by Myrna Zanetell
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Couple shares love of reading at new bookstore
El Paso will be home to another independent bookstore when Jud and Laurie Burgess officially launch their new endeavor, “Brave Books” at 1307 Arizona, with a Grand Opening March 8-10.
Jud, a veteran graphic designer, describes the location as a booklover’s haunt in an inviting bungalow situated in the Rio Grande Historic District not far from the International Museum of Art. The bookstore itself is about 1,100 square feet.
“This will not be your typical bookstore. Rather than being crowded with lots of shelves, we designed it to be very cozy and unique. There’s a sofa and chairs where readers can sit and enjoy browsing through books, and we even have a guitar that hangs on the wall which is there for anyone with talent who wants to play it.”
“The books we sell will range from gently read, nearly new books at very affordable prices to brand new volumes which will be offered at prices below half the list price of the big box stores. In addition we will carry a selection of harder-to-find and vintage volumes. These will also be available on our website which focuses on rare and really valuable collector’s editions. Brave Books also has an entire room dedicated to children books, art, and creative games, all of which will be half price. Quality vintage design items, art and prints, created in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s fill the bookstore and will also be available for purchase.”
Regarding the name, Burgess explains, “Our son Nathan lives in Austin, and it was his girlfriend, Crystal, an advertising whiz, who suggested it. We agreed that this title was very apropos in light of the current trend towards digital technology, and its effect on printed books and literacy. Reading a book has become an act of courage and commitment these days. Unfortunately El Paso’s literacy rates consistently rank in the bottom five of medium-sized cities for several reasons. Our goal is to change those numbers one person at a time through various activities and programs sponsored by our store.”
Jud and Laurie are both longtime El Pasoans, and parents of four children, ages 21 to 27. The entire family shares a fondness for reading and the printed word.
“Having good books and collecting them can become a very fulfilling experience,” Jud said. “Books simply add to the quality of a person’s life and literally help readers increase their knowledge, their intelligence and their creativity. You can quote me when I say that I turn my nose up at electronic books. In that regard, I am a ‘book snob.’ Books of all sizes and shapes have been around for centuries, and you just don’t get anywhere close to the same experience by trying to read something on a Kindle or the internet. In fact, studies of students who read the same material on their laptops versus reading printed versions indicated that there was a much greater degree of retention of knowledge from the printed works.”
In addition to reintroducing El Pasoans to the love of reading, Jud also wants the store to serve as a platform to make a difference for Borderland residents. “We plan to create literacy initiatives throughout El Paso which will positively affect at risk students and their families. We also plan to introduce El Pasoans to a variety of interesting people – artists, writers, public figures, personalities, collectors and other inspiring people who are anxious to share their knowledge and interests.
Brave Books will be open noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday for its Grand Opening weekend March 8-10. Regular hours will be noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 204-7074.
Robert’s Art & Frame Mfg.
Recognizing the tremendous potential of canvas transfers in 1988, the sister and brother team of Pat Gary and John Kenney opened their unique business in Sunland Park under the name “Art and Frame Manufacturing.” The process could transfer any kind of image printed on paper to a canvas surface, including photographs. At the height of their operation, their staff often numbered from 15 to 20 employees who created transfers not only for customers of several local art galleries, but also for a number of furniture stores in El Paso and across the nation.
With the advent of giclée printing, which prints images directly on canvas, the once-popular process of transferring paper prints to canvas has had a more limited market but still has a place in the art world.
After two and a half decades Pat and John decided it was time to retire, so their employee Robert Flores purchased the business in 2014. Changing the name to Robert’s Art and Frame Manufacturing, Flores continues to offer canvas transfers for clients ranging from several branches of the National Guard and El Paso Community College to some of El Paso’s better-known artists. He also offers custom framing.
Canvas transfers are still a viable business, Flores noted.
“Many artists continue to produce offset lithographs from their original paintings due to the affordability of this product. Doing a canvas transfer on these works creates a finished image that compares favorably to the original, especially if you choose to add the step of doing brush stroking. You can also transfer a photograph. If you choose a larger photo, the finished work closely resembles a painted portrait.”
The transfer process begins with coating the print or photograph with a laminate gel, which is then heated to 250 degrees for eight minutes. Once the print cools, it is placed in a tank of water, which softens the paper. The paper is then carefully removed leaving a “decal,” which is then placed on a canvas that has been coated with special glue. Next the surface is rubbed with a smooth stick so that it will assume the texture of the canvas. A thin coating is applied which provides UV protection. If the original image was an oil painting, customers may ask for a heavier coating, which is often applied with a diversity of brush strokes designed to resemble the style of the original artist.
Robert’s Art and Frame Manufacturing is at 1769 Victory Lane in Sunland Park, off Sunland Park Drive across from the racetrack. The front of the location houses Sunland Winery. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Phone: (575) 589-3461.
Tom Lea & the USS Hornet
Earlier this year, after years of intense searching, the wreckage of the famed World War II aircraft carrier the USS Hornet was discovered in the South Pacific by a research vessel that charted its location at a depth of more than 17,000 feet. The news had a connection to El Paso’s most famous artist, Tom Lea Jr.
Beginning in August 1942, serving as a war correspondent for Life magazine, Lea was assigned to cover the Guadalcanal campaign in the Pacific. As part of his duties he spent 66 days aboard the Hornet, recording the heroic duties and actions of the ship’s crew and officers, and painting images of the battles at sea. At that time the Hornet and the Wasp were the only two carriers left in the Pacific. When the Wasp was sunk on Sept. 15, 1942, Lea recorded the disaster in drawings and paintings. He would keep these precious records wrapped in rubber weather balloons to protect them from possible water damage while at sea, a caution that would prove among the most important of his careful practices.
On Oct. 21, Lea was airlifted off the Hornet and taken to the headquarters of the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. He was nearly thrown into the brig for refusing to allow the customs inspector to see what was inside the rubber packages. He knew he did not dare for his drawings would reveal the sinking of the Wasp, something the Navy had not yet disclosed.
Tom and his drawings were brought to Admiral Chester Nimitz, who carefully studied the artwork before inviting him to answer questions about the incident. As Lea shared his memories of his time aboard the Hornet, Nimitz broke the sad news that the Hornet had just been sunk by the Japanese. When the ship went to its watery grave, all her photographic files were lost forever. Thus Lea’s drawings became the only existing pictorial records of the Hornet’s last valiant days.
Myrna Zanetell is a freelance writer
specializing in the visual arts.
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