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Granchildren inspire illustrated picture books

At the Germantown Jewish Center, outside the "Little Shop" selling Judaica and gifts,  Yona Diamond Dansky and Susan Weiss sat a table with their newly published picture books, inspired by their grandchildren.

Mooshu worries

While her daughter was going through treatment for cancer, illustrator Yona Dansky got the idea to write a children's book for her grandson, then 3 years old, who was affected by the household distress brought about by his Mom's serious illness. Dansky's daughter has recovered and Dansky, since retired, now tells the story of Mooshu the family beagle who was sad because he was getting less attention and had to speak up to be taken out for a walk. Finally, Mooshu cuddles in bed with her daughter, realizing it seems, that he has done nothing wrong and enters the "circle of compassion, comfort and closeness." Dansky hopes this picture book, "Mooshu Worries" will be helpful to families of young children dealing with a serious illness. Watch video interview of grandmother describing picture book about grandson and the family dog during her daughter's serious illness.

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Beckys braids

Susan Weiss' twin grandchildren have very messy hair and don't like it touched. With their grand-mom the girls like to bake challah, a Jewish bread characterized by large braids. So Weiss convinces them to let her make challahs on their heads. Becky's Braids, illustrated by Deborah Gross-Zuchman, tells the story. Watch  video interview of  grandmother's challah story about braiding granddaughter's messy hair.


Book artist is versatile

Robison marie kondo sale
Book artist Judith Robison held a "Marie Kondo” sale of books she has created at the December holiday "Book, Paper, Scissors" book arts fair at the Free Library of Philadelphia on the Parkway, co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book. In keeping with the advice of the famous de-cluttering author Kondo, Robison was parting with excess copies of her books. A sign read “Marie Kondo sale everything is five dollars unless you think it is worth more in which case you can pay up to $10” The bargain basement pricing drew your correspondent and a friend over to her table and we were soon taken in by the artistry, cleverness and quirkiness of Robison's work. We each scooped up several, among them an exquisite foldout book, "The Cellist of Sarajevo." In the accompanying interview, Robison describes another, as she turns its pages. "This is one of my favorites -Book Marks, which is just a play on all the ways we make marks in the books. For example, when we are little children we write in books, scribble in books and get scolded for that. Then when we're in college we take notes in books. This is the history of marginalia (and goes way back) - writing commentaries in books. This is authored books, just taking a book and playing with it from the point of view of art. And finally, this is actually my father’s bird book. He checked off whenever he saw a bird, in the index, and that’s a photograph of him with his binoculars." Watch video interview of book artist here.


Comrade Pineapple, Soviet Great-Granddaughter

Comrade pineapple two
Julia Alekseyeva emigrated to the United States from Russia when she was four years old. Her relationship with most members of her family was fraught. But her great-grandmother, Lola, reflected her own personality and they developed an especially close bond despite nearly 80 years difference in age. Lola, like many other Jews who had been marginalized and persecuted in the pre-Soviet era, had become a member of the Communist party. She later became secretary, devoted but exploited, to the NKVD, predecessor of the KGB. The years leading up to and through the war years were a time of struggle and deprivation. Lola's husband, sent off to fight, and many other family members fell victim to the Nazis. In "Soviet Daughter," a graphic biography, Alekseyeva recounts Lulu's sweeping 100 year story based on memoirs her great grandmother had secretly kept. Alekseyeva places "Interludes" between some chapters of the book which weave in her own personal history- growing up an immigrant, overcoming thyroid cancer (precipitated by Chernobyl radiation exposure) navigating her college years and discovering her sexual, Jewish and political identities. Near the end, lost in grief after the death of her beloved Lola, Alekseyeva receives a phone call. She has been accepted into the Comparative Literature Department at Harvard. Alekseyeva has also authored illustrated works on Rosa Luxembourg and Walter Benjamin. At "Book Paper Scissors! an artists' book fair at the Free Library on the Parkway, cosponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book,  these were on display along with Soviet Daughter. Rounding out her display were Yuri Gagarin t-shirts and other t-shirts embellished with a pineapple and written across the pineapple Alekseyeva's DJ name - “Comrade Pineapple.” Watch here the author artist describe her graphic memoir about her one hundred year old Russian great-grandmother.


