The settlement of Sonora, about 130 miles east of San Francisco, was booming. It was there, in the saloon of one of the local boarding houses, that a group of men would get together every Friday night and talk of dreams. Well, just one dream, really: human flight.Most of the illustrations in the notebooks are supposed to show the airships that the members proposed in those talks.
They called themselves the Sonora Aero Club and, over time, they counted some 60 members, possibly many more. Their ranks included great characters, such as Peter Mennis, inventor of the Club's secret "Lifting Fluid," later described as "a rough Man, whit as kind a heart as to be found in verry few living beengs," despite being "adicted to strong drink" and "Flat brocke." The Aero Club's rules: Roughly once a quarter, each member had to stand before the gathered group and "thoroughly exercise their jaws" in telling how he would build an airship.
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
The Sonora Aero Club
unknown – a house in Houston, Texas caught fire. The fire marshall looked at the scorched ruins and told the family that it was all contaminated and dangerous, and nothing could be retained. So they put it all out for the trash. But along came a man named Fred Washington, a "picker" who regularly scoured trash put out on Houston's curbs for possible sale in his junk shop, Washington's Trading Post. He saw 12 notebooks full of cuttings and drawings and picked them up, but then forgot about them.The Atlantic):
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I think there's something about the art that speaks powerfully of a secretive, obsessive inner world, absolutely true to itself. It exists and proliferates on its own terms, without regard to any viewer or any consideration beyond itself. Part of that is the art's setting in its story; but there's something about the art itself too, the care and elaboration with which it is done without any clear intention that it should be viewed. Great art or not, it's amazing human psychology.
Indeed that is often the lure of "outsider art," which is by definition made by strange people for their own enjoyment.
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