Wise & Otherwise: A Fells Point Character Study (self-published)
For this slim volume of black and white photos, Magus points his camera at the cast of characters inhabiting Fells Point. Although it's been under siege by real estate developers over the past two decades, it remains home to some of the city's most colorful personalities. A brief intro claims the waterfront neighborhood "is too funky and cantankerous to give in" to gentrification, and the book bolsters that claim. The portraits, all of them well done, include a former mayor and governor (who's well known for being cantankerous), street performers, shop owners, a tugboat crew, writers, artisans, and families. It's a welcome reminder that the area is home to more than just pub-crawlers and weekend partiers. And next time around, Magus may want to journey to Upper Fells Point to document the influx of immigrants just a few blocks from the waterfront.
Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot (Thrill Jockey)
Best known as the vocalist for acclaimed Baltimore band Lungfish, Higgs is also an accomplished poet and visual artist—in fact, some of his vibrantly surreal paintings can be seen in the current show at the American Visionary Art Museum. Originating in Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a tree connecting various physical and spiritual worlds. Similarly, this gorgeous book/CD set links Higgs's multi-disciplinary talents to a single, rooted project. The music—comprised mostly of droning Jew's harp, fuzzy guitar, and plucked banjo—creates a meditative mood for viewing Higgs's abstract, Miro-like paintings and reading the deceptively simple, acrostic poems (the first letter of each line spells a word vertically) accompanying them. Anyone familiar with Higgs's previous work will recognize an ever-evolving cosmology exploring the boundaries of reality and the nature of belief. Not simply a renaissance man, he taps into something more primordial, basic, and, ultimately, visionary.