A Guide to the Dirty South, The Mary Lomax Ballad Book, Sarah Butler's Art Writing

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A Guide to the Dirty South—Atlanta, Design & Research Studio, Georgia Tech School of Architecture, 173 pages, soft cover, perfect bound, printed by Oddi Printing, Reykjavik, Iceland, photo by Rachel Reese.

 
Photo by Rachel Reese.
A Guide to the Dirty South—Atlanta, Design & Research Studio, Georgia Tech School of Architecture, 173 pages, soft cover, perfect bound, printed by Oddi Printing, Reykjavik, Iceland, photo by Rachel Reese.

Georgia Tech School of Architecture’s A Guide to the Dirty South—Atlanta
In Georgia Tech School of Architecture’s A Guide to the Dirty South—AtlantaDenise Scott Brown—architect, planner, contributor to the guide and co-author of Learning from Las Vegas—recommends “decoration” to transform an architectural space as homely as a shed into a greater vision. Resisting the urge to judge a book by its (NFT style) cover, I discover external decoration is what is missing: The cover of the guide is disenchanting and its banality does not reflect the conceptual potential of the book.
The content is conceptually stimulating; pullout centerfolds reveal further depth for an architecturally immature mind. The pocket-sized shape makes portability effortless, and tabs direct your thumbing fingers to dinning places, suburban life and ‘attractions.’ The importance of every location is highlighted with equal fervency for its architectural achievements and contribution to the soul of the city. From well-known landmarks, such as the Varsity, to more commonplace locations, such as Walmart Supercenter, each location is accompanied by a brief paragraph, blueprint and categorized. The descriptions I found most gravitating were the paragraphs that provided history regarding the environment’s creation and or the progression of architectural evolution in Atlanta. Discovering that the Howard Theatre hosted a 3-night Elvis show in 1956 was one of the many facts that galvanized me to venture to the listed attraction. Or, for example, The World’s First Scent Depot [page 95] is a suggested addition to the Marcel Breuer downtown ATL library. At the depot, tourist can overwhelm their noses with “a collection of Atlanta’s geography of smells” including 18% Civil War Gun Powder, 15% Varsity Chili Dog Grease, 4% Marta Grime and 3% Coca-Cola Syrup.
The star of this guide is the pink-and-red-toned section titled Conversations. This portion covers fascinating topics and interviewees in a casually informed manner, such as the origin of the nickname “the dirty south.” In this interview between Liz Teston and Big Gipp (member of hip-hop group Goodie Mob), Gipp approaches controversy by claiming that the slang “the dirty south” is a product of growing up in a cocaine-riddled and racist city. Gipp’s narration creates a dichotomy between this prideful caption of Atlanta and the undercurrent of its corrupt conception.
A Guide to the Dirty South—Atlanta navigates a journey off-the-beaten-path and into a lived city; a city where the beat of hip-hop verses echo through underground streets and messily composed urban landscapes. On May 6th, a release party was held in the parking garage of Underground Atlanta where students and contributors signed the first fifty copies of the guidebook.
-Elizabeth Visscher

Perennial Properties

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The Mary Lomax Ballad Book: America’s Great 21st Century Traditional Singer—Collected and Annotated by Art Rosenbaum, with Bonnie Loggins, Casey Loggins, Pashie Towery, Roy Tench (fiddle), photographs by Margo Rosenbaum, 210 pages with 2 CDs, hardcover only, Loomis House Press, edited by Ed Cray, book cover Susan Archie, photo by Alix Taylor.

 
Photo by Alexandra Taylor.
L-R: Sisters Mary Lomax and Bonnie Loggins, pages 164-165. Photo by Alix Taylor.

