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Free For All

the Reds, the Whites and the Blues

   64 pgs

minimum bid: 20k

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The Book Theme and variation on the flag, in 90 color photographs. A visual book: 64 pages, 6x9, flag-shaped, with 6 pages of text (quotes, historical and current) and 56 pages of 4-color process art, consisting of 90 images that say flag even when none is in the picture, or that display a spirited individual approach to the flag, that celebrate the United States and its people, in a Whitmanesque manner.

The Title: FREE-For-All means, according to the dictionary, open to everyone without rules. The phrase has a fun, whirling sense. Its double meaning is intended: FREE-FOR-All suggests a good time as well as that the flag is a serious symbol of freedom for all. The subtitle: the Reds, the Whites and the Blues, refers to the many moods of human involvement and the varied presences in the imagery.

Author's Statement: The resurgence of American folk art combined with an overwhelming need to assert our freedoms and to believe in ourselves as a great country once again has produced a variety of imagery that I have been documenting for some time now. All the images relate to the presence of the flag, and depict individual celebrations of our common symbol. The resulting photographs, collectively and in counterpoint, not only individualize our approach to the flag and create a standard of design, but take many rigid associations for an imaginative ride.

Photographer: Elihu Blotnick's photographs have appeared in Esquire, Camera, Harper and Life. His work has been exhibited at the Stedelijk (the museum of modern art in Amsterdam), the Photokina in Cologne (the world's largest photographic trade show), and at the Oakland Museum. He has photographs in special collections at the Library of Congress and the California Historical Society. The New York Times wrote about his first book (SALTWATER FLATS, BBM Associates,1975), "Powerful and very personal images of contemporary America."

Designer: Barbara Robinson is an art director and illustrator. She has won Awards of Excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the New York Society of Illustrators, Book-Builders West, the Chicago Book Clinic and Communication Arts. She is the Illustrator of MYSTERIOUS MR. BLOT and NEVER DISTRUST AN ASPARAGUS (California Street, 1979), a series of whimsy for children and adults. The design of FREE-FOR-ALL is more than the slotting of images. The placement and juxtaposition of the photographs in relation to their content and internal design form a conceptual whole. In a visual book, the designer is the co-author.

Packaging: The authors are prepared to deliver camera-ready mechanicals as required and subject to the approval of the publisher.

Introduction: If appropriate, Mark Linenthal (poet and former Director of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University), Bill Moyers or Tom Ferrell (once "the voice of Esquire" and now with the new ideas column for the Sunday Edition of the New York Times) may be suitable. All are known to the authors and approachable. Whether any would agree and at what additional costs are as yet unknown. (Tom Wolfe may also be a possibility.)

Promotion: Attempts are currently in progress to arrange a new showing on national network television. And, a narrative about the film, written by the photographer, is ready for publication.

Publication Dates: Independence Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Flag Day, Election Day, the beginning or end of any war, or pre-Christmas as a gift book.

Markets: General book stores, Historical associations and museums, gift & souvenirs stores, photography book catalogs, bank & corporate gift.

Delivery Time:  On auction, or two months after contract approval.

Competition : There are no books exactly like FREE-FOR-ALL. THE ENGLISH SUNRISE (Matthew Miller Dunbar), THE AMERICAN SUNRISE (Penguin), and FLAGS FLYING (Gordon Fraser) are corresponding British attempts, dealing with the design and/or colors of the British national emblem or flag. (THE AMERICAN SUNRISE is a British book conceptually and in fact.) In the U.S., FLAGS (McGraw Hill), STARS AND STRIPES (Knopf), THE PATRIOT GAME (Godine) are books in which the flag is the visual motif. And more recently, there are others. However, these books are either too conventional, expensive, abrasive, obscure or historical in orientation; their attempts at wit are snide, strained, sophomoric or limited; the human presence is distorted, absent or only implied; our current flag is not the dominant visual force. Indeed the only book at all similar is LONE STARS (Texas Monthly Press). This book displays the elements of a different flag, repeatedly, with variation, to give a sense of infinite design and application, the approach also of FREE-FOR-ALL, toward the U.S. flag. More recently, there have been monographs based on flag-artifact collections that are visually appealing, but encased and limited, in content and distribution.

