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In Celebration of Online Archives

In 2006, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art began digitizing all of the Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers, photographs, and ephemera in their archives. Now that the 15,096-image collection is available online, I can’t tear myself away. According to the Smithsonian Archives website, the papers measure 15.6 linear feet and date from circa 1914 to 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1942 to 1984. To celebrate the introduction of online artists’ archives, here are some images from my own stash of ephemera, and a related journal excerpt from 2007.

Toronto’s CN Tower is the world’s tallest, at 1,815 feet. I’m drawn to the smaller, unadvertised, local observation towers used to spot fires, watch nature, protect territory, and perhaps provide modest entertainment for visitors. Positioned above the tree line, the towers are distinctive features of the regional landscape, and can be seen from almost everywhere in the community. But from a distance, we’re indistinct as we stare from the platform, nearly invisible to everyone down below. If they can see us at all, they certainly can’t tell who we are. By climbing the tower and distancing ourselves from the throb of life below, paradoxically we feel as though we might be able to get a closer look. To some of us, that’s a keener vantage point than the heart of things. (SB)

At the time, working on a series of paintings loosely based on the structure of observation towers, I collected hundreds of tower images from the Internet. Here are a few.

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