Thursday, July 31, 2008

In the Gallery: August

Like a cool breeze on a blistering hot day in August, it refreshes! Like a cool exhibit of photographic images by California film artist Loren McKechnie, it promises to refresh! Loren comes to us through a veil of family genes and unique historical perspective on the art of photography. Loren's father, a passionate landscape/nature photographer, gently introduced his son to the art of photography as a ten years old by giving him one of his own Olympus SLR cameras and a 50mm lens. Tagging along on nature jaunts with his father, the wealth of beauty observed became fertile fodder for Loren's imagination and future interest in photography. Working at the Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory machining precision parts and refining the functional works of the cyclotron particle accelerator used to smash open atomic nuclei; Loren's maternal grandfather used photography to document work-day successes and failures. With Loren's budding interest in photography, it wasn't long before the basement enlarger and darkroom was up and running for Loren, under the tutelage of his grandfather. Loren's maternal great grandmother was a photographer for the victory ships built in the California naval shipyards during WWII. Loren inherited his first enlarger from her. Through these hereditary genes and passionate family interest Loren was inspired Loren to pursue his lifelong quest to capture photographically, the nature of truth. Loren's photographic passion continued through high school where he became more focused on darkroom manipulations and the pursuit of quality and precision. At the University of California he began to master the concept of different cameras and lenses presenting different results. Loren chose manual focus and exposure cameras so he could compute each element in the creative photographic process. "Thinking through the assets and liabilities of each camera and its affect on the vision of the photographer is what makes an image come to life", Loren says. From his father's camera Loren upgraded to a medium format camera capable of taking pictures on larger film. After experiencing the benefits of that for a while, Loren lusted for a better way. In 2001, he bought a lighter M6 Leica and fell in love with it. He also became intrigued by a 5" x 7" large format one-hundred year old camera found in his grandparents' basement. Purchasing a range of high quality German-made lenses for the antique camera, he found it performed like today's state of the art cameras. He used this camera on backpacking trips with nature photographer Tony Rowell, but soon realized it was too unwieldy in the mountains and switched to a Noblex medium format rotating lens camera for his panoramic work. A few months ago Loren haltingly submitted to the draw of digital photography and purchased a manual Leica M8 digital camera with a variety of lenses. "Until the advent of digital images", Loren says, "photography has had the power to produce refreshingly truthful images, but with digital capabilities and Photoshop looming on the horizon, there is a chance of losing this belief." Like summer rain on hot August sidewalks, Loren McKechnie's personal photographic journey in the Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery at the Library, it promises to refresh!

Preview Shelf -- July 31

The Crawfordsville District Public Library's board of trustees has just completed a service year, with three members retiring after the very long period of invaluable work that brought us our new building. Bob Burgess, John Culley, and Susie Hildebrand never paused in their quest for our beautiful and useful new library that continues to offer more services and meeting spaces to an ever wider variety of groups. The board that began its work this month is led by fourth term member and President Isobel Arvin appointed by the City Council. The remaining members filling out their first terms on the board are Vice-President Pat Stull and Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Linda Petrie, both appointed by the Crawfordsville Schools. Treasurer Dwayne Rater was appointed by the County Commissioners, and new members Cindy Smith were appointed by North Montgomery Schools. Ron Astin received his appointment from the Union Township Board, and Brian Keim was appointed by the County Council. James Ayers continues as Counsel. Larry Hathaway is Library Director. Here are new ideas for summer reading, beginning with mysteries. "Buffalo Nickel" by Pat Johnston uses that coin as a vital clue in his novel set in Outcrop, Arizona where a LA homicide detective delves into the past for the puzzle's solution. Anne Perry's "Buckingham Palace Gardens" is another of her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries so popular as they lure the reader into the multi-layered richness of London. On to novels. A special annotated "Secret Garden" by Frances Burnett is one of the series from W. W. Norton & Company that includes notes and an introduction by Gretchen Gerzina, widening the pleasure of the classic novel of 1911. Syrie James' "The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen" imitates her writing style and consider secrets of her life which might have just been found in some attic. "The Secret Life of Josephine" by Carolly Erickson fastens on Emperor Napoleon's ambitious first wife. "Windy City" by Scott Simon is both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercing clever, capturing politics in the multi-ethnic tumult of today's big city. Marcus Sakey's "At The City's Edge" also takes place in Chicago, as the first woman to make the prestigious Gang Intelligence Unit must unravel a conspiracy encompassing the city's power brokers as well as the "alley cats" of the ghetto. Mariah Stewart's "Last Breath" delivers suspense as priceless artifacts vanish after being collected in the Middle East, revealing a century-old mystery. In New York City "The Finder" by Colin Harrison begins when a young Chinese woman agrees to take a car ride with two illegal Mexican women. Here are informational aids. Tony Rodd and Geoff Bryant's "The Plant Finder" identifies and pictures over 5,000 plants appropriate in different kinds of gardens. "The Writer Within You" by Charles Jacobs is a step-by-step guide to writing and publishing in your retirement years. "Sailing the Inland Sea" by Susan Neville, English professor at Butler University, invites us to explore "the possibilities the Midwestern landscape offers to writers - its sacred spaces, its rivers, even its weather". "Your First Triathlon" by Joe Friel ("America's top tri coach"), offers information to train, prepare, and psyche yourself up for your first race, from that sport's most respected expert on the art and science of the unique combination of swimming, bicycling, and distance running.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Preview Shelf -- another Wabash author

