Style Spotlight: The Art Quilt Is What They Say It Is

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Susan Else
“Forever Yours” by Susan Else is a 3-dimensional fiber art work. CREDIT: Marty McGillivray

When the art doesn’t fit the definition… change the definition. After finally realizing that the work submitted by its professional artist members was far outstripping its traditional parameters, Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc., has reworded its definition of the art quilt. The SAQA Board has adopted the following wording:

“The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”

The new definition allows 3-dimensional work, as well as work in other mediums than fiber, fabric or cloth. SAQA has 3,000 members in more than 30 countries and produces portfolios of members’ work.

Style Spotlight: Where the Sendak Things Are

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Maurice Sendak
An illustration from Brudibar, on view at the Rosenbach Museum.

Three books by beloved contemporary children’s book creator Maurice Sendak are explored in “From Pen to Publisher” through July 15 at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Each of the volumes, “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960), “Outside Over There” (1981) and “Brundibar” (2003), was inspired and produced in a different way by Sendak and his collaborators. The exhibition shows how Sendak pursued his ideas through changing technologies in publishing.

The museum has long had a relationship with Maurice Sendak, an avid collector who acquired many of the same authors and artists as the Rosenbachs. The museum holds about 10,000 pieces of work by Sendak, a largely self-trained artist.

The Rosenbach was founded in 1954 with a gift from Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip, renowned dealers in books, manuscripts and fine art, who also played a central role in the development of libraries such as the Folger and the Huntington.

Style Spotlight: Finds

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012 | NO COMMENTS

It’s jewelry with a twist—a twist of the wrist, that is. Massachusetts artist Lynn Nafey set out to create affordable and well-designed jewelry, and in the process invented the moveable pin. The pins, which have a number of components, are riveted together at one point; as they are turned, the elements naturally fall into different configurations. Nafey uses a multi-layered silkscreen process on aluminum or brass. Prices range from $25-$70. You can find her jewelry at retail shows or at lynnnafey.com.

Arts Reader

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Birds have always had a grip on the imagination of birders, artists and collectors. The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield (Clarkson Potter, $50), by Laurence Sheehan, William Stites, Carol Sama Sheehan and Kathryn George Precourt, explores the role of birds in three kinds of human endeavors. The first part, “Birders in Birdland,” explains the early scientific and later personal attraction that birders and collectors bring to the study of birds, from John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson to a teen-ager in New York, to a couple who have traveled the world. The second part, “Bird Houses,” explores art associated with birding: birdhouses, sculptures, pictures, decoys and nests. The final part, “At Home with Birds,” examines how bird images have worked their way into home decor. The photos are striking and beautiful, and the text is fond and enlightening.

A towering yet virtually unknown figure in early 20th century art, Marie Zimmerman is probably the most prolific and prodigious artist you’ve never heard of. The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann (Yale University Press, $65) by Deborah Dependahl Waters, Joseph Cunningham, and Bruce Barnes, attempts to redress that imbalance, chronicling what is known about the woman who used gold, silver, bronze, copper and iron to create everything from rings and necklaces to urns, candlesticks and gates. Zimmermann was unconventional, even secretive, about her works, yet attracted loyal fans and customers. This comprehensive work—339 pages of text and full-color images— shows her to be a major, if neglected, figure in the art world.

It is impossible, leafing through the pages of Portfolio 18: The art quilt sourcebook (Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc., $29.95), to identify a single direction in which art quilting is going today. Abstract? Photo-realism? Landscape? Conceptual? Each of the 241 images, submitted by the professional artist members of the association, is more striking than the last. From the representational dog-on-sofa “I’m Watching You” (Barbara McKie, Connecticut) to the sculptural “Forever Yours” skeleton shapes embracing (Susan A. Else, California), these fiber artists have used fabric and stitching to express an enormous variety of styles and emotions.

