Sunday, November 30, 2008

The 6.98 Jacket

Flora woodengraving for short story "The 6.98 Jacket" by Robert Lowry, appearing in Hutton Street, published by Little Man Press, Cincinnati, 1940. Print run unknown, but all LMP chapbooks were extremely limited editions between 125 and 400.

The booklet contains 18 meticulous woodcuts by Flora, none of which are known to have survived. If they were left in the custody of Lowry, he likely sold them or used them for kindling. The man was volatile. The Flora archive contains three rare late-1930s Flora lithographs bearing an artless overlay of Little Man promotional copy typed in red Courier. According to Flora's handwritten testimony, "Bob Lowry kept them and defaced them in one of his mad moods."

Some copies of Hutton Street were signed:

One of Lowry's sons told a journalist that neither he nor his brother had any original Flora works, pointing out, "Either my dad sold or gave away all his Flora artwork in the 1970s, or it was left behind in the house on Hutton Street when my grandmother sold it in the '80s and was thrown away by the people who bought it. Or it could have been in my aunt's apartment and destroyed in the fire that killed her in 2004." Our journalist friend cited Lowry's 1970s book-length manuscript Letters To My Psychiatrist, described as "a mishmash of playlets, meditations, and journal." In it, Lowry "refers to holding a garage sale in 1975 or so where he was trying to sell art that Flora and Hugo Valerio did for Little Man Press—with, apparently, no takers. Indiana University's Lilly Library has a letter from Bob to a book collector in the '70s in which he offers a Flora watercolor for sale."

Friday, November 28, 2008

reclining guitar

Guitar in a seductive pose — spot illustration from A-D Gallery invitation to Flora's first New York City exhibition, June 1943.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dock at Conakry

Pen & ink on sketch tablet paper, 1995. If you're wondering where Conakry is located, it's on the coast of Wikistan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's Daily Heller

Journalist/author/design historian Steve Heller brings a nicey to the Flora stora on his PRINT Magazine blog. Heller, who penned the 1998 New York Times obit for Flora, also wrote the Foreward in our first book, The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora.

P.S. If the guy on the right at left looks familiar, here's why.

Monday, November 24, 2008

fanastic bike

Detail: undated, untitled, and unidentified commercial illustration
ca. late 1960s/early 1970s

Saturday, November 22, 2008

puppets and rag dolls

"Next [Amelia and Pepito] went to the puppet show, and then they watched the acrobats. Best of all they liked the toy vendor. Pepito finally decided to buy a jumping jack. Amelia bought a rag doll and named it after her best friend Rosita because both of them had red cheeks."

Draft illustration, The Fabulous Firework Family, Flora's first published children's book (1955). Image from the James Flora Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


That's what we call this beastie, who seems to be self-administering a third-eye implant while balancing a bird with no eyes on his fingertip. The original art is—well, we have no idea. The image appeared in very reduced form (postage stamp-sized) on a Flora business card from the 1950s.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

critter cavalcade

Sketchbook untitled elements, with glue residue
ca. 1941-43

Saturday, November 15, 2008

barnyard balancing act

Draft overlay, The Day the Cow Sneezed, 1957, found amid the James Flora Papers in the Dr. Irvin J. Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota. Who was Dr. Kerlan?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the evolution of Eulenspiegel

Pencil sketches for Till Eulenspiegel LP cover, 1955. The above skeletal figures eventually morphed into this rough layout:

... which was refined as this unfinished tempera setting:

... which evolved into this finished RCA Victor Red Seal cover:

Till Eulenspiegel was an impudent prankster in German folklore. Flora rendered several pen and ink drawings of the trickster in the 1990s. Perhaps he recognized a kindred spirit.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One for the Mütter Museum

Untitled tempera on card stock, dated 6/42. Hydra-headed mutants abound during this transitional period in Flora's life. Just a few months earlier he had departed his native Ohio and relocated to Connecticut to take a job with the Columbia Records art department under Alex Steinweiss.

Actually, Flora never outgrew multi-headed mutants with bonus appendages. They recur in every period of his artistic life.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Detail, untitled tempera, ca. 1950-51. Above are eight of about 65 individual modules arrayed on the entire work. The elements are stylistically reminiscent of the Railroad Town woodcut, and cubicle art is a recurrent Flora motif.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Little Shop of Flora's

... is now open. Jim Flora hand-printed notecards, fine art bookmarks, and 2009 letterpress calendars at affordable prices.

We've also released a number of new fine art and album cover prints over the past few weeks but haven't had an opportunity to alert our mailing list. Here's two, but there's more over at

Self-Portrait, ca. 1947

Gunfight on the Roof, 1951

Sunday, November 2, 2008

facial tics

Untitled tempera with pencil on board, ca. 1942-43. Disjointed face atop a tin-toy windup key torso. No problem with that.