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Bits & Pieces: Alec Soth; Xmas kitsch, Shanghai-style; the coming Inquisition; more

How to spend the money from all those gifts you’re going to return. Find some ideas browsing Alec Soth’s top 10 photo books of 2009. Fans of Soth’s earlier blog — and they were becoming legion — are elated that he’s back, at least in a bloggy kind of alter-ego way as one “Lester B. Morrison.”  They […]

Lester B. Morrison's Facebook photo

Lester B. Morrison's Facebook photo

How to spend the money from all those gifts you’re going to return. Find some ideas browsing Alec Soth’s top 10 photo books of 2009. Fans of Soth’s earlier blog — and they were becoming legion — are elated that he’s back, at least in a bloggy kind of alter-ego way as one “Lester B. Morrison.”  They should also keep an eye out for more information about Soth’s first survey, opening here at the Walker next September.

Christmas, as only the Chinese can do it: My friend Adam Minter, a writer based in Shanghai, has been snapping photos of every Christmas tree he’s seen in the past few days — 141, to be exact.

redemption house

The script at the bottom of that tree says “Redemption House.” See the other 140 Christmas trees — some pathetic, some downright creepy, and many pushing kitsch into entirely new realms — at Adam’s blog, Shanghai Scrap.

Barbara Kingsolver & Walker history: In Lacuna, Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years, a character named Tom Cuddy writes to the protagonist, Harrison Shepherd:

“The Department of State is getting into the art business. … the idea is to pack up a fresh load of paintings on Uncle Sam’s ticket, and parade them around the museums of Europe. A special show of American paintings to send overseas, to show those Parisians we’re not a bunch of rubes. … They recruited my old boss for the job, Leroy Davidson from the Walker. He only got 50 thousand clams to work with but he’s done a killer job, Leroy chose everything himself. He’s fed up with the Europeans sniggering about heart-throbbing landscapes and the American Scene, so he decided to give them an eyeful. Seventy-nine paintings, mostly Modern Art: Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, it’s a killer.”

Joseph LeRoy Davidson (1908 - 1980)

Joseph LeRoy Davidson (1908 - 1980)

Incidentally, work from those painters is currently on view in Benches & Binoculars. Two outlines of Davidson’s distinguished career (here and here)  note that he was an assistant director and curator at the Walker before moving to Washington and heading up the feds’ initial efforts at cultural PR through contemporary art (which, according to some, came into full flower with Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s). Our archivist Jill Vuchetich notes, however, that “the timeline is slightly off.  He would have been the first assistant director starting in 1940 when the Walker Galleries became the Walker Art Center, under director Daniel S. Defenbacher.”

Your most burning questions about art … answered! Watch the informative and instructional video below, which tells you how to submit queries for the upcoming Inquisition — a revival of a public quiz forum that played out at the Walker in 1940. In fact, Davidson probably got in on this game, as it was invented by his boss, Defenbacher.

  • Bits & Pieces: Alec Soth, Barbara Kingsolver, and the coming Inquisition – http://bit.ly/7oxjYp

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • madame lamb says:

    stoked for the inquisition. where can we find more literature on it’s history?

  • Adam Goodman says:

    Will the Alec Soth show/survey be a traveling exhibit (I’m on the West Coast) or only in MN?