Marie was assigned to work in Trenton, New Jersey for one year, so we planned to make the most of it and do all we could while we were in the area. This post is about our adventures in and around New Jersey from the beginning of September 2005 to the end of August 2006.
While we were there we got involved. Marie went to life drawing, took a creativity workshop, and had an Art show in New Hope. I played in three community bands, answered phones for the PBS station fund drive, and we both helped out with Winterfest in Lambertville.
We can’t avoid history when speaking of New Jersey, and especially Trenton. The military victory on December 26, by George Washington and his army was crucial in the war for independence. After crossing the icy Delaware River to Trenton, they defeated the Hessian troops garrisoned there. Trenton was briefly the nation’s capital in 1784 and considered for the permanent capital. It became the state capital in 1790.
|Battle of Trenton by Hugh Charles McBarron, Jr.|
A famous relic of Trenton's more immediate past as major manufacturing center was the slogan "Trenton Makes, the World Takes" displayed on the Delaware River Bridge. The city adopted the slogan in the 1920s to represent Trenton's leading role at the time as a major manufacturing center for steel, rubber, wire, rope, linoleum and ceramics.
And very few know that in 1896 the first professional basketball game was played in Trenton. Alright, I’ll stop. While Trenton has many diverse distractions, there was not a lot of Art to be seen in the city. Ellarslie Mansion, built in 1848 as centerpiece for Cadwalader Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted), had occasional exhibitions of local Art, but was primarily a city history museum. So we’ll look at Art on a regional basis.
|Sunday Concert in Cadwalader Park, 1931 by Graham Holmes|
The Grounds For Sculpture was just outside Trenton on the site of the old New Jersey State Fair in Hamilton. The display actually began outside the Grounds on the side of the I-95 exit for Hamilton, and other works led the way through an industrial area to the park.
|October Gathering, 2001 by Joan Danziger|
There were a few of the original fair buildings, but the main exhibition hall was new and the other major facility was the workshop of J. Seward Johnson. Johnson was famous for his outsized sculptures of the subjects for famous paintings. The Art was terrific and the sculptures were displayed in a variety of settings, making the journey through the park even more enjoyable.
|Dejeuner de ja vu, 1994 by Johnson|
Opened to the public in 1992, the park had a collection of over 240 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Some of the works in the collection were commissioned specifically for the sculpture park, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Space of Stone and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin’s Garden State. Click here for more pics.
Food was a major aspect of our Trenton adventures. From the calamari at Amici Milano’s, in Trenton’s Chambersburg area, to the paella at Malaga Restaurant, at the edge of Chambersburg, to the stuffed cabbage at the Ukrainian church. Trenton’s real contribution to our culinary journey was the Tomato Pie.
|floorshow at Malaga|
Unlike an ordinary pizza, the Tomato Pie featured the tomato sauce being spread over the toppings. DeLorenzo’s on Hudson Street was one of the local favorites, and we like Top Road on Brunswick Avenue, as well.
We went to galleries and openings in the area. Rider College, The College of New Jersey, and the Pennington School had shows in LAWRENCEVILLE. HOPEWELL had a variety of locations for Art, such as the Morpeth Studio, Gallery 14, the old train depot, and others. In BORDENTOWN we went to a reception for Russian (now living in Princeton) artist Gennady Spirin at Artful Deposit. PRINCETON, however, was the major local Art resource. And while there were several commercial galleries and Art centers, the Princeton University Art Museum was the place.
A truly wonderful museum founded in 1882, with everything from the Art of the Ancients to Modern and Contemporary. There were over 72,000 works of Art. The collections included paintings from Fra Angelica to Willen de Koonig. Click here to see more pictures.
|Black Friday by Willen de Koonig|
|Gypsy with Cigarette by Paul Gaugin|
|At the Window, 1872 by Winslow Homer|
There were also more than twenty sculptures around campus that made up the Putnam Collection. Sculptures like Henry Moore's Oval with Points and Louise Nevelson's Atmosphere and Environment X. At least one of those artworks has an interesting story. Alexander Calder's Five Disks: One Empty, 1969-70, was intentionally painted in Princeton's colors of orange and black. Calder, however, was very displeased and had the orange blackened as that was not one of his colors. Click here for a full list.