Enormous variety is also the hallmark in Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads (Racine Art Museum, $35), with essays and interviews by Rachel Carren, Bruce W. Pepich and Lena Vigna. The book, based on a past exhibition at the museum, features the work of eight polymer artist “groundbreakers” as well as a portfolio of other works in the relatively new field. Once reviled as Silly Putty for adults, polymer clay has proven to be an enormously versatile and dramatic medium for jewelry, furniture, sculpture and functional items such as teapots. Artists include Elise Winters, Jeffrey Lloyd Dever, Pier Voulkos and Kathleen Dustin, among others.

Parting Shot: Celluoid Dreams

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012 | NO COMMENTS

COURTESY: Stonington Gallery

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s… a basket lid. Although she employs traditional Onondaga and Micmac basketry forms, the material used by artist Gail Tremblay is anything but. This basket, titled “Since High School My Most Wanted Has Been to See Roles for Red Leaders … Among All the Images of Blacks & Whites on the Silver Screen,” is made of 35mm film, red leader (material used at the beginning of a film to thread it through the projector), silver yarn and metallic braid. Tremblay’s work was part of the recent “Weave: Contemporary Northwest Coast Weavers” exhibition at Stonington Gallery in Seattle. Tremblay, who used trailers for the films “High School High” and “Most Wanted,” says she “enjoyed the notion of recycling film and gaining control over a medium that had been used by both Hollywood and documentary filmmakers to stereotype American Indians.” To see the entire basket, check out the summer issue online and click on Parting Shot. For more information about Tremblay and the gallery, which specializes in work by Northwest Coast artists, especially Native Americans, go to www.stoningtongallery.com

Web Exclusive: “Since High School My Most Wanted Has Been to See Roles for Red Readers…Among All the Images of Blacks & Whites on the Silver Screen,” a basket.

COURTESY: Stonington Gallery

Artists’ Spaces: Exuberance Lives Here

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Vivian Reiss Home
Sumptuously dressed divans in the living room. CREDIT: Glenn Lowson

On a street of stately Victorians in the comfortable Annex neighborhood of Toronto, one house stands out from all the rest. Maybe it’s because of the cotton blossoms and taro leaves thriving in the wild yet deliberate jungle of a front yard. Maybe it’s because of the broomcorn growing sky-high along the sidewalk. Or perhaps it’s due to the effusive welcome extended to guests by studio painter and aesthete Vivian Reiss.

Best known for vibrant portraits of fellow artists, celebrities, philanthropists and musicians, Reiss’s work radiates a joyous intimacy between subject and artist. And her house—quirky, colorful and highly individualistic—is no different.

Reiss explains that she’s always been involved in the arts. Growing up in New York City, she applied herself to creative pursuits running the gamut from playing classical guitar and sculpting to acting and dancing. But it was picking up a paintbrush and applying it to a large-scale canvas that led her to her true calling, one that would take her to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Boston under the apprenticeship of painters Marilyn Powers and Jason Berger. After obtaining her degree, she continued to work under their guidance at The Direct Vision atelier in Brookline, Mass.

“My artistic endeavors are about expression, emotion and intellect, not just about getting the lines right,” she says. “I don’t believe that for something to be good—really good—it has to be arcane or painful. That’s just an outdated myth. Joy is a vastly understated expression.”

Her outrageously upbeat aesthetic is palpable in every aspect of the house she’s lived in for more than 25 years. The sprawling 5,000-square-foot structure was built in the 1870s for the widow of a Canadian politician and naval officer. But with Reiss’s creative touch, it is anything but your typical Victorian mansion.

“When I first found it, the house had fallen into disrepair,” she remembers, “and it was pretty rundown.” Employing both her artistic eye and locally salvaged materials, she oversaw all the major renovations and designed everything—from the handcrafted inlay patterns in the wood and marble floors to the enormous dining room table that resembles a roasted chicken.

Every room is jammed with treasures. Antique toys and miniatures cover countertops and are displayed alongside finds from near and far, including a Japanese samurai suit, rugs from Turkistan, Confucian idols from China, Kewpie dolls, Roman glass perfume jars, feathers from Africa and vintage U.S. campaign buttons.