Sales Figures of Comparable Books: THE ENGLISH SUNRISE: 60,000 plus . in the U.S. LONE STARS: 20,000+ in Texas Few visual books have done as well as THE ENGLISH SUNRISE, and available information is conflicting and sometimes difficult to obtain. However, THE STOVE BOOK (40,000), AFGHAN TRUCKS (20,000), HAND-MADE HOUSES (70,000) provide an idea of the range possible.

Printing Specifications: 6x9, bound on the 6, 64 pages, 4-color process art on 56 pages, no bleeds, on 100 lb Cameo Dull or Flokote, 6 pages of linework (text), 2 blank pages, blank end sheets added, not necessarily of the same stock. 10 Pt CIS cover, bleed one side, 4-color front and back with text, inside cover blank. Markote. Total of 90 images, random foci, all square finish, sizes: 24 6-3/8 X 4-3/8, 40 3 X 4-3/8, 26 3 X 2.

Camera Information: All the photographs were taken with a Nikon FTN and Nikon lenses. Kodachrome 25, processed by Kodak, was used for the majority of the images.

Notes and Background: The images for FREE-FOR-ALL, derive predominantly from the film: WEBFOOTED FRIENDS, a film that has nothing to do with ducks. The film is only 5 minutes and is in effect, due to the minimum of animation, a slide show on film. Nevertheless, the film has been immensely successful, with numerous theatrical and television showings, on a continuing basis. The film was made during and celebrates the Bicentennial. The Bicentennial however was not celebrated with much enthusiasm. Except for the gathering of tall ships in New York, there were only individual sparklers randomly lit. The country had suffered the traumas of Nixon, and people were hesitant about commitments in national terms. Now, however, the general caution on the part of the public has lifted (almost entirely, given recent events). Positive responses to the film have always been overwhelming. Rightly so, as the film is a montage of individual expressions of our national identity, in terms of the colors of the flag. Indeed the images have a continuing appeal, independent of the film, and it would be appropriate now if they appeared newly in book form. (In fact I have additional imagery, as I've been photographing continually for the many years now.)

A publicity sheet on the original film follows:

WEBFOOTED FRIENDS (a film that has nothing to do with ducks)

a 52 star attraction.

a satiric celebration of the American craze for painting the Colors all over the landscape.

a national holiday, all by itself.

WEBFOOTED FRIENDS is a 5 minute film made from 118 stills, with music by improvisation & John Philip Sousa, and with the help of Ariel Fragment. In color, in 35mm, with optical sound.

In 1976, the film was previewed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C,, at the Oakland Museum and at the San Francisco Art Institute, each time to an enthusiastic response.

WEBFOOTED FRIENDS premiered early in July of 1977 at the Act One in Berkeley, California and played for three and a half months with BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR, the Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film. The short opened next in San Francisco at the Regency II, with SEMI-TOUGH, 11-18-77 to 1-5-78. WEBFOOTED FRIENDS then moved to New York, where it played at The Fine Arts, a Walter Reade Theater, for four weeks.

WEBFOOTED FRIENDS also has been shown at the following International Film Festivals: Nyon, London, Tampere, Sydney, Moscow, the Virgin Islands, Cracow and Prindle Corners. Coe Films (N.Y.) has been exclusive TV distributor: under their auspices, the film has appeared on French, Polish and Irish National TV, and regularly on Showtime in the U.S.

WEBFOOTED FRIENDS: "A very lively and highly amusing satire/celebration of the American use of red, white and blue," Ken Wlaschin, the London Film Festival, 1977.

Stills from the film appeared in Esquire (2 pages 12/75), Communication Arts (4 pages, 6/76) and on the covers of Sky and Media & Methods. The first three appearances were included in the "Bicentennial in Print" show, sponsored by the Washington Art Director's Club and the Federal Design Council.

Contact: firefallmedia@att.net

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