Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks

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Late in the 1980s, burgeoning New York art collector Larry Warsh acquired a series of eight, common composition notebooks from members of a seemingly-defunct and little-known band called “Gray.” Those notebooks sat boxed in a closet of Warsh’s Manhattan apartment for more than 25 years. Now they are on a touring exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum, with stops at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, and the books are likely reaching a much bigger audience than the band ever attracted back at C.B.G.B.’s in 1980.

Of course, these aren’t just any notebooks. “Gray” isn’t just any band born in the Bowery. And it turns out that Larry Warsh is a damn good judge of groundbreaking art.

The sparsely-filled books contain years of hand-written notes by revolutionary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and they seem to offer a peep-hole in to the mind of that unconventional genius. This exhibit presents pages from the notebooks alongside a selection of his larger compositions, providing the visitor an in-depth exploration of the Basquiat lexicon that is both verbal and visual.

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View from the Basquiat exhibition at the High Museum of Art.

Basquiat started the band, eventually called “Gray” with performance artist Michael Holman in 1979. They, with various other bandmates, played their ambient/industrial music at the usual downtown haunts, but with growing recognition of his visual artistic talent, Basquiat left the band in mid 1980. It was right about then his career seemed to lasso a shooting star and the artist struggled to hold on tight for as long as he could.

Surviving band members reunited to play at Basquiat’s memorial service in 1988 and again more recently for art happenings and music festivals. In 2011 they even released a “new” album “Shades of…” which includes cuts of  the late Basquiat’s voice and music.

GRAY – SHADES OF… from Plushsafe Records.

 

But this is about the notebooks…

View from the Basquiat exhibition at the High Museum of Art.

Since the beginning, Basquiat’s artistic efforts have focused on words and short phrases. The SAMO@ graffiti he perpetrated with school friend Al Diaz in the late seventies often seemed like excerpts of Beat poetry.

MICROWAVE & VIDEO X-SISTANCE
“BIG MAC” CERTIFICATE
FOR X-MAS
-SAMO©

Even after his painting evolved from street walls, to paper and fabric, to canvas and wood installations, these words and phrases infiltrated every aspect of Basquiat’s artwork. In fact they seem to be the actual essence of it, merely enhanced by the more visually dominant graphic elements.

Basquiat – Untitled, 1982–83. Oilstick, colored pencil, crayon, and gouache on paper mounted on canvas. Collection of Fred Hoffman.  Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

This first major exhibition of the books displays 160 pages of the artist’s personal writings, sketches and notes, accompanied by other drawings, paintings and historical Basquiat ephemera. The pages on display often reveal a kind of evolution on many of the subjects he used in his more extensive paintings, along with those iconic motifs like figures, faces and crowns.

Page from Basquiat notebooks – Famous Negro Athletes.

Basquiat drawing – Famous Negro Athletes, 1981, oil stick on paper. Collection of Glenn O’Brien.

 

Basquiat developed a unique way of using language the way other artists used paint, or filmmakers use footage. The notebooks seem to be like mental scrapbooks for the artist to collect and manipulate phrases and ideas.

The exhibit presents them as “autonomous works” and not the “preparatory studies” of a sketchbook. But they do have a sketchbook feel to them, only these sketches are made with words instead of line and shadow.

This brings me back to the Beat Poets, and Kerouac in particular. On the back cover of my copy of the book: “Jack Kerouac Book of Sketches“, (Pengiun 2006), it says:

“…Ed White mentioned to Jack Kerouac ‘Why don’t you just sketch in the streets like a painter but with words.’ White’s suggestion is credited with helping to inspire Kerouac’s move to spontaneous prose.”

Here’s an excerpt from a Kerouac “sketch” in Massachusetts.

