The Thanksgiving that Gave Us a Song, a Movie … and a Cookbook!

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

To celebrate Thanksgiving this year, Special Collections highlights Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook by Alice Brock (the Alice of Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” song) and the 1965 Thanksgiving that occasioned it. This is not a cookbook for Thanksgiving. It is a book that exists because of Thanksgiving.  It is also a commercial, even nostalgic, artifact (produced by a mainstream publisher—Random House) about a countercultural moment already in the past when the book appeared in 1969.

Alice Brock had opened a restaurant—The Back Room—in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1965. That Thanksgiving she hosted a gathering of friends that included Arlo Guthrie, the son of folk singer Woody Guthrie. The day after the festivities, Guthrie and a friend helpfully removed a large load of garbage from Brock’s house. The city dump was closed so the young men threw the trash down a nearby ravine. The owner of the property had the two arrested and criminally charged with littering. Brock bailed them out of jail and Guthrie was inspired to write a song, which became “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” released in 1967.

In the song, Guthrie relates his Stockbridge Thanksgiving, detention, and subsequent conviction. Then the song changes and Guthrie describes how he used his criminal record to secure a rejection from the New York City Draft Board and avoid military service during the Vietnam War. The song, which is 18 and a half minutes long, unexpectedly became an anthem of anti-Vietnam protests and an expression of countercultural rebellion. Since the 1970s it has also become a cultural icon around Thanksgiving. Today, many radio stations around the country play the song on this holiday.

Guthrie’s story/song also caught the attention of film director Arthur Penn, who adapted it into a film, Alice’s Restaurant. It was released in 1969 with leading roles by Guthrie and a small cameo by Brock (Patricia Quinn played Alice Brock in the film).

Brock published Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook on the song and the film’s commercial coattails. It contains image stills from the movie as well as a small, vinyl record tucked into a pouch attached to the back inside cover. The recording doesn’t include “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” but the disk underscores the book’s connection with Guthrie’s famous song with a short introduction by Guthrie and Brock followed by two songs by Guthrie. In “Italian-Type Meatballs” and “My Granma’s Beet Jam,” he puts the words of two of Brock’s recipes to music.

Brock’s cookbook captures her playfulness and openness along with the countercultural ethos of both her Thanksgiving gathering and her cooking. In her introduction, Brock riffs on the chorus of Guthrie’s song (“you can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant”). “There is no one way to get what you want unless it is to remain open,” she writes. “Keep guessing. . . . No one has ever fried an egg without turning on the gas, but maybe this time if you look that egg straight in the eye and say ‘FRY,’ it will.” (p. 3). And no Betty Crocker cookbook had index entries for “Blowing Your Own Horn” and “Doctor, Get the” as well as “Used Chicken.

If you hope to find special recipes for cooking a Thanksgiving feast in Brock’s book, however, you’ll be disappointed. The section on “Turkey” takes up just a part of one page and the only reference to Thanksgiving appears in a chapter on “Stuffings And Forcemeat.” But as Alice Brock wrote in her author’s bio, she “[c]ooked good good food with a smile and other expressions . . . Bought a crummy diner . . . Turned it into a crazy-yummy-cozy restaurant . . . Thru it all Alice is a real live human bean—Still foolin’ around and still cookin’ . . .”

Happy Thanksgiving!


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 25-26, 2021). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2015 RBSC post: Thanksgiving and football
Thanksgiving 2016 RBSC post: Thanksgiving Humor by Mark Twain
Thanksgiving 2017 RBSC post: Playing Indian, Playing White
Thanksgiving 2018 RBSC post: Thanksgiving from the Margins
Thanksgiving 2019 RBSC post: “Thanksgiving Greetings” from the Strunsky-Walling Collection
Thanksgiving 2020 RBSC post: Happy Thanksgiving to All Our Readers

A Welsh Witch in the Woods

by Sara Weber, Special Collections Digital Project Specialist

“There is hardly any Traveller in Wales, who has not heard, at least, of the titles of some of those ancient traditionary tales, which every grandmother, on a cold winter evening, repeats to her grandchildren, sitting round the blazing hearth.”