Philadelphia Book Art Fair offers surprising and funny art

"Presented by Philadelphia Photo Arts Center the Philadelphia Art Book Fair is a two-day event, which showcases a wide range of exhibitors, from large and small photography and art book publishers to individual artists and institutions, local, national and international."

 

Shortt signs for artists

Paul Shortt's book of 10 different license plate-size "Signs for Galleries" pokes fun at how art galleries go about their business, signs that gallery owners wouldn't dare post but capture what they say or the subtext of what they say or what they wouldn't dare say to aspiring artists. "Currently hiring only interns,""Showing Friends' Work Exclusively," "Mid-career Artists Only," "Can You Do It For FREE" and more. Watch Shortt poking fun at galleries  with his signs here.
He has also created a practical book of license plate sized signs for artists to use in a variety of situations expressing what they should be saying as advocates for themselves but might not have the gumption to say. “Pay me for my art” or “Is there an honorarium?” to hold up those who would ask a working artist to work for free. “Show up” to hold up to friends who say they’re going to attend your show but have no-showed in the past. “Rejection letter needed” to show curators who don’t send a rejection letter after the show opens and you realize you didn’t get your work in. Some of the signs are just good reminders “Trust Yourself” Watch Shortt showing his tongue-in-cheek signs for artists.
 
Chen comic book
Yusha Chen's sexually charged, scatological accordion-style comic book is about “the laziest person in the world” - herself There she is a tiny figure in bed engulfed by a massive cover not wanting to get up. Then she’s just sitting on a bare mattress, arms and legs defiantly crossed. She eventually does go out to squat and poop, depicting herself doing her business on a small square of grass surrounded by flowers. But later in the spring she wants to start to move again and shows herself jumping in a swimming pool - before heaving up a virtual stream of water through her mouth. It’s all what’s in her head, her dreams, she says. She worked on the book during here last semester of art college. Watch video interview of Chen describing her self-mocking sexually charged comic book."
Phila Book Art Fair June 2018

Conservator demonstrates preservation techniques

Conservator demonstratres conservation techniques
At a preservation workshop through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, Free Library of Philadelphia conservator and private consultant Meg Newburger explained, often in hushed tones, the threats to books, paintings, ephemera and other treasured objects posed by aging and exposure to the environment and pests. Then she conducted a hands-on demonstration of the archival materials and methods for keeping our precious items intact for posterity, an art and science she had clearly mastered

Flourtown is going solar

Solar panels roof
If one of their kids breaks a solar panel with a stray ball, Gail and Chris Farmer are responsible for replacing it. But if a falling tree branch breaks one, Solar City pays - as Solar City did for the entire solar installation two years ago at the couple's Flourtown, Pennsylvania house. The company, now owned by Tesla, placed 5 panels on the south sloping front roof and another 8 on the southwest facing side roof. The company reaps the benefit of excess energy generated back into the grid during the 20 year contract and the family, which satisfies 65% of its electricity needs from the sun, realizes modest cost savings as it moves toward a more fossil fuel - free lifestyle.

The Farmers' was one of three houses with solar panels on the same stretch of College Avenue in Flourtown, just outside Philadelphia, that were part of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association ("MAREA") 2018 Sustainable Living Open House Tour on Saturday, May 5th.

Solar panels electricy energyYour correspondent also visited the freestanding installation at Joy Bergey's house around the bend. Some 10 feet off the ground, 9 solar panels are mounted billboard-like atop a substantial tube pole. The panel began to slowly turn while I was there; motors automatically adjust the angle facing the sun and the map direction to maximize exposure according to weather conditions and time of day. "What have I done?" was Bergey's first reaction the night the structure was first installed because it seemed so industrial. However, her neighbors have been supportive of the project and she has since softened the visual impact of the structure, which sits in her backyard next to a big open field, by surrounding it with garden plantings. Installed in 2016, Bergey sells excess power back to PECO, the regional electric power company, through net metering and expects to break even on the $20,000 investment over 8-9 years. And she believes her house becomes more appealing for resale as buyers increasingly seek out solar energy alternatives.

Watch video and interviews of homeowners in Flourtown, Pennsylvania advancing  renewable energy by install solar panels to generate their own electricity.