———————–

Concord River RR
Bridge
Sunday Oct 24 ’54
Lowel
5 PM
     A ridiculous NE
tumbleweed danced
across the RR bridge
     Thoreau’s Concord
is blue aquamarine
in October red
sereness — little
Indian hill towards
Walden, is orange
brown with Autumn
The faultless sky
attests to T’s solemn
wisdom being correct
— but perfect wisdom is Buddha’s

—————-

Many of these Basquiat notebook pages have a very similar feel…

Basquiat Page2

Basquiat – from Untitled Notebook #2, 1980–1981 – Collection of Larry Warsh, Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum.

 

Just as other collage artists like Ray Johnson and Robert Rauschenberg collected little snippets physically from newspapers, letters and trash piles, to later assemble and re-arrange in their artworks, – Basquiat seems to have been collecting these snippets verbally instead. He collected them in the notebooks by writing them down when he read them, heard them, witnessed them, or just thought them up.

While many lines are filled with these intriguing collections of phrases, and developing ideas, other pages do indeed feel more like finished works of art on their own.

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Basquiat –  Untitled Notebook Page, circa 1987 – 

Collection of Larry Warsh. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum.

Looking closely at the intricate structures of words and lines on the pages, one can hardly resist recalling the obvious influences of seasoned contemporaries like Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly.

Basquiat – detail from page of Notebook #4 – Collection of Larry Warsh.

In addition to these rarely seen notebook pages, some of the more emblematic Basquiat works are traveling with the show. These larger compositions, canvasses and collages add a pleasing compliment to the exhibition.

Views from the show at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Some of the most precious little items in the show are the rare mementos of the artist’s life, such as the Brooklyn Museum Junior Membership Card signed by a young Jean-Michel Basquiat.

And the unforgettable Polaroid photograph by cohort Andy Warhol.

Jean Michel – Basquiat Polaroid 1982 – by Andy Warhol on loan from private collection, seen at The High Museum of Art.

These additions provide a much wider scope for viewing the artist’s work, making this a unique opportunity for both longtime aficionados, and Basquiat newbies alike.

As notebook owner Larry Warsh expressed so perfectly in an April, 2015 Q&A article for Departures by Laura van Straaten:

“No one can have a complete picture of the inner workings of any artist, but the words on these pages give us a glimpse of the soul behind this complex, creative persona.”

While I highly recommend attending this exhibition if you can, I can’t help myself from wondering what else Warsh might have stashed in that closet of his…

Tour Schedule :

Brooklyn Museum, New York

April 3–August 23, 2015

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia

February 28–May 29, 2016

Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida

August 8–October 23, 2016

 

Links, Sources & Recommended reading:

 

Departures: “Q&A: Larry Warsh On Basquiat’s Notebooks” by Laura van Straaten

Financial Times: “Larry Warsh on his approach to collecting” by Peter Aspden

Gray History from the website of Michael Holman

http://plushsaferecords.com/

http://www.basquiat.com/artist-timeline.htm

The SAMO© Graffiti photographed by Henry Flynt

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/touring/basquiat_notebooks http://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Basquiat-Notebooks http://pamm.org/exhibitions/basquiat-unknown-notebooks

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TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN (except where noted.)

 

 


Vik Muniz Retrospective at High Museum

By guest contributor Karen Rothstein.

Now on exhibit until August 21, 2016 at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, is a retrospective including more than 100 photographs by the Brazilian born mixed media artist Vik Muniz.

He has such a warm and enthusiastic manner. At the media preview, he expressed his overwhelming joy at seeing museum-goers actually taking close-up notice of all the unorthodox materials he used to create his artworks. Even the youngest child can find something in his work that brings them pleasure and perhaps engages them into taking an interest in the world of Art.

Photo Feb 24, 11 14 11 AM

The writer, Karen Rothstein with artist Muniz in front of his Self-Portrait: “I Am Too Sad to Tell You”, after Bas Jan Ader, from the “Rebus” series.