Thus does the anonymous author or editor of Welsh Legends: a Collection of Popular Oral Tales (London: printed by J.D. Dewick … for J. Badcock, 1802) preface the five pieces found in this book. For this year’s Halloween post, we share with you the full text of the second piece, a poem titled “The Weird Witch of the Wood”.


Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2016: Ghosts in the Stacks
Halloween 2017: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2018: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”
Halloween 2019: A Halloween trip to Mexico
Halloween 2020: Headless Horsemen in American and Irish Legend

An Early Civil War Caricature of Jefferson Davis

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

In honor of Memorial Day, we offer a new acquisition that is part of RBSC’s extensive American Civil War collection.

In the early months of the Civil War (1861-1865) an artist from Pennsylvania caricatured Jefferson Davis, the new president of the Confederate States of America. The cartoon, which was published and distributed as a poster, was titled “Jeff. Davis Going to War.” and “Jeff. Returning from War.”

Hesburgh Libraries recently acquired a variation on this cartoon, which includes visual and textual embellishments the original design lacked. It was created and published by E. B. and E. C. Kellogg of Harford, Connecticut and George Witing of New York City, probably not later than 1862.

The two cartoons’ common element is their topsy-turvy metamorphic style. Metamorphic portraits are images composed from other, sometimes unexpected, items, which produces an optical illusion effect. Viewed one way Davis appears as an impossibly mustachioed man in fancy military dress. Rotating the print 180 degrees reveals a new message and image. The original 1861 cartoon’s caption, “Jeff. returning from War,” is accompanied by an image of a donkey. Davis’ mustache is transformed into the animal’s long ears.

In the version held by Hesburgh Libraries, Davis is not identified by name in the print; instead, his name was stenciled (not printed) outside the print’s margin, indicating that it might have been added later. Other extant copies of this print differ from our copy by having captions printed just below the central image: “Jeff. Rampant” and “Jeff. Subdued,” or have Davis’ name printed (rather than stenciled) in the margin. Hesburgh Libraries’ copy, like other surviving copies, is hand-colored and includes poetry verses and illustrations, both of which elaborate on the central metamorphic image of Davis as a warrior / Davis as an ass. The verses read:

War.
With lion heart and frantic mien,
The warrior seeks the battle scene.
To risk his precious blood and fight
For glory and his vaunted right.

Peace.
But when he hears the cannon roar,
And views the dying in his gore,
His courage fails and then alas!
He homeward travels like an ass.

E.B. and E.C. Kellogg of Hartford, Connecticut and their New York agent, George Whiting (also spelled Witing), published this print in 1861 or 1862. The Kellogg brothers Edmund Burke and Elijah Chapman headed an important lithographic printing company during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Lithography was, in the 1840s when the Kellogg’s established their business, still a relatively new method in the United States for making prints. Artists drew their work onto soft stone which then could be inked and impressed onto paper. The relative ease of drawing on stone and the durability of the lithographs in the printing process made such prints more cost-effective than steel or copperplate engravings. The Kelloggs were artists as well as printers and their shop produced hundreds of beautifully worked images that were affordable and popular for many decades during the nineteenth century.

This rare, possibly unique Civil War print documents public opinion about the incapacity of the leader of the new Confederate States of America early in the war.

For more on the Kelloggs’ prints, see Picturing Victorian America: Prints by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut, 1830-1880, Nancy Finlay, ed. Hartford, Conn.: Connecticut Historical Society; Middletown, Conn.: Distributed by Wesleyan University Press, 2009.


A happy Memorial Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

2016 post: Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran
2017 post: “Memorial Day” poem by Joyce Kilmer
2018 post: “Decoration Day” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2019 post: Myths and Memorials
2020 post: Narratives about the Corby Statues—at Gettysburg and on Campus


During June and July the blog will shift to a summer posting schedule, with posts every other Monday in June and July rather than every week. We will resume weekly publication August 2nd.

Congratulations to the 2021 Graduates!

