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Numero Group's Celestial Navigations: The Short Films Of Al Jarnow

By Kevin Robinson in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 17, 2010 3:30PM

If you're familiar with the work of the Numero Group, you know that they're very good a documenting the interesting and obscure artistic works that make up the backdrop of the cultural touchstones that mark Americana. Their latest creation, Celestial Navigations: The Short Films Of Al Jarnow. is no different. If you grew up in the 70's and 80's, you know the work of Jarnow, or at least his aesthetic. That's because Jarnow, among myriad other animators, mostly unknown, produced animated shorts as part of the Children's Television Workshop's innovative programming.

South-siders Numero Group have produced a DVD documentary of Jarnow's work, along with a collection of his animated films, some reeking of CTW production, others steeped in the vibe of 19070's East and West Coast art house production. Given Jarnow's fascination with math, science and time, it's not hard to see how his work fit in with CTW's broader educational mission. Numero Group has done an excellent job explaining how Jarnow and his work came to be, and where it fit in with CTW, without making his work seem so narrow that Sesame Street and Electric Company were the only ends to his work.

Like all Numero projects, Celestial Navigations explores Jarnow's work in context, but also in its totality. In his own words, Jarnow tells viewers how his work and passion came to be, while touching on how his work as a whole fit into both the CTW's mission at the time, but also into the larger art scene in the United States in the 1970's.

Celestial Navigations: The Short Films Of Al Jarnow will screen this Friday and Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center at 8 p.m. The DVD is available on Netflix and also at the Numero Group website. Tickets for the Gene Siskel screen are available online.