Muniz is known for trying to create a sense of wonder and intrigue within his photography. The way he creates each piece is unique, adding a plethora of unconventional items in the process of making each finished photograph. These things that you might be familiar with in their proper place, will all come as a surprise in his art. Things such as: tiny childhood toys, garbage, torn pieces of magazines, diamonds, food of all sorts, etc…. It is easy to see the artist has a playful sense of humor. The different textures and sizes of his working canvasses make each finished photograph very unique. For example, one project included large-scale drawings made by bulldozers on a construction site, while other images were made by assembling small pieces of garbage or tiny toys and then photographing them from above, to reveal the intended scene that he pictured in his head before it all started. Be sure to watch the video in the gallery, showing how he created “Mother and Child” from the “Pictures of Garbage” series.

Vik Muniz – Mother and Child  (Suellen)  from “Pictures of Garbage” series.

Muniz often makes several works in a series, using similar materials to explore a common theme, materials that often trigger the viewer’s memory, recalling another time and place.

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Vik Muniz – “Double Mona Lisa” (Peanut Butter and Jelly) from “After Warhol” series.

Vik Muniz – “Saturn devouring one of his sons” after Goya, from “Pictures of Junk Series.”

Vik Muniz – “Vik, 2 Years Old,”  from Pictures of Album series (representing one of the few pictures from his childhood)

Before moving to New York as a young man, Muniz was brought up in a working class family in Brazil while the country was under a strong military regime. People couldn’t speak their mind and times were hard. To this day he stands up for the underdog and addresses issues of social justice, and several of the works on display express the depth of his feelings.

 

Muniz Stinney

Vik Muniz – “George Stinney, Jr.” from “Pictures of Album” series  (Stinney was convicted at a flawed trial in 1944 at the age of 14 in South Carolina.)

 

Vik Muniz – Six children from the “Sugar Children” series (Children from sugar plantation workers who played in the sand on the Island of St. Kitts).

Muniz really loves to use all different textures and is intrigued with color pigmentation as seen in his wonderful rendering of Gauguin’s “Day of the Gods”. Look close, the colors and textures comes to life.

Vik Muniz – “Mahana No Atua” (Day of the Gods), after Gauguin, from “Pictures of Pigment” series.

Muniz is primarily working in series these days, but he started out in the 80’s doing sculpture. A fine example is on display, be sure to few his Mnemonic Vehicle (Ferrari Berlinetta) a composite of polyurethane, plexiglass and aluminum, portraying a nearly life-size Ferrari automobile as a massive matchbox car.

The Artist is a true master of creativity and composition, his work has been on display the world over. He currently works in  New York City and Rio de Janeiro.

This exhibit is a wonderful one and will make for great discussion with family and friends in days to follow.

Vik Muniz – A Bar at the Folies-Bergère after Édouard Manet, from the Pictures of Magazines 2 series.

The Vik Muniz exhibition runs through August 21, 2016 at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Visit www.high.org for more info.


On the street in: Key West

On a recent trip to Key West, Florida, (in November 2015) I documented what I came across during my touristic wanderings. Plenty of stickers and little tags, but not many large pieces or murals. Here’s what I found…

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Here’s a decent sticker bomb site including The London Police, buenowun, INFOE, YU 246, CYNE and more.

CYNE was up absolutely EVERYWHERE in Key West. Here’s just a sample of what I came across by this “SouthernmostWanted” graffiti, paste-up & sticker artist…

CYNE - Key West - 8639

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 9116

These CYNE wheatpastes are really artful.

CYNE - Key West -

CYNE

 

CYNE - Key West -

CYNE

 

CYNE - Key West - 9138

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 8630

CYNE & TWICE

 

CYNE - Key West - 8803

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 8609

CYNE

CYNE & Stickers Key West - 8643

Here’s CYNE with SiD, and UTAH & ETHER – VISAH TATER – SODUH

CYNE - YU 246 - Key West - 9006

CYNE – INFOE – YU 246

graffiti - Key West - 9137

Here’s a lovely tag on a utility box. I can’t tell if it’s “Ambrose”, “Aimlose” or what… Anyone know this one?

WILZA Blue Skull Sticker - Key West - 9136

I love this WILZA blue skull paste-up. Good Style!

 

Here are two paste-ups with “Relax, Dude” using Batman & James Bond” I saw another Bond one that was even more torn off.

