What are we reading? Our Top Recommendations

What are we reading? Our Top Recommendations

by Kristine Schomaker


Disrupted Realism: Paintings for a Distracted World 2019
By John Seed

Disrupted Realism is the first book to survey the works of contemporary painters who are challenging and reshaping the tradition of Realism. Helping art lovers, collectors, and artists approach and understand this compelling new phenomenon, it includes the works of 38 artists whose paintings respond to the subjectivity and disruptions of modern experience. Widely published author and blogger John Seed, who believes that we are “the most distracted society in the history of the world,” has selected artists he sees as visionaries in this developing movement. The artists’ impulses toward disruption are as individual as the artists themselves, but all share the need to include perception and emotion in their artistic process. Six sections lay out and analyze common themes: “Toward Abstraction,” “Disrupted Bodies,” “Emotions and Identities,” “Myths and Visions,” “Patterns, Planes, and Formations,” and “Between Painting and Photography.” Interviews with each artist offer additional insight into some of the most incisive and relevant painting being created today.

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Fairy Tale Remnants: Modern Fairy Tales for Grown Ups, Surreal Images and Writing 2019
By Nathalie Tierce

Fairy Tale Remnants is a collection of surreal narrative illustrations and writing about characters pulled out of dreams.

Skeletons, professional fighters, an exotic dancer, historical figures, mythological beasts, fated lovers, a stalker, a naked merchant, a robot, and reptiles show up and confront each within the confines of an otherworldly arena devoted to playing out scenes from our collective unconscious.

The protagonists’ rendering is reminiscent of artists such as George Grosz and Otto Dix with a nod to cartoon characters, fighting symbolic battles in the spirit of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

In these modern fables, no one ever learns anything. The audience watches anyway, pulled in by the dark symbolism of these cultural icons engaging in new contemporary folklore tinged with creepiness and humor.

From the author:

Inspiration for these subconsciously fueled images come from my childhood and young adulthood watching cartoons from Tom and Jerry to Felix the Cat, reading comic books like Mad Magazine to Weirdo to Viz. Graphic novels by Edward Gorey and Alice in Wonderland. Drawn to the surreal and the absurd, watching an episode of Monty Python on Public Television was the height of joy for me as an eleven-year-old. Anthropomorphic beasts from everywhere from Hindu Mythology to fairies from Celtic myths to talking crows in Aesop’s Fables made their way into my thinking.

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Sarah Hadley: Lost Venice Hardcover – February 18, 2020
by Karen Haas (Author), Susan Burnstine (Author), Sarah Hadley (Photographer)

“So much of what we are drawn to comes from the stew of our growing up, and in the case of Sarah Hadley, there is a direct line from her childhood to her project and now book, Lost Venice. As she states in her bio, “When I was just four years old, my father became the Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and my family moved into the apartment on the 4th floor which Mrs. Gardner had built for herself. I spent the next 19 years living in a Venetian palazzo surrounded by Gardner’s eclectic collection of classic and renaissance artwork and furnishings.” Her father was also entranced by all things Venice and the family spent vacations in this remarkable city. He died when Sarah was 25 and her project, Lost Venice, speaks to memory, loss, dark corners, and a city itself that is fragile in its existence.

In 2020, Damiani Editore will publish Lost Venice and Sarah will be pre-selling books and a Special Edition of 50 copies in a slipcase along with 5 signed and editioned archival prints. Each print is part of an edition of 11 and she will be selling edition numbers 1-10 of all 5 prints. You get to select the print you want. These prints have never been shown or sold before and will not be sold at this size or price again. She is also offering a private tour and lunch at the Gardner Museum for just 8 people (who will meet in Boston at an arranged day and time – probably summer/fall of 2020). Please consider pre-purchasing now to help her off set the publishing costs.” ~Lenscratch

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Discovering the L.A. Art World, September 20, 2019
by John Marcella Grant

“In his book Discovering the L.A. Art World, John Marcella Grant demonstrates the power of a simple knock on a studio door. That knock, along with the phrase ‘You are my favorite artist, and we came from Texas to see you,’ gained him admittance to Mark Bradford’s studio in 2012, opening the door—literally and metaphorically—to the direct experience of a varied and vital group of artists and art world figures. Yes, there are some closed doors (Mark Grotjahn and Kehinde Wiley), but also real, ongoing engagements and conversations—particularly with critic/gallerist Mat Gleason and artist Bradford J. Salamon, that reward Grant’s earnest approach. Told in a slightly awestruck voice and tempered with fair-mindedness, the anecdotes presented in Discovering the L.A. Art World provide private glimpses of a world that other less courageous writers could have never entered.” — John Seed, Author of My Art World

