As some of you may or may not know, we have collaborated with the Jim Flora estate for years now, coordinating reprints of a few notable album covers, unreleased sketches and commercial illustrations. It’s been an inspiring challenge to work directly with Flora’s work and see how well we can recreate it. We haven’t printed much lately, but a while back, Irwin Chusid (our friend and main Flora contact) sent us our portion of the Mardi Gras edition back to us. Chusid is a diligent packer, all the prints always arrive safely, but in this box there was a packing sheet that stood out from the other crumpled up craft and newspapers. That sheet is below:
We emailed Chusid, thanking him for the shipment and inquiring about this miscellaneous sheet. It was obviously old, the tape itself was practically amber. Red and silver striped, maybe a Christmas present? We had no idea why Irwin was packing our Flora prints with 100 year old wrapping paper. And then Irwin told us the story of this wrapping paper.
In 1954 Jim Flora organized an exhibit of fine art woodcut prints (at this time he was working as a freelance artist in New York.) Amongst the prints was Flora’s hand-tinted ‘Manhattan’ print. Supposedly, because the exhibit was close to the holidays, Flora framed and wrapped a few prints for customers to have them ready to throw under the tree. Well, it turns out that Flora didn’t selll all the prints he had expected to and at least one print was kept in this slowly-crumbling wrapping paper for years in Flora’s storage locker. Yes, the paper above is the same wrapping paper that Chusid used to pad our shipping box. Now, we don’t have a copy of one of Flora’s desperately-sought-after ‘Manhattan’ prints, but there’s something just as precious and (even more) intimate about having the wrapping paper that Flora lovingly wrapped one in fifty-seven years ago.