All of us in Rare Books and Special Collections send our best wishes to all of the 2021 graduates of the University of Notre Dame.

We would particularly like to congratulate the following student who worked in the department during her time on campus:

Lauren Yoo (ND ’21), Bachelor’s, major in Political Science and Sociology.

Both images: MSE/EM 110-1B, Diploma, University of Padua, 1690

Writing to Rehabilitate in the House of Detention for Women in New York City

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

In celebration of Women’s History Month, RBSC is highlighting a portion of women in America who receive very little attention and who continue to be among the most marginalized: women in prison. 

This magazine, Greenwich Gazette, was edited and published in 1939 by inmates of the House of Detention for Women in New York City. This is the only available copy and no other issues have been identified. The publication was a “vehicle for self expression” and for creative work. The prison’s address was 10 Greenwich Avenue, which gave the serial its name.

The pages of the Gazette include poetry, commentary on current events and politics (the need for an anti-child labor amendment, opposition to a law that would make it illegal for a husband and wife to both hold teaching positions), personal reminiscences, short fiction, book reviews, as well as the outcome of a debate on whether movies contributed to juvenile delinquency (the “affirmatives” won by audience vote). One lighthearted entry, “A Musical Correspondence,” was composed by using contemporary song titles as phrases. 

In “Echoes from the Roof,” Ann Greulich reported the results of a poll taken of the “girls who attend school on the roof.” The prison offered classes every weekday afternoon in English, health and hygiene, current events, and other subjects. Mary Fiorelli wrote of her experience with the school, “The way I feel about it here is that the teacher is like a nurse or doctor who is feeding a weak person with a good tonic.” Jennie Bennett noted, “One is likely to get in a rut and stay there, if confined any length of time, and I can say that our classes here have done much for me in preventing that from happening.” Another woman, Edna Neal, wrote that “Not only did [school] teach me a lot, but it helped me ‘keep my balance all the time.’” Anna Carola observed, “With more education, I think I could accomplish better things in life have more understanding of my fellow man, and be a better citizen.”

This copy was owned by Ruth Lentz, who was the magazine’s Staff Adviser. At the prison, she was responsible for the school, arts and crafts, and the prison library. The prison was designed, according to its Superintendent, Ruth E. Collins, as a kind of school for citizenship, which would prepare its inmates for jobs and better opportunities post-incarceration. Collins was the prison’s first superintendent and was chosen for the position after a career in children’s aid, juvenile protection, and other Progressive Era initiatives, including a period of time living and working with Jane Addams at Hull-House in Chicago, a center of Progressive ideas and programs.

When the prison opened in 1931 it was heralded as the most modern, humane, and even comfortable facility. The building was an art deco high rise, situated in Greenwich Village. Prisoners were sorted and first-time inmates were kept apart from repeat offenders. The women had their own rooms (they were not called cells) and there were no bars on the windows. The prison was designed to hold 450. By the mid-1960s, however, the prison had become a watchword of corruption, violence, and inhumane conditions. The prison held as many as 750 women, food was nearly inedible, and the building was infested with rats. A 1967 exposé of the prison’s conditions set the stage for its closure. Testimony by Andrea Dworkin about the brutal treatment she received there as a young student arrested for protesting the Vietnam War also pushed the city to close the facility, which it did in 1971.

Over decades, the House of Detention for Women developed into one of the worst prisons in the United States. Nevertheless, at the institution’s inception, the Greenwich Gazette represented some of the best ideals of a progressive penal system based not on a punitive model, but one of reform, rehabilitation, and community support.

RBSC holds a few additional materials by and about women in prison and Hesburgh Libraries has a new database, American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside, for further exploration of this genre.

Related Previous Blog Posts

Competing with Finian’s Rainbow

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

This immigrant librarian was delighted to see Ireland’s national holiday celebrated in American elementary schools. It was dismaying, however, to walk down a school corridor in March of 1996, and see the walls bedecked with rainbows, crocks of gold, and leprechauns.

Did a film about a leprechaun and a crock of gold so captivate American audiences that no other stories could compete? Have books of Irish stories been available for children who grew up in America in the last century?

