The list included two UPM titles -- Mississippi Hill Country Blues 1967 by George Mitchell and The Painted Screens of Baltimore by Elaine Eff. Both books are heavily illustrated, handsomely produced and would look great on anyone's coffee table or bookshelf.
Writing about Mississippi Hill Country Blues 1967, Dwight Garner says:
George Mitchell was a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Minnesota when, in 1967, he decided to travel to Mississippi in a VW bug to photograph and record its blues musicians. What he found were as-yet-unrecorded geniuses like R. L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill and Othar Turner. His photographs of these performers and many others (he had to borrow a camera for the trip) have enormous immediacy and grace. After you’ve fallen in love with this book, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Mr. Mitchell’s field recordings, which are famous among blues connoisseurs. The sprawling box set titled “The George Mitchell Collection, Vols. 1-45” is the bargain of the century.
The folklorist Elaine Eff spent four decades, on and off, studying translucent landscapes and street scenes that Baltimoreans used to enliven the facades of their brick rowhouses. The screens also maintained privacy and kept out insects, while letting in breezes and sunshine. Ms. Eff found the tradition’s roots in 18th-century British artists who offered “curiously painted” floral patterns on wire mesh. In the 1910s, Czech immigrant painters filled Baltimore screens with vistas of cottages, mills, ponds and swans. Their successors soon branched out into lighthouses, leprechauns and the occasional ad for cocktails. The art form’s mostly female patrons, Ms. Eff writes, wanted to keep neighboring houses looking cheerful and thereby “build harmony.”
Both books are available now from UPM. Order directly from us by next Wednesday, December 11 to avoid paying a rush delivery fee.