Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mambo for Cake

Someone who co-admins this blog recently had a birthday and his girlfriend concocted the above cake (based, of course, on this.) The (edible) elements were commissioned from a designer on Etsy and meticulously assembled by wondergal Beth Sorrentino on a chocolate cake she baked. The cake was presented to the surprised Flora archivist at Café Frida in New York. After dozens of cameras (including that of Otis Fodder, above) documented the delicacy, it was summarily disassembled with knives and forks.

Beth confides: although the original RCA Victor album was a 12" LP, the cake replicates the rare (in fact, never seen) 10" version.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rowayton Creature Tableau (new print)

Our latest Jim Flora limited edition fine art print launches today. We've dubbed the untitled, undated black and white work Rowayton Creature Tableau because of the strange figures populating the streets of this seaside Connecticut village (the artist's adopted hometown). The previously uncirculated and unpublished pen & ink with watercolor drawing was discovered in the artist's collection. We've analyzed the technique and determined that it reflects the 1970s style of caricature commonly found in Flora's children's books of that decade.

Flora lived in Rowayton from the mid-1940s to his death in 1998. Over the years he rendered scenes from the town dozens of times (see our recently released Bell Island at Night print) in a variety of media. The creature tableau is one of his more playful portraits of the town.

Rowayton Creature Tableau has been issued in a numbered, limited edition of 25 prints at a price of $150 (+s/h) each. Prices will increase as the edition sells down.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leonardo, Lorenzo and Verrocchio

Pen & ink, 1992, discovered in sketchpad. Like most Flora works of the 1990s, this cityscape has never been published or publicly viewed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meeting of the Clan (part 1)

Detail of large-scale illustration for "A Meeting of the Clan at a State Park," article in New York Times, October 14, 1956. This detail, reproduced (with the full illustration) in our second anthology, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, is from a rejected version of the assignment found in the Flora family archives. The published version has similar elements, but repositioned.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Duke and Harry Carney

Previously uncirculated pen and ink from sketchbook, 1995.

From the 1920s to his death in 1974, Duke Ellington saw musicians come and go. Saxophonist/clarinetist Harry Carney (b. Boston, 1910) devoted 46 years to performing and recording with the maestro. The trusty sideman occasionally conducted the orchestra in Duke's absence.

After Ellington's death, Carney was quoted as saying, "This is the worst day of my life. Without Duke I have nothing to live for." Four months later, Carney passed away.

Flora was an admitted "jazz hound." He sketched, drew, painted and illustrated jazz musicians and scenes sporadically throughout his career, often as commercial assignments. However, in the final decade of his life, the retired artist devoted a considerable amount of creative energy drawing and painting portraits of musicians he admired from the 1920s through the 1960s. Scores—perhaps hundreds—of such works are in the Flora archives; most have never been publicly viewed.

We're in the preliminary stages of a Flora jazz exhibition for 2012. Details as plans develop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Charlie's Egg

Tempera on heavy stock (actually, painted on the reverse of an oversized 1943 Columbia Records convention program; clean paper was rationed and scarce during World War II). The previously uncirculated and largely unseen work was first published in our third anthology, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora. We issued a limited edition fine art print of the work in 2009.

The identity of Charlie remains unknown.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brain Map and Abstract Tangle (new fine art prints) recently issued two new—and low-cost—Jim Flora limited edition fine art prints. The above, based on a 1964 untitled and previously uncirculated work discovered in the Flora collection, has been casually tagged Brain Map to differentiate it from countless other works left unnamed by the artist. The work was first published in our 2007 Fantagraphics anthology, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.

The print can be purchased in several different sizes at various price tiers, from $25 (14" x13", edition of 200) to $1,000 (40"x38", edition of 20). These works were licensed exclusively to, and are only available thru their website.

Brain Map is partnered in the catalog with a second untitled 1960s Flora work, provisionally christened Abstract Tangle #2:

This work has never been published and is previously uncirculated, having been discovered—page intact—in an artist's sketchpad from the mid-1960s.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Charlie Yup's cast of characters

Hand-drawn two-page spread of figure studies for Flora's third book for young readers, Charlie Yup and His Snip-Snap Boys (1959). The pages, which do not appear in the published edition, were scanned from the Dr. Irvin C. Kerlan children's literature collection at the U of Minnesota.

On the mock title page at right, the author refers to the book as "An Old Fashioned Scissor and Paper Adventure." Although the characters above were drawn in pencil and painted in tempera, a few draft pages (later donated by Flora to Dr. Kerlan), including an early version of the title page, feature hand-cut figures glued to the paper.

The explanatory note atop the left page was intended for Margaret McElderry, the legendary children's book editor who in the mid-1950s encouraged Flora to embark on a secondary career that yielded 17 titles (all edited by McElderry) in 27 years. Charlie Yup is the hardest-to-find of the vintage Flora books, rarely turning up at auction or in the listings of antiquarian booksellers.

McElderry passed away in February at the age of 98.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bell Island at Night (new print) has released a new fine art print. The panoramic Bell Island at Night was adapted from a 1968 tempera in which Flora provided a surreal nocturnal impression of his neighbors and neighborhood. Bell Island is part of Rowayton CT, and the Flora family lived on the island at 7 St. James from the late 1940s to Flora's death in 1998.

The archival-quality fine art print has been released in an edition of 30 at a launch price of $160. As with all our Flora fine art prints, prices increase as the edition sells down. The image area is 10-1/2" high x 17-1/2" wide and centered on an untrimmed 13" x 19" sheet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Arts and the Man (part 1)

Detail from panoramic illustration for article "Arts and the Man," Park East magazine, May 1953. Flora served as the publication's art director in 1952, but moved on to full-time freelancing in January 1953. His successor in the Park East AD chair was his longtime colleague Robert M. Jones, who had also succeeded Flora as AD at Columbia Records in 1945. Jones jobbed out several Park East illustration assignments to Flora. The following year, Jones was named AD at RCA Victor Records, for whom he commissioned Flora to create some of the label's most iconic LP covers of the mid-decade.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Patented Gate & the Mean Hamburger

Spot illustration for "The Patented Gate and the Mean Hamburger," a short story by Robert Penn Warren which appeared in the January 1947 issue of Mademoiselle magazine. At the time Flora was employed at Columbia Records, but having been promoted out of the art department and focusing largely on bureaucratic tasks (much to his displeasure), he was seeking outside freelance work. His first assignment for Mademoiselle, for Robert Lowry's "Little Baseball World," had appeared in the September 1946 issue. All illustrative elements from "The Patented Gate" (and "Little Baseball World") were reproduced in our second anthology, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.