Book reviews


Dear Artist,

Friends give books because they need to help you with their thinking. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most of my friends are pleasantly agreeable. Here are some from under our tree:


Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings — This is a big fat museum catalogue with lots of illustrations and touching excerpts from Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo, and others. We see his life-loving, inventive, optimistic mind as well as technical delights such as the ‘perspective frame’ that Vincent used for six formative years. This is the book you need for “Vincent 101.” It’s also a story of enthusiasm and tragedy that comes alive as if it were happening today. And it is happening today — in other places and with other artists. Dreams are made and dreams are lost. We all have our “starry starry night.”


The Biology of Belief, by Bruce H Lipton. This one blew away some of my notions about genetic determinism. It’s scientific yet visionary and has food for thought for creative folks by smartly saying ‘nonsense’ to all forms of victimhood. I kept saying to myself, “We are the artists we make ourselves to be.” Health, wealth, wisdom, earth-love and evolution are touched by Lipton’s bright mind while he leads us gently to a new understanding of Spirit. The book winds up with his unorthodox but plausible theory of immortality.

A Writer’s Paris, by Eric Maisel. Here’s a bang-on, thoughtful traveller’s guide to Paris (or Peoria) that suggests how creative folks might think and act in an enriched or a new environment. The reader feels our compulsion to see and feel at a different level than the standard tourist. It’s how we handle our private time, how we look at things, our essential aloneness, our ongoing work, play, work-play and work habits. Practically every paragraph ends with the word “write.” Writers write. Painters paint.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. This first-person narrative by one of today’s funniest writers is just loaded with sly and observant humour. His story of his youthful foray into the avant-garde, conceptual, performance-art groupy game was so wildly goofy and full of truth that it made my cellphone pop off my belt and into a bucket of Phthalo blue. I didn’t care. It sits there now, soaking.

Best regards,


PS: “Other group members stored their bodily fluids in baby-food jars or wrote cryptic messages on packaged skirt steaks. Their artworks were known as ‘pieces,’ a phrase I enthusiastically embraced. ‘Nice piece,’ I’d say. In my eagerness to please, I accidentally complimented chipped baseboards and sacks of laundry waiting to be taken to the cleaners. Anything might be a piece if you looked at it long enough.” (David Sedaris)

Esoterica: If you have a book or two that you think someone might value or profit from, please drop us a note with a short review. Throw in a quote or two if you wish. We’ll publish your selection in the next clickback. I’ll ask Andrew to link them for you to places where the books can be purchased. Thanks for your friendship.


Museum souvenir books
by Deborah Carroll, Fernandina Beach, FL, USA

Whenever I visit a museum my souvenir is to buy a book about the exhibit. So, Last Spring when I was in Italy with a Humanities class studying Renaissance Art I was teased because of course, every Museum I bought a Book, and my book bag must have weighted 40 pounds by the end of the day. It was a whirlwind of a trip spending 3 days each in Rome, Florence and Venice. We saw everything we could possible see with the help of a guide that traveled with us and a city guide in each city teaching us. It was overwhelming and euphoric. When I returned home it was so wonderful to have the books and return to the scene with insight and extra information to absorb. Some of the books included:

The Uffizi, by Scala Publishers, which had beautiful photos and explanations of nearly every piece I saw, the Capitoline Museums

Vatican City, by Orazio Petrosillo, this book discusses the sculptures, paintings and frescos in the Vatican complex, museums, and gardens by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and many others including Michelangelo’s Pieta, Sistine Chapel ceiling and Alter piece

Botticelli, by Barbara Deimling

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mind of the Renaissance by Alessandro Vezzosi

While in Atlanta last year, I visited the High Museum when they were exhibiting Van Gogh to Mondrian. I bought that book which is excellent, but I also bought a book, Theo, The Other Van Gogh. This book told the story of Theo and his relationship with his brother Vincent. It gave insight on Vincent’s work and family life and why the brothers were so close. I enjoyed reading this novel of their lives. At one point when Theo married Jo, he explained to her in part about Vincent, “Indeed, one of the main problems is that, whether sick or well, his life is so barren in terms of what he gets from outside. But if you knew him, you would appreciate twice as much how hard it is to solve the problem of what must and what can be done.”


