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November 2008
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December 2008


I swear to the stars above that when I started Pine Street Art Works three years ago I thought it would be a gender neutral retail operation. I've never been particularly girly. I dig abstract thought and tough decisive action. I hate processing my emotions. I loathe and abhor the word "journaling." My preferred artists are the Modernists, I like old tools and worn out industrial equipment. I only wear jeans and sensible shoes. Not that I call myself butch, but I'm no femme either. I've always thought of myself as androgynous. Hah! Apparently not, at least in retailing.

Truck At Sunset. Copyright Liza Cowan, 2002.

Build a green economy, photo 2
This is me, yesterday. I made this self portrait  for MoveOn.Org for their top priorities campaign. I mean, come on. Am I a girly girl? PS: My picture didn't make it into their final selection of images, which just goes to show that a great grassroots organizing movement doesn't always know how to pick the best images. 

Update (later the same day as I posted this on the blog): I just got this sweet note from Justin at MoveOn.Org "Hi Liza, Saw your blog post courtesy of google blog alerts. Thanks for your photo. Not sure how it got overlooked, but I added it to the photo set that's showing on the page that we put up today dedicated to the 'green economy' goal. Thanks for adding your creativity to the process.
Hope your winter is more snow than mud.
Best, Justin"

MoveOn.Org is just sooo excellent! OK, back to the original post....

By actual count, 50% of the artists I've shown have been male, 50% have been female.

Then comes my love of all things ephemera. You know, the Jell-o booklets, the needle packs, trade cards, and that kind of thing.

There are men who love ephemera and old illustrations.  You can follow the links to some great ones. But they aren't shopping here.

So what happens when men come shopping here, or women looking to buy things for men? Once in a while a man walks in and buys art, sometimes they buy a book or an old print. Certainly they buy presents for the women in their lives. Flashbags are a huge hit as presents for women.  But the rest of my inventory? Apparently it's too girly. 

So my question to you is: what should I stock that would appeal to guys? Because despite my best intentions and what I thought was my gender neutral approach to art and life I've still got the feminine eye. Who'da thunk?


Steven P Goodman, Lake at the Intervale. Copyright SP Goodman.


We celebrate the return of the light. It's the human thing to do, all over the world, and in all different ways. Tomorrow at PSAW/ Atelier Tove, there will be a Santa Lucia Celebration.

404 Pine Street, Burlington, VT


Lucia, by Carl Larsson

Tove is Swedish, and Santa Lucia is the Swedish Festival of Lights. Lucia was an Italian saint remembered and revered for her kindness and love. And for surviving the brutal attacks by a man whose love she scorned. Like the light that returns, Lucia survived the darkness of patriarchal malevolence. Or, that's my reading of it.

Anyway, in Sweden her day is celebrated  with spicy gingerbread cookies and with girl children dressed in a candle laden crown, and boys in a pointy starry hat.

The earlier version of Santa Lucia was Italian, where Lucia was a christian revolutionary, bringing food to the persecuted christians hiding in tunnels underground, hence the candles on her crown. Then, more violence, persecution and finally victory and survival.

Maybe we'll do a little chanuka return of the light Next weekend but this weekend it Lucia.

Tove writes:
At 4 o'clock we welcome you to visit us for the Annual Lucia celebration. At 4:30 the Lucia Choir (a group of 4th graders) will sing about the light and the holidays.

Doors will be open from 9-6. All day we will show Works Of Art by the students that participated in the class Art By You & Me.

Atelier Tove, cow in pasture by Nils Arentzen 

Cow in pasture by Nils Arentzen, Art by You & Me at Atelier Tove

Atelier Tove features Glass Art made by AO! Glass, jewelry made by Jen Wagner and Eco friendly kid wear by Moe O'Hara. 20% starting Saturday until christmas, plus you can get free text engraved on your purchased glass item.

AO! glass, people goblets blog

AO! Glass, People Goblets at Atelier Tove at Pine Street Art Works.


This video was made by DPAN - Deaf Performing Artists Network. So very cool. Check out their website.

Once upon a time - in the mid 1980's -I published greeting cards and posters in ASL. American Sign Language, working with Ann Silver, a very talented Deaf graphic designer/ activist. Through her I got to meet a lot of Deaf performers in New York City, part of a very cool, very hip, hugely talented scene. I never mastered ASL but for a while I could manage to communicate in basic rudimentary attempts and a lot of patience from my Deaf friends. Ann was a brilliant lip reader and spoke very well, so we usually relied on her skills rather than mine.

