People judge you by your bookshelf, so help out your friends and family members by expanding the art sections of their home libraries this holiday season. Here's a list of new items, perfect for gifting, from local booksellers, Last Gasp and Park Life.
For the knitters: Expand their horizons with a stunning, minimalist book, The Collected Knitting of Loes Veenstra (Het Verzameld Breiwerk van Loes Veenstra). This dedicated knitter made over 500 sweaters since 1955 and kept them in boxes. They have never been worn, and are now documented, individually, by artist Christien Meindertsma in this chunky little paperback that I used like a flipbook to watch happy sweaters of all shapes and colors dance across the pages.
For the misfits: Paging through Elizabeth McGrath's new monograph, Incurable Disorder, is like riding a rickety antique carnival ride through a haunted house of forgotten toys that have come to life and are desperate to play with you. Her oeuvre includes sculptural works laden with meaningful stories that convey acceptance of all circus freaks. Besides delighting in an in-depth look at her work over the years, it's inspiring to see how McGrath's use of materials has unfolded, especially with the introduction of crystals. Go the extra mile when gifting this book by having McGrath autograph it at one of her upcoming signings: Loved to Death on December 18 and Cakeland on December 21, 2013.
For the intense: Laurie Lipton's drawings are pretty much unreal. The level of detail is sickening. People will stare at her work for long periods of time, mouths agape, wondering if she really drew that. At the same time, viewers' minds are blown with the content: intense dancing skeletons, faces being poked and prodded, robot dolls, cannibalism and scary babies are just a few of Lipton's subjects, and she puppeteers them through insane situations. There is no relaxed Lipton drawing, and that's what makes her superhuman. I can only look at The Drawings of Laurie Lipton in short spurts before I have to stick the book in the freezer. Then I occasionally take it out for a few more peeks and scary thrills. Lipton also has upcoming Bay Area book signings December 12-14, 2013.
For the Morrissey lovers: Park Life has a classy postcard set that comes in a handsome green box full of black-and-white photos of Morrissey... looking handsome. In this Morrissey & The Smiths collection, Kevin Cummins' rare or never-before-scene shots are finally published, and a true fan would probably frame each and every one in order to better examine the many faces of Morrissey. Inside the box, each card is different, and you'll find Morrissey brooding, relaxing, contemplating, hugging, singing in party-mode and so much more.
For the whimsical: Ballad is a colorful, visual story dreamed up by French graphic artist, Blexbolex, and tells the tale of a child who takes the same road to school every day, "and how his small world suddenly becomes enormous." The artist's comic screen-print style is beloved by many and lends itself well to this simplified storytelling mode that reads like a graphic novel or a vintage children's book, and is a follow up to 2011's People.
For the Instagrammers: Hotel Oracle seems like your average art photo book at first. Images are laid out on white pages with lots of negative space, and the narrative is vague. But photographer Jason Fulford has created something a little more magical by letting his images illustrate little story vignettes made up of just a sentence or two, here and there, mixed in throughout the book between his square images of mundane scenes and random oddities. The images express little glimmers of insight into who we are as people in the universe. A photograph of a typical, round banquet table with a white tablecloth and three candles appears on two pages in a row. The subtle difference between the two images clearly excited the artist, and it's fun to try and see these images through Fulford's eyes and wonder what he enjoyed about that tablecloth, or that stubby tree or that bowl of egg yolks. His photos evoke contemplation of the stories behind objects and moments, and what those stories say about us. And there's plenty of room for interpretation.
Find all of these books and many more at Park Life, Last Gasp, and other local indie booksellers. Shop local!