1. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, 2011
The most enjoyable read of the summer is a new best seller, Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles. The story of two young women working in Manhattan during the Depression is captivating and provocative. I could not read it slowly enough…I wanted to savor every description and every image it created. I especially enjoyed the inside view of Walker Evans’s exhibition Many Are Called at MOMA—the first exhibition of his portraits taken in the 1930s on the NYC subways with a hidden camera—and the opportunity to run in the high end New York scene complete with jazz, martinis, socialites in sequins and tuxedos (some behaving badly).
2. Chicks with Guns by Lindsay McCrum, 2011
A few weeks ago, I found an unopened box of books in the clutter of my office. I had purchased them last summer when I was vacationing in Blue Hill, Maine. My favorite purchase was a book of photographic portraits, Chicks with Guns, by Lindsay McCrum. I have a special affection for portraiture. I remember being intrigued by the cover image when I selected this book. Curiously, the artist is an art history buff and a classically trained painter who studied art at Yale and the San Francisco Art Institute. McCrum has created a powerful cultural statement about women in America, examining issues of gender and identity through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion. These elegant and sometimes unsettling images are clearly crafted with attention to every detail. McCrum often references the techniques of composition and lighting used by Velazquez, Gainsborough, Balthus and other masters who have informed her aesthetic.
3. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, 2012
My photographer friend Holly Andres recently shot a portrait of author Cheryl Strayed and recommended this book to me. In this memoir, Strayed describes her struggle with depression after losing her mother to cancer. In an impulsive move, she hikes over 1,000 miles alone on the Pacific Crest Trail…a grueling, yet magical adventure. Her account of her three-month trek from the Mohave Desert in California, through Oregon to Washington State was inspirational, funny, and at times downright terrifying. I hope to have the opportunity to meet her the next time I visit Portland, and I will definitely plan to hike through some aspect of the PCT. One thing is certain…I will not be doing it solo.
Cabin Porn, a decadent visual experience, provides “inspiration for your quiet place somewhere.” If you have dreamed of an artist studio or a retreat in the woods somewhere remote and majestic, this site will bring you hours and hours of visual stimulation and pure enjoyment. Clearly the stuff dreams are made of. For those who like to obsess on the tiniest details of your domo, this is the ticket.
My husband and I recently built a one room “shack” at our farm in North Georgia. Cabin Porn provided endless inspirational photographs from cabins around the world. The site is curated by architects and fed by fabulous photographers…anytime you need a moment to commune with Mother Nature and her worshippers, just click away. Noah Kalina, a Brooklyn photographer, who was one of my ACP 2012 Ones To Watch is a frequent contributor and a resident of Beaver Brook. The best description of the cabin porn site was found in The Atlantic.
5. Shed Chic: Outdoor Buildings for Work, Rest, and Play by Sally Coulthard, 2009
Another source of inspiration and décor for our “shack” came from this excellent book. The functionality of your space is critical to your plans. Coulthard, who writes about property restoration, salvage and eco-matters, presents an organized approach to planning your sanctuary and articulating the interior space to meet your every need.
Mary Stanley is the creative energy behind a broad array of contemporary art initiatives. As independent curator, private art consultant, arts advocate, and artist representative, she maintains relationships with museums, galleries, nonprofit organizations and a select group of talented, established and emerging artists, international in scope. Mary Stanley Studio, established in 2004, provides serious art collectors and designers with a responsive alternative for locating contemporary artwork and collaboration on custom projects. Young Collectors Club, created in 2006 by Mary Stanley, provides educational programming and social networking opportunity for young professionals with an interest in learning about and collecting contemporary art.
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