We took our line of products to the International Deaf Olympics in the mid 80's near Los Angeles. Totally fun, and I loved being surrounded not only by athletes and supporters from around the world, but being in the minority of hearing people in the vast crowd for four days. I never got to see the games because I was in our booth all the time. But it was quite the experience.

Deaf olympics booth blog

White Mare booth at the Deaf Olympics. The fingerspelling ABC poster is at the upper left. We had buttons and keychains, too, with I Love You and letters.

This was my first ASL card, done in 1983. That's my hand. White Mare Inc. was my little publishing company.

I love you card blog 

ASL I Love You. Copyright 1983, White Mare Inc. Photo by Sharon Mumby.

The next card is part of the series Ann Silver directed and designed. The photo is by George Ancona of Deaf storyteller and actor Mary Beth Miller.

Let's escape blog 

Let's Escape. Copyright 1985, White Mare, Inc. and Ann Silver. Photo by George Ancona.

Mary Beth and George had worked together on a book called Hand Talk

Blog mary beth miller hand talk photos george ancona  

The card we made flips open at the photo to look like this:

Let's escape (inside)blog 

And here's the back of the card

Let's sign card back blog

The text reads:

American Sign Language is a natural language with it's own grammar and syntax. It is a beautiful & graceful visual-gestural language created by Deaf people & used widely in America.

The signs in ASL are word-like units which have both concrete & abstract meanings. Signs are made by either one or both hands assuming distinctive shapes in particular locations & executing speachified movements. The use of spatial relationships, directions, orientation & movement of the hands, as well as facial expression & body shift make up the grammar of ASL.

There were about seven cards in this series. I also made a fingerspelling poster and postcard, which I can't find. Oops. So much for archiving my own work.


After a great three year association between Flashbags and Pine Street Art Works we have decided to take our partership to another level. PSAW is now the home of the Flashbags Boutique! What does this mean for you? A bigger selection of Flashbags handmade handbags and accessories at the shop. More products, more choices.

Psaw flashbags boutique card for blog

I am now carrying Flashbags by Katherine Montstream, Gilian Randal, Woody Jackson and all the other Flashbags artists, in addition to the ones with images from PSAW, including great stuff from my ephemera collections (Jello, needle packs etc ) and by PSAW artists like Cara Barer, Richard Gombar and soon, Ginny Joyner.

And of course I still am carrying the amazing Obama Limited Edition bag as well as the Obama Inaugural bag.

So stop by and see the expanded collections. And if you're in the neighborhood on Saturday Dec. 20th, Flashbags will be having a blowout holiday palooza here from 1 to 5.

And soon, when I get it all figured out, I'll be adding paypal buttons to my items for those of you who are shopping from afar. But remember you can always give me a call or send an email and I ship anywhere.

802 863 8100


Here are some more Ginny Joyner images for your viewing pleasure. These prints are available here at Pine Street Works, and are soon to be seen on Flashbag handmade handbags and accessories, made in Vermont.

Ginny joyner le chapeau de femme small
Copyright Ginny Joyner, Chapeau De Femme. Used by permission.

Ginny joyner LUNA small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Luna Moth. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner Spode 2 pavilions plate small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Spode Two Plate. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner WATCH small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Better Late Than Never. Used by permission

Ginny Joyner Eyeglasses small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Eyeglasss. Used by permission.


Today is my father's birthday. He would have been 95 and very proud of his children.

I found this great clip from an article in Columbia College Today, January 2006. An article about John Brecher, author and wine reviewer for The Wall Street Journal. He says about my dad, who was his professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism:

"The class that made the biggest impression on Brecher was taught by Lou Cowan, former CBS president, at the Journalism School. Cowan invited famous people to talk to the class, including Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) and John Ochs from The New York Times. “One day Cowan asked me to have coffee with him at his fabulous East Side penthouse,” Brecher recalls. “And he said to me, ‘Do you know why I have these people to class? Don’t listen to what they’re saying. Study how they’re thinking.’ It was the single most important thing that anyone ever said to me. And I carry that bit of advice with me to this day.”

My brother Geoff Cowan is - among many things - the author of Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers, a play that has been presented to rave reviews all around the country. This morning Geoff  sent me this link to a clip by Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air from WHYY, broadcast on NPR on December 8th. In her list of four recommendations of books to read during this holiday/pre inaugural moment, she discusses  a book by our wonderful brother Paul Cowan, who died in 1988. Corrigan also recommends The Hunger Of Memory by Richard Rodriguez, American Crucible by Gary Gerstle and The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.

