Book Review | The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

umansky.jpegUmansky has crafted an intriguing novel in The Fortunate OnesChapters alternate between present day and World War II times to tell the interconnected story of a Jewish girl escaped from Austria and the New York lawyer who befriends her while going through a sort of mid-life crisis. The bond between the two women is forged over a Soutine painting that has been stolen from each of them, and holds a significant sentimental attachment for both.

“This was a really good book,” I found myself saying after finishing. Though the disagreeable protagonists are not particularly likable, their stories are fascinating. Umansky’s rich details paint their own picture. It’s clear that a good deal of thought and research went into the writing. The book kept my interest throughout, though I often would have preferred shorter chapters. This novel could be considered historical, women’s, literary, and art fiction and would appeal to readers of any of those genres. Check it out from a library near you, keeping in mind that it is a new release. I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Exhibition Review | A Land Beyond the Stars – Museo Galileo

Previously authored for and published by Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Multimedia and Technology Reviews in February 2017.

Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map compiled geographical knowledge from Spanish and Portuguese ocean voyages. This map forms the basis for the virtual exhibition A Land Beyond the Stars, hosted by Museo Galileo of Florence, Italy in collaboration with the Library of Congress, with support from Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

landbeyondthestars 2Even the comprehensive site map does not fully prepare the visitor for everything that is presented within this resource. Digitized maps, nautical charts, illuminated texts, and videos are all utilized to convey information in this digital exhibition. Each of the exhibit’s twelve sections could be an individual room within a museum, but the method and reach would be entirely different than its virtuality allows for, especially since the only known surviving copy of Waldseemüller’s map is currently on display at the Library of Congress. Designed for a wide audience, this website ultimately succeeds at making content accessible to any interested party, and would be of benefit to school aged students as well as scholarly researchers.

landbeyondthestars 5Digital reproductions are of impressive quality. Videos clips are all of short, reasonable lengths and can be digested with ease. Should the viewer prefer, a “Read text” option provides a full text transcript of each video. Within the “Interactive Exploration” section, translations of all text appearing on Waldseemüller’s map are given in full and divided by content type. Further, the content of the map has been broken down categorically, allowing for users wishing to engage with a particular type of geographical feature to do so.

A Land Beyond the Stars is well-produced and functions effectively. Though viewable on a mobile device, some navigation is more challenging as the viewing screen size is decreased. Developers have added full screen options, but a larger monitor will allow for the best interaction with this resource. Navigation is intuitive, using a left hand link menu, and the site map mentioned above allows for more direct access points. However, with information disseminated through various media within the site, it is at times unclear what the viewer may expect with each click, be it a video, data superimposed on the map, or another medium.

landbeyondthestars 1The stated aim of the project is “to serve as an experimental model for a new digital library concept.” While the utilized approach may serve as the basis for creating a digital library with specialized content, this particular platform was reminiscent of a HyperCard presentation from the 1990’s, albeit more technologically advanced. The ways in which the user can interact with the content are limited, making the presentation of a vast amount of well-curated historical information seem slightly flat. The exhibit is self-contained without offering links to external content, except within the “Digital Library” (bibliography) section. Unfortunately, as there is no search function, the exhibit must be accessed using the navigation menu and sitemap. Tagging or a search function would be useful to some users. However, because so much information is included, the current delivery method serves as a moderate guide for users who may not have the best idea where to find what they are seeking.

Using established technology, this exhibition is enhanced with multimedia and clearly its public visibility is greatly increased. The exhibit is certainly victorious in its efforts “to allow wider public to appreciate content contained in the map and to decipher structure and graphic symbols,” and has managed to curate content in a manner appropriate for all ages.

Exhibition | Wisconsin Triennial 2016 at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Several weeks ago, after attending the last outdoor Farmers’ Market on the capitol square, I ventured into MMoCA and was pleasantly surprised by the Wisconsin Triennial exhibit. Featuring only local state artist, it opened on September 23 and will be on display through January 8, 2017. The exhibit aims to give an idea of the diverse types of art that are being created within Wisconsin. Below are a selection of photos from the exhibit, which I hope motivate you to go and see this free exhibit!

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Fern Stations : On Invisibility by Meg Mitchell

Beads, Birds and Bombs series by John Hitchcock

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Selections from the project Transmission Networks by Brendan Baylor

Selections from Remnants series by Amy Fichter

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Blue Little Red Barn by Michael Kautzer

Exhibition | Beneath the Prairie Sky: Photography by Jim Richardson at KSU’s Beach Museum of Art

“I’ve designed this show as an invitation to viewers to enter into an alternative way of seeing the Great Plains.” -Jim Richardson
This stunning collection of photographs includes both images of nature and man-made objects. It will be on display in the Beach Museum’s Wefald Gallery from March 8 through June 26, 2016.

Exhibition | Minidoka on My Mind: Paintings and Prints by Roger Shimomura at KSU’s Beach Museum of Art

 “I offer this exhibition as a metaphor for the impending threat posed by current times, and as a warning and reminder that during international crises our government seems to consistently lose its memory regarding past mistakes.” 

-Roger Shimomura
Shimomura began the series “Minidoka on My Mind” in 2008. The paintings and prints are based on his experience and his grandmother’s journal about their time in an internment camp during World War II. Shimomura offers a uniquely Midwestern point of view on being Asian American and racial discrimination at the time. Most of the images in this collection include the barbed wire present in the camps and imitate more traditional Japanese artistic styles.
The exhibit is on display in the Beach Museum’s Hyle Family Gallery from April 5 through July 17, 2016.         

Exhibition | Behind the Glass Eye: Photographs by Toyo Miyatake at KSU’s Beach Museum of Art

Miyatake worked in Los Angeles in the 1920’s and 30’s after immigrating from Japan. With the advent of World War II, he was placed in an internment camp and continued to take photographs. He was inspired by Edward Weston and offers unique perspective in his photographs. 

From April 5 through July 31, 2016 Miyatake’s photography exhibit will be on display at the Beach Museum

                

Pictorials | Photo 004 – The Art of Sidewalk Chalk

today while out walking i observed this string of chalk drawings along the walking path. obviously, sidewalk chalk drawings are an art form, something to make you smile as you walk by. Why then is graffiti considered so outlandish?