Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gilbert Lesser did a lot more with very little.

Tonight, my wife and I watched 3 Days of the Condor. This movie has been held quite high over the years, but didn't do much for me. And this isn't a movie review, just an introduction. In one of the later scenes in the movie, Robert Redford takes leave of Faye Dunaway, and as he jogs away across the darkened street, an amazing poster comes into focus. So I began researching who designed it, and discovered a designer I've never heard of. And shame on me for it, because Gilbert Lesser's work is incredible! And now, of course, I know who designed the Studio 54 logo! I've tried to assemble my favorite pieces of his work here — from different spots online as well as the AIGA archive (which was a major source). His letterhead! I'm amazed!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The General

Recently, I had the great experience of connecting with John Kealey (an old friend from college days) when I was on a business trip in Ottawa. While we've been in periodic contact for the past few years, we hadn't REALLY spent time together in a long while. John has always been a talented photographer, but hearing about how he has made his talent a reality in his life was profound.
The best surprise of all came after dinner when John brought me to The General, the photo studio and creative center he shares with his business partner, Chris. It's an old market that they have taken over, and completely overhauled and it's beautiful. The spare warmth of the elegant lighting and carefully curated series of objects gives the space a sense of wonder and great feeling of creative potential. I happen to also love the custom drawn logo, courtesy of DressCode in New York.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Black Magic

During the darkest period of my life to date, and by a strange twist of circumstance, I had the delightful experience of staying at a bed & breakfast in Harlem. Strange sentence. It was under a shroud of sadness that I came to stay at this bed & breakfast, but the time there was irreplaceable and meaningful in many ways -- not least because of the swell guy who rents out the bottom floor of his brownstone as an apartment for visitors, which also houses his unbelievable bookstore, open “by Appointment, Invitation or Serendipity.” On 160th street between St. Nicholas Avenue and Edgecombe, just west of the Harlem River, sits Jumel Terrace Books, at the peak of the cobblestone street. Directly across 160th rests the stately Morris-Jumel Mansion (the oldest house in Manhattan) where George Washington was headquartered for September and October of 1776.
Jumel Terrace Books is owned and run by Kurt Thometz, a scholar, collector, and enthusiast of African and African-American literature. Beyond that, he is an expert on a wide berth of philosophy, but has a keen interest in the human transition from orality, to illiteracy (which is a concept in itself) and through to literacy and our modern ways of thinking, communicating and transmitting thought from person to person.
During our two days staying with him, effectively living in his bookstore and sleeping in the beautiful basement apartment in the next room over, he was kind enough to show us around Harlem, teach us a great deal about its history, and he spent hours talking with me, recommending literature, music, and relating stories from his life’s-wealth of experience.
While there, I was so taken by all of the book covers and art around us, I had to capture as much as possible. Many of the following photos are grainy, but were the best I could do in the half-light of the bookstore with a borrowed iPhone. The images start from the street, looking into Kurt’s bookstore at night...