The Tribes Of America: Journalistic Discoveries of Our People and Their Cultures, by Paul Cowan, The New Press, 311 pages, list price: $16.95

Best Books For A Transformative New Year by Maureen Corrigan

"Allow me to begin by stating the obvious: there's something different in the air this 2008 holiday season — and it's not just the Scrooge-like damper on spending cast by the financial crisis. The holidays this year also serve as prelude to the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. This is such a milestone that most people I know are still walking around saying, "I can't believe it really happened." So this year, I'm recommending some terrific books that can help anyone, whatever his or her politics, gain a deeper understanding of what we've had to come through as a country —what we're still struggling through — to reach this moment. And, yes, in recognition of the fact that many of us are humming "We Ain't Got a Barrel of Money" more often than we're singing "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town," almost all the gift books I'm recommending are paperbacks.

The Tribes Of America: There was once an extraordinary writer for The Village Voice named Paul Cowan. Cowan covered everything from a miner's strike in Harlan County, Ky., to school busing battles in Boston. He died at age 48 of leukemia in 1988, but surely few who read his pieces or his autobiography, An Orphan in History — about rediscovering his Jewish roots — ever forgot his voice. A collection of Cowan's finest reportage from The Village Voice has just been reissued. Although the pieces in The Tribes of America are from the 1970s, the early culture-war tensions they chronicle are still with us. As historian Rick Perlstein says in his new introduction, "Cowan was a journalist who threw himself into situations that might just change his mind, and how many of us dare to do that?"

Certainly in 1974, when Cowan went to West Virginia, where a traditional rural community was fending off radical new grammar school textbooks, you'd assume he'd have been on the side of modernity. But here's what Cowan said about that and similar experiences: "The stories I wrote about … turned out to be dialogs with my own private dissatisfactions. As a whole, they left me with a profound respect for the stability of religion, of ceremony, of family life: of customs I'd once regarded as old-fashioned and bourgeois. . . . How can one embrace them and still be . . . a political progressive?" "

read the text on the NPR website

listen to it on npr



Cara Barer, whose beautiful photographs have been showing at Pine Street Art Works for almost three years, just made it to the cover of Domus, the Italian Design Magazine.

Cara barer civer domus mag
Domus Magazine, December 2008. Cover by Cara Barer.

Mille Congratulazioni, Cara. Ciò è meritata bene.

AND... today Cara became one of the Photolucida 2008 Critical Mass Top 50 winners in their annual juried competition. Very big Mazel Tov on that, Cara.


Today we welcome a new artist to the walls of Pine Street Art Works - Ginny Joyner. Ginny is a Vermont artist, well known and loved, both here and farther afield. She graduated from the Rhode Island School Of Design in 1986 with a degree in illustration, and her work has appeared in many publications and for clients as varied as Harper Collins, The Baltimore Sun, and Eating Well Magazine.

I've loved Ginny's work for years, but while I was focusing on bringing my customers one -of- a- kind art I couldn't figure out how to incorporate her into the fold. But now that I've decided to bring artist made limited editions to my collections, Ginny fits in perfectly. I'm telling you, it's not easy to find such gorgeous work locally, and I'm so glad that Ginny agreed to let me carry her work. I'm sure you will love her paintings of pastry, teacups, garden vegetables, ruby slippers, porcelain figures, butterflies, cows, ladies shoes, fruits and teapots as much as I do.

This is just a small sample of her work, which is prodigious and varied, and always exquisite. I will post more images as she sends them to me.

Joyner -GARDENboots  
Ginny Joyner, Garden Boots. Used by permission.

Joyner -Pastry croissant
Ginny Joyner - Pastry/croissant. Used by permission.

Jouner Pastry572
Ginny Joyner - Pastry. Used by permission

Joyner Radis
Ginny Joyner, Radis. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner, Chelsea Rabbit. Used by permission

Ginny Joyner, Ruby Slippers. Used by permission.

Ginny does her own printing so she can keep the quality high and the prices low. These prints cost $40 for 8 1/2 x 11 or $70 for 13 x 18. That isn't always the size of the actual image, but the paper it's printed on. Cellophane wrapped and ready for giving, these make a great holiday or housewarming gift.

As always, I can ship anywhere. Just email me. liza (at) You can pay over the phone with a credit card, easy as pie- or tart au cerise.