Padraic Colum, The King of Ireland’s Son, illustrated by Willy Pogany. NY: Macmillan, 1921.
Rare Books Medium PR 6005 .O38 K54 1921

Padraic Colum (1881-1972) and Ella Young (1867-1956) are the only Irish authors whose books have been recognized with a Newbery honor. The Newbery medal was founded in 1922 and is awarded annually by the ALA for an American-published children’s book. In addition to the medalist, a few books are named honor books each year. Colum and Young are also among the few Irish authors mentioned in American reviews of children’s books in the first half of the twentieth century.

Colum’s The King of Ireland’s Son, illustrated by Willy Pogány, has many stories woven into a framing narrative. Between the time when Connal, the King of Ireland’s son, is sent on a quest by the Enchanter and the end where he and Fedelma, the Enchanter’s daughter are finally married, there are many stories and adventures, some concerning Connal and Fedelma, and some being stories told by our characters — stories within stories.

As in all Colum’s books for children, the art of the storyteller is always close to the surface.

Padraic Colum, The King of Ireland’s Son. Illustrations by Willy Pogany.

And then a flock of ravens came from the rocks, and flying straight at them attacked Fedelma and the King of Ireland’s Son. The King’s Son sprang from the steed and taking his sword in his hand he fought the ravens until he drove them away. They rode on again. But now the ravens flew back and attacked them again and the King of Ireland’s Son fought them until his hands were wearied. He mounted the steed again, and they rode swiftly on. and the ravens came the third time and attacked them more fiercely than before. The King’s Son fought them until he had killed all but three and until he was covered with their blood and feathers.

Colum, 51
Padraic Colum, The Girl who Sat by the Ashes. Illustrated by Dugald Stewart Walker. NY: Macmillan, 1919.
Rare Books Medium PR 6005 .O38 G57 1919

Colum’s children’s books, published by Macmillan, are drawn from the literature of a number of countries and cultures. His The Golden Fleece and The Children’s Homer were much-read and constantly recommended for youth, and his Hawaiian stories were written at the request of the Hawaiian legislature. His Irish stories include The Girl who Sat by the Ashes, and The White Sparrow, and The Forge in the Forest is a collection of stories of different cultures all told in a forge, a traditional setting for storytelling.

Typically, Colum’s books have stories within a story, so that the narrator and context of the storytelling is part of the story. In The Big Tree of Bunlahy, for example, the narrator sets the scene by claiming that the big elm tree in his small native village is world-famous. The narrator proceeds to tell of many instances where he sat under the tree as a boy, often in the context of an errand such as a visit to the shoemaker, and he tells of a colorful series of people who gathered under the tree, and the stories that they told on different occasions. Stories vary from early Irish literature such as the story of Oisín (Usheen) and Tír na nÓg, to stories about animals and birds.

Colum’s children’s books are just one aspect of the literature for which he was known. He was already well-known in Ireland as a playwright and a poet when he left for America in 1914. In fact, he is mentioned in Joyce’s Ulysses as one of Ireland’s most promising young writers in 1904.

In his long career in America he taught literature at Columbia University in New York, sometimes co-teaching along with Mary Colum, his wife.

Another Irish emigrant, Ella Young, who made her home in California in the 1920s, was involved, as Colum was, in the Irish Literary Revival. She, too, taught in a university. She taught Irish myth and lore at the University of Berkeley in California. And Irish myth and lore is at the center of her books of stories for children. Shown above is her 1932 book, The Unicorn with Silver Shoes, illustrated by Robert Lawson.

Ella Young, The Wonder Smith and his Son: A Tale from the Golden Childhood of the World. Illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff. NY: Longmans, Green, 1927.
Rare Books Medium PS 3547 .O4745 W66 1927

The Wonder Smith and His Son was a Newbery Honor book in 1928, and The Tangle-Coated Horse and Other Tales was a Newbery Honor book in 1930.

