From Eagle Street to the Golden Gate

Milling throngs! Live music wafting skyward on every block! The scents of hot dogs, cotton candy, and pirogi mixing deliciously in the air!

What could it be but the 2007 Downtown Celebration, which for one evening banished the customary quietude of North Adams evenings, filling Main and Eagle Streets with strolling families, exuberant teens, and other Bershirites in a mood to get mellow under moonlight.

And there I was in the middle of it all, sitting at my table behind stacks of Stuck Rubber Baby , Wendel All Together, The Swimmer With a Rope In His Teeth, and promotional material for the North County Perp.

(In the interest of full disclosure I should acknowledge that the crowd scene in the snapshot above is from last year‘s Downtown Celebration, not last night’s. I was too busy shmoozing with passers-by last night to run around Main Street taking pictures.)

Meanwhile, on another topic…

Several Bay Area blog-readers noticed the passing reference in my most recent post to an "upcoming art exhibition in San Francisco" and wanted to know if a Cruse personal appearance in their city was imminent.

The answer to that question is: no. Unfortunately. While I’m pleased as punch to know that my artwork will be spending some time on a San Franciscan gallery wall, there’s no leeway in the show’s budget to fly me in for the ocasion.

I will, however, tell you what I was referring to in case some of you who live within reach of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at 1111 8th Street want to drop in to see my crosshatching in person.

From September 6-22 the Mary Augustine Gallery, a small vitrine within the Wattis facility, will be occupied by Alabama: A Portrait in Black and White, the opening installment of a projected fifty-show series of exhibits sharing the umbrella title Americana, in which each of our union’s fifty states will have a turn being artistically represented in one way or another.

Jessica Brier, curator of the Alabama show, feels that pages of original art from my graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby will pair well thematically with some of the powerful linoleum cut prints that comprise a recently unearthed limited-edition book called Scottsboro Alabama.

The unsparing images in this 1935 book were the work of Lin Shi Khan and Tony Perez, two artists whose biographies have apparently been lost to history. The pair’s prints chronicle the notorious miscarriages of justice that have made the name Scottsboro itself a shorthand identifier in many people’s minds for the 1931 trial the city hosted.

At right: One of the Khan/Perez inages in Scottsboro Alabama

Writing about her vision for the exhibit, Ms. Brier explains: These two cultural artifacts resonate and contrast with each other on many levels, together portraying Alabama as complex and multi-layered. In both stories, Alabama’s well-known history of racism and civil rights struggle is underscored by more unexpected aspects of life in this state, such as its connection to Communism and the experience of growing up gay in the South. The artists and storytellers use a similarly striking visual language to illustrate the complex past and present of the state of Alabama.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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