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August 2008

Obama - Or Else

Banner OBAMA OR ELSE b:w

my campaign contribution - I've made it as a postcard

Were you glued to your radio, tv or computer last night listening to Obama? I was. For the first time in my life I had a moment of hope, or faith, that America has the possibility of becoming an ethical country - with all that implies. Or, ethicalish. As my friend Laurie Essig said of her emotional response to the speech, "Don't worry, I  know corporate and military interests still control everything." But still, it was quite the night.

Obama hit every note. And the resonance with the 45th anniversary of the March On Washington was perfect. Eerily perfect, I thought.  I was at that march. I was fourteen. My entire family traveled from NY City to Washington DC for the historic event. As my friend Paul Fishcher pointed out today, "it was strategically uncool for McCain operatives to mock Obama's backdrop, which referenced the ancient pillars of democracy and the MLK speech site."


This is the best photo I could find on a google search for Martin Luther King in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. If anyone knows the name of the photographer please let me know. It is against my ethics to post photos without credit, but I couldn't find it.

Last night, after watching Barack Obama's speech I dreamed that I met him. It was a very uplifting experience, in a very friendly way, as if  I had met long lost cousin.

And speaking of wonderful relatives, this is just in from my brother Geoff Cowan, in Los Angeles from The Jewish Journal - an ad from "Why I'm A Democrat.

Blog geoff why i am a dem

Jello Desserts From Around The World.

In this week's mail: the great Jello book I blogged about recently.

This booklet, Desserts From Around the World, is from 1909, almost a hundred years old! It features very Eurocentric versions of people from around the globe and the Jell-0 recipes they've inspired. Here's the centerfold.

 jello desserts of the world centerfold. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

so you can see the details better:

Jello deserts from around the world centerfold, detail. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.

Jello. The model is Elizabeth King. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections. Li


This one is the Paris Jello eaters. The Eurocentric version of Parisians is, of course, pretty accurate, Paris being a fairly European city.

Jello Desserts, Paris. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

The view of Eve in the Garden Of Eden- eating apple snow Jello - is a riot. I love her garment made of fig leaves. And the text - check out the embedded assumptions:  "Whether woman has always been privileged to prepare man's food for him or not, and to persuade him to eat, is a point on which history furnished unsatisfactory information." But hey, in 1909 women in the United States couldn't even vote.

Jello Desserts. Eve in the Garden Of Eden. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

There are additional pages for the Indians (i.e. Native Americans), "now a vanishing race," as well as natives of India, Hawaii,  Japanese, Russia, "oriental countries," and Holland. With enough encouragement, I will post some of these pictures.



I'm off to LA for a week. One of the things I'm going to do is spend some time with  Aline Smithson, who will be having a show at Pine Street Art Works next summer.

Aline smithson from
Aline Smithson from "People I don't know" series

Aline smithson from arrangement in green and black
Aline Smithson from "Arrangement In Green And Black: Portrait Of The Photographer's Mother" series.

See the Paint By Number painting on the wall? How could I not love her!

I hope to visit a bunch of galleries and shops and steal ideas  think of new things to feature at the PSAW. I probably won't be posting from the road but I'll bring back pictures and stories.


You know how it is with auctions? The racing pulse, the quickened breath, the agony of that last bid? Well, maybe you don't, but folks, it's the thrill of the hunt - online. How convenient is that?

Last night I bought a Jello recipe book for more money than I've ever spent on one. Seriously. But in 30 years of Jello collecting I'd never seen it before. When it arrives in my mailbox I will scan it for you, but right now, here are some scans from the auction. I know from my site stats how many of you come here looking for Jello images, so enjoy.


Jello desserts of the world

Jello simple jello process

Notice how similar it is to this centerfold in the "jello for dessert" booklet I featured a little while ago.


Jello for dessert centerfold

Do you love vintage Jell-O? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment.


No, not mine. I just watch and make up commentary in my head.  But if you are hankering for great cultural/political/athletic analysis of the Olympics, I highly recommend Maggie Jochild's essays which are cross posted on her blog Maggie's Meta Watershed, and Group News Blog.

My favorite sport? The equestrian events, the only Olympic sport which depends on the communication and athleticism of more than one species. Dressage is ridiculously difficult, subtle, and beautiful. The clothing (for both human and equine) is gorgeous and gender neutral. Probably too warm, though, for summer in Beijing. I used to compete in horse shows in the summer, and whew! I couldn't wait to shed my jacket and hardhat.

