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Library's 'Orange Pulp' exhibition features pulp magazines, paintings

January 24, 2011

Pamela Whiteley McLaughlin
(315) 443-9788

Syracuse University Library’s Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) will feature the exhibition “Orange Pulp: The Pulp Magazine and Contemporary Culture.” The purpose of the exhibition is, first, to showcase the University’s world-class collection of pulp magazines and pulp paintings—starting with the acquisition of the Street and Smith archive in 1967, and continuing through the acquisitions of the A. A. Wyn (Ace Books), Hugo Gernsback and Forrest J. Ackerman collections—and second, to examine pulp culture by re-creating the worlds of the publishers, writers, artists and readers who promulgated it. An opening reception will be held at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26, on the sixth floor of E.S. Bird Library.

pulpThe exhibition, which spans two locations, will be available from Jan. 25-June 17. On display in the sixth-floor SCRC gallery will be pulp magazines, notably titles like Weird Tales and Amazing Stories; the typescript of Isaac Asimov’s “Strange Playfellow,” which introduced readers to one of science fiction’s best known characters, Robbie the Robot; and correspondence with figures like Ray Bradbury. The SCRC gallery is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and on Tuesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

SUArt Galleries in the Shaffer Art Building will present a profile of pulp artist Norman Saunders (1907–1989), including 10 lush and dramatic Saunders paintings from the University collection. SUArt Galleries is open Tuesday-Sunday, from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Thursday, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Named for the cheap and abundant wood pulp that publishers began using after 1850 to print reading materials for a mass audience, pulp magazines sported eye-catching covers and included detective, adventure, western, horror, romance and science fiction stories. According to co-curator Sean Quimby, director of SCRC, “This was literature tailored to specific tastes, intended to entertain in predictable ways.” He notes: “Even while the form of the pulp magazine died by 1960, the concept of pulp lives on in glossy, photo-dense magazines, paperback novels, comic books and film.” Quimby maintains that pulp magazines, with their intensely involved readership, “helped make possible contemporary interactive media culture.”

Gary Shaheen, a senior vice president at the University’s Burton Blatt Institute and a lifelong collector of pulp magazines, co-curated the exhibit. Kingma, Inc., which is owned and operated by Bruce and Susan Kingma, sponsored the exhibit and its accompanying guidebook.

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