Ossian Brown is an English artist and musician whose book “Haunted Air” gives us a rare glimpse at the vintage celebration of Halloween in America, c. 1875-1955. Anonymous photographs collected from family albums depict the traditional macabre costumes from ages past.
“I find their haunting melancholy completely absorbing; all of these photographs <…> now torn out, disembodied and forgotten <…> they’ve now become fully and utterly the masks and phantoms they dragged up as, all those years ago.”
Compared to today’s flashy, pop-culture inspired Halloween costumes, these get ups of are capable of giving viewer the chills. Black and white photographs feature children and adults dressed with strange DIY masks and robes. Popular motifs contain disguising as devils, witches or animals.
According to Brown, he was fascinated by the wild imagination of these people who at the time were living in great poverty but still managed to create “these incredible and phantasmagorical apparitions”. From whatever inanimate objects, they would construct truly haunting costumes and kept with the essence of tradition which is overlooked nowadays.
To give the book even more mystery, the foreword was written by David Lynch. A short excerpt presented here:
“All the clocks had stopped. A void out of time. And here they are – looking out and holding themselves still – holding still at that point where two worlds join – the familiar – ant the other.”
Let’s face it, sometimes artists need a little extra motivation to keep creating and challenging themselves. Based on the Drawing-a-Day style exercise, Drawlloween (generally hash-tagged so each artist’s daily offering can easily be searched on social media sites) is the month of October equivalent where artists and illustrators test their skills and dedication. Illustrator Brian Luong has taken this challenge, and come out with a completely cohesive and solid body of Halloween-themed work. The Southern California-based Luong has gone beyond mere renderings of each instructional prompt (list below), creating dark narratives that add necessary darkness, mystery and visual heft to each drawing.
Although Luong’s portfolio shows a range of strengths typical of most illustrators, Luong’s muted palate, tight hatching and large areas of shading have become more focused and with the project. On the eve of the project’s culminating date of Halloween, the drawings have developed their own distinct, chalky, monochromatic style. Dark shadows have became longer, and scenes of street stalking vampires, discovered corpses and goblin-carved pumpkins became more imaginative than most other participants. Luong’s final Drawlloween piece should be posted today, Halloween, on his Tumblr.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze touts itself as being the Tri-State’s (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) biggest and most exciting Halloween event. Their hubris is deserved; The glowing pumpkins and the elaborate installation of carvings are incredible.
The event features more than 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns, and is set against the backdrop of the historic,18th-century riverside landscape of the Hudson River Valley. All displays are made out of pumpkins, and arranged into the likes of giant sea monsters, dinosaurs, snakes, and shrunken “Little Monsters.” It even features a Tunnel O’ Pumpkin Love. (If you’re wondering how that works, it involves gourd-filled Jack-in-the-Boxes springing up and bouncing around.)
Pumpkin carving has a rich history in the UK. The Instagram blog describes it, writing:
Although only associated with Halloween as we know it today since the late 1800s, the tradition of gourd carving dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries in rural Ireland and England. People created jack o’lanterns for the old holidays of Samhain and All Souls’ Night when spirits were thought to be the most active. Grotesque faces carved into the objects were meant to frighten away any ghouls seeking to do harm.
These photographs are taken from two series by NYC photographer Amy Stein: “Domesticated”, and “Halloween in Harlem”. The photos were put together a while ago now, but I’ve always loved them. And, as Ms. Stein seems to be dealing with an issue involving use of her work without permission and $40,000, I figured she deserved some love.
“Domesticated” depicts real stories ivolving animals and humans culled from local news stories. Stein used often used taxidermied animals in her perfectly positioned shots, which include bobcats confused by newfound construction and curious bears checking out backyard pools.
“Halloween in Harlem” is pretty straightforward: Stein’s eye set to run freely capturing the spirit of the holiday and creepy children in masks on the street.
In the spirit of All Hallows Eve, we thought it would be cool to share some of our favorite Halloween memorabilia for all of you B/D ghouls and ghosts. This includes vintage horror movie posters and pumpkin carvings; many of which were created by sculptor extraordinaire Ray Villafane. Enjoy! We did!