Join The Ivy Bookshop tonight, December 18 at 7 p.m., as three local authors celebrate three iconic aspects of Baltimore: painted screens, East Baltimore’s Polish community and Attman’s Deli. Read more about the authors and their subjects below.
Painted screens have long been synonymous in the popular imagination with the Baltimore row house. Picturesque, practical and quirky, window and door screens adorned wtih scenic views simultaneously offer privacy and ventilation in crowded neighborhoods. As an urban folk art, painted screens flourished in Baltimore, though they did not originate there – precursors date to early 18th-century London. They were a fixture on fine homes and businesses in Europe and America throughout the Victorian era. But as the handmade screen yielded to industrial production, the whimsical artifact of the elite classes was suddenly transformed into an item for mass consumption. Historic examples are now a rarity, but in Baltimore the folk art is still very much alive.
The Painted Screens of Baltimore takes a first look at this beloved icon of one major American city through the words and images of dozens of self-taught artists who trace their creations to the capable and unlikely brush of one Bohemian immigrant, William Oktavec. In 1913, this corner grocer began a family dynasty and inspired generations of artists who continue his craft to this day. The book examines the roots of painted wire cloth, the ethnic communities where painted screens have been at home for a century and the future of this art form.
Elaine Eff is the authority on painted screens. A curator and filmmaker, she has chronicled and conserved living culture as the folklorist for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
John Bartkowiak: Bardzo Dobry:
Bardzo Dobry (Polish for “very good”) is a story of East Baltimore’s Polish community from its beginnings in 1870 until 1950. The story explores why Baltimore became the preferred arrival point for many East European immigrants, second only to Ellis Island, New York: the vibrant economy that greeted them, and the new religious freedoms that they found. The book is also the story of the Bartkowiak family – one of the 1,000 Polish families that established themselves in East Baltimore prior to 1900.
Attorney John Bartkowiak was born and raised in Fells Point and Canton, East Baltimore. He has had a 40-year law career both in the corporate world and in private practice. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he holds advanced degrees from the University of Baltimore School of Law and Morgan State University. With extensive experience in international business transactions, he currently maintains his practice in Towson, Maryland. This is his first book.
It All Started With a Deli tells how 23-year-old Harry Attman, an immigrant, opens a small confectionary/deli in 1915 in Baltimore. With his soon-to-be bride Ida, a fellow immigrant, they work long hours and many years to build what becomes a famed delicatessen with a national reputation. Over the years, Harry and Ida also raise three sons – Edward, Seymour and Leonard – and inculcate in them the values of hard work, ethical conduct, religious principles and concern for others. The result, over four generations, is today an astonishingly close, vibrant family whose members have founded major businesses, while always giving back to the community.
M. Hirsh Goldberg is an award-winning author of six books and numerous articles in local and national publications. A public relations consultant, he has served as press secretary and speechwriter for a governor of Maryland and a mayor of Baltimore. He lectures widely on his writings and has appeared on Good Morning America, The CBS Early Morning Show, The Joan Rivers Show and Canada’s top-rated TV talk show.
Visit the Ivy Bookshop at 6080 Falls Road. For more information about this and other events, click here.