To read more about the Reiss home, pick up your copy of the Spring 2012 issue of AmericanStyle magazine.

Enjoy this Web-exclusive peek into Reiss’ home.










Artists’ Spaces: Conventional? Not!

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Exterior of the Hornell home. CREDIT: Ed Rombout

You could call Pittsburgh artist Lori Hornell the ultimate recycler. Both her home and her art reflect an unorthodox use of materials and her flamboyant sense of fun.

Long before “recycling” became a popular buzzword, Hornell created art from found objects. “From paperclips to chicken bones, tomato cages to teabags, I use components and mediums I discover or create,” she says, pointing to a dramatic 9×15-foot sculpture fashioned from individually painted and spliced egg crates hanging on the rear wall of her living room as a typical example.

It’s not the sort of art one expects to find in a historic home. But here it is, in the converted 19th-century carriage house she shares with her husband Alan, CEO of a marketing agency. Her contemporary works—paintings, textiles and whimsical mixed-media sculptures—stamp their home with her eclectic personal style. “I love color,” she says. The walls sing with it.

The Hornells’ residence, built in 1865 in the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood, once sheltered horses and carriages on the Gilded Age estate of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Later, his brother Thomas lived there. When the Carnegie mansion was razed in 1921 and the land subdivided, the original frame and shingle barn remained. Since then, previous owners altered the exterior to resemble a cottage. The interior, however, remained relatively untouched. Under a 24-foot-high ceiling, the old haylofts now serve as balconies. The walls are covered in the original barn-board siding.

“It’s really easy to knock in a few nails and hang things,” says Alan. “Lori goes around with a hammer all the time. She’s impossible.” Not only does she move things around, he declares, but the walls and ceiling and every available surface sport art.

A mobile hangs next to a fireplace; sculptures and candelabras line the mantel. “There’s so much going on, my big job is to clear the place out so it doesn’t get too busy looking,” he adds. In truth, thanks to Lori’s artistic eye, the rooms appear like uncluttered and interesting compositions. Alan’s teasing complaint expresses good-natured camaraderie.

“We’ve been at this a long time,” he admits.

To read more about the Hornell home, pick up your copy of the Spring 2012 issue of AmericanStyle magazine.

Enjoy these Web-exclusive photos.










Studio Glass at 50: Playing With Fire

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Dale Chihuly blowing glass. CREDIT: Glass Art Society

Were it possible during the 1970s to have Googled a heat-sensitive map of the United States, it would no doubt have picked up the flickering glow of hot furnaces and molten glass from Maine to Oregon, Wisconsin to North Carolina, California to Washington State. It was a decade when experimentation and the discoveries of the ‘60s coalesced into a discernible movement that would forever transform the fields of craft and art.

A number of forces came together to make this happen, not least of which was that many of the original studio glass pioneers scattered to teaching posts across the country. While Harvey Littleton continued to turn students on to glass at the University of Wisconsin, Kent State University hired his assistant, Henry Halem, to set up a glass program in Ohio. Meanwhile, Norm Schulman set up a furnace at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Marvin Lipofsky introduced glass at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Joel Philip Myers taught at Illinois State University, Robert Fritz started the glass studies program at San Jose State University … and the list goes on.

By the early ‘70s, a second generation of artists found themselves twirling blowpipes and forging a complex web of relationships. A case in point: In 1965, Harvey Littleton’s student Bill Boysen set up a furnace at the Penland School of Crafts, where, in the summer of 1967, Mark Peiser showed up to try his hand at blowing glass. In 1971, Peiser, who’d stayed on as Penland’s first resident glass artist, taught Richard Ritter, who in turn would instruct Richard Jolley in a summer workshop Jolley took after completing his BFA under Michael Taylor, who had studied with Littleton.

Meanwhile, Lipofsky’s student Richard Marquis fired up a hot shop in 1970 in Seattle, where one of his students, Steve Beasley, would go on to co-found an arts cooperative that brought the furnace and glory hole within reach of the public at large.