For me the premiere attraction in this area, was the Delaware & Raritan Bike Trail. In its heyday (1834-1933) the main canal connecting the Delaware and Raritan rivers from Trenton to New Brunswick was used for transporting mainly coal from Pennsylvania to the industrial cities in northern New Jersey and New York City. Now there are sixty miles of bike trails.
While the trail went all the way through Trenton, a good place to begin a ride north was at Upper Ferry Road. The trail and canal followed the Delaware pretty closely providing lovely views. It was a beautiful ride, especially in the autumn. In addition to views, this trail offered a variety of sites and attractions along the way.
WASHINGTON’S CROSSING was where Washington crossed the Delaware. There were parks on both sides of the river. We attended the reenactment which had not been held for a number of years due to freezing and snowy conditions. However, while it was cold and rainy, the reenactors made the trip across the river without mishap.
|Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware|
Up through Titusville, past the Golden Nugget antique flea market and on to Lambertville. That was about an eleven-mile ride.
LAMBERTVILLE was a real Art town. Of course, it was across the river from New Hope, PA, a famous and historic Art town, having hosted Art Tourists since the 1800s. In addition to more than twenty-five Art galleries and the beauty of the Delaware River, Lambertville was full of charm and offered many restaurants and shops. Lambertville and New Hope held Art openings on the Second Saturday of each month. More about New Hope later.
Continuing again on the bicycle trip north, the next town was STOCKTON, about three and a half-miles. The Covered Bridge Artisans held studio tours around Stockton, Sargeantsville and Lambertville. Another cute town, the highlight here is just north of town at Prallsville, the site of a mill since around 1720. There was an Art gallery in the old linseed mill.
Twelve miles upriver is FRENCHTOWN. Another really nice town of about 1,500 residents. Several galleries, shops, and nice old buildings. The bike trail continued for a while north of town, but then it ended.
We took lots of trips around the area to find what Art we could. From idyllic country settings to inner city, there was lots to see. Let’s start with the Hunterdon Museum of Art in CLINTON, just north of I-78. A nineteenth century stone mill (that has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1952) was converted into a lovely space for enjoying Art. Changing exhibitions of contemporary Art were offered. The nearby main street was also very nice. I found it remarkable that this town of 2,600 supported two bead stores.
|Hunterdon Museum of Art|
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum was part of Rutgers University in NEW BRUNSWICK. Collections there comprised a number of areas of focus with over 60,000 works of art. Strengths include Russian and Soviet art, 19th-century French Art and American Art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
|Komar & Melamid, The Origin of Socalist Realism, 1982-83|
Heading north to NEWARK, we found the Newark Art Museum surrounded by heavy construction. Looked like they were putting in trolley tracks from the train station toward the downtown. We didn’t explore too much. The museum had impressive collections including many from the Hudson River School. There were also paintings by Childe Hassam, Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer and several by George Inness. Works by other, less known artists were well done. A Calder mobile hung in the atrium.
|Frederick Childe Hassam, The South Gorge, Appledore, Isles of Shoals|
|Mrs. Charles Thursby by John Singer Sargent|
There was a recreation of Alfred Steiglitz’s 291 Gallery – the first dedicated to contemporary art. Exhibit featured Max Weber, Marsden Hartley, Robert Motherwell, Arthur Dove and, of course, Georgia O’Keefe. A video showing a few minutes of film recorded in 1903 by Edison’s company: going over the Brooklyn Bridge with the camera mounted on the front of a train; Coney Island, including Steeplechase and Flume; laborers riveting girders on New York skyscraper. There were also works by Louise Nevelson and Edward Hopper.
Another floor had Chinese & Korean wedding finery; Japanese prints; Tibetan displays. All nicely done. There was an extraordinary collection of ancient glass objects from Israel, Egypt, Rome, & Greece that came mostly from one man that was added to.
We continued north to MONTCLAIR, a very attractive town, and the Montclair Art Museum. An interesting neoclassical building with two nice sculptures in front.
After filling out a questionnaire in exchange for ½ price admission, we went out of the modernish (ugly) entry into a more classical museum setting. There was a very nice display of Native American artifacts before the exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein’s works relating to the Native Americans. There were also several examples of artists whose styles Lichtenstein imitated.
|Roy Lichtenstein, Death of Jane McCrea, 1951|
There was a special room for a dozen or so large paintings by George Inness, who happened to be from Montclair. American artists exclusively, there were paintings by many of the Hudson River School. Also, Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper, and Robert Motherwell. There was a wall sculpture by Louise Nevelson entitled Black Zag A which used found wood (spools, stamp pad handles, clothes pins, moldings).
