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March 2011


Objects to paint, coloring book, 1910, cover, cowan ephemera

Objects To Paint, 1910 Coloring Book, The Saalfield Publishing Co. NY, Chicago

From the vaults at the Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections (formerly known as Pine Street Ephemera Collections.) A coloring book from 1910. Enjoy.

Objects To Color, detail, girls face, cover.


Fire engine, 1910, COWAN EPHEMERA,  400
Fire Engine



Fire engine, 1910, steam engine, coloring book, detail firemen, yellow red, smoke 

Fire Engine, detail


Ring round rosy, 1910 coloring book, cowan ephemera, 400
Ring-Round-A Rosy. 1910, Coloring Book


Ring round rosy, 1910, detail, girl, cowan ephemera
Ring Round A Rosy, girl, detail, 1910

Four Color Process: the inner world of dots and comic books


Comic Book, detail. Four Color Process. From a blog by Half Man Half Static

My regular readers know I've been a bit obsessed with making and or blogging about large scale reproductions of fragments from printed ephemera, particularly chromolithography, stone lithography and other early to mid 20th Century color-print processes.


Needle girl face detail. Cowan ephemera collections

Mid 20th Century Needle book. Detail. Liza Cowan ephemera collections.

I recently discovered the blog 4CP (four color process) by John Hilgart, the blogger known as   HM/HS Half Man Half-Static, A Curator of lost items. (Great name, by the way.) HM/HS writes in an early early essay In Defense Of Dots: The lost Art Of Comic Books: 

"Who is responsible for this art? At the level of a square inch of printed comic book, no one was the creative lead. 4CP highlights the work of arbitrary collectives that merged art and commerce, intent and accident, human and machine. A proper credit for each image would include the scriptwriter, the penciller, the inker, the color designer, the paper buyer, the print production supervisor, and the serial number of the press. Credit is due to all of them, to differing and unknowable degrees, for every square inch of every old comic. The hand of fate created this art, and it guides our hand as we search for 4CP images: We move a tiny Ouija board pointer across mid-Century comic books, looking for beautiful ghosts."

4cp.posterous from
Comic Book, detail. Four Color process. From

Jello, door handle, chromolithograph, recipe, dots, enlargement, liza cowan ephemera collections,

Jell-O booklet. Chromolithography. Detail. Liza Cowan ephemera collections. 

"However, in the decisive, paradoxical twist, four-color process created a form of depth even as it fought against illustrative realism. Whereas contemporary reproductions of mid-century comic art are truly closed and flat, old comic books are visually leaky and deep. Four-color dots perforate the flat surface of the universe, opening onto nowhere – some uncharted cosmos."


Comic Book, detail, enlarged 4 color process, dots,
Detail of Comic, 4 Color Process, from


snapdragon seed pack, stone ligthograph, detail, pink, flower, abstract flower, detail,, liza cowan ephemera collectiosn
Early 20th Century seed packet, stone lithograph. Liza Cowan ephemera collections


windows, comic book, 4 color process, dots,
Comic book detail, four color process, from

Read the whole essay HERE and make sure to spend some time in the 4cp archive for amazing images and really well thought out and well written articles. 


If you are squamish don't prod the beach rubble sappy text on old window Liza Cowan 1994
If You Are Squeamish Don't Prod The Sea Rubble. Sappho. Painting on glass by Liza Cowan 1999

This painting cracked and broke in 2001, during a move. I just found the only photo I took of it. I used rubber stamps for the text, and even though I used waterproof ink, I found I had to paint over the lettters with black paint. the panes are translucent, but I placed a white foam core board behind so the letters would be legible. 


Everything about this 1905 film is fascinating to me. The brownstone neighborhood the school is in looks exactly like my Park Slope street looked ten years ago. The girls clambering in and out of the extraordinarily large and tall car are lithe, energetic and excited, even in the outfits which seem, to my eye, to be terribly cumbersome. I'm sure they were even wearing corsets. Then there's Coney Island itself, in all it's glory. The rides look like so much fun, and not dependent on motors. I'd love to ride the steeplechase.  And swimming at the seaside...what could be more fun in New York City in 1905.

Pierre Bennu: Black Moses Barbie


Black Moses Barbie commercial #2 of 3 from pierre bennu on Vimeo.

This video contains many of my favorite elements: progressive politics, dolls and deconstruction of images and fakery. Wow.

"This mock commercial for a Black Moses Barbie toy is the 2nd in a series of 3 celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman. It is part of Pierre Bennu's larger series of paintings and films deconstructing and re-envisioning images of people of color in commercial & pop culture."