Burbank artist brings puns to life

Over the years, Joan Landis’ illustrations have ranged from depictions of Jewish holidays to the addition of a car and trailer to famous paintings.

The 89-year-old Burbank resident is now testing her artistic talents at something different. Starting on Thursday, residents can visit the Burbank Central Library, 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd., to see Landis’ exhibit called “Visual Puns.”

A glass case in the library’s front lobby will display 48 art pieces of puns that Landis has created. For example, there is a toy top atop a hat, a pun for the work entitled “TopHat.” Then there’s a cube of butter with wings in a piece called “ButterFly.”

“I just kept thinking of funny things and started making them,” Landis said. “I made a ‘FlowerBed,’ an ‘EggPlant’ and an ‘AppleWatch.’ I like funny things, but they say that the pun is the lowest form of humor.”

Though illustrations and paintings are Landis’ main media, the puns she makes are created by hand and are physical objects. She said that sometimes they’re made from items around the house and other times she’s making objects from scratch from items she buys at Michaels Art Supplies.

In her pun for a “FlowerBed,” Landis used a bed that was meant for a dollhouse and decorated the piece by using fabric and faux foliage from the art supply store. And for her “wheelchair” pun, she made a roughly 6-inch-tall chair out of dowels and used yarn to intricately weave a seat for the prop. Then she put a small wheel on the chair.

“Hardly any of them are bigger than 12 inches,” she said.

Landis, who attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, has had her illustrations featured in several magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s Digest, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan. She was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service to design a stamp that came out during Christmas 1988 in honor of composer Irving Berlin’s 100th birthday.

She said her artwork used to be shown and sold in art galleries in New York City and Santa Barbara, but she hasn't found a local gallery to display her work during the 10 years she’s been living in Burbank.

After approaching several locations and being turned down, the staff at the Burbank Central Library allowed Landis to showcase her unique artwork.

“There’s not going to be an opening or anything,” Landis said. “I’m just going to go there, put them in the case and see what happens. That’s about it.”


Twitter: @acocarpio

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