The sculpture collection included Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, Thomas Ball, Elie Nadelman, Chaim Gross, Theodore Roszak, George Segal, Louise Nevelson, and Mel Edwards. The museum had more than 18,000 pieces of Art.
In an incredible display of overindulgence, the large atrium was being lavishly decorated for the birthday of a 16 year old.
Unlike the television show, the Jersey Shore offers plenty of fine Art. Let’s begin in the extreme south with CAPE MAY. Famous for its many Victorian structures, the entire town is a National Historic Landmark. A perfect place for artists, and there are over 150 members of the Art League alone, not to mention several other Art organizations, centers, and co-ops. There are plenty of galleries to visit, if you get tired of the beach.
I did want to mention one artist in particular. He was a sculptor named Gerald Lynch, a native of Cape May. Before studying sculpture at the Philadelphia College of Art, Lynch got a degree in philosophy. He referred to marble as “earth bone” and felt that to carve it was an honor.
In addition to many exhibitions in New Jersey and around the country, Lynch received numerous commissions, including the Holocaust Memorial in Brigantine, New Jersey. Following a stroke in the 1980’s he executed a series of more than one hundred sculptures dedicated to the Earth Goddess. He died in 2000 at age 56. In 2006, vandals broke into Lynch’s studio and damaged many of his works. A campaign is underway to fund the repairs.
In June, I was hired to play in a band accompanying the Hamilton Elks club in the annual Elks Parade in WILDWOOD. That's the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks. Before the parade we visited the historical museum and walked the boardwalk. We heard that the Elks Parade was never canceled due to precipitation and this was no exception, as it rained steadily. This was problematic for me as I couldn’t read the music through my rainy glasses (I had never seen the music before, either). Fortunately, it wasn’t raining hard enough to fill my tuba.
Marie used to go to OCEAN CITY with her family as a kid. It was a very family-oriented town, with a fabulous boardwalk. This was the home of Mac & Manco Pizza which had three locations on the boardwalk. The spinach white pizza was the thinnest ever, with the melted cheese holding the crust together. Delicious. The staff (all men at our place) were fast, efficient, helpful, accommodating, and young.
There was a plethora of miniature golf courses and taffy-fudge-popcorn-etc. stores, but not Art. Looked inside the concert hall out on the pier where Marie went to her first classical music concert.
ATLANTIC CITY was next. I have to admit, we didn’t see any Art, but had a good time walking the boardwalk and the casinos watching people.
It’s a long way up the coast to our next stop, so let me say something about the Pine Barrens. This was part of the 1.1 million acre Pinelands National Reserve, which occupies 22% of New Jersey. Besides acres of pine trees, 53 million pounds of cranberries and 54 million pounds of blueberries are also produced there every year.
This was actually a perfect segue to POINT PLEASANT BEACH, home of the Hey Rube, Get a Tube Race and Parade, which happened in mid-September. A parade of zany tubers and outrageous floats, then an ocean tube race, has been run by the Point Pleasant Beach Lions Club for many years. We went to the 35th annual, and it was great fun. Since I had recently published a book about tubing around the world (The Guide to Inner Tubing) they let me march/stroll in the parade and they accepted books for the winning tube racers.
The race itself started at the top of the beach, where racers ran the hundred feet or so into the Atlantic. They proceeded out for about 50 yards then turned right at a buoy, then up the shore for perhaps 200 yards before returning to the beach, where they had to run to the boardwalk for the finish. We didn’t enter. It was more fun to watch.
Commemorative mugs were filled and re-filled with locally brewed birch beer. Click here for more pics.
Also in Point Pleasant Beach, are our friends Tom Hachtman and Joey Epstein who have lived there for at least twenty-five years in a former tourist house, just a couple of blocks from the beach. Tom had had a successful career drawing cartoons for a variety of publications from The Village Voice to National Lampoon. Joey (short for Joellen) is a successful muralist with Three Designing Women.
While we had many more adventures in New Jersey, they weren’t very Art oriented, so now we’ll look at a few trips we took to the neighboring states.
The first time we had a chance to go to The City wasn’t until December when I played in the TubaChristmas Concert in Rockefeller Plaza. We took what became our favorite route: drove to Staten Island, paid $5 in coins for a day’s parking (free on Sundays), and took the free Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan. The #1 train was waiting to take us to 50th & B’way and we walked back down 5th Ave to Rockefeller Plaza.
