Vibrant as a rainbow

At The Los Angeles Times, Lyra Kilston wrote about midcentury Southern California designer Gere Kavanaugh, whose work is celebrated in a new book from Princeton Architectural Press, “the first monograph on Kavanaugh’s life and work, (which) tells her story through a fascinating avalanche of visual material.” Here’s Kilston on Kavanaugh’s direction after finishing at Cranbrook Academy of Art:

She graduated in 1952, becoming the third woman to earn an MFA in design at Cranbrook, and was soon hired by General Motors as one of its “Damsels of Design” to work on car interiors, kitchen appliances and its lavish modern showrooms. Her ideas were fresh and inventive: For a spring showcase of new cars she conceived of a garden party theme, filling the auditorium with blooming hyacinths and creating 30-foot-high bird cages containing 90 singing canaries. Soon she was choosing between offers at architecture firms run by Finnish architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen in Michigan or architect Victor Gruen in Los Angeles. She took a fateful one-week trip to check out the West Coast, visiting the artist-activist nuns Sister Corita Kent and Sister Magdalen Mary, who welcomed her warmly and insisted she relocate to Los Angeles. She complied, embracing and embodying the colorful region where she still resides today.

I hadn’t heard of Kavanaugh before reading Kilston’s piece, and I think we’re going to have to order A Colorful Life.


I really was expecting something different

Cartoonist Michael Kupperman gives a bracingly honest interview to Simon Abrams at The Comics Journal. His 2018 graphic memoir, All the Answers, was one of the more moving books I’d read last year. I wrote about it here and, when Hyperallergic asked about my favorite comics of 2018, I had the chance to pitch it and write about it for the site. It was a big shift for Kupperman to write something so probing and intimate—while All the Answers received an Eisner nomination and eventual critical acclaim, the book was poorly promoted, and he expected the comics publishing world to react differently than it did.

From the interview at TCJ:

The people in comics who thought I wasn’t worth taking seriously still thought I wasn’t worth taking seriously. I mean, one of my aims in the book was to make it look easy. I think that’s always one of the goals in comics, and maybe I made it look too easy. But no, I felt the reaction in comics was very disappointing, to be honest. I was extremely disappointed by the reaction from the comics world. There’s been almost none, and there were people I’d worked for, where I’d told them they were part of the reason I was in comics, because of their work. They didn’t respond to me at all even after I sent them copies of my book. I mean, I was really hurt by some people’s reactions, to be honest.

I really was expecting something different. I thought, you know, the people in comics who I’d known for years would applaud it. That’s not why I did the book, obviously, but I really was surprised by the absence of reaction from certain quarters, and yeah, it was intensely dispiriting. I did think of quitting. I found last year one of the most emotionally stressful years of the last decade, and that’s saying a lot.

Read the whole thing here, and check out Kupperman’s work.


Edits to a eulogy for editorial cartooning

Jack Shafer writes at Politico about our “entering the end times of the editorial cartoon,” highlighting the impact they’ve long had on democracy and connecting recent layoffs to a couple of factors. I’m not sure that we have the whole story here.