Relax Dude - Key West - 9070 Relax Dude - Key West - 9069

 

unknown street sticker - Key West - 9011

Here’s a nice little hand-drawn USPS Priority sticker. Anyone know who this is?

Street Stickers Key West - 8969

Here’s another really awesome sticker. I can’t decipher it. Any guesses?

 

 

icon face street sticker - Key West - 8968

Icon face with glasses USPS Priority sticker.

 

face street sticker - Key West - 8952

OK face multicolor sticker.

 

Sorria (or Soffia) sticker (Nasck?) - Key West -8833

Sorria (or Soffia) sticker. Is this NASCK???

sick street sticker - Key West - 8814

SICK double priority sticker.

 

Here are two cool skulls with hats. Reminiscent of dia de los muertos.

skull with hat street art - Key West - 8800

skull with hat & p-nut street art - Key West - 8796

Skull with sunglasses & hat (dia de los muertos) and little p-nut.

 

peat (or peal?) sticker - Key West - 8719

nice white on black peat (or peal?) sticker. Anyone know this one?

wheel painted on wood - street art - Key West - 8711

Very cool little painted wooden wheel screwed onto a telephone pole. 

 

d1NYC & more street art - Key West - 8661

d1NYC – #duelris – Adventures of Rainbow Bush & cool green stripey spray dude with his tongue out.

VISAH & (Papa George?) other stickers - Key West - 8660

Visah & Papa George?

SID sticker - Key West 0 8655

INFOE & SiD w/ Gnarles Jr. (band)

INFOE & Show Drawn stickers - Key West - 8653

INFOE & SHOWDRAWN.com

unknown street sticker - Key West - 8650

heres a very cool little tag sticker. Anyone know??

utah & ether  visah tater & grill stickers - Key West -  8647

UTAH ETHER & VISAH TATER with a nifty little GRILL sticker.

utah & ether  visah tater & grill stickers & more - Key West -  86478634

Another one of thole little grill stickers, UTAH ETHER & VISAH TATER

@infoe_stv stickers - Key West - 8646

INFOE stickers.

unknown framed street art Key West - 8638

This was a very cool little photograph, framed in wood and bolted to a street sign post.

byoungz sticker - Key West - 8631

sticker quote from @byoungz

Street Stickers Key West - 8619

RENONE

pawn works street sticker - Key West - 8612

CYNE & PawnWorks

hello my name is??? - Key West - 8611

and to finish it off, here’s an unknown “Hello my name is” hand drawn sticker.

This was a quick trip to Key West, my first time there. I put up some of my RayJohnsonFanClub collage work and also a couple of my Picturecrossing Polaroids. I’ll be posting them up here a bit later…

Ciao


Introducing – [kromiəm] 500 – a High Speed Color Slide Film from Labeauratoire!!

Introducing – [kromiəm] 500 – a High Speed Color Slide Film from Labeauratoire!!

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There’s just nothing like chrome film, and that’s why I’m excited to announce that the newest addition to our Labeauratoire lineup is [kromiəm] 500. It’s a high speed color slide film that fits most lighting situations. Put it in your 35mm camera and feel confident that you can be ready for just about anything that comes your way. You can set the ISO/ASA to 400 and shoot normally or underexpose slightly for better saturation.

Originally manufactured for industrial purposes, this film will work perfectly in your still 35mm camera. Notice it does not have any frame numbers or edge printing so it’s perfect for shooting “sprockets!”

This film expired several years ago, but it’s still giving some nice results as you can see. It is balanced for daylight but also gives an interesting blend of hues in mixed lighting as well. 

  

My panoramic shots were made in the late afternoon, with the Lomography Spinner 360º set on the bright sun mode.

  You can also see more pictures shot with this, and other unique films in the: LABEAURATOIRE FLICKR GROUP. 

My non-panoramic examples were shot with my Canon EOS Elan 7ne and its Canon EF 40mm ƒ2.8 Pancake lens. – All photos on this page developed in E6 chemistry at The Darkroom

Here’s your chance to try out this exciting film! I’m making some rolls available for your experimenting pleasure. 