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Zen Psychosis
by Shana Nys Dambrot
Photographs by Osceola Refetoff


Saturday, January 25, 6pm

A.G. Geiger Fine Art Books
502 Chung King Court, Chinatown
Reception to follow:
Chungking Studio,
975 Chung King Road

Zen Psychosis is a work of experimental fiction: the attempt to construct a personal memoir culled not from diaries, but dreams. In a way, as the scenes are taken from my own journals, this book is not fiction at all; the dreams are real, their meanings form a story. As a critic of art and an amateur student of Jungian psychoanalysis, I am often compelled to decode intuitive, inscrutable symbols and assemble meaning from the clues the dream or the artist leaves behind. In this novel, I’m applying the technique to my own inner self.

This was directly inspired by Henry Miller, who in 1923 slipped an account of a vivid dream into a collection of short stories in [Black Spring]. “Into the Nightlife: A Coney Island of the Mind” later became an illustrated book in a collaboration between Miller and the artist Bezalel Schatz in 1947, as its tantalizing surrealism and literary voice actively blurred the boundaries between experience and imagination.

The accompaniment of fantastical pinhole photographs by Osceola Refetoff augments and expands on this dynamic; bringing a beguiling dreamlike quality to what are in fact, people and places in the real world outside ourselves. As an artist and student of cinema, Refetoff has long been fascinated with the conventional visual language of what dreams are supposed to look like.

Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the L.A. Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Artillery, and other publications. She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and exhibition catalogs, curates and juries exhibitions, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. Dambrot is a member of ArtTable and an award-winning member of the Los Angeles Press Club.

Osceola Refetoff is a photographer interested in documenting humanity’s impact on the world, both the intersection of nature and industry, and the narratives of the people living at those crossroads. His parallel careers as an editorial and fine art photographer are characterized by an evocative, cinematic understanding of how scale, point of view, architecture, and motion can express the essence of a given place. Osceola graduated from NYU Film School and is the recipient of the 2018 Los Angeles Press Club National Photojournalist of the Year.

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Holy Skirts: A Novel of a Flamboyant Woman Who Risked All for Art, 2005
By Rene Steinke

No one in 1917 New York had ever encountered a woman like the Bar-oness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven — poet, artist, proto-punk rocker, sexual libertine, fashion avatar, and unrepentant troublemaker. When she wasn’t stalking the streets of Greenwich Village wearing a brassiere made from tomato cans, she was enthusiastically declaiming her poems to sailors in beer halls or posing nude for Man Ray or Marcel Duchamp. In an era of brutal war, technological innovation, and cataclysmic change, the Baroness had resolved to create her own destiny — taking the center of the Dadaist circle, breaking every bond of female propriety . . . and transforming herself into a living, breathing work of art.

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Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor October 21, 2014
By Lynda Barry

An award-winning author provides the creative lesson plans and innovative writing exercises she uses in her popular writing workshop aimed at non-writers, which focuses on the connection between the hand, the brain and spontaneous images. Original.

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Making Comics November 5, 2019
By Lynda Barry

Hello students meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate only through images.

For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged.

Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry’s bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand drawn.

Barry teaches all students and believes everyone, and anyone can be creative. At the core of Making Comics is her certainty that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.

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Sant Khalsa: Prana: Life with Trees July 1, 2019
by Betty A. Brown Phd (Editor), Colin Westerbeck (Editor), Sant Khalsa (Artist)

Sant Khalsa is an artist and activist whose projects develop from her impassioned inquiry into the nature of place and complex environmental and societal issues. Her artworks create a contemplative space where one can sense the subtle and profound connections between themselves and the natural world.

The subject of trees has been a focus in Sant Khalsa’s creative work for nearly five decades. Prana: Life with Trees is the first in depth survey of Khalsa’s intimate connection with trees – her explorations, observations, perceptions and interpretations. Her unique perspective is expressed through a style that encompasses the documentary, subjective and conceptual. Her work evokes a meditative calm to what we often experience as a chaotic and conflicted world.

