Sunday, September 14, 2008



I went back to the place of the nailed, exposed books yesterday. Almost all of the small building's windows are boarded up and that's where the books are affixed. There are two sets, the one below and ajother just around the corner. The books are more weathered than when I first saw them a month ago, some pages bleached to emptiness. The selection of titles seems obviously meant to convey something. They include: Brave New World; The Silver Chair; The Scarlet Letter (twice); A Farewell to Arms; The Fellowship of the Ring; Sophocles: Three Theban Plays (Antigone, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus); Great American Poems; Death of a Salesman; The Cave of the Ancients; Frankenstein; The Outsiders; Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies.

The more I look at this, the more I think it is a brilliant work of art. If anyone in the area knows more about it, please contact me.

WHAT DELIGHTED ME LAST NIGHT: an old college friend passed through town. We had dinner. He moved on to Arizona and Colorado while I stayed in St. Louis. He's had some hard times - cancer and divorce leading to depression and drinking - but seems to have moved through all that. He still has the twinkle and enthusiasm I remember from 35 years ago. I was really happy to see him.

TOMORROW: well, I'm mining the archives. Let's hope tha canary doesn't die.


Sasha said...

Ooooh, awesome photo! Was I mistaken or did I hear someone calling you on their cell to tell you pics of the flooding in front of my apartments would be good for your blog?

Bob Crowe said...

Um, probably would, but I don't know your address in Brentwood. I'm heading out right now to shoot whatever I can find but if you email me through the link on my profile the message will come through to my phone.

Hey, and good to hear from you.

Joe Cottonwood said...

The list of titles sounds like somebody's high school reading list. I'm guessing it's somebody saying, "You made me read these books; now I'm nailing them to the **** wall." I'm also guessing that it's somebody who is very bright and very angry, probably male, and in an earlier day he'd be reacting to Aunt Sally trying to adopt him and sivilize him. He can't stand it. He's been there before.

I'd love to have a chat with him before he lights out for the territory.

Bob Crowe said...

Whoa, Joe! Easy there, big guy! Are we talking biography here?

Virginia said...

I think Joe's cracked the code!

PJ said...

I was going to say, Joe knows the terrain. I saw yesterday's post and thought:
handy with tools
has earmarked disposable income for hardbacks
I wish I was still young enough to feel so fierce.

Bob Crowe said...

PJ: interesting how different reactions can be. Joe and I are probably about the same age. I didn't feel any anger it at all, more sorrow if anything. If anger were underneath it all, it would be more public, more confrontational. The location of this work is about as concealed as it could be but still open to view by a chance passer-by.

Anonymous said...

That's the great thing about art. Whether it is intentional or found, it creates dialogue and as many interpretations as there are viewers. Maybe the artist wasn't even sure what she was saying. Me, I think it's a comment about our complacency surrounding the decline of literacy and its correlative destruction of our communities. The artist tells us that it'll only hurt a bit and then it's over. Ignorance is bliss and in seven generations none will be the wiser. Bloody brilliant, indeed!

U "R" Us AKA Captain Crowe said...

LOVE. THIS. Great find, pops.

Olivier said...

cela fait penser a l'univers du livre de Ray Bradbury "Fahrenheit 451". Je trouve les photos superbes

This suggests a world of the book by Ray Bradbury "Fahrenheit 451". I find great photos

Sharon said...

I agree, this is a great piece of art. I didn't get the anger either, but I do think it might by a comment on literacy and/or learning.

Jilly said...

Great to see the whole thing after yesterday's post (day before now - sorry day late). So interesting to read the comments. I didn't feel this artist was angry. it's too sensitively done for anger, in my view. Do let us know if you find out more, Strangetastes.

Joe Cottonwood said...

The words "It'll only hurt a bit" seem angry to me. And the photo opposite with the brown stain - is it a stain or a drawing? If it's a drawing, it's an angry one.

I hope people realize I was quoting Huck Finn.

Kim said...

Okay, so here's the scoop: This work has been up for at least two years and included two or three other books which seem to have gone missing between the time of installation and this shot. It is an altered book work titled "Ex Libris," and was envisioned and executed after a break up. The artist used what remained of her ex's college books abandoned in the bookcase of her apartment and made with them a piece that expressed her complex thoughts and feelings. Things like finally seeing the guy as clearly as an open book and being rid of him, but not without immense pain and a realization that she had never actually seen him reading anything their entire time together, except an occasional magazine. Although these dozen or so were not accepted for purchase, the rest of his books and several box set CDs she was able to sell at the used books and record shops and bought a pair of new red shoes and a chai latte with the proceeds.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. ;^p
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