Chris Wilhjelm conducted that day, but TubaChristmas founder and old friend of mine, Harvey Phillips made the announcements from his wheelchair. We played all the traditional carols. They just sounded different.
|That's me in the middle.|
We made three trips to NYC in March. Once for a taping of The Colbert Report. Then again for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and once more to see the Biennial at the Whitney Museum. While in town, we managed to find a few places to see Art.
What can I say about Stephen Colbert? This was the first season, some were still not sure what he was doing, but the string of Emmys he has won since showed he knew. Although the wait in line was a long one, we had a lot of fun.
The Whitney Biennial, on the other hand, was. We have always enjoyed going to exhibitions of contemporary Art, although we know that there will be some we like and usually more that we don’t. There was nothing on the first few floors that were even remotely appealing. It was a pleasure to find the top floor, where they displayed the “older” Art by familiar artists.
|Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963.|
|Joseph Stella, The Brooklyn Bridge- Variation on an Old Theme, 1939|
|Georgia O’Keeffe, Summer Days, 1936|
|Thomas Hart Benton, Poker Night from 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 1948|
We had both been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art numerous times, over the years, but we stopped in a couple of times anyway. And you know, it’s much too big to describe here. The same can be said for the fabulous Guggenheim Museum (which I love), just down Fifth Avenue. There were, however, plenty of other Art venues for us to explore.
|In the Met|
The new, expanded Museum of Modern Art had reopened just the year before, and my 101-year old New Yorker aunt was flabbergasted by the $20 admission. They did, afterall, double the size of the museum. And it was filled with wonderful stuff which we enjoyed thoroughly. Sixth floor had a Dada exhibit. Fifth and Fourth were galleries with lots of Cézanne, Picasso (large, small, sculpted, etc) and Van Gogh (Joseph Rodin, Olive Trees, and Starry Night). Plus Seurat, Derain, Klimt, a whole room of Matisse, Monet (a room-long painting of just the water lilies, 1920), a room of Mondrian, several Magritte, Rousseau, Degas (At the Millinery), Miro, Chagal, Kandinsky, Gaughin’s Puppies (1887), The Moon and the Earth and Marie’s favorite, The Seed of the Areoi.
There was Picasso’s Studio with Plaster Head, several Dali including The Persistence of Memory; Juan Gris, Jasper Johns, lots of Jackson Pollack, Calder, Rauchenberg (not all pop), de Koonig, Oldenburg, Warhol, even Wyeth’s Christina’s World rather ignominiously hung in a small space on the way out of the exhibits.
Second and Third floors had architecture and drawings, including lots of household items and furniture as Art.
The Abbey Rockefeller Sculpture Garden (on the ground level), while small, had thirty-one works including Picasso’s She-Goat (1950), Giacometti’s Tall Figure III (1960), Hector Guimard’s Entrance Gate to Paris Subway (Métropolitain) Station (1900), Rodin’s St. John the Baptist Preaching and Gaston Lachaise’s Standing Woman (1932) and works by Alexander Calder, Aristide Maillol, and Henry Moore were also on display. Maillol’s seminal sculpture The River (1938–43) shows a female figure dangling precariously over the edge of one of the pools. Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac (1898) was installed in the lobby. Many more notable sculptors were represented.
Across the street was the American Folk Art Museum. There were several floors of folk art and lots of commercial stuff I didn’t consider folk art. A special exhibit of Concrete Kingdom Sculptures by Nek Chand was featured. Many years ago Chand created his Rock Garden, in Chandigarth, India (north of Delhi). (Click here for pics.) Allegedly the second biggest tourist attraction after the Taj Mahal. Some concrete figures had been encrusted with volcanic stone. Many were clothed in broken glass bangle bracelets.
One day we began at The Frick Collection, the former home of Henry Clay Frick, who made his money in coke and steel. There was a special exhibit of Art by the peripatetic pastelist, painter, and miniaturist, Jean-Étienne Liotard. One of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic artists of the eighteenth century. Among the upper-class he painted the thirteen daughters of Maria Theresa – all their names began with Marie or Maria.
Liotard even named his daughters after the Empress and her daughters. I want to know if he wore a one-piece. There was another small show of Veronese- allegories.