"American Providence: A Nation with a Mission" by Stephen Webb tells the connection between America and Christianity that was contested on September 11, 2001. American Christians have been forced to think about the relationship of their faith to present day politics. Webb defends the idea that American foreign policy should be seen as a vehicle of God's design for history. This Professor or Religion and Philosophy at Wabash College is the author of seven books, and several of them, like this new one, are available at the Crawfordsville District Public Library. Here is more new nonfiction. "After Elizabeth" gives Leanda de Lisle's story about the rise of James of Scotland and the struggle for the throne of England. In "At All Costs" Sam Moses tells how a crippled ship in the hands of two heroic American Merchant Mariners turned the tide of World War II. "Gandhi on Non-Violence" contains selected texts from his "Non-Violence in Peace and War" edited by Thomas Merton. "The End of America" is a letter of warning to a young patriot by Naomi Wolf and it "will shock, enrage, and motivate - spurring us to act, as the Founders would have counted on us to do in a time such as this, as rebels and patriots - to save our liberty and defend our nation". "Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life" by Father Robert Spitzer is a practical guide to prayer for active people. "Bizarre Books" is a compendium of classic oddity book titles by Russell Ash and Brian Lake, with comments about some of the titles. Here are some new Young Adult fantasy novels that are popular for summer reading. In her series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Michelle Paver offers "Wolf Brother" about a 12-year-old and his wolf-cub companion, researched in forests of Finland and Lapland. Her second episode that follows the team is "Spirit Walker" where an illness afflicts the clan. In Australia, a fifteen-year-old must deal with magic travel while supposedly living with her grandmother in the first volume " Magic or Madness" by Justine Larbalestier. The sequel, "Magic Lessons", shows her and her friends learning about the danger of using their magical gifts. "Infernal Devices", a part of Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve, finds a trio of lost boys in the distant future battling ancient enemies after Anchorage is settled on the shores of the Dead Continent of America. T. A. Barron's third book in The Eternal Flame series, "The Great Tree of Avalon" shows three unlikely heroes, a wilderness guide, a brave priestess, and an eagleman, needed against a warlord bent on conquest of the wondrous world of Avalon. Book Seven of D. H. MacHale's Pendragon is called "The Quillan Games"; to triumph in the games is to live the life of a king, but to lose is to die. Two of Chris D'Lacey's books, "The Fire Within" and "Icefire" explore the connection between dragons, the Arctic, and ancient secrets. "Murkmere" is Patricia Elliott's fantasy manor, a world between history and myth. Jane Curry's "The Black Canary" is also fantasy, for while visiting London a twelve-year-old discovers a portal back to the year 1600, where he can use his musical gifts.Life today is also a popular subject for Young Adult fiction. "Tyrell" by Coe Booth is a boy caught living in a shelter who devises a plan to save himself toward something better. Paintball warfare goes underground in "Sewer Rats" by Sigmund Brouwer. "The Possibility of Fireflies" by Dominique Paul finds a 14-year-old experiencing her summer to "grow up".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Preview Shelf -- July 17

One hundred six readers and parents attended the gala finale of the Crawfordsville District Public Library children's and teen's summer reading program on Saturday. The whole story is that the Friends of the Library workers fund the programs, prizes, and speakers. Their weekly work sorting books donated by the public create their large bookstore collection on the library's lower level. Then, their monthly "Second Saturday" sales (donations) provide those extra touches that make the reading programs special, encourage better reading habits, and help promote the other "school year" efforts by the library's Youth Services department. This is really beneficial recycling!

