Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Q & A with artist Kerry Laitala

By Kerry Laitala

Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences culture-at-large. Laitala's work involves science, history, technology, and her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief through installation, photography, para-cinema, performance, kinetic sculpture, and single-channel forms. She is the current recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission's Individual Artist Commission to create and display a new series of electrophotographs. 
On October 1, 2015, Laitala will give a talk titled Historic Techniques—Aura and the Spectacle of Light at the California Historical Society's San Francisco Headquarters. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here

I don't usually like to toot my own horn by writing about my own work, but I do enjoy talking about it, so I thought it would make the most sense to have my friend Brian Darr of the blog Hell On Frisco Bay ask me questions and transcribe the interview for this blog piece.   

Brian Darr: Can you give me a brief history of your contributions to the San Francisco art scene in the last twenty years?

Kerry Laitala: From 1995-1997 I went to the San Francisco Art institute for my MFA in filmmaking, and I studied with some amazing filmmakers and curators. People like George Kuchar and Ernie Gehr and Michael Wallin and Mary Tsongas and Steve Anker.

I didn't really start exhibiting until 1997, the year I graduated. Actually in 1996 I did have an installation at the Art Institute, of a kinetic sculpture called the Retrospectroscope. In 1997 I started showing film work out there in the world, and I was lucky to have a short called Secure the Shadow Ere the Substance Fade programmed at the San Francisco International Film Festival. That was my entree into more mainstream venues, being able to screen at an international film festival at the Kabuki Cinema, and to see my work on the big screen.

Beginning in the late 1990s I screened at Other Cinema, Craig Baldwin's Saturday screening series which is currently in its final season at A.T.A. I also started screening at the Exploratorium. I was invited to curate a show called “revealing bodies” where I was able to show Secure the Shadow in the context of other films that had to do with imaging the body. It was really exciting to screen works that had inspired me and were interesting to me, and be a part of that large series that Liz Keim had worked hard to program.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Yosemite—Protected Wilderness

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View at Midday, 2013; photo by David Iliff, Creative Commons License
On October 1, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation establishing the country’s third national park at Yosemite. Congress had recognized Yosemite as worthy of protection since 1864, when in the midst of the Civil War it granted the magnificent and awe-inspiring Yosemite Valley and “the Land embracing the Mariposa Big Tree Grove” to the State of California “inalienable for all time.”

Type Tuesday - Memphis from Mergenthaler Linotype

Your Type Tuesday publisher leaves you with Memphis - one of a few Southern destination points she will be visiting while on vacation, and the only which has a type font named after it. 

Jaime Henderson
Archivist/Digital Archivist

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Type Tuesday - Ornaments from American Type Founders Company

As summer wraps up, we offer these seasonal ornaments from American Type Founders Company.

All images from Supplementary Catalog, New Type Faces, Borders, Ornaments, Brass Rule, American Type Founders Catalog, 1917.

Jaime Henderson
Archivist/Digital Archivist

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Type Tuesday - Wood Types

The Kemble Collection at CHS includes many splendid wood type specimens in its holdings. Unfortunately, due to their age and fragility, we hesitate to reproduce them digitally. Fortunately, Rob Roy Kelly's American Wood Type: 1828 - 1900 has reproduced a number of images from wood type specimens we hold in our collection.

The above images are reproduced from William Page's wood type specimens. The Kemble Collection holds a few William Page specimens: Specimens of Wood Type, Borders, Rules & etc., 1867; Wm. H. Page & Co. Wood Type Specimen, 1872; and four volumes of Page's Wood Type Album, 1879.

Our final wood type specimen comes from the Hamilton Manufacturing Co., once based in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The Kemble Collection holds their circa 1916 wood type specimen, Specimens of Wood Type, Wood Ornaments, Indexes, Dashes, Silhouettes, Corners, Catchwords, Perpetual Calendars, Borders, Star Rule and Wood Rule. 

To view Rob Roy Kelly's study of American wood type, American Wood Type: 1828 - 1900, or to view the original wood type specimens of William H. Page or the Hamilton Manufacturing Co., please visit our library, open Wednesday through Friday from 1 - 5. 

Jaime Henderson
Archivist/Digital Archivist

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Type Tuesday - Johnson & Smith

Today we feature samples from the first published specimen from Johnson & Smith after their acquisition of Binny & Ronaldson's Philadelphia type foundry, in 1834.


From Johnson & Smith's inaugural introduction: "Having purchased the type foundry which has been conducted with so much care, and with the greatest success, by Messrs. Binny & Ronaldson, and Mr. Richard Ronaldson, they deem it necessary only to say, that they will withhold neither labor nor expense to sustain the reputation which the foundry has acquired, and that it shall not deteriorate in their hands." 

Johnson & Smith's Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments has been recently cataloged in the California Historical Society online catalog and is available in our reading room on Wednesdays - Fridays from 1-5 pm.

Jaime Henderson
Archivist/Digital Archivist

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Type Tuesday - Munder family of types

Today's Type Tuesday features Barnhart Brothers & Spindler's (BB&S) catalog of Munder Types. Although the catalog is undated, BB&S released Munder Types between 1924 and 1927, starting with Munder Venezian in 1924, Munder Bold in 1925, Munder Italic in 1926 and finally, Munder Bold Italic in 1927. 

The Munder series was originally designed and cut by Robert Wiebking for Laclede Type Foundry in 1922. Originally known as Laclede Oldstyle, the type was renamed by BB&S when they released Munder Venezian in 1922.

BB&S offered many types originally designed by Wiebking while he was with Advance Type Foundry and Western Type Foundry. BB&S eventually merged with Western Type Foundry, and many of Wiebking's designs, including the Munder series and Advertiser's Gothic were offered by BB&S.

Jaime Henderson
Archivist/Digital Archivist

Monday, August 31, 2015

The People of Klamath Falls by Ed Drew

The trajectory of my work has always arced toward Americana and the understanding of the American “experience.” Within groups I sought to show the varying faces of American minority, and deconstruct the American Dream. With my latest body of work, The People of Klamath, I was commissioned to make portraits of tribal members of the Klamath, Modoc and Pit River Paiute people in Klamath Falls, Oregon. My interaction with the tribal members in creation of this work was one of the most enlightening experiences I've ever had. Indeed in all of my photo projects while I reference the idea of the American Dream through the past, I am in reality using the working process as a bridge to empathize with my subjects. By connecting with them, I am able to have a true understanding of the dynamics of the American experience.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Millard Sheets, Mural Painting Depicting the Founding of Los Angeles, c. 1931–39. California Historical Society Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection at USC Libraries, CHS-7519 
On September 4, 1781, forty-four Hispanic men, women, and children of Native American, African, and European descent departed from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel accompanied by two mission priests and four soldiers. Los Pobladores (the settlers) walked nine miles to a location on the banks of the Porciúncula (Los Angeles River). There they established El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles (the town of the Queen of the Angels).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Type Tuesday - Timely Typography

A recent donation of 1970s era Timely Typography catalogs continues to inspire us with bright colors and exaggerated designs. 

Jaime Henderson