“In the Pines,” an exhibition of paintings, ceramics, and works on paper by Rebecca Morgan, is at Asya Geisberg Gallery through October 29. Morgan grew up in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania; her work plays with stereotypes and caricatures of hillbillies and country people. The woods suggest a coarse and hedonistic culture: it is the scene of bonfires, hunting, sex, drunken revelry, camaraderie, fights, and perversion. Morgan said in an interview with TOH Magazine. “I navigate my reverence and aversion to the place that has rejected yet charmed me. I operate in modes of frustration, cynicism, and reclamation.”
LaToya Frazier’s first monograph, The Notion of Family, documents the decline of Braddock, Pennsylvania—a once-prosperous steel-mill town that employed generations of African American workers—alongside the hardships of Frazier’s family, who grew up there. Issues of class and race underscore the mostly black-and-white photographs in the collection, which is arranged as a kind of family album: intimate, collaboratively produced portraits of Frazier and her mother in mirrors and on beds, are presented with derelict scenes of collapsed buildings, vacant lots, and boarded-up stores.
Frazier provides short texts with each image—wistful snippets of memory and anecdote merge with facts and statistics. Illness is nearly a constant. As Laura Wexler points out in an accompanying essay, Braddock’s hospital, which eventually housed the town’s only restaurant and therefore became its de facto meeting place, “is as much or more a fixture in this album and this family than the school, the factory, the library, the market, the taxi stand, the pawnshop, or any other institution.” Read More
Sleep-away camp revisited.
Five miserable summers straight, I made the trek to Camp Saginaw, a.k.a. Camp Saggyballs. The cornpone setting in Oxford, Pennsylvania, was the backdrop for my induction into the myth and ritual of the camp, whose songs and traditions served mostly to perpetuate the philosophy that this was the best place on Earth. It was not—what with the mediocre campfires, the soggy waffles, the deflating banana boat on the murky lake.
Still, I attended until I had earned the only slightly coveted green Old-Timer shirt, affixed with an Indian chief insignia; until I’d scraped my knuckles raw enough times at the gaga court to develop permanent scars; and until I no longer became teary-eyed when “Total Eclipse of the Heart” played at the roller rink while the girl I crushed on slow-skated by with another boy.
Most important, I attended until, at long last, I successfully snuck to Girls’ Camp at midnight.
How many nights over multiple summers my bunkmates and I had stayed up plotting Project Angel Raid! We dressed in all black or navy blue, talking with our flashlights pointed up to the rafters, only to fall asleep in our sweatpants and hoodies. Come morning we hit our mattresses with a heavy fist—yet another failed mission …
But there was an added incentive the summer I turned twelve: I met Jill, she of the freckled cheeks and strawberry blonde hair. So what if she wore corrective glasses because she was slightly cross-eyed? She had taken a shine to me, and it was important for me to demonstrate my devotion with the type of bravado brandished only during a caper. Read More
How good is our two-hundredth issue? It’s good enough that Matt, an operator at the Sheridan Press, accidentally let about five hundred sheets slip from one of the presses after he sat down—get this—to read a few pages from our interview with Bret Easton Ellis. “I grabbed a sheet from the stack and forgot to look up,” he explained. “I didn’t know he’d written so many books!”
(We can’t blame you, Matt. It’s a damn fine interview.)
Managing editor Nicole Rudick and I are in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on our quarterly trip to Sheridan, where our latest issue is running hot off the presses. We usually hole up for the day in the “Library”—it’s far enough away from the actual printers that we can’t cause much trouble—but this time Todd, Sheridan’s prepress manager, was kind enough to take us around for a tour.
A Heidelberg press printing the cover of issue 200.