Khalsa is concerned with both the micro and macro aspects of forests: what is seen and unseen; historical, scientific and spiritual; and personal and universal. She is mindful of our symbiotic relationship with trees and forests, grounded in the life-sustaining connection through the breath (exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen). Her beautiful, distinctive and sometime disquieting works express the cycle of life (birth, life, death, and rebirth), the destruction and memory of the forest, as well as the promise of new growth.

The book includes her earliest landscapes (self-portraits and photographs of orange groves); images of trees from her three decades photographing in the Santa Ana Watershed and other locations in the American West; and mixed-media sculptures and installation works inspired by her research on air quality and life-changing experience planting more than a thousand trees in 1992 as part of the reforestation of Holcomb Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains. In her recent color photographs, we witness the fruits of her activism, a healthy, thriving and hopeful forest eco-system.

Sant Khalsa’s artworks are widely exhibited internationally, collected by prestigious museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nevada Museum of Art and Center for Creative Photography in Tucson and published in numerous art books and periodicals. Khalsa is a recipient of prestigious fellowships, awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, California Council for the Humanities and others. She is a Professor of Art, Emerita at California State University, San Bernardino and resides in Joshua Tree.

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Bug Out Bag: The Commodification of American Fear 2019
By Allison Stewart

Bug Out Bag: The Commodification of American Fear is a photographic journey into America’s obsession with guns, prepping, and the Apocalypse. Throughout the book you will meet 13 preppers from all over the United States and go inside their Bug Out Bags, which they keep at the ready to survive the first 72 hours of a disaster. The preppers themselves offer survivalist insights and screenshots from online discussions show how seriously these bags contents are debated. The book includes essays by Rachel Monroe, Pete Brook, Max Presneill, and the artist.

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Con Text 2019
By Bryan Ida

“con Text” is a series of 12 life-sized portraits that relate historical events and documents to the lives of the subjects who are in some way connected to current times. The portraits examine a broad range of subjects including racism, civil rights, human rights, and man’s inhumanity toward man.
The intent of this series is to portray individuals as the embodiment of strength and pride standing defiantly in the face of oppression and fear by a power against them. With the current social and political environment and the recent acts that repeat past abuse and injustice I am attempting to view historic events in the context of the contemporary climate.
I research and reference text from government documents, declarations or other forms of institutional communication and use the words as my mark to render each person with the very words that affect them. Using the word as a building block in the formation of the image does not label or define the subject by the words being used, instead the words are blended together and blurred and they are transformed from a label to a broader gesture that is used to define a new visual standard of vitality and beauty.

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Fairyland ABC 2019
By Leonard Greco

This alphabetic primer of Fairyland is an extension of my ongoing studio interest in folklore, myth making, and the stories we humans tell one another. This little booklet is a near exact duplicate of the original sketchbook in which this alphabet first appeared.

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A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women): Profiles of Unstoppable Female Artists–and Projects to Help You Become One October 2, 2018
By Danielle Krysa

Walk into any museum, or open any art book, and you’ll probably be left wondering: where are all the women artists? A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women) offers an exciting alternative to this male-dominated art world, showcasing the work of dozens of contemporary women artists alongside creative prompts that will bring out the artist in anyone!

This beautiful book energizes and empowers women, both artists and amateurs alike, by providing them with projects and galvanizing stories to ignite their creative fires. Each chapter leads with an assignment that taps into the inner artist, pushing the reader to make exciting new work and blaze her own artistic trail. Interviews, images, and stories from contemporary women artists at the top of their game provide added inspiration, and historical spotlights on art “herstory” tie in the work of pioneering women from the past. With a stunning, gift-forward package and just the right amount of pop culture-infused feminism, this book is sure to capture the imaginations of aspiring women artists.

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The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life
By Sharon Louden March 15, 2017

When Living and Sustaining a Creative Life was published in 2013, it became an immediate sensation. Edited by Sharon Louden, the book brought together forty essays by working artists, each sharing their own story of how to sustain a creative practice that contributes to the ongoing dialogue in contemporary art. The book struck a nerve—how do artists really make it in the world today? Louden took the book on a sixty-two-stop book tour, selling thousands of copies, and building a movement along the way.

Now, Louden returns with a sequel: forty more essays from artists who have successfully expanded their practice beyond the studio and become change agents in their communities. There is a misconception that artists are invisible and hidden, but the essays here demonstrate the truth—artists make a measurable and innovative economic impact in the non-profit sector, in education, and in corporate environments. The Artist as Culture Producer illustrates how today’s contemporary artists add to creative economies through out-of-the-box thinking while also generously contributing to the well-being of others.