I don’t put direct commerce links on WordPress, but you know how to find “Labeauratoire”.

Happy Shooting folks!

====================


Big BOGO Film Sale This Weekend

Big BOGO Film Sale This Weekend

NewFilms1
Hello film lovers! As you may know, I’ve just relocated to Clearwater, Florida.
And I’m finally ready to get back to full capacity.
I have at least three new 35mm films I’ll be introducing in the coming months, but this weekend, I’m offering ONE FREE ROLL of FILM with every item purchased!!
So: Order a three pack, get one roll free.
Order a two pack, get one roll free.
Order one roll, get one roll free!!!
Order one packet of our Caffenol Concoction Natural Alternative Developer, get one roll of film free!

We have some of the most intriguing films available including :

Labeauratoire’s BLACKOUT, Kodak High Contrast HCP 5369, Hawkeye Surveillance Film, VariCath Cineradiography Film, ORWO Color NC3, ORWO PC7, Eastman Plus-X 5231 Cinematic, Lucky 200 Aerial Chinese Spy Film, Polypan F 50 Professional, Ilford Mark V, ORWO NP55, ORWOPAN , Velvia RVM 8540, Eastman Ektachrome 7239,  Labeauratoire’s Phoenix Red-Scale, Eastman Double-X 5222 , Kodak Kodalith, Eastman High Contrast SO-331, Tura Pan Line Film (AKA Bluefire Police), Svema MZ-3, Eastman 5360DMP, Kodak Rapid Process Copy Film, ORWO UN54, Ferrania FG200, Ferrania, Perutz Perpantic, AGFA Agfachrome CRD, ORWO NP 7 400, Eastman FGSR5375 Fine Grain, Kodak Aerecon II 3404, Kodak REPRO 2566, MACO UP 400 plus, Imation Scotch Color HP 100, VALCA grano fino Cine, Polaroid HD 200 Def 1, Cinerad FT419X, Kodak Ektachrome 64T EPY, Kodak Ektacolor Pro Gold 160, Gevaert Copex Pan Rapid, Kodak Holographic SO-253
And More to come soon!!!
I’ll be selecting the free rolls based on what I have available.
They will be either 12 or 20 exposure rolls. (depending on how much you order)
Offer expires Monday Morning, so get your orders in soon and I’ll get to rolling and packing them. You might even be able to save a bit on combined shipping if you simply eMail me with your order and I can send you the PayPal invoice.
Mention code: BOGO215 with your order.
I don’t put direct commerce links on WordPress, but you know how to find “Labeauratoire”.
Hope you have a good weekend, and as always…
Happy Shooting!
~ Lance


Butcher Brings Majestic Everglades to Coconut Grove

Acclaimed large-format nature photographer Clyde Butcher will be opening a new gallery in Coconut Grove, Miami this February.

The prolific photographer is set to attend the grand opening of his new “Everglades Gallery,” located at 2994 McFarlane Road on Friday, February, 13, (a great Valentine’s Day date.) Butcher will also be on hand at an invitation-only V.I.P. event on Tuesday evening, January 13, to give a keynote presentation at 8pm.

The new gallery apparently opened its doors for a while during the holidays, as reported in this Coconut Grove Grapevine Article:

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The Clyde Butcher Facebook Page also posted some pictures of the gallery set-up in progress:

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Butcher’s majestic black and white photographs are surely among the most moving representations of Florida’s vanishing wilderness you’ll ever see.  As I stated before in my review of his “Preserving Eden” exhibition, Butcher is one of the greatest American landscape photographers and clearly one of the hardest-working men in the business.

This Coconut Grove “Everglades Gallery” joins Butcher’s other two venues, the “Big Cypress Gallery” in Ochopee, and “The Venice Gallery & Studio” just south of Sarasota, which also houses his 2000 sq. ft. darkroom.

So take note Miami, you now have no excuse not to go see the work of this living legend for yourself.