To read the rest of the story, pick up your Spring 2012 issue of AmericanStyle magazine.

Follow this link to see a selective list of glass galleries around the country.

Enjoy a Web-exclusive scrapbook of photos from this golden age of glass.









Palette: Of Bluebonnets and Brushes

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

AS79 Palette
Clockwise from top left: ”Edna’s Barn,” Barbara Mauldin; ”Refreshing,” Phil Bob Borman; ”Misty Blue,” Chuck Mauldin; ”Bloomtime,” Charlotte Curry.

When spring arrives in the Texas Hill Country, so do the bluebonnets. Wildflowers carpet the landscape with color.

Settled by German pioneers in the 1840s, the Hill Country and its central town, Fredericksburg, are known for art galleries, wineries, historic charm and scenic vistas. Many artists make their home in the area. They find much to inspire them year round. But spring works a special magic, beckoning them to move outdoors and paint en plein air.

Chuck and Barbara Mauldin

Plein air painting is a family affair for Chuck and Barbara Mauldin. When a scene inspires them, they set up easels side by side.

“We really enjoy painting from life,” says Chuck, “and for landscape painters, that means you’ve got to get out and paint outdoors.”

Despite their closeness, they have their own artistic visions. “Chuck is more strictly realistic,” Barbara explains. “I kind of juice the color a little bit. Some people say my paintings are happy looking because I tend to create more color than is truly there.”

Artists from childhood, they met at the University of Texas. For 28 years they lived in Baton Rouge, where Chuck was a research chemist for Exxon. He painted on the side, while Barbara taught art in their children’s school.

They had always planned to return to Texas. Six years ago they moved to Fredericksburg. “Most people consider this the prettiest part of the state,” Chuck notes.

“I like the hills and the terrain,” Barbara adds. “There’s a lot of cultural and historical significance to this area. And the wildflowers in spring are so beautiful.”

Phil Bob Borman

The sky is no limit for Phil Bob Borman. In his landscapes the land is almost an afterthought, an anchor for the clouds that soar and swirl across the canvas. The drama in the skies “just captures my heart,” he says.

Borman knew in his early teens that he wanted to be an artist. He began as a sculptor, supporting himself by working as a cowboy on West Texas ranches. In 1993 he was called to the ministry and set art aside. “Then one day the Lord said, ‘Start painting’ and I said, ‘Okay.’ ”He now lives outside Kerrville with his family and paints full time.

Borman divides his time between the outdoors and his studio. “I desperately need plein air to remember all of the colors and get the feeling,” he maintains. “A photograph can only record so much.”

For Borman, art is a language, a way to communicate. “The content of the story is simply where you start,” he says, “It’s how you tell the story that brings the smile, creates the mood, and evokes the emotions.”

Charlotte Curry
Charlotte Curry started out as a city girl, growing up in San Antonio and then living in Houston. But she found it hard to be a landscape artist in a sprawling urban area. “To find the scenes I wanted to paint, I had to keep driving farther and farther,” she explains.

Curry decided to move to a more rural place, her mother’s hometown of Kerrville. At the nearby Cowboy Artists of America Museum (now the Museum of Western Art), she took workshops with top artists. More important, she was inspired by her surroundings.

She enjoys working on location, though she admits it has its challenges. “Every bug in the country loves a wet painting,” she says with a laugh. Once while painting on a beach she wedged her easel deep in the sand and weighted it with a heavy box. The precautions didn’t help. “Along came a gust of wind, and in an instant, it was face down in the sand.”

The reward is catching the feeling of nature on canvas. “The sense of the wild, the uninhabited,” she says, “That’s what I like in my paintings.”

Donald Darst
Donald Darst’s friends joke that he works on the dark side. The colors in his paintings are subtle, the tones deep.

His works often capture a moment when change seems imminent—night shifting to day, winter rolling into spring, a storm about to blow in. A viewer can almost smell the rain and feel the stir of a breeze.

