An invitation to E. Milton Wilson’s art



An exhibition — the artist’s first public showing — from a
selection of 979 artworks with commentaries (to date), delivered through the
United States Postal Service.












A “Non-Artist’s” Artistic Obsession: The Correspondence Art of
E. Milton Wilson shows at the Castle Green

An exhibition of the unique artwork of E. Milton Wilson will be
on public display on Thursday, October 9th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the
Ballroom of the historic Castle Green. Refreshments will also be

Convenient parking is located on the street and in parking structures
adjacent to the century-old structure in Old Pasadena.

E. Milton Wilson grew up in Pasadena, surrounded by a world of
art, music, and poetry. His father, Elmer Wilson, was impresario at the
Pasadena Civic Auditorium from the 1930s to the 1970s. As a chemistry major at
Pomona College, then a rocket scientist at Aerojet, and an executive at
Parsons, there wasn’t much time for art — then, in 1993, courting Norma, who
would become his wife, from afar, he began creating homemade postcards and
mailing them. For years now, Norma, and Wilson’s son, Larry, and daughter,
Alicia, have had the delight of discovering these pieces of art in the
mailbox. This show is the first time a large selection of Wilson’s 1,000 or so
postcards have ever been on public view.

Wilson’s artworks vary in media and subject matter, including
collage, watercolor, and acrylics. They also incorporate prose, poetry, and
“fake” reviews by a fabricated alter-ego, known as “The Reviewer,” typically
published on the “stamp side” of the postcard. There’s a great deal of
leg-pulling in these messages, with a particular focus on playfulness
in contemporary art.

From The Reviewer’s take on a painting of the Rose Bowl field:

Lines of scrimmage keeps teams apart,

Til turned loose a la playbook chart.

Line-guys are backed by, yes, “linebackers,”

Who can be sackees, or sometimes sackers.

‘SC journalism students on the campaign trail

Oldsters moan about the young not following politics the way we did — except by watching that funny Jon Stewart. Old newsies double the kvetching by complaining that young journos, in the rush toward all things online, have lost the ability to write in-depth stories that don’t need hyper-links, animation, graphics and interactivity to become “rich content.”

Ya think A.J. Liebling needed video to tell what downing a dozen oysters and a cold carafe of Meursault was like, punk?

And then a curmudgeonly type comes across some student reporters producing Web-based campaign coverage that goes places Johnny Apple and the Boys on the Bus never dreamed of venturing and suddenly the good old days look rather limited.

That’s what happened to me when I dropped into a USC Annenberg School for Communication lunchtime seminar Tuesday hosted by new school Director Geneva Overholser. The focus was Professor Marc Cooper’s student fellows who reported on the presidential campaign this summer in a national program, News 21, funded by the Carnegie and Knight foundations.

As part of “The Western Edge: Campaign ’08 in the Mountain West and Southwest,” grad student Amanda Becker went next door, where she discovered: “Nevadan voters have been the most accurate predictors of presidential success since 1912. But to carry this important bellwether state in 2008, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain will have to ignore traditional campaign logic that centers on Las Vegas and instead run fierce operations in an oft-ignored swing area in this swing state: Reno and Washoe County.”

Silver State papers immediately leaped at the chance to follow her lead. Not only that: Go to her story, link below, and you’ll hear Western swing music from the Reno Rodeo.

Grad student Ryan Rivera went to Colorado to report “New Citizens, New Voters,” where he discovered that many legal-immigrant Latinos long eligible to become Americans have finally done so this year in order to vote in November. His story, with his photos and soundbites, uncovers a new political quetion: “With tight races expected throughout the Mountain West and with Colorado the most contested of all, could these newest Americans determine the next president?”

Watching the presentations from the seminar table, Overholser said she was not only impressed — the students made her “proud” to be the new J school director. “There is this whole new world that you all have put together,” said the former editor of the Des Moines Register. “How terrific and rich this kind of reporting is. And at the heart of it is storytelling — but how much more multi-dimensional.”
Check it out at

Pasadena Councilman Tyler to step down

Veteran Pasadena City Council member Sid Tyler is telling colleagues and constituents today that he won’t run for a fourth council term next March.

