Sunday, November 22, 2009

McCann, Patrick. Faces in the Sky: the Gargoyles and Grotesques of Philadelphia.

Blurb. 2009. 36p. illus. NO ISBN. $17.95 (Softcover). $26.95 (Hardcover, Dust Jacket). $27.95 (Hardcover, Image Wrap).

In this small, square book (6 ¾ X 6 ¾ in.), McCann, a bartender from New Orleans, LA., who likes “to take pictures of stuff,” compiles his photographs of the “gargoyles and grotesques” in the city of Philadelphia, “one of the great collections of public art … that mostly goes unnoticed.” Hoping that his publication will encourage passersby to “look up” and “appreciate” the “gems of a nearly forgotten art,” the author provides a brief one-page introduction and sets forth more than two-hundred and fifty images of stone kings, animals, jesters, monsters, dragons, children, musicians, clowns, fair maidens, gargoyles, grotesques, masks, Indians, and other types, all of which ornament various structures in the city, including City Hall, the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University campuses, private residences, and other commercial buildings. While a few reproductions may feature portraits of famous people, such as Benjamin Franklin, others may constitute photographs of purely ornamental forms, thereby perhaps rendering the subtitle of this publication slightly misleading. Each page of images is arranged in groups of four, six, or nine thumbnail photographs, with nine being the most common. Lacking an author’s biography, table of contents, pagination, captions, a selected bibliography, list of locations, map, and an index, this book constitutes an entirely visual study. Some viewers hoping to find the pictured art forms in Philadelphia may be frustrated by the author’s approach. Nicely designed, although its logic and organization may not be apparent, this publication will appeal mostly to general readers and others. It is recommended for some local and large, public library collections as well as for special libraries. Personal copy. Availability: