Political Cartoons: A “Darling” Reminder to Vote

The following post comes from Olson Graduate Assistant Rachel Miller-Haughton.

Political cartoons are more fraught and relevant today than ever. The New York Times ended their political cartoons in July 2019, after they pulled an image that was widely perceived as anti-Semitic. Other publications have gone the same way in order to be perceived as more serious, or less controversial. At the same time, cartoonists and their supporters write about the loss of the visual medium. Patrick Chappatte, a New York Times political cartoonist, says, “Political cartoons were born with democracy. And they are challenged when freedom is.” No matter whether you like them or not, the impact of political cartoons cannot be denied. The most extreme example of this in recent memory are the attacks on the offices and contributors to French magazine Charlie Hebdo in response to their portrayal of Islamic prophet Muhammad. The response to a political cartoon, and subsequent conversations over free speech, is something that has colored our understanding of what they look like. 

Almost 100 years ago, a cartoonist was illustrating his view of the current election. Jay N. “Ding” Darling was a cartoonist who spent much of his life in Sioux City, Iowa, and spent most of his career at the Des Moines Register. Born in 1876, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 and 1942. He was disillusioned with many of the political groups he worked with, but his life’s passion was wildlife conservation. The University of Iowa Libraries now holds many of his works. The “Ding” Darling Papers in Special Collections are a large group of the political cartoons the artist was best known for, as well as other art forms he created over the span of his life. Two images from the 1924 election stand out, even today. That year, Calvin Coolidge, the Republican candidate, won, helped by a divide in the Democratic party where many liberal Democrats left the party and backed third-party Wisconsin Senator, throwing the majority of the rest of the votes to Coolidge. A three-party election with a divided majority party was highly contentious

“The citizens will soon go forth and vote their calm, dispassionate judgement. [also titled] the citizens will now go forth and vote their calm, dispassionate judgement” by Ding Darling, 1924
The first image is captioned, “The citizens will now go forth and vote their calm, dispassionate judgement.” It features two voters clutching their ballot, pursued by huge ballooning figures carrying signs saying, “campaign lies,” “beware of chaos!” and “the government is run by a bunch of crooks,” among others. Anyone who has spent a few minutes watching TV, or on social media, has been blasted by similar messages around the 2020 election. Darling shows us that voters in the early 1900s were obviously feeling a similar strain, albeit with different names (“red peril” from the newly formed Soviet Union is reflected now as Russian cyber agitation)

 

“It`s a wonder there aren`t more serious accidents” by Ding Darling, 1924

 

The second cartoon, also from 1924, says “It’s a wonder there aren’t more serious accidents” and is commentary about nonvoters. Meant to either galvanize or shame “non voting voters” to be more like “the small percent who take their voting duty seriously,” it is certainly interesting to reflect on today. Already, the 2020 voter turnout is breaking records. Darling hoped this piece would encourage those who were able, and had the right, to vote, while also telling those who didn’t they don’t get to complain about “the gov’t machinery.” This may have been his way of encouraging participation in democracy. 

The 2020 election is weighing on all our minds as Americans. Looking in Special Collections, it is almost comforting (albeit frustrating) to look back at history and know this is not the first time we’ve felt bombarded by groups telling us how to vote. Political cartoons have always done a good job of showing us what is important, and cutting through the noise of words with a single image. Who we listen to is up to us. But the importance of voting, although portrayed in a humorous manner by Darling, is no less pressing today than it was in 1924. 


For more information on “Ding” Darling, check out the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society

Issue of Quaranzine

2020: The Year of the QuaranZINE

The following is written by Rich Dana, Olson Graduate Research Assistant for Special Collections. 

As librarians, we are engaged in service to our communities, and that service doesn’t end when the library has to lock its doors to protect its patrons and workers. All of us are faced now with leveraging any tools at our disposal to serve those who need to continue teaching, learning, researching, creating and maintaining some continuity in their lives during the “social distancing” of the current moment.

Issue of Quaranzine
Mark Fischer adds Quaranzine #1 to a Chicago Little Free Library

I was sitting in a comfortable weekend rental apartment above Rago’s Funeral home in Chicago (famous as the location of Al Capones wake) with my family when the reality of the situation really set in. The Art Institute was closing. Concerts were canceled. Visiting a nearly empty Quimby’s bookstore, manager Liz Mason and I discussed the cancellations of all upcoming zine fests, art book and small press events. It occurred to me that zine-makers would be dealing with the quarantine as they do many of life’s struggles; by making zines about it. Liz threw out a title for such efforts, calling them “quaranzines.”