By turns humorous, heartbreaking, and instructive, the testimonies of these forty diverse working artists will inspire and encourage every reader—from the art student to the established artist. With a foreword by Hyperallergic cofounder and editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian, The Artist as Culture Producer is set to make an indelible mark on the art world—redefining how we see and support contemporary artists.

Louden’s worldwide book tour begins in March 2017. More information and tour dates can be found online at http://www.livesustain.org.

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Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art September 24, 2019
by Mary Gabriel

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

Gutsy and indomitable, Lee Krasner was a hell-raising leader among artists long before she became part of the modern art world’s first celebrity couple by marrying Jackson Pollock. Elaine de Kooning, whose brilliant mind and peerless charm made her the emotional center of the New York School, used her work and words to build a bridge between the avant-garde and a public that scorned abstract art as a hoax. Grace Hartigan fearlessly abandoned life as a New Jersey housewife and mother to achieve stardom as one of the boldest painters of her generation. Joan Mitchell, whose notoriously tough exterior shielded a vulnerable artist within, escaped a privileged but emotionally damaging Chicago childhood to translate her fierce vision into magnificent canvases. And Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent New York family, chose the difficult path of the creative life. Her gamble paid off: At twenty-three she created a work so original it launched a new school of painting.

These women changed American art and society, tearing up the prevailing social code and replacing it with a doctrine of liberation. In Ninth Street Women, acclaimed author Mary Gabriel tells a remarkable and inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just postwar America but the future.

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Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking April 1, 2001
By David Bayles

“This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially—statistically speaking—there aren’t any people like that. Geniuses get made once-a-century or so, yet good art gets made all the time, so to equate the making of art with the workings of genius removes this intimately human activity to a strangely unreachable and unknowable place. For all practical purposes making art can be examined in great detail without ever getting entangled in the very remote problems of genius.”
—-from the Introduction

Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. The book’s co-authors, David Bayles and Ted Orland, are themselves both working artists, grappling daily with the problems of making art in the real world. Their insights and observations, drawn from personal experience, provide an incisive view into the world of art as it is expeienced by artmakers themselves.

This is not your typical self-help book. This is a book written by artists, for artists -— it’s about what it feels like when artists sit down at their easel or keyboard, in their studio or performance space, trying to do the work they need to do. First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic. Word-of-mouth response alone—now enhanced by internet posting—has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking and creativity nationally.

Art & Fear has attracted a remarkably diverse audience, ranging from beginning to accomplished artists in every medium, and including an exceptional concentration among students and teachers. The original Capra Press edition of Art & Fear sold 80,000 copies.

An excerpt:

Today, more than it was however many years ago, art is hard because you have to keep after it so consistently. On so many different fronts. For so little external reward. Artists become veteran artists only by making peace not just with themselves, but with a huge range of issues. You have to find your work…

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letters Under Rock
Performance Poetry by Cindy Rinne & Bory Thach

“Letters Under Rock” Poetry Performance collects from many landscapes and faith traditions: Morocco, Ireland, the Sahara, India, Japan, Cambodia, etc. Animism, angels, Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Desert Mothers, Saints, etc. There are rituals, ghosts, forest spirits, rebirth, mollusk that tells a story, dragon, heron, swan. This story reaches across time and space told in love letters left under a rock of an orphan Wanderer and a Nomad.

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Kristine Schomaker: Perceive Me Paperback – 2019
Created by Tony Pinto
Essays by Shana Nys Dambrot, Rebecca Niederlander, Nancy Kay Turner and Gary Brewer

“Perceive Me” focuses on notions of self-worth, validation and the idea that we value our identity based on how we imagine others perceive us. This project became a performance about challenging our own confidence, judgment and critism. “Perceive Me” is more than an exhibition, a catalog and Instagram posts. It is a platform for empowerment, for owning who we are, for being unique and authentic, for taking back out bodies in the #metoo movement, for being true, powerful and strong no matter what body shape, size, color, gender we are. “Perceive Me” is for everyone. I have invited 60 artists to collaborate by creating nude portraits of me. They have responded with paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, video and 3D printing. Posing and modeling for these 60 artists, I felt like a supermodel. I felt thin, bold, beautiful, classy, elegant, sexy… The artwork was amazing. Then I looked in the mirror…

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