Monday, January 5, 2015

James G. Mundie featured in "Side Show" at Yale School of Art

The Yale School of Art’s 32 Edgewood Gallery presents Side Show, an exhibition about the intersection of fine art and the historical American popular entertainment world of the side show – in which the bodily display of the abnormal, human or animal, would be the focus of the event. Issues of race, ethnicity, gender and disability will be considered.  

Curated by Lisa Kereszi, the exhibition will be on view from January 13 through March 20, 2015.  A series of interesting events are planned around the show, including: performances by Ricky Jay, American Horror Story's Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz, and Coney Island Island Sideshows by the Seashore; a panel discussion featuring Dick Zigun, Todd Robbins and Jennifer Miller; lectures by artists and others such as James Taylor of Shocked and Amazed; and workshops. 


· Diane Arbus
· Susan Meiselas
· Weegee
· Otto Dix
· Peter Blake
· Chris Daze
· Roger Brown
· Pamela Joseph
· Jane Dickson
· David Carbone
· Johnny Meah
· Arnold Mesches
· Robert Cruikshank
· John Kay
· John Waters
· Al Stencell
· Fred Kahl
· Johnny Eck
· Toni-Lee Sangastiano
· Marie Roberts
· Edward Kelty
· Anonymous
· Henry Gerbault
· Fred Johnson
· Joe Coleman
· Snap Wyatt
· James Mundie
· Ed Paschke
· Riva Lehrer

This exhibition has been made possible by an Anonymous Donor with support from the Hayden Fund for Arts and Ideas.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day in Philadelphia

Another New Year's Day, and another Mummer's Parade in Philadelphia - that gaudy spectacle in which blue-collar guys (and gals) bedeck themselves in feathers and sequins, strap on banjos and march on Broad Street. It's like Mardi Gras, but earlier, colder, and without the nudity. This parade has been happening for so long (on or around New Year's Day) that it is widely held to be the oldest folk festival in the United States. 

Always subject to budget constraints and controversy, this year the parade appeared in a rather abbreviated form, starting at City Hall and progressing southward down Broad Street only as far as Washington Avenue.  This not only reversed the usual direction, but cut two miles and several hours from the route and almost completely bypassed South Philadelphia, the mummers' traditional home neighborhood.

See more photographs on Flickr.

"When the spirit moves you" by James G. Mundie

Artist residency at Elizabeth Bishop House

A new year has begun, and so it is customary to reflect on the year just concluded. For us, the major highlight of 2014 was a week-long artist residency in July at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, Nova Scotia. The house was the childhood and spiritual home of Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), former poet laureate of the United States (1949-1950), and winner of the Pulitzer Prize (1956) and National Book Award (1970). Bishop spent much of her formative years here in her maternal grandparents' home. The rambling house and the village around it would feature prominently in Bishop's writing.

"EB's Room" by James G. Mundie

It was in this house in 1916, that Gertrude Bulmer Bishop - recently widowed mother of then five-year-old Elizabeth - lost her grip on sanity. Gertrude would commit herself voluntarily to the Nova Scotia Hospital which later declared her permanently insane. Elizabeth Bishop never saw her mother again, but the tragedy figures prominently in her later writings, particularly In the Village in which she describes her mother's scream as remaining recorded in Great Village itself, to be released by tapping the lightening rod atop the steeple of St. James.

"Built, Burnt, Built" by James G. Mundie

"A scream, the echo of a scream, hangs over that village in Nova Scotia... Flick the lightening rod on the top of the church steeple with your fingernail and you will hear it." 
- from In the Village by Elizabeth Bishop

In the late 1990s, the house was designated a Provincial Heritage Property. In 2004, group of Bishop enthusiasts purchased the house and opened it up to artists as a place for quiet reflection. These artist residencies - held under the auspices of the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and facilitated by the wonderful Sandra Barry - continued for ten years, but are now in limbo as the house was put up for sale during the last few days of our stay (but as of this writing, the house has not yet been sold).

"Vesuvius in Eruption (newspaper fragment glued to ceiling of attic room)" by James G. Mundie

A new volcano has erupted,
the papers say, and last week I was reading 
where some ship saw an island being born: 
at first a breath of steam, ten miles away; 
and then a black fleck—basalt, probably—
rose in the mate’s binoculars
and caught on the horizon like a fly.
They named it. But my poor old island’s still 
un-rediscovered, un-renamable.
None of the books has ever got it right.

- from Crusoe in England by Elizabeth Bishop

We felt honored and privileged to spend time in this special place. For our family it was a time of rejuvenation and exploration. Kate drew and painted, while I prowled with my camera and the kids played in the yard and out in the barn. Most days we would venture out to experience the magnificent landscape along the Bay of Fundy, often stopping at a beach to hunt for fossils and skip stones across the iron-tinged waves. Evenings were spent exploring the house's wonderful library and the writings of EB herself. It was a time of unhurried reflection that was a welcome relief from the stress and routine of our life in Philadelphia.

"27 Drawers" by Kate Kern Mundie

More of Jim's photographs from Elizabeth Bishop House may be seen on Flickr.