

On Saturday June 28, The Seattle Public Library downtown hosts an all day group performance of TASK by Oliver Herring. Co-sponsored by the Frye Art Museum, On the Boards, and the Tacoma Art Museum, the piece revolves around spontaneous interactions between a group of volunteer local performers working to complete “tasks” assigned first by the artist, then by their fellow performers.

Performance art is just one aspect to the work of the New York artist. He was first noted for his ethereal sculptures knitted from Mylar, then moved on to work in video, photography and live performances mostly unscripted and often performed by strangers. Seattleites had an opportunity to view some of his previous work in 2005 at his show Continue reading “Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library”

There are few limits to our determination…

…to answer your questions. 

Librarianship is a cooperative profession. If one of us can’t answer a reference question, we consult with our colleagues. But there are occasions when no one local can find the answer. Now, through the magic of the Internet, we can consult instantly with librarians across the country, or even on the other side of the world.

In the Arts, Recreation and Literature Department at the Central Library, a common question goes like this: “Can you identify this picture from my description?” Here is one recent example.  “The picture shows a man on a hillside at night. Looking up, on one side he sees the stars; on the other, he can look through the sky and see the workings of the universe. Can you identify this for me?”

None of us could identify the picture, so we sent it to the ARLIS mailing list, which reaches art libraries across the country. Within a very short time, we received the answer Continue reading “There are few limits to our determination…”

Blurring Boundaries: translating the digital to the book

With all the press lately about Kindle, the latest wireless reading device to take a stab at capturing the book reading market, it is interesting to see books traveling the other way, out of the ether and on to the printed page.

The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life by John Maeda an internationally respected graphic designer, visual artist and computer scientist with MIT’s Media Lab came out of his ongoing work, then ruminations on his blog, finally “simplified” onto the written page. It proposes ten laws of simplicity to consider in design, corporations, perhaps even for the person. Most interestingly is his goal to allow his thinking on his mission for simplicity in our increasingly complex world to evolve past the thinking captured in the book via his ongoing blog.

The physical book here acts as a slide or snapshot of a point in the intellectual process in a very immediate way.

We Are Smarter Than Me by Barry Libert & Jon Spector and thousands of other contributors evolved from a collaborative effort of students, faculty and alumni of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as leaders, authors, and experts from the fields of management and technology, as a how-to-do-it manual for ways to implement web 2.0 sharing practices in real world businesses. 

Once again the book freezes the frame, hits the print command and saves your work for the ages – as long as our libraries continue to collect and retain these artifacts of our communal learning. We are interested in knowing about other cross-fertilization efforts; please feel free to share what you run into on your travels, online and off.

~posted by Kay K.