2018 Wissahickon Day Parade with oldtimer and author

Wissahickon day parade doctor tom
Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick of Flourtown, a retired biochemist with the US Department of Agriculture, rode in this year’s Wissahickon Day Parade, which took place this past Sunday. For 10 years he rode a horse and for another 25 years. drove a horse carriage in the parade.The event commemorates when several hundred horse-people and their horses converged on the Wissahickon path in 1927 to successfully protest plans to open the route up to vehicular traffic. Fitzpatrick’s roots go deep. His mother was born at the nearby stable atop Forbidden Drive (now Northwestern Stables) owned by his grandfather in the 1890s. He owns horses and he heads the Philadelphia Saddle Club whose riders are regular parade participants. Although he rode in a friend’s wagon at this year’s parade, should one of his stalls open up, he might purchase a good driving horse. At 94 he says, “I got 10, 15 more good years.” Watch video of Wissahickon Day Horse Parade celebrating Forbidden Drive becoming closed to vehicle traffic and interview with old-timer Dr Tom Fitzpatrick

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Horseback riding horse book author

Nancy Peter has ridden in the Wissahickon Day Parade on Forbidden Drive, a tradition dating back to 1927 when riders successfully protested a plan to allow cars on the path, but this was the first time she rode a horse of her own. Cheyenne is a spirited, 12 year old, 15 hand, quarter horse - paint mare who had been trained for Western reining competition. "She's the love of my life," Peter professes before quickly adding, "one of them." Peter has just published a memoir of her horseback riding "escapades" called "Twenty Horses". Cheyenne released a whinny when Peter obliged her to pose as they appear on the cover of the book. Watch video of horse memoir author ride her new mare and talk about the book of her horseback riding escapades.


PLA Conference Exhibitors Tout their Wares

Frey conveyer belt system

At the 2018 Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia Exhibitor Hall.

Choose Your Own Adventure marketer Elizabeth Adelman introduces the line's new card game and "demo guy" Greg Loring-Albright demos it. Stephanie Kardon talks up Voyant's job and company searching and tracking platform. Catherine Hazlitt of 3branch shows how a light table designed for a library children's room can illuminate plastic manipulatives and xrays. Anthony Frey (above) of tech logic demonstrates how the Hennepin Library Director designed library conveyor belt system moves RFID and bar-coded returned materials into their proper bins for re-shelving. Mark Unthank, whose name is centuries old, is the chief Cool Nerd at the eponymous company that aggregates library ebook offerings and the like. Natalie Nardini promotes the Bedtime Math Foundation which encourages you to do some math with your kids at night with a book or their app. Felicia Ambrogio of Infobase Learning touts the tons of information available through their platform. Rhode Island Novelty guy says the squishy ball and the sequined marine animals are what's hot. Watch publishers and library software, furnishings and technology vendors talk about their services and products for public libraries.

PLA 2018

A vignette here

 


Making tiny wearable books -earrings and necklaces

Wearable tiny book earrings
Bookish but fashionable types may be seen wearing miniature book earrings or necklaces. At a workshop at the Free Library Northeast Regional Branch presented by Valeria Kremser, whose weekday day job is conserving rare books, participants like your correspondent and his wife learned how to create these miniature books approximately one inch square. They are true books with stitch sewn folios, endpapers, hard board covers and hinged spines. One of Kremser's most prized miniature books in her collection is from the Gutenberg Museum containing the Lord's prayer in seven languages. It measures about 1/8" square, is hand bound in leather with gold plating and Kremser notes, "comes in one of those little plexi boxes with a magnifying glass on top that swivels open." Watch how to make tiny wearable books - earrings and necklaces - here"

Vaudevillian Poet Preacher Karla Milugo entertains and explains

Multi-talented preaching vaudevillian Karla Milugo

​Performing and visual artist Karla Milugo from Brooklyn and beyond is taking an artist hiatus in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. In the month she is planning to spend here, Milugo is doing art and exploring the Philly environs. Your interviewer encountered her wearing a large, crafted camera apparatus at the Germantown Kitchen Garden urban farm oasis where a potluck picnic and concert was taking place. The camera is also a balloon pumping station and Milugo entertains kids by blowing up balloons and drawing their likeness on them. Milugo also spoke of her Preacher Faith Faucet  person and her book divination projects and  she indulged your interviewer by demonstrating her whistling prowess and singer creds. As the sun was setting the lively salsa band Combo Melaza rocked the crowd including Milugo who videoed while she salsa-ed.