That afternoon I set up a Facebook group as a hub place for collaboration and as a collection point for these quaranzines. By the time I got back to Iowa the next day, cities across the nation were implementing “shelter in place” orders, and well over 200 people had joined the Covid-19 zine group.

From 5 Ways to Keep Busy (when you can’t leave the house) by Kelly Wooten

Members hail from all over the world, reporting on what they are seeing and making, sharing their work. Marc Fischer from Chicago prints a 2-page issue of Quaranzine every day, posting them on light poles and bus stops around the neighborhood. Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam in Siem Reap, Cambodia is asking for people to send artwork and writing for her first issue of QuaranZINE. She is working on it despite the high temperatures and the lack of air conditioning caused by power outages in the village. As I prepare the first issue of my own quaranzine, Dri-Koff Weekly, another zine arrives in my mailbox. 5 Ways to Keep Busy (when you can’t leave the house) by Kelly Wooten in Chapel Hill.

We all hope that quaranzines are a thing of the past soon. Until then- I’ve got another issue to put out.


The Social Distancing Festival

Submissions are open to all, though the organizer is currently prioritizing work that was cancelled/disrupted/delayed due to the need for social distancing and COVID-19.

Submit and learn more about The Social Distancing Festival here

 

Flatlands Press

Flatland Press invites you to submit pieces for Flat Space, a publication that will be created around this period of social distancing.Present themes orbiting around forms of communication, shorten the distance between us, and antiquated tech/dead tech.

Please submit ideas, images, writings at Flatlandspress@gmail.com
Please add: Flat Space to subject headings.

 

THE SPACE BETWEEN: a free PDF coloring/activity book by PS1 & friends

Local Iowa City group, Public Space One brings you Space Between: The PS1 & Friends (never ending) activity book (vol. 2 could be with you!)

Click here if you’d like to submit to the community coloring/activity book.

 

The Quarantine Times:

“This project continues until the crisis ends, at which point all artists’ contributions will be promptly compiled into a publication and released at a celebration. We’ll be together again.”

Check out more about this project here.

 

Quaranzine Fest 2020!

A viral safe-space for your zines!
Quaranzine Fest is simple. Post your work on the platform of your choice April 4th and 5th tagged #quaranzinefest. There’s more info on their website including a funny / awkward tutorial on how to digitize your analog zine with an iPhone!

On April 4th and 5th like, comment, and share the work of others! Be a good samaritan – do more than just browse and passively like. If you can afford it, mail order some zines – after all it’s a zinefest!

 

Quaranzine:

A Daily Riso zine by Marc Fischer is open to publishing work by others:

Copies are posted in public places in his neighborhood in Chicago, left in some Little Free Libraries in the area, shared online on social media, and distributed more formally eventually when it’s safe for people to get together in groups. Get in touch if you are interested.

 

QuaranZINE

From Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam:

If you are fortunate enough to be in (self) quarantine, I would like to create a zine, aptly titled, “QuaranZINE”. In this work, I aim to collectively publish short writing pieces, poems, art, rants, and almost anything that is produced during quarantine.

For more information please contact a.dam@studenti.unisg.it with the subject heading: QuaranZINE.

 

Dri-Koff Weekly:

A one page mimeograph zine available by mail, or as a print-and-fold pdf. Coming out weekly until this is over. Art, writing, comics, helpful hints and observations about living and staying sane during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Send submissions or requests for copies to ricardo.obsolete@gmail.com.

Downloads available soon.

 

Social Distance Quara-zine! Collective zine-making in the age of Covid-19 Facebook Group

Social Distance Quara-zine is an online zinefest.  The world was a lonely enough place before, and now this. While we are all in lock-down mode, maybe we can find a way to get together via pictures and words, to share ideas, make communal art and survive the madness together (while staying at least 3 meters apart.)

 
Daily Schedule by Violet Crandall

Want to learn more about zines, zine-making or the zine collections at the University of Iowa? Check out:

 
And be sure to check out these other great sources as well! 
 
Oil painting of Ellen Hale

Ellen Day Hale Paints Her Way into UI History

Through some great research, our University Archivist David McCartney discovers some of the “unknown” facts that are part of new UI Presidential Portrait Gallery in the Main Library, as he explains below. 

When the UI Presidential Portrait Gallery was formally dedicated late last year, staff in Special Collections responsible for this display knew that there were still some ‘gaps’ in some of the portraits’ stories. For example, labels accompanying some of the displayed portraits note that the artist is unknown. But as we continue to learn more of the history of this collection and how it came into being, we update and correct our records – and labels – as needed.

oil portrait of George Thacher
Oil on canvas of George Thacher by Ellen Day Hale

The George Thacher portrait is a case in point. Thacher (1817-1878) was the University’s fifth president, serving from 1871 to 1877. His portrait is an oil-on-canvas, dark in tone and realistic, a style appropriate for the late nineteenth century. The artist’s name was somehow lost in the records as the portrait, along with others in the collection, moved from one campus location to another for nearly a century, until settling in the Main Library.

