Pam’s Pictorama Post: A colleague I am very fond of said that she believes that all Aquarians like to celebrate their birthday. I generally believe that Susan knows best about just about everything, but I am not sure about this. The secret about me and birthdays is that by nature I actually do not like them, however early on I decided that it was better to put some effort into turning that around and finding the best way to enjoy them.
Over time I have found a number of methods for cheering the sometimes bleak days of February – mostly filling the days with seeing friends and especially other Aquarian celebrants of my acquaintance. The pandemic made that a bit harder although there was at least one birthday dinner outside in the snow in February of ’21. At the height of this practice I think I had five or six folks I would see for lunch, drinks or most often dinner.
This year mom had a glorious coconut cake with pineapple filling made for the occasion. Luckily there were many folks on hand in New Jersey to help consume it, although I will admit to having made a few meals more or less of it myself. Mmmm! As you can see above – we had munched half of it before I thought to take a photo. (I did manage a piece home for Kim to try.) Also, there was breakfast at Edie’s Luncheonette (which I wrote about previously here) with a friend which also kicked the birthday week off right.
Yesterday on my birthday on an unseasonably warm day, I caught up with one of my favorite fellow Aquarians, Eileen Travell, and she joined Kim and I on a Manhattan mini-adventure to The Grolier Club. Founded in 1884 this club is an institution devoted to all things library, books and paper. It has had several New York homes over its long life and currently resides tucked neatly in a beautiful building on 60th Street between Park and Madison. (More information on it and these exhibitions below can be found here.)
As it happens two exhibitions I was interested in aligned and we were able to enjoy both, Pattern & Flow: A Golden Age of American Decorated Paper, 1960s to 2000s and Animated Advertising: 200 Years of Premiums, Promos, and Pop-ups. The decorated paper exhibition was based on the collection of the Met Museum’s Thomas Watson Library and curated by a former colleague, Mindy Dubansky. She did a splendid job and the exhibit is full of wonderful papers, but also tools of the trade and other fascinating bits. For you in New York or passing through, it is around until early April and I highly recommend it.
Oddly, these beautiful hand-painted papers seem to end up being used for very pedestrian ends – a familiar Kleenex box design, a box for a liquor. Kim and I agreed that somehow they have not yet really been employed in a way that fulfills their promise.
This exhibit reminded me of one years ago at the Cooper Hewitt on wallpaper. Kim and I started discussing that and while I could not find exactly what I was looking for I did find this post from them, based on their collection, and can be found at Wallcoverings. Fascinating!
Next up was pop-up advertising exhibit. Featuring a portion of Ellen K. G. Rubin’s collection, a note online about the exhibition had caught my eye just in time as Saturday was its final day and it was fairly crowded as a result. I gather that Ms. Rubin is interested in all things pop-up and an online search reveals that her collection has somewhere between 9,000-10,000 pieces – so this was a small and select slice. The objects covered in the exhibition ranged over 200 hundred years, although it seems she has items that are far older in her collection.
While the exhibition has closed it is still available by catalogue (which Kim purchased for me and represents the exhibition well), but also on their website. The nice aspect of the website version is that it also shows some of the objects moving as intended. This was also available in the exhibit by QR code but somehow watching the tiny image on my phone in the gallery was a bit frustrating.
Finally, we were super intrigued by their shelves of Grolier Club publications for sale. Kim dug in and spent some time examining the lot. Not surprisingly considering their mission, their publications are expertly executed and an interesting lot and although not inexpensive, we may be returning for some of them.
For the record, I gave Eileen an Edie’s mug and she gave me a stunning daguerreotype which I will attempt to photograph and share at a future time – photographing dags is notoriously hard. This a a lovely image of a young girl.
The day wrapped with a trip down to 24th Street to nose around the flea market a bit. A few purchases were made (we did not purchase the photograph above, nor the bird statue behind it which was really calling Kim’s name), but more about that perhaps in a future post too. Eileen headed home and Kim and I settled down for a late lunch before heading back uptown, home to Deitch Studio, the cats and naps.