This column offers new fiction for summer reading. Alton Gansky's "Angel" is science fiction about an earthquake in Southern California that brings a stranger from a world far away to "complete our knowledge, to explain our beginnings, and to correct our spiritual errors." L. A. Banks' "The Wicked" is a vampire huntress legend in a complex world of good vs. evil. Brenda Joyce's "Dark Seduction" begins a new series called The Masters of Time, wherein a new warrior sweeps a beautiful bookseller back into his medieval time of hunters and hunted. Jodi Picoult's novel "Change of Heart" asks if you would give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? And would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish? "Finding Marie" by Susan Davis is a scary chase to locate a covert military wife who found a computer flash drive in her luggage just after her seatmate from Tokyo to San Francisco was murdered, and she must run for her life. "Damsels in Distress" by Joan Hess is a Claire Malloy story showing a volunteer whom no one knows helping with a Renaissance Fair and falling victim to arson, her body found burned in the wreckage of her rented home. Mary Burton's "I'm Watching You" tells about a serial killer taking lives because he's stalking a woman whose estranged husband is a detective. Richard Russo's "Bridge of Sighs" finds a long-married couple preparing for their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy to reunite with a childhood friend; the goal is to untangle a history the husband is writing of his hometown and family. In "Breakfast with Buddha" by Roland Merullo two men of contrasting cultures drive across the country together through places the reader will recognize, with specific discussions stimulating each other's thinking. "Sister Teresa" by Barbara Mujica is a biographical novel about the woman who became Saint Teresa of Avila, highlighting the social aspects as well as the madness of the Spanish Inquisition. "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones brings into focus a changing China, this time the hidden world of high culinary culture.. Charles Holdefer's "The Contractor" is the first novel to address the issue of American secret prisons in the war on terrorism, and it weaves a government interrogator's experiences into his personal life challenge. "Heroes: Saving Charlie" by Aury Wallington is a story by Joseph Loeb based on the TV series Heroes about ordinary individuals, united by an extraordinary bond, as each possesses a superhuman ability; together they must prevent the course of history from taking a terrifying turn. Catherine Anderson's "Morning Light" offers the first of her Harrigan family novels in which a woman is trying to ignore visions that predict the future, and is involved in a goal-reaching challenge. This book is written in large print.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Preview Shelf -- Dot Jones' Book Now Available

"Emilie Todd Helm, Lincoln's Little Sister" by Dorothy Darnall Jones is now part of the local authors collection at the Crawfordsville Library, with a copy for borrowing. Native Montgomery County daughter and retired Crawfordsville High School teacher, Dot completed the biography of Mary Todd Lincoln's half-sister after recently moving to Madison, Indiana, where Emilie lived "just down the street" for several years. It includes Emilie's "background, her family, her education, the Civil War divisiveness and devastation, and her life as a single mother and widow" for 67 years, with a lot of authentic pictures. Earlene Fowler's "Tumbling Blocks" is a Benni Harper mystery taking place in 1996, one month after her last "Delectable Mountains"; this "breezy and humorous" plot involves investigating a death of a member, significantly affecting the "49 Club" of socialites. "Nightshade" by Susan Albert includes 16 years of secrets along with the inquiry into several cold case murders. Joy Fielding's "Charley's Web" tells of an ambitious Florida journalist putting her family in jeopardy by studying the mind of a killer. "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy's is the source for the recent movie production. Danielle Steel's latest "Honor Thyself" shows a public figure disabled by terror in Paris with a plot that reviews her life. Mary Higgins Clark's "Where Are You Now?" follows a young woman trying to understand the ten-year-old family tragedy when her college-senior brother disappeared; she must find where and why he is hiding. "Mermaids in the Basement" by Michael West explores the complex bond between a daughter and her father, set in the South, unveiled as the daughter faces ghosts from her past. Tod Wodicka's title,"All Shall Be Well;' and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well", makes more sense when the reader learns about a modern-day Arthurian tunic-wearing re-enactor being lured to Prague to find his estranged son in a plot moving between past and present. Lethal intrigue with a shocking campaign of terror against key officials rocks the government in "Capitol Conspiracy" by William Bernhardt. "Coal Black Horse" by Robert Olmstead concerns a mother instructing her only child to find his father on a Civil War battlefield and bring him home, causing the son to experience the worst aspects of the conflict. Susan Wiggs' "Snowfall at Willow Lake (in the Catskills)" shows what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror in war-torn countries, and finds her way home for a new chance at happiness. Beverly Lewis offers "Summer Hill Secrets 1" containing four stories about a modern fifteen-year-old living in Pennsylvania's Amish country. Requested nonfiction begins with Alan Crawford's "Twilight at Monticello" telling the final years of Thomas Jefferson. Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational" discusses the hidden forces that shape our often misguided decisions, even when we think we're in control. Christ Prentiss' "The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure" is a holistic approach to total recovery including healing underlying causes to end relapses and suffering. Suze Orman's "Women & Money" is about owning the power to control our destiny, and includes a five-month "Save Yourself Plan". Last is singer Sandi Patty's "Life in the Blender" about combining families, lives, and relationships with grace.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In the Gallery: July 2008