Mary King of Great Britain on Call Again cavalier photo Julian Herbert:Getty Images
Mary King of Great Britain on Call Again Cavalier. Photo:Julian Herbert/Getty Images

At the risk of totally embarrassing myself, here is a photo of me in the mid seventies on my horse Tempo. Any of you who know about riding can see in a glance that my form is terrible - check out the line from elbow to bit, which should be straight but isn't.  Tempo, a Palomino Quarter Horse, bless his soul, really hated jumping and eventually I gave up asking him to. His passion was walking along our long dirt road, looking for fallen apples. That was just fine with me. He also hated trailers and bridges, and he broke my nose once when he was terrified (of a new barn), but he was a great guy.

I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but it's the only one I have.

Liza riding blog
Liza riding Tempo. Circa 1978.

And, may I say, I really miss the old days of Olympic coverage with Jim McKay. RIP Jim.

Jim McKay AP Photo:ABC  
Jim McKay AP Photo/ABC


I was browsing around the website COLORlovers, looking at how they analyze color trends in magazine covers and blogs and I was inspired to take a look at the color trends in some of the art I've been looking at and posting lately.

Coloraid The last time I did something like this was when home computers were a gleam in their inventor's eye, during my first (and only) year at The School Of Visual arts in New York City in 1968. We used Color-aid paper. Yumm.

Now I use a design software that I love but almost nobody I work with has heard of. It's called Swift Publisher, and although it has only a fraction of the horsepower of Adobe Illustrator, which everyone recommends, I find it flexible and, best of all, I actually know how to use it.

Like most design software, it has a way to copy color from one place and put it in a designated location. Nifty. I depend on this feature for most of my digital color choices.

I did this mainly as a color exercise, but it turns out they're fun to do and quite nice to look at. I hope you enjoy them.

Colors of Jell-o for dessert
colors in Jello recipe booklet.

This Jell-o booklet was printed by chromolithography, which separates (and combines) colors in many many layers of printing plates, often dozens of layers. The way they combine, and the way the light hits the colors and the eye decodes the message is both subtle and tricky - think of a pointillist painting. So in this Jell-0 cover, it looks like there's lavender, but there isn't an actual lavender ink. These are the colors that separate and combine to make the final impression.

Colors of diamond dyes egg detail blog

Diamond Dyes booklet. Circa 1890's. Wells Richardson & Co. Burlington, VT

This is a detail from a Diamond Dyes chromolithographed booklet, circa 1890. The colors I've defined don't necessarily reflect the colors of ink that were used to make this chromo. I'm sure there's a way to figure that out, but darned if I know it. The colors I've extracted are from a digital scan, as all of these images are. The colors, at least on my screen, are faithful to the original, but they are still digitized. So if two layers of ink are superimposed - layered on on the other, they will read as a third color. Even to the scanner. Still, its quite interesting, I think.

Colors of kitchen american gas blog
Ad for American Gas Association, Saturday Evening Post 1940

This 1949 ad uses different printing technology. Using a four color printing process, the inks combine to create colors from only four colors: cyan, yellow, magenta and black. The finished print, of course, is defined by the original work, in this case a painting, probably guache.The colors of the kitchen are a simple yellow, blue and white palette. The greens are only in the out doors. I've written about this ad before in this blog. It's one of my favorites and I keep coming back to it. Also, the American Gas Association has a google notifier, and last time I posted this ad I got a really nice note from them, so if you are reading this from AGA, hello!

Color fields for liza leger

Liza Cowan aka Liza Leger from FAKE!Paintings by Liza Leger et. al.

This is a digital photo (by Dok Wright) of a painting by me, Liza. The colors are paint in the original, and they look pretty faithful to me. I paint using mixtures of only five colors: Cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red medium, cobalt blue, titanium white and black. I get my neutral grayish greens and etc. by mixing all three colors plus white.

I was having so much fun with my color game that I introduced it to my children. I showed them how to do it and they each came up with one.

Color fields wg

Photo by Liza Cowan 2002

Older daughter, WG, decided to do this photo I took of her many years ago. It was a digital capture, so the image was pixilated in it's inception. She chose to design her page with the colors right up against one another in different sizes.

Color M gw blog

detail from Alphabet Of Country Scenes. 1875, McLaughlin Bros. NY.

Younger daughter GW did this one, another chromo, and I love how she made the colors different sizes. Lively composition. I didn't discuss options of box sizes with the children, nor did we explore using different shapes or placement. We'll save that for another time.