Tyler, revered by fellow council members for his expertise on financial issues and seen as a steadying voice during tumultuous times in City Hall during his first and second terms, represents District 7 in the city’s southeast.

Constituents know him for his accessibility and strong stands on neighborhood issues including traffic-calming and perceived overdevelopment.

He’s also known for riding his bicycle throughout the city while dressed in a necktie, tweedy sport coat and flannel slacks, and for his self-deprecating humor: On the city Web site, he describes his hobbies thusly: “average tennis player, terrible golfer, accomplished skier, amateurish photographer, beginning gardener.”

Tyler, very active in Pasadena nonprofits and civic affairs outside of City Hall, says that he hopes to teach and to spend more time with his and Betsey’s eight grandchildren.

He says that he wanted to announce his decision as early as possible in order to give possible contenders for his open seat plenty of time to ready their campaigns.

Go ye mighty Mustangs

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This was the scene at the John Muir High School quad on the opening day of school this month. The Northwest Pasadena school is being reinvented as an all-academy academic venture in an effort to reverse the last, oh, decade or so of steadily downward achievement there.

I was thinking of Muir this morning at a breakfast meeting with leaders of the Teach for America organization, which puts some of America’s most talented and driven graduates from our nation’s top-rank colleges into teaching for at least two years.

It turns out that Muir’s new school improvement facilitator, Timothy Sippel, got into the profession through Teach for America.

Mustangs, I’m rooting for y’all.

The Bird: Inara George issues “An Invitation”

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Inara George in concert Saturday night with Van Dyke Parks at Largo at the Coronet: well, “This is ethereal stuff!” as my wife Phoebe whispered to me halfway through the show.

Backed by a small band — mandolin, acoustic bass, a drum kit, Parks on electric piano, with George on electric guitar — the Largo gig really was magic from start to finish. George, a disarming singer, a sweet and light and bright stage presence, has at 34 also suddenly shown herself to be a major American songwriter, with every sign of being one for the ages.

I knew a little bit about George’s work with the L.A. band The Bird and the Bee, but had never been a big listener, nor seen her live. Along with everyone else in this rock ‘n’ roll world, I had been a fan of her father Lowell’s great ’70s band, Little Feat — but those are big shoes to fill, and you hate to place the wonderful sins of the fathers onto the expectations of the kids.

Her extraordinary new record “An Invitation,” art songs sung by George backed by an orchestra with arrangements by Parks, has changed all that. It’s my favorite album in months, a fixture both on my iPod during morning runs and through the bigger speakers in the living room. Given the various tastes at home, it’s hard to find anything that works well for the Santogold-rockin’ teen and the more classically inclined mom and the indie/Americana leanings of the dad.

But here it is. And a question about just what makes “An Invitation” so weirdly wonderful was answered by Parks in a recent essay by Jim Fusilli in the Wall Street Journal: “‘The rhythms you hear are counter-rhythms,’ he said, and indeed the strings, brass and woodwinds seem to be reacting. To what I couldn’t tell until Mr. Parks explained that they’re responding to a guitar that doesn’t appear in the final versions of Ms. George’s songs.”

Sometimes, as the great pop producers know, the best addition is a subtraction.

Lord knows Parks, for 40 years an L.A. fixture but with his Mississippi youth still there in his accent when I visited with him briefly Saturday night after the show, is one of those producers. The Beach Boys’ “Smile,” Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, The Byrds — he’s been everywhere. A great good friend of Lowell George, Parks was even present in Baltimore at Inara’s birth.

Now they are making beautiful music together. I’ve half a mind to chuck it all and get to the Crossing Borders festival in The Hague Nov. 20, when George and Parks will recreate “An Invitation” with full orchestra.

Here’s Parks on the right with someone on the left who he said was a terrifically important personage but whose name I failed to catch:

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