Well, now we can fill in this gap. Recently, a closer examination of the portrait revealed a nearly-obscured name in the lower left corner: “E.D. Hale.” The signature is difficult but not impossible to ascertain. From this, we were able to confirm via an internet search that the artist was Ellen Day Hale (1855-1940). Our sources for this include the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and an entry on American Gallery online.  

According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Ellen Day Hale was “among the wave of American artists, both men and women, who traveled to Europe

Oil painting of Ellen Hale
Ellen Day Hale Self Portrait, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

for training in the last quarter of the 19th century. She is best known for her Impressionist figure studies. Hale, the only daughter of the noted orator and author Edward Everett Hale and Emily Baldwin Perkins, came from a family filled with notable figures. Her great-great-uncle Nathan Hale was a Revolutionary War patriot; her great-aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and her brother Philip and his wife Lilian Westcott Hale were also professional painters.”

The Boston Art Club was the setting for the first exhibition of her work in 1876. Because both she and George Thacher were from New England, we can speculate that the portrait was completed during the last one or two years of his life, after he left Iowa to return to the northeast to be close to family in light of illness. Hale was perhaps in her early twenties when she completed the portrait, likely one of the first works of a long and distinguished career. She was also the first woman to produce a presidential portrait for the university. 

View the portrait gallery online or view in person on the Main Library’s fifth floor.

The Remarkable John Giorno

The following comes from Olson Graduate Assistant Rich Dana

John Giorno, poet and organizer of the Dial-A-Poem project, setting up a reel of recorded poetry at the Architectural League in Manhattan in 1969.
Photo Credit Patrick A. Burns/The New York Times

John Giorno, poet, artist, and activist, passed away Friday, October 12th at the age of 82. Although readers may not be familiar with his name, Giorno was one of the most influential American artists of the post-war 20th century. He blurred the boundaries between written, visual and performance art, fine art, and pop culture.

A native New Yorker, Giorno grew up among the literary and artistic giants of the early 1960s. He appeared in early Andy Warhol films, and he became a junior member of the beat movement, befriending the likes of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Brion Gysin.

Put your arms around me honey, West Branch, Iowa : Toothpaste Press, 1984
Photo from UIowa Libraries

His fiery and transgressive spoken-word style laid the groundwork for the performance art and slam poetry movements, and his open and unapologetic descriptions of his life as a gay man was thematically revolutionary at the time. His Giorno Poetry Systems “Dial-a-Poem” service in the late 1960s allowed users to call a series on answering machines and hear writers discussing the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, and other politically-charged topics. 

Sources close to Giorno say that the 82-year-old artist was in good health and was working in his studio at the time of his death. Readers can find out more about Giorno in the New York Times obituary.

Special Collections holds several of Giorno’s works, which are available to view any time in the reading room.

Picture of Micaela

An Olson’s Goodbye

An Olson’s Goodbye

By Micaela Terronez
Picture of Micaela
Micaela Terronez

For the past two years, I have had the great fortune of learning about the inner workings of special collections and archives as the Olson Graduate Assistant at The University of Iowa Special

Collections. It’s hard to believe my time at Iowa has already come to an end. It feels like just yesterday when I arrived on my first day and was in complete awe of the amazing collections and people in the department. I remember being so utterly terrified, however, of the stacks upon stacks of materials. How would I ever figure out where something was?! It took time and, well, a library catalog. But I also relied heavily on the talented staff and students of the department to help me adjust to what seemed like a never-ending world of manuscripts, books, maps, and artifacts. I have learned so much in the past two years, and I am forever grateful to the department for their guidance and knowledge that they have graciously shared with me. Also, thank you to my friends – both old and new—and my family for your unconditional support and love over the past two years. Like former Olson Hannah Hacker’s goodbye, I have also decided to leave with my own spin on a classic song. Here is “The Stacks are Alive,” a rendition of “Prelude/ The Sound of Music.”

 

The stacks are alive with the sound of book carts
With squeaks that they have sung for several years
The books fill my heart with the sound of reading
My heart wants to hear every word that appears

My heart wants to beat like archival boxes
that open and close by patrons
My heart wants to sigh like brittle paper
from near and far places
To laugh with a friend when you are working
tears on the way
To sing through the day like an old book cart hoping to stay

I go to the stacks when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of libraries
And I’ll return once more

 

Thank you Micaela for everything you’ve done for this department! We wish you the absolute best in the next chapter of your adventure.