October 05, 2006


The ECOlogical Calendar; Georgia O’Keeffe; Frank Lloyd Wright; Edward Gorey: Mystery; Bruce McCall: Serious Nonsense; Classic Crumb; M.C. Escher: Uncommon Ground; M.C. Escher Mini; Wolf Kahn Mini. Pomegranate. $14.99 (ECOlogical); $13.99 each (all other full-size); $6.99 each (mini).

     The most interesting, consistently highest-quality wall calendars around come year after year from Pomegranate, which produces each one as if it were a book of attractive prints – which many of these calendars are.  There is also considerable creativity in theme selection and design of Pomegranate calendars, resulting in a very wide range of styles and ideas – presented with a level of visual interest that you will enjoy looking at day after day and month after month.

     For 2007, Pomegranate has produced the third version of its highly unusual ECOlogical Calendar, which is not a touchy-feely environmental-handbook kind of thing but an attempt to redefine the way we view the world: instead of a boxy format featuring grids, this calendar includes three-foot-long panels depicting each season, with information on seasonally visible constellations, tides and moon phases, notes on astronomy and natural history, poetry, multicultural holidays and more.  If this sounds complicated, it is: a six-page booklet is included to explain how the calendar works.  Many people will not want to put this much work into looking at a calendar, but the point here is to look at one – and at the world at large – in a new and different way.  If that gives you a changed outlook on day-to-day life, so much the better.  This nontraditional calendar concept is not for everyone, but it provides a highly creative approach to the year for anyone seeking something outside the norm.

     Pomegranate’s many wall calendars in traditional format are creative and beautiful in their own way.  Georgia O’Keeffe showcases the powerful simplicity of the artist’s extreme close-ups of flowers, in pictures from as early as 1919 (“Red Flower”) and as late as 1952 (“Pink and Yellow Hollyhocks”).  Frank Lloyd Wright displays beautiful photos of famous and less-known Wright architectural wonders, including two homes with the iconic name of Taliesin, the strikingly simple Pope-Leighey House in Virginia, Wright’s own home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois, and many more.

     One of Pomegranate’s most interesting calendar categories is called “Artful Humor,” which is where Edward Gorey: Mystery fits in.  Actually, Gorey’s work doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, which is a big part of its charm.  His sense of line is unusual, his lighting effects peculiar, and the detail of his cross-hatchings utterly remarkable.  The 17 Gorey illustrations here have no titles, but scarcely need them: all are on the macabre side of things, all are rendered with excruciating detail, and all will make you wonder just what is going on (why are there two feet sticking up from the urn that lies within the arch from behind which several people are peeking?).

     Bruce McCall: Serious Nonsense is artful humor of a different kind.  McCall offers city scenes with a distinct difference: huge apes reading newspapers while waiting to try out to climb the Empire State Building; a Donald Trump White House with glittering gold apartment tower on top of the traditional structure; ice fishing through the skating rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Center; and many more slightly skewed views of things.  None of them, though, is as skewed as the work of Robert Crumb, of which Classic Crumb offers a year’s worth.  Famous creations of this most famous of underground cartoonists (Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural) appear in some months; there is one full Crumb story (“Mr. Natural Meets God”); and there are covers of such well-known (at least in certain circles) comics as “Zap No. 1” and “Despair.”  Although these are some of Crumb’s milder panels, this calendar is not for the easily shocked or those who think “underground” refers to comics created in tunnels.

     One of the most consistently interesting calendar series from Pomegranate features the work of M.C. Escher, such as M.C. Escher: Uncommon Ground for 2007.  That’s a great title, since Escher’s work relies on foreground/background conflation (among other things) for its unique effects.  The 2007 wall calendar highlights some of Escher’s best-known works in large and impressive format: “Belvedere,” that confusion of inside and outside; “Drawing Hands,” the famed image of creator and creation inextricably intertwined; “Waterfall,” where up and down become interchangeable; “Hand with Reflecting Globe,” Escher himself being the reflection; and more.  Escher’s puzzles are the puzzles of the world and the way we see it – always something worthwhile to think about during any year.

     If you don’t have room for the full-size Escher calendar, consider the excellent seven-inch-square mini calendar for 2007, which includes the wonderful “Reptiles” as well as several symmetry and circle-limit drawings.  You’ll still get most of the impact of Escher in this smaller size.  And if Escher is not your cup of tea, there are other fine mini-size calendars available as well.  For example, Wolf Kahn focuses on a contemporary artist whose works – done in intense and slightly strange colors – tread the line between reality and something else.  The mini calendar includes such gems as “Invented Foliage” and “In the Land of the Giant” (trunks of trees so tall that their tops are outside the picture).  Whatever size space you have, whatever your preference in art, one or another of these calendars should help improve your view of 2007 every time you look at the wall.

No comments:

Post a Comment