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Staff Picks: “Robert C. Jackson: Paintings” and Thinking Putty

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Robert C. Jackson: Paintings

Photo by Jared CastaldiBy Philip Eliasoph (Schiffer, 239 pages)

In the celebrated Brandywine Valley art scene, Kennett Square’s Bob Jackson is the epitome of the talented dark horse toiling in the shadows—and this dark horse has a wicked sense of the absurd, turning out colorful, whimsical, meticulously rendered still lifes that both draw upon and subvert the American realist tradition. Given his penchant for incorporating a disparate array of found objects—from apples, oranges and alarm clocks to balloons, pencils and vintage soda crates—it’s impossible not to find something to embrace in this first-ever published treatise of his work. My current favorite depicts a frog sitting on a desk, facing an illuminated flashlight. Its title: “Fifteen Minutes of Fame.” Read Catherine Quillman’s profile of Jackson here. —Hobart Rowland
 

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Thinking Putty

More than a decade ago, Aaron Muderick invested in 100 pounds of bouncing putty, prompting the nickname “Crazy Aaron.” Apparently, he was onto something. Thinking Putty is now available worldwide in 30 vibrant colors, with magnetic and glow-in-the-dark versions. Even better, Muderick’s enterprise provides jobs to more than 200 special-needs individuals, who manufacture, assemble and ship everything from his vocational facility in Narberth. $10-$15. Visit puttyworld.com. —Tara Behan
 

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Kilimanjaro: One Woman’s Journey to the Roof of Africa and Beyond

By Deb Denis (Marion Grace Publishing, 240 pages)

Determined to be a “lighter presence in the world,” Newtown Square’s Deb Denis made the ascent of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in the summer of 2011. Faced with her mother’s brain cancer diagnosis, and despite athletic shortcomings, Denis forged ahead with her journey to East Africa, overcoming fear and pushing her physical limits. Kilimanjaro chronicles all the things that made the climb possible, from meditation and diet to intense reflection and, ultimately, hope. Visit  hersolosummit.com. —Emily Riley

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