Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jazz Quintet

This untitled 1943 Flora tempera, casually referred to as "Jazz Quintet," was our second limited edition fine art print, issued in early 2008. At the time, we were uncertain about the market potential of Flora works in archival-quality inkjet format, so we opted for a short-run edition of ten. We recently sold the sixth print, and the price for remaining prints has consequently increased (reflecting depleted supply).

This is an iconic early Flora work, and though we prefer to offer Flora prints at "affordable" rates, we quickly came to regret limiting the edition to ten. Scarcity drives up prices, but it's a decision we (and the market) have to live with. When this edition sells out, it will not be reissued in large display format, only in reduced portfolio size (and even that's a mere "maybe"). Our first print, 63rd Street, was also issued in an edition of ten, and only one print remains. All subsequent fine art prints (except silk screens and woodcuts) have been issued in editions between twenty and thirty.

The original Jazz Quintet art is owned by a Floraphile in Canada.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ship in silhouette

This ship is part of a large untitled tempera harbor montage painted by Flora on a slab of masonite around 1951. How "large"? How much of a "part"? After isolating the above detail, I copied and pasted it horizontally and vertically over the full original to figure out how many elements this size could fit in the complete image field. Outcome: the above detail represents 1/52nd of the entire work.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

no fight in this dog

Postman bites dog! Or at least appears to be attempting to turn the tables. Tempera draft from The Day The Cow Sneezed, courtesy the Dr. Irvin Kerlan children's literature collection. Although the book was published in 1957, archival correspondence between Flora and his Harcourt editor Margaret McElderry indicates the book was being developed as early as 1955, the same year Flora's first children's book, The Fabulous Firework Family, was published.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Louis Armstrong's Hot 5 print

Now available: a limited edition (25) fine art print of Flora's 1947 Columbia album cover for Louis Armstrong's Hot 5. This print was commissioned from Jim Flora Art by Hypergallery, a UK dealer who specializes in reproductions of classic album cover art, and is available exclusively through their website.

The print was produced by Flora archivist Barbara Economon from a vintage printer's proof sheet in the Flora collection. Each print in the edition was hand-signed by Joel Flora, the son of the late artist, for added provenance. Besides being a fine artist in his own right, Joel was born in 1947, the same year his father produced the Armstrong illustration.

The work will not be reissued as a print in any other format in the future.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Standing on the Corner

There are five figures in this undated (late 1960s-early 1970s) Flora tempera, owned by Eric Kohler (who purchased it from the artist in the early 1990s). Two are extracted above. They—and their three unseen compatriots—will not be featured in our forthcoming third Flora anthology.

There's plenty of great unpublished images for volume four (target publication date 2012). Sorry if we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Clara Gee Stamaty @ 90

We don't generally post the work of other artists on the Flora blog, but we're delighted to make an exception with Clara Gee Stamaty. Clara met Flora when they attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati in the early 1940s. Her late husband, syndicated cartoonist Stanley Stamaty (d. 1979), was one of Flora's best buddies at school, and the couple remained lifelong friends with Flora. (Clara remarried in 1984.)

To celebrate becoming a nonagenarian, Clara has a retrospective art opening at the Ruth Hyman Jewish Community Center, in Deal NJ, on May 17 (two days after her birthday). The exhibit runs through June 30. In addition to oils, gouaches, collages, and mixed media, the exhibit will include a number of the artist's painted rocks (pictured above).

Although it won't be in the exhibit, here's a pencil sketch of Flora by Clara from their Academy days. (It was reproduced in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.)

You can download a postcard (as pdf) for the exhibit here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sherwood's forest

Tempera illustration from Sherwood Walks Home (1966), part of the James Flora Papers in the Kerlan children's literature collection at the University of Minnesota. A chapter in our forthcoming Flora book will be devoted to images from the collection (the above is not included) and a profile of Dr. Irvin Kerlan, patron saint of tot-lit. We've previously posted several drafts and sketches discovered in the Kerlan vaults.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Rollicking Roller Skates

Dummy page, Columbia's Children's Album Sets, demo booklet, 1941, part of a series of homemade samples prepared by Flora for the Columbia Records art department. Flora was living in Cincinnati at the time, an Art Academy grad, newly married, barely making ends meet as a freelance commercial illustrator, and sidelining on Little Man Press projects with Robert Lowry. Within a year, Columbia art director Alex Steinweiss offered Flora a job. Within two years, Flora had replaced Steinweiss as AD.

The entire series of demo booklets was reproduced in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, along with other Cincinnati-era artifacts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

temp job filled

The services of this formerly out-of-work conductor (name: "Barlow") have been retained for our next book, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, scheduled for August publication by Fantagraphics. Barlow has been hired as the volume's Gallery Guide. As such, he will stand sentinel-like at the beginning of each book section, with dotted lines emerging from his torso indicating chapter titles orbiting in close proximity. He earned the nod over six competing spot illustrations, who sulked away disappointed and simmering with resentment at the lucky Barlow.

In a former life, Barlow was a famous Columbia recording artist. He is seen above posing for a full-page ad in the June 1942 edition of Stadium Concerts Review, wearing the fashionable goalie mask for which he was renowned on the podium.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Depot Fire

Detail, The Depot Fire, tempera on paper, 1963. This is about one-third of the entire work, which will be fully reproduced in our forthcoming book, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora. We reviewed printer's proofs of the pages this week, and the book is on schedule for publication by Fantagraphics in August or September.