Labeauratoire Film Shop is Back in Business! … in Florida :-) (+secret discount code)

After a one month hiatus, the Labeauratoire (pronounced La-bow-ra-twar) online film shop is back online and ready for orders.

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Our Labeauratoire is all about “Beautiful Experimentation,” and we have more than FORTY different rare and unique film stocks for you to experiment with, including two different Bulk Films now available!  (read through to the end to get a secret discount code.) We also have our own Caffenol Concoction, an all natural alternative black & white film and print developer.

Film and prints developed with our Caffenol Concoction.

check out our

CAFFENOL CONCOCTION FLICKR SET

Here’s a quick and dirty list with just some of the new films we have available:

Valca Grano Fino Positiva: A very rare cinematic B&W film manufactured in Spain! See my full report on this intriguing film here.

Valca developed in Caffenol Concoction.

Kodak Aerecon II – 35mm Aerial Reconnaissance Film With extended red sensitivity!

Kodak Aerecon II developed in Caffenol Concoction.

Imation Scotch Color HP 100 – A wonderful film from the old Ferrania / Imation factory in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Imation Scotch Color HP 100

Kodak Holographic SO-253: A rare and unique B&W, high contrast scientific film with an odd spectral sensitivity. Also available in 100ft bulk rolls!

Holographic SO-253 developed in Caffenol Concoction.

Kodak Ektachrome 64T: A Fine Grain E6 Color Slide film balanced for tungsten lighting. Makes cool images in daylight! Also try cross-processing or using a filter.

Ektachrome 64T

FT419X Pan Cinerad Film: A mysterious ISO 40 B&W Cine-Radiography Film giving great results!

Pan Cinerad FT419X developed in our Caffenol Concoction.

Ektacolor Pro Gold 160 GPX : A rarely seen 35mm C-41 Professional Color Print Film with a vibrant color palate.

Kodak Ektacolor Gold Pro 160 color print film.

MACO UP 400 plus: A cool German Import available in 12 exposure rolls. Perfect for B&W experimentation!

MACO UP 400 plus developed in our Caffenol Concoction.

Kodak REPRO 2566: An Orthochromatic B&W Reproduction Negative Film. Ultra-High Contrast / Estar Thin Base.

Kodak Repro 2566 developed in our Caffenol Concoction.

Gevaert Copex Pan Rapid Tri 13:  The original Belgian 35mm B&W Perforated Microfilm.

Gevaert Copex Pan Rapid Tri 13 developed in our Caffenol Concoction.

Polaroid High Definition 200 Def 1: Your favorite brand in a different flavor! A great color film for your 35mm camera.

Polaroid High Definition 200 Def 1

Agfachrome CRD: An E6 color daylight duplicating film with an ISO of 12.

Agfachrome CRD

And here are some old favorites we have Back in Stock!

Kodalith! An original and popular, high contrast, orthographic film.  Great for Fashion shoots and fun to experiment with.

Kodalith developed in our Caffenol Concoction.

Lucky 200 Aerial Chinese Spy Film: A vintage, distressed, aerial B&W film from Chinese military surplus.

Lucky 200 Aerial Chinese Spy Film

and finally….

Kodak RPC: The Rapid Process Copy Film that produces Black & White Transparencies with high concentrate B&W developer.

Kodak RPC

You know where to find us! Just look up “Labeauratoire” for all this new and exciting film! (Since WordPress isn’t the place for direct commerce.) But if you send me an eMail with the code (HOLIDAY14) I’ll give you a 10% discount in the form of a PayPal refund! Offer good through January 1, 2015!

Hope you enjoyed this quick look at our new films. There’s plenty more info and examples on our Labeauratoire site.

You may not know that I was one of the very first to be gathering old stocks of vintage film to preserve and make available for your experimenting pleasure. Many have joined the bandwagon since I opened my little online store in early 2010, and I know you now have other places you can shop. So I thank you for your continued support.

PS: If you haven’t already, please join our Flickr group where people are posting their exciting results from our Caffenol Concoction and from our vintage films: www.flickr.com/groups/labeauratoire/