Antonio Lopez-Garcia and more
by Brett Busang, Washington, DC, USA

I finally “scored” a monograph on the painter, Antonio Lopez-Garcia. It’s the only book available on the artist — arguably, one of the greatest of our time — today. The definitive volume on his work was printed by Rizzoli, but it’s been out of print (and largely unavailable) for some time. I wouldn’t recommend the text necessarily, which strikes me as a re-hash of other writings about him. Yet Lopez’s magnificently muddled cityscapes and unflinching interiors are there, as well as his confident forays into figurative draftsmanship and sculpture. For those who have wondered about his artistic antecedents, there are a handful of his early surrealist images and portraiture. They give us tantalizing hints of the artist Lopez would become.

I don’t think any serious painter should be without at least a nodding acquaintance with this powerful, but reclusive, talent. Lopez-Garcia has always been an outspoken champion of representational painting, refusing on one highly publicized occasion to exhibit at the Prado unless the museum agreed to make an equal commitment to realism in its exhibition schedule. (A certain artistic bigotry had flourished — and probably still flourishes there — as it does most everyplace else.) Here is a man who is not afraid to speak out when the opportunity arises. We need more of him — both as artist and human being.

Another book I would like to recommend is one I worked on a bit, as editorial advisor, Bill Murphy’s Nothing But a Burning Light. The book is a highly subjective compilation of the work Bill has done as a draftsman, etcher, and painter over the past twenty-five years and, in my opinion, rivals — and even surpasses — monographs of well-established artists (the recent Rackstraw Downes volume comes to mind) who are risk-free. Bill’s own observations accompany many of the images, though the book is broken up into sections that highlight individual phases of his work. Bill is an image-maker whose own antecedents stretch back to Rembrandt and Seghers and must include the aforementioned Lopez-Garcia as well as Edwin Dickinson, Thomas Eakins, and Jerome Witkin. At his best, Bill is unsentimentally attached to the great industrial landscape that surrounds him, as well as to the people who’ve made a significant impact on his life and career. He has reflected his private passions, for both art and life, in a way that will, in my opinion, assure him a permanent place among our nation’s most important artists.


The Teaching Company
by Helen Musser, Terrell, TX, USA

The Teaching Company will be happy to send you their latest tapes and videos brochures. The videos I want to draw attention to are: A History of European Art taught by Professor William Kloss and Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance taught by Professor Kloss. I have read about numerous artists and the different periods of art history in many books, but these are the most accurate for putting the artists and the periods together and also gives maybe a bit of history of countries involved. I am currently watching the lectures of Part II of A History of European Art. This phase of learning includes Jan van Eyk, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli, Giovannyi Belleini, Leonardo, Raphael,Durer, and Michelangelo. Also, many others during this period. The art shown during the video is amazing and very beautiful. The Artists of the Italian Renaissance is also wonderful and has overlapping but unique works of some from A History of European Art.


Vernon Howard
by Jeanne Long, Minneapolis, MN, USA

I strongly recommend any book or tape by Vernon Howard who writes and speaks simply and clearly about the most profoundly important subjects. A sample from one of his talks: “Here’s an exercise for you to practice right now. Look inside yourself and notice how insecure and unhappy you are. The day can come when you’ll be able to go through your day with a quietness, with a conquest, with a reality, with a confidence, with a knowledge, that nothing, nothing anywhere, any place, of any nature can ever take away. It will be permanent, you will know, really know, a spiritual knowing, not an intellectual one, you will know that you have made it because you allowed God to make it for you.”






original assemblage
by Annemarie Rawlinson, San Pedro, CA, USA


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 105 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2005.




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