The permanent collection featured three Rembrandts, an unusually large Vermeer, two Whistler portraits, El Greco, Goya, Velasquez, van Dyke, Titian, J.M.W. Turner, Gainsborough portraits, and Hans Memling.
|Vermeer's Girl Interrupted at her Music|
|Mall at St. James Park by Gainsborough|
Also a very nice interior courtyard and round music room.
Next was the Neue Galerie, a museum for German and Austrian Art. There was a line of people waiting on the sidewalk for an exhibit featuring five large paintings by Gustav Klimt, which opened the day before. One of the first paintings we saw was by Egon Schiele called Town among Greenery (The Old City III).
|Town among Greenery (The Old City III)|
Others were by Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and several Klimts in addition to the special exhibition.
There were photographs of many of the artists.
|Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 by Klilmt|
We took the subway to 59th Street to take the tramway over to Roosevelt Island. It wasn’t running, so we decided to walk over the Queensboro Bridge in search of Art. Less than a mile long, we’re told, but it seemed longer.
On the other side we found the Isamu Noguchi Museum and Garden in an unlikely spot (Vernon Ave, Long Island City), but he has created another world there, populated with his sculptures. Mostly stone with occasional grinding, some stone completely finished, like his “tubes” and “voids.” Noguchi also worked in metal, mostly aluminum.
Second floor had projects coming from Bucky Fuller and his friendship with Noguchi. Both claimed to be in tune with nature. There was a small sculpture garden, as well.
We continued down Vernon to where it ends at Broadway to find Socrates Garden. An abandoned riverside landfill and illegal dumpsite until 1986, a coalition of artists and community members, under the leadership of artists Mark di Suvero and Enrico Martignoni, transformed it into an open studio and exhibition space for artists.
|di Suvero's workshop|
Interstate: The American Road Trip was a collaboration between High Desert Test Sites in the Southern California desert, and Socrates Garden. It was an exhibition about cross-country travel, the process of finding a destination, and negotiating the terrain along the way. There were some interesting installations in addition.
|No Rules Union by Chris Hanson and Hendricka Sonnenberg during Interstate the American Road Trip|
We walked up Broadway to the 31st Street station where we caught a train to Wall Street and the Louise Nevelson Plaza at William and Liberty Streets. There were three or four groups of tall black sculptures. Metal, not her signature wood stuff. Some over forty feet high. All black. Shadows and Flags was installed by the sculptor in 1978, ten years before she passed away.
We also came upon Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica which was a favorite for picture taking.
On our way back to the ferry we came upon the Chase Manhattan Plaza where I notice a Noguchi installation. A sixteen-foot deep circular sunken well was cut for his Sunken Garden (1964), a water sculpture garden with basalt rocks imported from Japan. There was also the sculpture work called Group of Four Trees (1972) by Jean DuBuffet.
Here's a few more artworks we found along the way:
|Trinity Root, 2005 by Steve Tobin|
On the recommendation of the Lawrenceville Community Band director, we made a trip to BROOKLYN on July 9th. He said The Dance of the Giglio was unlike anything we had ever seen. And he was right.
|Joie de Vive by Marc di Suvero|
As usual, one of my favorite places for Art is in the NYC subways. I don't have a number, but for over twenty years, the MTA has been commissioning and installing Art; mosaic, terra cotta, bronze, and more. My favorite is Oculus by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel. Mostly completed in 1998, there are 300 different mosaic eyes - all based on actual human eyes taken from photographs of suubway riders. The centerpiece was not completed when I first saw it.
Oculus was installed in the Chambers Street/World Trade Center station, and became the end of the line following the attack on 9/11. Again, when I visited, the centerpiece was inaccesible. But from this photo you can see that woven into the mosaic is a map of the World with NYC at the center. How typical.
|Roy Lichtenstein in the 42nd Street/Times Square Station|
We walked down Marcie Avenue into the Italian Williamsburg, until we got to North 8th and Havemeyer Streets, where we encountered crowds. What we saw was a “float” in the shape of a boat, filled with musicians. This was carried on the shoulders of a crew of neighbors who have been doing this for generations. The main gigli was on Havemeyer and was slowly carried toward 8th. We were able to get a spot in front of Our Lady of Carmel to see one hundred men carry a three ton, sixty-five foot tall structure down the street. It would be impossible to adequately describe the scene with words.