“I like to create mood,” he says. “That’s it for me, the feelings.”

Darst was working in the technology field when a consulting job brought him to Central Texas. Charmed by the hills, creeks and historic stone cottages, he and his wife, Linda, began planning a permanent move. They live in the tiny town of Grey Forest, where he has served as mayor.

Don took up painting when Linda gave him the gift of a class with Kentucky artist Angie Campbell. His works have a freshness and a sense of place that invites readers to step into them. “I like people to be able to put themselves into a painting,” Darst says, “and have their feelings come out in what they see.”

In the Winner’s Circle

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. CREDIT: Dan Kier

AmericanStyle readers went for the tried and true in casting their votes for this year’s Top 10 Fairs & Festivals winners. Every one of them has already placed in the Top 10 within the past five years—some more than once. With excellent selections of art and crafts, delicious street food and exciting live performances, these shows have indeed come up with winning formulas for success.

Kentucky Crafted maintains a lock on the top spot for the third year in a row, proving you can’t beat its “bluegrass blend” of traditional and contemporary fine craft.

The rest of the best are scattered across the country, from Massachusetts to Missouri, and from Kentucky to California. Some are decidedly urban affairs, such as the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, while others, like the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival, offer an escape to the countryside. Every one of them has a record of excellence.

Details on each of the 2012 Top 10, together with comments from readers who love them, follow below. Be sure to also check out our month-to-month calendar by clicking here.

1. Kentucky Crafted: The Market

Louisville, Ky.
Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a consistent favorite with AmericanStyle readers. Jeffrey Lambert of Prestonsburg, Ky., explains why: “Excellent crafters, tremendous crowds, beautiful surroundings and traditional Kentucky hospitality!” This year’s event, on March 19-20, will feature the best of fine art and craft, as well as musical performances, specialty foods and the chance to meet Kentucky authors. Learn more at http://kycraft.ky.gov.

2. Scottsdale Arts Festival

Scottsdale, Ariz.
Every spring, 200 jury-selected artists from throughout the U.S. convene in Scottsdale, offering art and crafts representing all mediums. The festival, in its 42nd year, also offers gourmet food, live music and family activities. Reader Kelly Rich of Scottsdale says, “It has an awesome selection of artists and great music. The venue and weather are wonderful. It is great for the family!” This year’s festival will occur March 9-11. Visit www.scottsdaleartsfestival.org for more information.

3. Paradise City Arts Festival

Northampton, Mass.
Readers love the selection of art and crafts at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton. “It has quality crafts at a variety of price points and categories,” says Patricia Bril of Hadley, Mass. “It’s well laid out, and there’s a terrific attitude among the artisans and the crowd.” There should certainly be a great attitude at the next show, May 26-28, which will feature 250 artisans, a silent auction for charity and tasty food. Go to www.paradisecityarts.com for more information.

4. Saint Louis Art Fair

Clayton, Mo.
Downtown Clayton welcomes visitors every year to the Saint Louis Art Fair. Visual and performing arts, delicious food and activities for kids make the event a must-see. “It manages to share an amazing variety of high-quality artwork and activities and performances for everyone,” writes Emily Fisher of St. Louis. For more details on this fall festival, scheduled on Sept. 7-9 this year, check out www.culturalfestivals.com.

5. St. James Court Art Show

Louisville, Ky.
Every October, the historic neighborhood of Old Louisville provides the setting for the St. James Court Art Show. The locale, along with the size of the event and the great selection of art, garnered readers’ votes. “It’s huge! You have such a variety of art to choose from, and the scenery of Old Louisville is always a plus,” says Louisville resident Constance King. The 56th annual juried event runs Oct. 5-7 this year. For more information, click on www.stjamescourtartshow.com.

6. Paradise City Arts Fesitval

Marlborough, Mass.
The Northampton festival’s sister show and namesake made our Top 10 this year. Quality crafts, from blown glass to hand-forged jewelry, as well as fine art paintings and sculpture, make it a winner with AmericanStyle readers. Anna Poulos of Winthrop, Mass., writes, “I enjoy the uniqueness and variety of crafted creations on display.” The next show takes place March 16-18. Go to www.paradisecityarts.com for more information.

7. La Quinta Arts Festival

La Quinta, Calif.
Celebrating its 30th year, the La Quinta Arts Festival brings art and crafts to the Coachella Valley. As reader Sue Brogan of La Quinta puts it, it’s “just a happy place!” The festival is held outdoors, against a stunning backdrop of the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains. The 2012 festival runs March 8-11. For more information, visit www.lqaf.com.

8. Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original

Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair has been delighting patrons with contemporary fine art and crafts since its founding in 1959. “Ann Arbor is history and tradition,” writes Karen Gunther of Plano, Texas. She also says she likes the “atmosphere” and the “variety of artists.” Held on the central campus of the University of Michigan, this year’s festival takes place July 18-21. Go to www.artfair.org to learn more.

9. Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival

Midway, Ky.
OK, technically it’s at a vineyard, not a farm. But readers are raving over this festival, held right in the heart of Kentucky’s horse country. “Beautiful venue. Well run. Wonderful artists!” writes Anita Hopper of Indianapolis, Ind. This year, the festival will feature only artists who have received formal invitations to exhibit, marking a departure from previous events. The festival runs June 23-24. For details, visit www.franciscosfarm.org

10. Kentuck Festival of the Arts

Northport, Ala.
With more than 250 artists, the Kentuck Festival showcases exciting art and crafts, as well as demonstrations of traditional skills such as blacksmithing and quilting. “It is just wonderful. Our whole family looks forward to going to see what’s new and the old faithfuls,” says Jan Phillips of Coker, Ala. This year, the Kentuck Festival takes place Oct. 20-21. For more information, check out www.kentuck.org.

Follow this link to see a month-by-month listing of fairs and festivals around the country.

Arts Reader

March 2012 | BY | Issue 79, Spring 2012 | NO COMMENTS

AS79 Arts Reader

From the essays in Beauty Beyond Nature: The Glass Art of Paul Stankard (The Robert M. Minkoff Foundation, $80), readers learn that Paul Stankard began his career as an industrial glassblower, that he had to teach himself many of the techniques he uses, and that his small botanical glass pieces have enormous appeal to a wide range of people. But it is the glass works themselves that are the most fascinating, and this book is an attempt to examine them in detail. The volume itself is a beautiful object: thoughtfully written, gorgeously photographed (mostly by Ron Farina, whose photo essay on Stankard’s studio is almost worth the price) and carefully assembled.

It’s hard to characterize Stealing Magnolias: Tales From a New Orleans Courtyard by Debra Shriver as anything but beautiful. The book (Glitterati Inc., $60) is a collection of images, recipes, quotations, memories and meditations on the history, people, food, architecture, art, music and way of life in New Orleans. The author and her husband found their New Orleans dream house three weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck. Already in love, they couldn’t give up the house, or the city. This book, part scrapbook, part memoir, explains why the city and its places and rituals maintain such a hold on them.

The best museum catalogs make you want desperately to see the exhibition on which they’re based, and Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections (D Giles Ltd., $44.95) is no exception. Though highly colorful, the images in this volume can’t quite do justice to the rich mix of collage, watercolor and photography that Bearden used to give texture and movement to his work. As a result, the words become important: the essays put the images into context and point out the contrasts and connections among the pieces. Bearden has become increasingly popular—the U.S. Postal Service is about to put four of his works on postage stamps—and this bright and accessible book shows why.

All the jewelry and vessels in Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry by Nancy N. Schiffer (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., $50), clearly belong at in the top ranks of their art. In addition to rings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, the objects include bolo slides, belt buckles, teapots and canteens. Many of the pieces are strongly influenced by the natural world, and images of plants and animals abound. Every piece tells a story, and often it tells something about the life of the artist. You may not want to wear every piece, but you will pore over every page.

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