December gallery at CDPL At a designated time in July, the whine of fireworks is frequently heard. The sound evaporates and is replaced by a colorful explosion of scintillating rainbows trickling down to re-awaken the spirit in work-weary souls. Each pyrotechnic event is unique, yet together they create an awesome celebration, and "eye candy feast". In the designated month of July, the Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery introduces a cool "fireworks display" of THE ARTISTS GOEBEL, Kim, Rachel and Rebecca. Each artistic piece is unique, yet together they create an "eye candy feast" and celebration of family talent meant to joyfully re-awaken heat-weary souls. The most predominant force behind this family profusion of colorful beauty and talent is definitely, Kim. Blest with an innate love of nature and art, Kim reveled in sharing her joy with her two daughters, hoping it would stimulate their own innate talents. When Kim's girls were small, she enjoyed working on art projects to give as gifts to loved ones on special occasions. The gift would be especially appreciated, because of the budding artistic hands that created the project. On Kim's busiest day, the girls simply couldn't understand why they couldn't "help" mom with her art projects. Kim has been teaching art to kindergarten through fifth grade students at Sugar Creek Elementary School for the past 22 years. In her free time she loves to experiment with pastels, paint with watercolors, dyeing fabric and painting scenes on fabric that she will later quilt. She paints as realistically as possible and pays close attention to detail. For commission, Kim paints pastel pet portraits from owner's photographs. Riding horseback thrills her. Teaching riding lessons to interested children and adults is the frosting on the cake. Aren't we blessed to have this Renaissance woman living right here in our midst! hen first daughter Rachel was born, infused with a lovely bouquet of creative genes, it didn't take long for this talent to bloom. At only two, Rachel drew an outstandingly realistic spider unassisted, really impressing her mother. That drawing is now carefully preserved in Rachel's baby book. While at CHS, under the tutelage of art teacher Sheila McCormick, Rachel's artistic skills matured even further. She learned to express herself more fully in drawing, painting and sculpture, but her real artistic love turned out to be photography. She learned to develop her own negatives and make photographic prints in the darkroom. Her favorite photographic subjects include her friend, Amanda, Sister Rebecca and a menagerie of animals. A recent CHS graduate, Rachel is more than ready to try her wings at college. Whether or not art will play a part in her future is unimportant. What is important is her early exposure to nature and art at her mother's knee. According to Kim, second daughter Rebecca, a sophomore at CHS, is also a talented artist, though she doesn't feel as talented as her big sisterl. As a child, Rebecca loved to draw and paint, most especially when making unique and unusual gifts for her dad, Tennessee Grandma and other relatives at Christmas or holidays. With her mom and sister "Becca" she created "special" keepsakes, lovingly cherished by recipients. "Uncensored artistic spontaneity flowing from small loving hands is always the most precious gift", Kim says. You will see some of these mementos in the exhibit. "Becca" enjoys volleyball and basketball even more than art. Though Rebecca has made other choices for now, Kim is pleased that she has been exposed to the fundamentals of art if she ever does want it in her future, even as a hobby.

As a compliment to the work of the Artists Goebel, the Gallery Display Cases are filled to the brim with "old", interesting and unusual items from the collections of members of Crawfordsville's own ANTIQUE STUDY CLUB. This still-active club has been a staple in Crawfordsville society for as long as club history and current members can remember. Happily missing are the historic days when prospective members were required to pass a "white glove" test before being approved for membership. Whew, glad that's disappeared! Though much more relaxed today, these women are no less passionate about anything and everything having to do with "antiques", and take great joy in sharing what they have, and what they know about what they have, with others. A few of the exquisite pieces in this "fireworks exhibit" include Japanese Dragonware (Lithoplanes), an everyday white silk kimono, nineteenth century pottery, Flo Blue stoneware, a plethora of Madam Alexander Dolls, Parian white biscuit porcelain, Jewel Tea Company's Hall China, the old East Main Street Baxter Drugstore's soda fountain memorabilia and many things oriental and more. The club's purpose is to further the interest in and appreciation of all things "old". You name it, if it is old; this group has studied it at one time or another. Except for January, the Antique Study Club meets on the second Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm in a member's home. Each meeting begins with a short business meeting, features a lesson prepared by a club member on a subject of her choosing and refreshments. Once a year, the group takes an "antique journey" to a special interest destination where everyone can enjoy and share in an "antiquated" experience. Membership is open to anyone with a love of or interest in learning about and antiques. Dues are $5.00 per year. The group boasts 19 members and 2 honoraries.

Do come to the Library to enjoy this exquisite double fireworks festival, direct from the creative hands of the ARTISTS GOEBEL and the collective hands of the ANTIQUE STUDY CLUB. You definitely won't be sorry!

Written by Diane Hammill