This was the feast day of San Paolino, which has been taking place in Brooklyn for over 100 years, since immigrants arrived from the small southern Italian city of Nola. Click here to see the video.
One day we drove upstate, just north of West Point, in search of the Storm King Arts Park in MOUNTVILLE, NY. Remarkable legacy of the late Ralph E. Ogden and H. Peter Stern, the 500-acre property bounded by a river and NY Thruway, has merged art and nature as I have never seen before. Often very large sculptures were placed amid swaths of tall native grasses, surrounded by other grasses; or installed in a water setting like the former racing hull which serves as the canvas for Roy Lichtenstein’s Mermaid. Long sweeping vistas punctuated with a variety of sculptures: Calder’s The Arch, Nevelson’s City on the High Mountain, Oldenberg’s Mitt & Ball. The Storm King Wall by Andy Goldsworthy was a favorite as the neatly constructed stone wall went from the top of one hill, down into the pond and continued out the other side of the water and then twisted up the next hill, snaking around trees on the way. Even groves of trees are planted to create a brushstroke. There were more than one hundred post-WW2 sculptures. Click here for more pics.
|City on the High Mountain, 1983 by Louise Nevelson|
|Free Ride Home, 1974 by Kenneth Snelson|
|Storm King Wall, 1997-98 by Andy Goldsworthy|
|Mermaid, 1994 by Roy Lichtenstein|
South to Westchester County and the Donald Kendall Sculpture Garden surrounding the Pepsico headquarters in PURCHASE. Work by a lot of big-name sculptors was spread around the grounds. Nicely done, but not as creative as Grounds or Stormking.
Kendall sought to create a special atmosphere for his employees with forty-five sculptures on 168 well-tended acres. Kendall himself selected the Art by the likes of Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, George Segal, Jean Dubuffet and Auguste Rodin. It is free, and open to the public to enjoy. Click here for more pics.
|Max Ernst's Capricorn|
|Barbara Hepworth's Meridian|
|Henry Moore's Sheep Piece|
Directly across the street at SUNY Purchase is the Neuberger Art Museum and Sculpture Garden. With over 6,000 works of Art, this was the eighth-largest university museum in the US, with works by Romare Bearden, Willen de Kooning, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, and many more.
|Edward Hopper's Barber Shop, 1931|
Large sculptures were placed throughout the campus. Artists included Alexander Archipenko, Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, and Isamu Noguchi.
|Andy Goldsworthy - East Coast Cairn|
|Henry Moore - Two Forms, 1969|
We drove west, toward the Hudson, and found the town of SLEEPY HOLLOW and Kykuit, the estate of Nelson Rockefeller. While the town was very pretty, the estate was closed for the season. Also closed was the Union Church.
Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith are just some of the artists who created the 120 sculptures at Kykuit. Actually, Rockefeller gave away many more.
|David Smith - Banquet|
The Union Church features a stained glass window by Henri Matisse and nine windows by Marc Chagall.
|Matisse Rose Window|
It was only a three-quarters of an hour drive to Philadelphia, so we visited fairly often. In September we went to the Museum of Art for the last day of French Sketches (nice show, included at least one of each major French artist plus lots of others). There was also jazz on Fridays and we got a sneak preview of new acquisition The Mermaid by Edvard Munch, along with a display of other Munch mermaids. The new acquisition is not on canvas but rather an old door. Being in Marie’s hometown, we’ve been to this museum many times in the past.
|Mermaid by Edvard Munch|
One of the largest Art museums in the United States, PMA is home to over 225,000 objects ranging from 3,000 BC to the present. The American collections are among the finest in the country. Gallery highlights include works from Botticelli to Ellsworth Kelly, Hieronymus Bosch to Dadist Marcel Duchamp, Fra Angelico to Man Ray, Lucas Cranach to Salvado Dali. You get the idea. It’s got everything, including the serene and very rare ceremonial teahouse, Sunkaraku, erected on the top floor in 1928, originally built in Japan in 1917.
|Marcel Duchamp - Chocolate Grinder No 1, 1913|
|Ellsworth Kelly - Two Blacks, White and Blue, 1955|
While we are usually more interested in paintings and sculpture, there were extensive collections of tapestries, armor, and Presidential china from Washington to Reagan. I was especially interested that Saint-Gaudens' Diana, which once graced the top of Madison Square Garden was in Philly and not NYC.
|Diana by Saint-Gaudens|
While there are countless galleries in Philly, we saw more than a few at First Friday in the old city can be found between Front and Third, and Market and Vine Streets. Gallery Night was held less often and involved about a dozen galleries west of City Hall.