The Wonder Smith is Young’s name for An Gobán Saor, a mythical builder, stonemason and trickster, who figures in many Irish folktales. The title page by Boris Artzybasheff, with its decorations inspired by the designs on Irish illuminated manuscripts, enhances the idea of these tales orginating in ‘the golden childhood of the world’.

Ella Young. The Wonder Smith and his Son. Illustration by Boris Artzybasheff.

It is interesting that the works of these two writers of the Irish Revival, settled in America, were selected by American publishers and reviewers alike. They represent a new image of Ireland for American readers, one of a nation with its own folklore and literary traditions. Earlier books such as Only an Irish Boy by Horatio Alger, told stories of Irish immigrant children who ‘made good’ in America, and so the insistence of these writers on the existence and richness of Ireland’s culture was probably very welcome.

Our Fall 2013 exhibit was on Irish children’s literature, and we hope to have a selection from that exhibit online in the near future.


Happy St Patrick’s Day to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

St Patrick’s Day 2018 post: St. Patrick’s Day in America (1872)
St Patrick’s Day 2019 post: St. Patrick and the Nun of Kenmare
St Patrick’s Day 2020 post: St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

Or, you can browse all our Irish Studies related posts.

Happy Holidays from Special Collections!

Rare Books and Special Collections is open by appointment only through this Friday (December 18, 2020). After that, we will be closed for the Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 19, 2020 through January 5, 2021).

Special Collections will reopen on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, again by appointment only. Visit the Hesburgh Libraries Service Continuity webpage for the most up-to-date information about both the Libraries in general and Special Collections in particular.

This is the last blog post for 2020. Happy holidays to you and yours from Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!

Happy Thanksgiving to All Our Readers

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian and Curator

Americans might be seeing fewer turkeys on their tables this Thanksgiving, due to the demands of social distancing during the pandemic. No matter what holiday fare you get to enjoy this year, we offer a reminder of our unofficial national bird. This illustration of wild turkeys comes from American Ornithology; or, The Natural History of Birds Inhabiting the United States, Not Given by Wilson, a four-volume work by French scientist and ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte (1803-1857). He worked on the project while he lived in the United States in the 1820s and it was published between 1825 and 1833.

An armchair ornithologist, the aristocratic Bonaparte did not do fieldwork himself, as this print shows. It was engraved by Alexander Lawson (1773-1846) from an illustration “Drawn from Nature” by Titian R. Peale (1799-1885). Bonaparte’s strengths lay in his abilities to classify and name birds, and he directed his talent to supplementing work by an earlier ornithologist, Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), whom Bonaparte referenced in his title.

Rare Books and Special Collections holds only the plates from Bonaparte’s multi-volume work; it is part of the library’s history of science collection and complements our Edward Lee Greene collection on the history of botany.


Notre Dame’s fall semester concluded on November 20, 2020, but the campus remains open during the much of the Winter Session (November 21, 2020 – February 2, 2021). Rare Books and Special Collections will be CLOSED on the following dates:

November 25-29 (Thanksgiving Holiday)
December 19-January 5 (Winter Break)

Our health and safety protocols continue to include limiting our building population to those people essential to the teaching and research of our current students and faculty. To that effect, we are not encouraging visitors or patrons who are not current, active members of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross College communities.

Members of these communities may request appointments to access Rare Books & Special Collections materials. Please email Rare Books & Special Collections for research and course support or to make an appointment. Research requests by non-ND-affiliates are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, per the University’s Campus Visitors Policy.

Visit our Hesburgh Libraries Service Continuity webpage for up-to-date information about how to access expertise, resources, services and spaces.

Headless Horsemen in American and Irish Legend

by Sara Weber, Special Collections Digital Project Specialist, and Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

2019-2020 marks the two hundred years anniversary of Washington Irving’s first publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., which includes the perennial Halloween favorite “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”. In the time since its publication, the story has found its way into films, TV shows, other books, and various other popular culture references. In honor of the anniversary, we’ve selected it for our 2020 Halloween tale.

