The majority of images in this piece are paper items I found in one of my Great Aunt Edith's memento boxes. She died in the early 1920s of a form of anemia, but my mother always felt she would probably have been diagnosed with leukemia in more modern days.
M Y A R T — Hopping over to "This and That With Artichoke Annie" today, Annie had posted an entry about her grandfather's autograph book from 1894, here. I was amused to see that one of the inscriptions was exactly the same as one in a very similar autograph book I inherited. It belonged to my grandfather's sister, Edith, who died in the early 1920s. It was a pie-slice shaped book, moth-eaten velvet on the outside, with many of the pages so dry and brittle that they were mostly loosened from the binding. Page after page were poetic little ditties, written from just about the same time period as Annie's, the 1890s through the early 1900s. I was acquainted with the surnames of several of the people, and I actually had known one of them, a woman in her late 80s when I was growing up, Annie Good (as well as her equally elderly spinster sisters Alvina and Alma—three of the sweetest women. When I was no older than seven or eight they would give me a butterscotch candy for every song I could play on their piano for them!).
Anyway, a couple of years ago, I decided that I might as well use the pages in a piece of art. Most of the time I will scan items and use printouts, but these pages were personal family items, not necessarily historical to anyone but me at this point, and were in such bad shape that 10-12 coats of polyurethane could only help them last another 100 years. I gathered some newspaper clippings that had belonged to Edith also, and added them to other images germane to the period—a children's book from 1900, dried leaves, tiny bits of colored paper from one of her little boxes. The pie slice-shaped pages from the autograph book proved to be challenge for me to work into my desired grid patterns, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.
I also used bits and pieces of other works of mine, including one of my Dad at St Peter's in Rome as a young sailor, and a few of his brother's motorcycle friends from the '40s. I really like to reference my earlier work in new pieces. It makes an art show so much more interesting when you see all of my pieces together and realize where the bits and pieces have come from. Someday, maybe collectors will want to own all of the pieces with a certain image in them, or maybe future art historians will search for a piece that they've only seen in a tiny form on another piece. I've even used images of earlier pieces that no longer exist for one reason or another, just to throw them off and create a mystery perhaps. It's sort of like a chess game—I'm thinking five steps ahead even if no one else is right now, rofl. Either that or they'll all end up in a dumpster one day. Who knows?
These amusing poetic constructs will definitely be around now for the next several generations to be amused by as well. See if they sound familiar to you. I'm sure almost everyone has something like these in their family history too.
I thought and thought, and thought in vain,
At last I thought I'd write my name.
May 27, 1898 (my birthday would be 59 years to the day in the future, lol)
When you are old and cannot see, Put on your specs and think of me.
Jan 14th, 1898
Remember the Miss that scribbled this.
Jan 14th, 1898
Remember me on land or on sea.
If I should write perhaps you'll laugh, So I'll merely sign my autograph,
March 7, 1901
The last written autograph is just my grandfather's brother's name, Arthur Sanborn, no little poem. He was a very shy and quiet man from all I've heard—I've posted his two 1920s Buick coupes previously. Art never married, and collected and pressed dried wildflowers. I have a large-format handmade book he created, with wildflowers pressed on each page, with their common name and latin names printed. It's dated 1906 and has some wildflowers now that are very hard to find in this area now, like Trailing Arbutus and a Yellow Violet. Art was actually the Valedictorian of his high-school class, a tiny one-room schoolhouse next to their home, but he refused to take part in the graduation exercises because he was the only boy in the class. A class of six!
He later went on to invent a collapsible oar for boats. I never knew this, no one in my family ever mentioned it, but going through boxes of stuff a few years ago, I wondered why I had 25 copies of a Science & Invention magazine from 1917. I wondered why anyone would ever buy 25 copies of a book or magazine when my eyes glanced over to my bookshelf. I have multiple copies of most books I've designed, and I have multiple copies of magazines I've had art or letters featured in and it dawned on me: one of my relatives MUST have had something published in it. I looked through it carefully, and in the section of 'new patents' was one issued to Arthur Sanborn. It was a Eureka moment! I just smiled at the similarities in our lives. Art died when I was five, and I have very limited memories of him, but I felt so close to him at that moment it was almost as if he was in the room with me. I had a bottle of Verve Clicquot champagne in the fridge for a 'special' occasion that never happened, so I opened it for him, congratulating him for his patent and congratulating myself for having solved a mystery all by myself, lol.
My pieces are very detailed and intricate, and the scan of the entire piece doesn't really show them to their best advantage. I placed the 24 x 24 inch piece on my scanner and scanned a couple of areas right up close, hopefully showing the details more clearly. I was amused by the newspaper clipping that said "British Princess Held as Naughty Militant." You just wouldn't see those words together today! I was also amused by "Queer Play at Field" and "Bad Day for Americans." I really like to give my viewers lots of stuff to talk about when they see my work.