Had a great visit to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (founded 1805). In celebration of their bicentennial, the show entitled In Private Hands consisted of works from private collections. The first part was in the old building and featured a lot of name artists: Georgia O’Keefe, Arthur Dove, Thomas Eakins, George Inness, John Sargent, Winslow Homer, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Eward Hopper, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, Cecilia Beaux, etc. Everything was on the second floor. In front was part of the permanent collection. The famous Gilbert Stuart George Washingtons, the Family Peale (Rembrant, Charles Wilson, Raphaelle, Titian, Rubens, Emma), Benjamin West, and John Copley.
|Albert Bierstadt , Wind River Wyoming, ca. 1870|
|Romare Bearden's Morning, 1975|
The second part of the show was in the building across the side street and displayed more contemporary artists such as Motherwell, Rauschberg, Lichtenstein. There was even a small Calder mobile hanging high above the staircase.
|Robert Motherwell - Samurai #2, 1974|
In addition, Philly has the University of the Arts (formerly PCA), Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Moore College of Art and Design. More Art can be found on the campuses of Swarthmore, Rosemont College, and the U of PA. Penn has a fabulous anthropology museum as well.
Then there’s the Public Art. I remember seeing Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Clothespin across the street from City Hall, the first time I visited Philly. Interestingly, Oldenburg did this as an elongated version of Brancusi’s Kiss. More Oldenburgs have been added. There was Giant Three-Way Plug, Scale A, on the Art Museum parking garage, and Split Button on the Penn campus. This is just a small sample of the public Art.
The truth is that I could never tell you about all the Art in Philly, but this website comes close. Click here. And this does not include all of the murals and other street Art.
With all these museums, my favorite piece of Art was found in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Company. Considered one of the major artistic collaborations of the 20th century, Dream Garden is a huge (15’ x 49’) glass mosaic designed by Maxfield Parrish and executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1916. Commissioned by Edward Bok, Editor of Curtis Publishing (home of The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal), it took six months to install, utilizing more than 100,000 pieces of glass in 260 colors.
Purchased by Steve Wynn in 1998, the people of Philadelphia raised the money to buy it back and keep it in its original location.
We cannot leave the Philadelphia Art scene without talking about mosaic artist, Isaiah Zagar. While most of his work has been done around South Street, including his magnificent Magic Garden, the entire city has benefited from his vision.
Not really a folk artist (he got a degree in Art from the Pratt Institute) he was greatly influenced by the work of a great many artists. Embedded in lots of this works were the words “Art is the Center of the Real World.” This link has lots of pictures.
New Year’s Day 2006 we were in town for the Mummers Parade. Planning ahead, we took the subway from Frankford (north of the city) to City Hall and walked down Broad to find a spot to watch the parade.
For the uninitiated a little background is necessary. Each year local clubs compete in one of four categories: Comics, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades. They spend all year creating elaborate costumes and scenery, and practicing new songs. They have been doing this for generations. The roots of the Mummers go back to the mid-17th century in Europe and were brought here by various immigrant groups. The earliest documented club was formed in 1840, but the first official parade was held on January 1, 1901. The parade’s theme song is James Bland’s Oh! Dem Golden Slippers and the signature strut, the cakewalk, also came from the South.
Marie’s family says that her great-grandfather led the Parade in the ‘20s while riding a white horse, though we have no evidence of this. But she’s been to a few parades, as had I. The focus seems to have become more and more for the television audience, and the people that come out often don’t get to see anyone perform, as they are saving it for the very crowded tv areas. No more sour grapes. Here’s some video.
Had 11:00 reservations at the Barnes Foundation, located in LOWER MERION. Reservations must be made months in advance. This was considered one of the foremost collections of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings in the world with: 181 Renoir, 69 Cézanne, 59 Matisse, 46 Picasso, 21 Soutine, 18 Rousseau, 16 Modigliani, 11 Degas, 7 van Gogh, 6 Seurat, 4 Manet and 4 Monet. There were also paintings by a few Americans and some Old Masters. I wish I could say this was a great collection, but we both found much of the Art “not their best”, with few exceptions. It is a very complicated story that I cannot possibly relate here as to how this collection came to be.