The Mary Lomax Ballad Book: America’s Great 21st Century Traditional Singer—Collected and Annotated by Art Rosenbaum

Art Rosenbaum’s interest in Mary Lomax and her sister Bonnie Loggins sprang not from music, but through a shared connection to the visual arts. In the early 2000s, Cleveland, Georgia folk art dealer Barbara C. Brogdon introduced Rosenbaum to the self-taught artist Bonnie Loggins. Rosenbaum was immediately captivated; not only by Bonnie’s visual artistry, but also intrigued by the traditional folk songs Bonnie had inherited from her father. Bonnie dispensed these tunes and ballads, as well as her own inventive songs and poems, often and with great pleasure. It was during a visit with Bonnie in 2006 that Rosenbaum met the painter and muralist’s sister, Mary, who had taken on the responsibility of documenting her father’s folk songs and ballads. Unlike Bonnie, whose illiteracy restricted her repertoire to childhood memory, Mary referred to typewritten texts to perform her father’s ballads. The sister’s interest in their father’s songs and tunes has resulted in one of the most comprehensive collections of music from the Southern Appalachians, which Art Rosenbaum has chronicled with care.
The Mary Lomax Ballad Book: America’s Great 21st Century Traditional Singer—collected and annotated by Art Rosenbaum—reads as a collection of transcribed ballads and fiddle tunes. The hardcover, designed by Susan Archie of World of anArchie, includes two CDs with 59 songs, plus another 20 transcriptions without accompanying audio. The book is divided into discs A and B, with a brief introduction and explanation of the songs included. Together, the collection paints a rich portrait of an oral tradition passed down to Mary and her sister Bonnie through their late father, and the continuation of that tradition in their own music. The folk form comes to life on the lips of Mary Lomax, for example in “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” (highlighting a great sense of humor) and all-instrumental songs like “Rocky Road to My Daughter’s House” [fiddle by Roy Tench] give the feeling of a human presence long forgotten in the mountains of North Georgia.

Audio: Click the player above to preview “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum” with Mary Lomax.
Art Rosenbaum’s The Mary Lomax Ballad Book: America’s Great 21st Century Traditional Singer: with Bonnie Loggins, Casey Loggins, Pashie Towery, and Roy Tench (Fiddle); 2 CDs with Performances; 59 Songs, Ballads, and Fiddle Tunes; and 20 Texts Without Tunes; Collected And Annotated With Text and Annotations By Art Rosenbaum; with archival family photographs and photographs by Margo Newmark Rosenbaum; Foreword by Alice Gerrard; Edited by Ed Cray; Published by CAMSCO Music (dick greenhaus); 210 + xviii pp; copyright 2013 by Art Rosenbaum. $37.50 Hard Cover only. You can order from [email protected] or by phone at 800/548-FOLK .
-Alix Taylor


Sarah Butlers, Art Writings, 2013, photo by Rachel Reese. Self-published.
Sarah Butler, Art Writing, 2013, 8×10 inches, 40 pages, soft cover, perfect bound, self-published, photo by Rachel Reese.

 
Sarah Butlers, Art Writings, 2013, photo by Rachel Reese. Self-published.
Sarah Butler, Art Writing, 2013, 8×10 inches, 40 pages, soft cover, perfect bound, self-published, photo by Rachel Reese.

 Sarah Butler’s Art Writing
Sarah Butler’s recent self-published artist book, Art Writing (2013), [8×10 inches, 40 pages, soft glossy cover, perfect bound] is a self-reflexive and meta journey into the act of writing as a collaborative social behavior and an exercise in rhetoric. The essay “What does it mean to make art this way?” repeats, though in different forms, throughout the book and Butler regards art writing as “performative artistic media,” emphasized with each essay’s iteration mid-edits: notes, highlights, circles, and end notes are left as performative works-in-progress. A poignant statement:

“Always coming back to a process, a behavior, a mode of being. And also some emphasis on singular independence. The isolation of it (handwriting) with the expressly communicative nature of new media writing. Not that all digital writing must be published, but that it is always already word processed, disguising the process, erasing the changes—as all type/lettering/writings formats are prepared normatively to do.”

The result is a fun and engaging way of representing the artist book as form, and questioning its very nature. The second to last page includes Butler’s application to the 2013 Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair (in conjunction with the Bushwick Open Studios held every year since 2007). Somehow I feel my Post-it notes with thoughts and comments should forever remain (rather seamlessly) at home in Art Writing.
Drawing from object theory as manifested in design scholarship as well as Hanne Darboven’s concept of “writing time,” Butler’s concurrent exhibition, Official Transcript, explores the affective agency of text filtered through the artist’s experience of the first decade of the 21st century. Butler curates and edits the online collection of artists’ writings www.wordservents.com. She teaches in the Design + Technology graduate program at Parsons in the School of Art, Media, and Technology.
-Rachel Reese


 
 

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