The particular volume shown in this post came to us across the ocean from Ireland. It was part of the library of Walter Sweetman, a nineteenth-century Catholic landowner in County Wexford. When the Sweetman family of South Dakota inherited the Irish property, all the books from the library were included with furniture, but many perished from exposure to the salt water. It’s a pity our conservators were not involved in organizing that shipment. We like to imagine a reader in a large Irish country house reading of Sleepy Hollow with the backdrop of an Irish stormy evening.

The Sweetman Collection, given to us in 1997, is a large collection of over 470 volumes.

Download a PDF of Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to read the whole story.

Irving’s headless horseman was not the first of his kind, however. Riders who have lost or carry their head appeared in various stories and folklore before featuring as Ichabod Crane’s nemesis, beginning as early as the 14th century poem Gawain and the Green Knight. In Irish legend, the Dullahan or dúlachán is a Grim Reaper-like rider who carries his head under his arm (sometimes also known as the Gan Ceann, meaning literally “without a head” in Irish). (See Jessica Traynor’s ‘How tales of the headless horseman came from Celtic mythology’ in the Irish Times, October 23, 2019.)

In Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1834), we find several stories grouped together under the heading of “The Dullahan”, including one titled simply “The Headless Horseman”. Croker was one of the earliest writers to compile collections of Irish folklore. Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland was first published in 1825. Having received much attention, including translation by the Grimm brothers, Croker went on to produce two more volumes. This edition, published in 1834, is a one-volume selection that he edited. A summary of the controversy surrounding the various friends who contributed stories may be found in the biography by Maureen Murphy in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The humorous story that we have selected begins in a sheebeen in Ballyhooley, West Cork, and follows the incredible encounter of Charley Culnane with a headless man on a headless horse.


Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2016 RBSC post: Ghosts in the Stacks
Halloween 2017 RBSC post: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2018 RBSC post: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”
Halloween 2019 RBSC post: A Halloween trip to Mexico

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Woodcuts of Consuelo Gotay

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we feature the work of Puerto Rican printmaker, Consuelo Gotay. Educated in Puerto Rico and at Columbia University in New York, Gotay’s woodcuts are striking and reflect her early association with the workshop of iconic Puerto Rican printmaker, Lorenzo Homar. Rare Books and Special Collections holds five artist books that pair Gotay’s images with the poetry and prose of major Caribbean writers. 

Today, we share three of these collaborations, Selección de textos del cuaderno de un retorno al pais natal (1993), Salmos del cuerpo ardiente (2006), and Las brujas (2014). 

The first and earliest of these is a selection of texts (presented in Spanish and French) from Afro-Caribbean poet, Aime Cesaire’s, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Journal of a Return to My Native Land), originally published in 1939. If Cesaire’s poem is known for its exploration of Caribbean identities, particularly negritude, Gotay’s woodcuts illustrating the work are a sort of homage to the region’s natural beauty. Pleasing prints of ocean, swaying palm trees, and picturesque villages are interleaved with text. 

 

The second, Salmos del cuerpo ardiente, features text by Puerto Rican writer, Lourdes Vázquez, and ten original woodcuts by Gotay. Vázquez’s “psalms” point to harsh realities of life in Puerto Rico in the first decade of the twenty-first century, particularly violence and addiction among young people. A fitting and somber complement, one of Gotay’s woodcuts here is an elegy to those tortured and killed when violence reaches its pinnacle.

In Vázquez’s words,

LA TORTURA
Es como un BOXEADOR COMATOSO,
Un mero asunto familiar,
Un maleficio inexplicable.

 
 

The third and most recent of these works, Las brujas, is both a children’s story and a metaphoric lament for the youth of Puerto Rico who become involved in drug violence, by Puerto Rican writer, Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá. Gotay’s prints here combine the visual elements and the themes that appear in the earlier works. Palm trees frame the small house of the story’s good bruja (“witch”), Nina, in a manner reminiscent of her Cesaire portfolio. Los muchachos, on the other hand, are a reminder of the struggling youth portrayed in Salmos del cuerpo ardiente. 

Each of these titles is a limited edition. Together they reflect the engaging and thought-provoking artistic output of a talented Puerto Rican printmaker.

Related Previous Blog Posts: