Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil


Our first full day in the city we joined the Parisians on their morning commute. The train clattered along its tracks, but inside the carriage there was a communal silence. We were the only passengers to alight at the Porte d’Auteuil, and we emerged from the métro station to the most incredible day. The rising sun cut through the cold, crisp air and gently warmed our skin. We set off on the short walk to the botanical garden.

We approached the 19th century greenhouses in wonder—their surfaces were simultaneously touched by time and beautifully preserved. The plants pressed up against the textured glass and painted surfaces—we soaked up the compositions and made our way around the structures.

As we entered the warmth, humidity, and quiet enveloped us. The fragrance of the moist soil and plant life filled our noses. In the largest greenhouse we encountered a small group of school children, an aviary of chattering birds, and the sun giving us the most spectacular light. We wandered around in awe.

In the cactus house we were approached by an older gardener needing to lock up. He was very kind and patient with us as we muddled through the language barrier. We ended our tour there and caught a train to the 15th arrondissement to visit the Musée Bourdelle.

The rest of our time in the city felt rushed and brief, but that early autumn morning at the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil was meditative and picturesque. It captured Paris for us—c’était magique.













The Menil Dedication, Typographie, The Morphology of Human Blood Cells, and The John and Dominique deMenil Collection

The Menil Collection Dedication
Dominique de Menil
June 4, 1987
Program designed by Don Quintance
Public Address Design
Opening Night Gala Menu included

The Menil Collection celebrated it’s thirtieth anniversary in 2017. Thirty years of making art accessible to all and fostering personal encounters with works of art. It’s a beloved respite in a city where, putting it nicely, beauty is hard to come by. It transformed the cultural landscape of Houston in a remarkable way and, for us at least, made this city a place worth living. The museum embodies its founders, John and Dominique de Menil, from the architecture to the art.

Tucked away in a glass case at the Rice Village location of Half Price Books was this program for The Menil Collection’s dedication in 1987. In retrospect, the fact that we debated this purchase seems odd—it was such a lucky find, and a relevant and interesting artifact to us. While we couldn’t have been at the opening of the museum ourselves, it’s fun flipping through the program and imaging the day’s festivities. William Middleton describes it in his recent publication about the de Menils:

The day before, thundershowers had swept through town, flooding streams, sweeping cars off roads, and throwing funnel clouds out over Galveston Bay. But the two thousand invited guests were not deterred by a touch of weather. At 5:00 p.m., just in time for the local news, all eyes were fixed on the new museum. “The event is grabbing the attention of the art world and getting word out that Houston has more to offer than cowboy hats and pickup trucks,” announced one local reporter.

“The New York Times says the collection could make Houston a center for the visual arts,” suggested a newsman. “That’s a switch—just a few years ago, that newspaper said that Houston had a few nice buildings but they were surrounded by 2,000 gas stations.

As Dominique de Menil stepped to the lectern at the entrance of her new museum, surrounded by the blocks of modest bungalows that she and her husband had bought over the years, all painted the same shade of soft gray, she was determined to focus on what really mattered. “Artists are economically useless and yet they are indispensable,” she said with conviction. “A political regime where artists are persecuted is stifling, unbearable…We need painters, poets, musicians, filmmakers, philosophers, dancers, and saints.” And at a moment when she might have been expected to make a case for patronage, she went the other way. It was a small but significant sleight of hand. “The gifted artists are the great benefactors of the world,” Dominique announced. “Life flows from their souls, from their heart, from their fingers. They invite us to celebrate life and to meditate on the mystery of the world, on the mystery of God. Artists constantly open new horizons and challenge our way of looking at things. They bring us back to the essential.” —Excerpt from Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil by William Middleton

Further Reading

The High Society Love Story Behind Dominique and John De Menil’s Legendary Art Collection
By William Middleton

Double Vision, The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil
By William Middleton

A Modern Patronage: The De Menil Gifts to American and European Museums
By Marcia Brennan and Alfred Pacquement

Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil
By Laureen Schipsi and Josef Helfenstein

Sacred Modern: Faith, Activism, and Aesthetics in the Menil Collection
By Pamela G. Smart


Typographie: A Manual of Design
Emil Ruder
1967, 1st Edition
Printed by Zollikofer & Co. AG, St.Gall
Bound by R. Weber AG, Heiden
Published by Arthur Niggli Ltd., Teufen AR

Words by Steven Shultz

“Typography has one plain duty before it and that is to convey information in writing. No argument or consideration can absolve typography from this duty. A printed work which cannot be read becomes a product without purpose.”―Emil Ruder, Typographie

Emil Ruder was born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1914. When he was 15 he began a four-year typesetters apprenticeship and in his late twenties attended the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts. In 1942 at age 28 he began teaching typography and in the ‘50s gained renown as a leading voice in the International Typographic Style movement. In 1967, after twenty-five years of teaching and just 3 years before his death, he would compile his magnum opus, Typographie: A Manual for Design. It is the accumulation of a lifetime of knowledge―summarizing Ruder’s ideas, methods, and approach to typographic design and education.

Typographie has influenced graphic designers and typographers the world over for decades. It has been published in nine languages and is now in its seventh edition, a testament to its continued relevance. Like Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color (1963) it is a masterwork in art education. Through the lens of typography the most universal of design principles are brought into focus—function, form, proportion, color, rhythm, point, line, surface are beautifully unpacked.

Reading Typographie was a reminder of the things I learned in my first years of art school that I’ve somehow forgotten. A profound experience that catapulted me back to my formative years as a designer — when making an interesting composition was challenge enough.

Despite its relevance, it is unmistakably the product of a bygone era. Ruder `writes, “The craft of the typographer, like any other, necessarily reflects the times. The age gives him the means with which to satisfy the needs the age creates.” That said, he was concerned about the amount of information competing for our attention and felt that good design had become something taken for granted. He was critical of the excess of superfluous typefaces available—typefaces the present age made possible. What would he think about the ease with which we make and publish work in 2018?

The Morphology of Human Blood Cells
L.W. Diggs, M.A., M.D., Dorothy Sturm, Ann Bell, B.A.
1957, 2nd Edition
Published by W.B. Saunders Company

Intending to become a book designer, Dorothy Sturm set off to take courses in New York at the age of nineteen. She had an interest in biology, and once visited the laboratory of Dr. Florence Sabin, who was studying the role of the body’s white blood cells in tuberculosis infections at the Rockefeller Institution. Sturm observed her own blood cells through Dr. Sabin’s specially developed microscope, and her curiosity grew. She was fascinated by what the microscope revealed, and took courses in biology to learn more. This passion for the microcosmic world and her talent as an illustrator led her to become a prominent medical illustrator. While it seems she later moved on from this field, she remained an advocate of the relationship between art and science saying, “Art and science naturally go together. Both are investigative endeavors aimed at trying to understand the universe.”

By the 1950’s she started experimenting with paper collage. Her curiosity led her in many directions, and she experimented freely and unrestrictedly with many different mediums (enamel, glass, metal, and found objects). Her work blurred the lines between art and crafts when the distinctions between the two were rigid. She devised her own techniques, developed her own style, and quickly gained recognition.

My personal encounter with Sturm’s work was in the pages of The Morphology of Human Blood Cells, like many Hematology students. Her illustrations, now accompanied by photomicrographs in the book’s seventh edition, are still vital. While a lot of my reference materials from school were packed away after graduation, this one remained at hand for many years. It has since been replaced on our shelves with the 1957 second edition of the text, and it serves more as a work of art.


the Archives, “Undergraduates Investigate the Work of Artist Dorothy Sturm: Reflections on Research,” Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 13-Jul-2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.aaa.si.edu/blog/2015/07/undergraduates-investigate-the-work-of-artist-dorothy-sturm-reflections-on-research. [Accessed: 04-Jan-2018]

“Dorothy Sturm,” The Enamel Arts Foundation – Collection. [Online]. Available: http://www.enamelarts.org/index.php?collection&action=view_artist&artist_id=57. [Accessed: 04-Jan-2018]

“Dorothy Sturm,” Self-portrait with dog by Constantin Brancusi on artnet. [Online]. Available: http://www.artnet.com/artists/dorothy-sturm/biography. [Accessed: 05-Jan-2018]

“Master Metalsmith Dorothy Sturm – Ganoksin Jewelry Making Community,” Ganoksin. [Online]. Available: https://www.ganoksin.com/article/master-metalsmith-dorothy-sturm/. [Accessed: 05-Jan-2018]

University of Tennessee Health Science Center, “UTHSC Health Sciences Library,” Go to UTHSC Health Sciences Library. [Online]. Available: https://library.uthsc.edu/history/dorothysturmexhibit/. [Accessed: 04-Jan-2018]

The John and Dominique deMenil Collection
Forward by Robert Goldwater
Designed by William and Caroline Harris
Printed by Manhattan Art Press, Inc.

In writing about the Art of New Guinea exhibition catalog, we came across several interesting publications at Fondren Library including this one titled the John and Dominique de Menil Collection. It was published to accompany an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Primitive Art in 1962, some 25 years before their collection would get a more permanent home at the museum here in Houston.

The Museum of Indigenous Art, as it was originally known, was founded by Aldrich Rockefeller and held in a townhouse that adjoined his childhood home that sat across the MOMA. For almost two decades the museum housed Rockefeller’s ethnographic arts and held many landmark exhibitions at the hand of the museum’s director Robert Goldwater—this one included.

“It is always a privilege for a museum to show an excellent private collection. There is the possibility of enjoying works only rarely seen, and a chance to glimpse—and to speculate on—the cohesive mixture of taste and personality that transforms a gathering of objects into a realized collection. The quality and diversity of the John and Dominique de Menil collection ensure a wonderful opportunity to indulge these pleasures.

But a museum also feels some slight constraint in putting a private collection on public view: how to take it from its natural surroundings without altering its character? It is curious and paradoxical that works of art which have come so far from their original homes and the uses of their original intentions should, once gathered together, somehow belong together. Yet this is what constitutes a good collection, and it is the museum’s task to do its best to conserve the flavor despite the unaccustomed surroundings.”—Richard Goldwater, excerpt from The John and Dominique de Menil Collection.

The bulk of the catalog is devoted to photographs of the collection itself. Our favorite was a full bleed black and white spread of a pair of masks from the Gabon Owgowe River in Mpongwe, Zambia. Their catalog description is succinct, noting only that they were made of soft wood, and white paint, as well as their dimensions 13 and 14 inches, respectively. I photocopied the page a few times with no clear purpose in mind, and tucked them away. Remembering an exhibition of African masks from West and Central Africa at the Menil, I looked back at photographs from our visit. I was hoping to spot the pair of Zambian masks, but had no luck. However, this large colorful mask (pictured below) from Ghana did make an appearance in both.

We later found a place for the photocopy in a series of three over our hutch. I did feel a twinge of uneasiness using the work without permission, but perhaps that is a different, deeper conversation best saved for another day. I found a copy of the catalog online for purchase, second hand, and it eased my conscious for the time being.

Motivator aside, it’s nice to have another publication concerning the de Menils in our collection. As Houstonians, our interest in them is connected to the affection we feel for our city. Hopefully over the years our collection will grow, and we will continue to learn more about them.

Series of three.

The Menil Collection Exhibition of African masks from West and Central Africa.


An Introduction to Nematology, Helminthology, and a Look at One Parasitic Nematode Dubbed the Eye Worm

Nematodes are worms, but not the sort you’d think about upon hearing the word. Worm is a broad description given to invertebrates with soft, slender, elongated bodies. You’re quintessential worm is from the phylum Annelida—they have the familiar segmented bodies and are much larger than Nematodes. On average nematodes are 2.5mm in length. They have non-segmented bodies that are tapered at each end, and while there are free-living varieties, a good number are parasites. They are ubiquitous, and humans are grossly outnumbered by these creatures. In fact, everything on the planet is outnumbered by nematodes as they account for 80% of all the individual animals on earth.

“In short, if all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes. The location of towns would be decipherable, since for every massing of human beings there would be a corresponding massing of certain nematodes. Trees would still stand in ghostly rows representing our streets and highways. The location of the various plants and animals would still be decipherable, and, had we sufficient knowledge, in many cases even their species could be determined by an examination of their erstwhile nematode parasites.”—Nathan Augustus Cobb in Nematodes and Their Relationships, 1915

Cobb (1859-1932) is known as the father of nematology in the United States, specifically gaining recognition for his work with the United States Department of Agriculture. He laid the foundation for nematode taxonomy, and contributed major discoveries in morphology and methodology as well. His numerous papers on the subject were complimented with thorough illustrations. Cobb himself was a gifted self-taught artist and illustrator, but his collaboration with William Chambers distinguished his work among his peers. Chambers’ art is said to have had a profound influence on the quality of illustrations throughout the world of nematology. This lead to a more organized classification identification system, furthering their study.

Years later, across the pond Robert Thomson Leiper (1881-1969) was referred to as the father of modern helminthology. Helminthologists, like Leiper, focus on the study of parasitic worms spanning a variety of phyla, including Nematoda. Leiper was devoted to his work, and his scientific attainments fell into two categories—taxonomy and life cycles. The journey to modern helminthology was filled with expeditions to the tropics, though not confined to them. The conditions for these explorers were less than ideal. They were filled with mosquitos, flies and, ticks—vectors of many horrible diseases, and of course the inevitable dysentery. However, Leiper’s discoveries disentangled many important taxonomic puzzles including the vector of the filarial worm Loa loa. His blunderbuss methodology for solving this mystery involved letting various insects feed on an infected patient. He’d then grind up the insect and inspect it for the worm’s early microscopic form. A deer fly common to the area of Calabar turned out to be the culprit. He was able to repeat the experiment, but due a seasonal shortage of the fly he had to abort his study. It was confirmed a decade later by a husband and wife duo (Connal) who detailed the development of the larvae within the fly.

The diurnal deerfly Chrysops silacea, Chrysops dimidiata, and consequently L. loa, are indigenous to rainforests in parts of Western and Central Africa. There have been documented cases of Loiasis with serious symptoms, but often patients experience only minor discomforts. Itchy swellings that came to be named for the region they were first documented in, Calabar, can come and go. The most dramatic and alarming clinical manifestation of Loiasis happens when the adult worm wriggles under the skin or across the eye. The first documented account of the worm was published in 1770 by a French surgeon named Mongin:

“Saw a worm which seemed to crawl superficially on the eye, but when I tried to catch it with forceps, I realized that it was between the conjunctiva and the cornea. When it approached the transparent cornea, the pains became more severe…it was one and a half inches long, the width of a violin string, and dark colored.”

Diagnosis is simple when such obvious outward symptoms present themselves, but that’s not always the case. Blood collection and examination is a practical procedure for the identification of L. loa’s microfilariae, the early larval form present in human stages of development. However these microfilariae have a diurnal periodicity, so sample collection must be completed between 10 AM and 2 PM to detect them.

Another complication arises in treatment. There is an overlap in the habitat of L. loa and another parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. This parasite causes a more serious disease than Loiasis, known as Onchocerciasis or River Blindness—the second most common cause of infectious blindness. The good news is that there is a drug called Ivermectin that can eliminate it. The complication I mentioned? It can prove deadly if the patient has a co-infection of Loiasis. In these cases, it is crucial to investigate the levels of L. loa microfilariae in the patient. Due to this, in L. loa endemic areas, mass drug administration (MDA) programs have been suspended leaving the local population at risk for River Blindness.

A rapid and point-of-care solution is needed to re-establish the MDA program for onchocerciasis. The current methodology is not practical for field settings, and the output is too low. A research team lead by UC Berkley engineers have recently developed a phone-based video microscope that can automatically quantify L. loa microfilariae. This eliminates the need for slide examination by trained technicians, other time-intensive methods, and cumbersome equipment. They have completed a pilot study of the Cellscope Loa with great success—getting the same results on the phone as with the current gold standard of diagnosis. According the researchers, this “Test and not Treat” Cellscope Loa strategy is “an extremely promising and practical approach to the safe implementation of large-scale treatment for Loaisis and onchocerciasis in L. loa co-endemic areas.”

Loa loa endemic areas (light gray).

Life-cycle of Loa loa. Chrysops fly bites the human host and third stage L. loa enter, and mature into adults (A) within about one year. Adult worms (left/female, right/male) live for about 4 to 12 years. Worms mate, eggs mature within the female (B) and produce microfilariae (C) which circulate in the blood stream, and are then picked up by another fly. The microfilarie shed their sheath (D) and enter fat bodies within the fly. They mature into sausage-like forms (E), and then into infective third stage larvae (F). These larvae migrate into the fly’s proboscis and are deposited into another human host when they take a blood meal. Repeat.

Photograph of microfilariae (630X).


American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Abstract Book. Vol. 95. N.p.: n.p., 2016. ASTMH. Web. Abstract No. 1115, Cell Scope-Loa, Sebastien Pion, et al. Web.

Cobb, Nathan Augustus. Nematodes and their relationships. Washington: G.P.O., 1915. Print.

Cox, F. E. G. “History of Human Parasitology.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews. American Society for Microbiology, Oct. 2002. Web.

D’Ambrosio, Michael V. “Point-of-care quantification of blood-borne filarial parasites with a mobile phone microscope.” Science Translational Medicine 7.286 (2015): 286-90. Web.

Garnham, P. C. C. “Robert Thomson Leiper. 1881-1969.” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 16.0 (1970): 385-404. Royal Society Publishing. Web.

Grove, David I. A history of human helminthology. Wallingford, Oxon, UK: C.A.B. International, 1990.

Harrison, Richard. “Smartphones Can Be Smart Enough To Find A Parasitic Worm.” All Things Considered. NPR, 6 May 2015. Web.

Maggenti, A.R. General nematology. New York a.o: Springer, 1981. Print.

“Parasites – Loiasis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 20 Jan. 2015. Web.

“Parasites – Onchocerciasis (also known as River Blindness).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 10 Aug. 2015. Web.

Smith, D. Scott. “Loiasis.” Life Cycle and Morphology. Stanford University, n.d. Web.

Yang, Sarah. “Smartphone video microscope automates detection of parasites in blood.” Berkley News. UC Berkley, 5 May 2015. Web.


Ray Barbee Meets the Mattson 2

Ray Barbee Meets the Mattson 2
Galaxia Records
Artwork by Geoff McFetridge
Spotify Playlist

Ray Barbee Meets The Mattson 2 is a rare creative collaboration that came into my life at just the right time. Ray Barbee first entered the public eye in the 80s as one of the first famous African-American skaterboarders. It wasn’t until 2003 when he released his home recorded debut EP, Triumphant Procession, on Galaxia Records that he gained a reputation as a musician. Now it’s hard to distinguish the musician from the skatboarder, and Barbee’s effortlessly smooth and improvisational approach to skateboarding could not be more apparent in his music.

Twin brothers Jared and Jonathan Mattson make music under the name The Mattson 2. The Southern California guitar and drum duo have a truly unique take on straight-ahead instrumental jazz. Their sound is only amplified by their innate talent and twin telepathy. Like Barbee, the Mattsons found an eager advocate in Thomas Campbell—filmmaker, artist, and co-owner of Galaxia Records. Campbell had been following and encouraging the Mattsons since they were 15. He slowly brought them into the Galaxia family, recruiting them to play art exhibition openings, movie premiers, and gigs with some of the Galaxia roster.

While recording their debut record in 2005, Introducing the Mattson 2, Campbell suggested Barbee guest on a track. Although Barbee’s part was just added to the studio recording, the collaborative potential was undeniable and the creative seed was planted. Not long after, Barbee was scheduled to play two nights at {open}, a bookstore in Long Beach. Not wanting to do the same performance twice he asked The Mattson 2 to play one of the shows with him. As expected, the rehearsal for the performance went exceedingly well and the three knew they needed to strike while the iron was hot and make a record as a proper trio. After 3 months of preperation they were ready. Ray Barbee Meets The Mattson 2

was recorded in August of 2006 at The Hangar Studios in Sacramento California, and aptly produced by Campbell. Melding the Mattson’s fluid musicianship with Barbee’s sunny guitar work, the record is a love letter to jazz and California summers.

Geoff McFetridge’s whimsical jacket artwork brings the endeavor together. McFetridge reinterprets the jazz LP cover, replacing the traditional portrait with a delightfully simple drawing of the three meeting represented by their hands holding tiny instruments.

I’ve listened to Ray Barbee Meets The Mattson 2 in headphones on the train, I’ve blasted it out of the boombox in my garage, I’ve listened to it in the car on road trips, and I’ve played it out of shitty phone speakers while cooking dinner. I haven’t listened to it the way you are supposed to listen to jazz records though. I haven’t pulled it off the record shelf, taken it out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable. This is my favorite way to enjoy music—archaic, tactile, intentional. I needed that experience with this record.

There are a number of sources for one off vinyl records. I recommend researching which method will work best for your needs. Our original goal was to press one copy just for us—the entire 52 minutes. This wonderful album is just too long for a single LP though. It’d have to be a double. An investment that would have to wait for the time being. Arbitrarily lobbing off a few track didn’t seem right, neither did a 4-6 track sampler. After a bit of research, we decided that a 12″ single would be the most natural choice. Two studio tracks on side A and a live recording exclusive to the Japanese CD release on side B.