Also complicated were the stipulations in Albert Barnes’ will that would only allow the public to see the Art two days a week, that the Art could not be lent, nor toured, and many other conditions. After legal battles, in 2004 it was announced that the Barnes would be moved to a site close to the Art Museum, and should be opened in 2012.
The paintings, hung by Barnes (who made his fortune with an early anti-microbial drug called Argyrol), covered the walls, usually starting with a larger painting low in the middle, with other paintings radiating out, usually symmetrical, often a particular artist could be found in the same location in more than one room: William Glackens, who assisted Barnes with the collection, had numerous paintings and sketches. Same was true of Maurice and Charles Pendergast.
The main gallery featured large works, including Picasso’s The Peasants and Seurat’s The Bathers. One wall was topped with arched murals by Matisse done on site for Barnes.
About a half-hour north of Philadelphia, we found Woodmere Museum in CHESTNUT HILL. Charles Knox Smith, who made his money in sulfur and coke, founded this museum, opened in 1940. The collection, which was housed in Smith’s former mansion, focused on artists from the Delaware Valley and included works by Thomas Anshutz, Severo Antonelli, Jasper Cropsey, Edward Moran, Violet Oakley, Herbert Pullinger, Benjamin West and N.C. Wyeth.
|Edward Redfield - Late Afternoon (Delaware River)|
|Daniel Garber - Spring Valley Inn|
This piece by N.C. Wyeth was one of the best one they had.
|N.C. Wyeth - Anthony and Mr. Bonnyfeather, ca. 1934|
Just up the road a piece was Abington Arts Center in JENKINTOWN, the former estate of Sears president Lessing J. Rosenwald. The house had a couple of beautiful Art Deco rooms (one with lots of copper colors). The exhibition inside mirrored the one outdoors which involved nature, wood, and burnt wood.
Outside was an easy-to-follow pathway around the house, through the woods, and back. The show was up for one year; many of the works utilized materials found on the site: rearranged sticks, stones, etc. Others used more traditional media such as aluminum, plexiglass, etc.
Some of the artists included: Joy Episalla, Robert Lobe, Jeanne Jaffe, Thomas Matsuda, Brian McCutcheon, Steve Tobin, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Jay Walker, and A Reclamation Garden by Winifred Lutz.
Steven Segel created his largest sculpture in North America here with the help of volunteers. They stacked more than 20,000 pounds of newspaper to create Scale, which appeared to be made of stone, echoing the piled strata from the natural world.
One day we took a drive to Hawk Mountain, northwest of Allentown, for the annual hawk count. We didn’t see many, though the count was several hundred for the day. On the way back we stopped at the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, near DOYLESTOWN.
|view from Hawk Mountain|
Henry Chapman Mercer (1856 -1930) was a bit of eccentric. He earned degrees from Harvard and Penn then spent years traveling in Europe. In 1907 he built Fontville, his home in Bucks County, using poured cement to spectacular effect. Five years later, he again used concrete to build the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, and produced a line of tiles utilizing traditional design and techniques. Mercer was considered a major player in the American Arts & Crafts movement.
The following year he began building a third poured-in-place structure in the center of Doylestown. The six-story building housed his huge collection of tools and other useful things. Upon completion in 1916, he it turned over to the Bucks County Historical Society, which he helped found.
I’m afraid this is another case where I cannot adequately describe any of these buildings and what was inside. All were fascinating, unique, and wonderful.
NEW HOPE is also in Bucks County. While Marie was still working in Trenton, we spent the last six months living in New Hope. As I mentioned previously, this is a town that has been into Art for a long time. In 1828 a Native American figure ten feet in height was made of heavy sheet iron by Samuel Cooper and then painted by Joseph Moon. It remained a familiar landmark for many years and stood by the Logan Inn.
Around the turn of last century, artists began arriving in force. First to come in 1898, was William Langston Lathrop who was deemed “Father of the School.” Later that same year, Edward Redfield arrived, and then others, and before long the New Hope Art Colony was born.
|William Langston Lathrop - Plowing along the Canal, 1915|
|William Langston Lathrop, Untitled (Landscape With Figure), c. 1897|
Many organizations and groups formed within the colony, ultimately resulting in a split between the Impressionists and the Modernists. In 1929 the old Phillips Mill property was purchased for use as a venue, and is still showing Art to this day.
There’s something about that town that makes you want to paint. I even did a few paintings. No comments, please.
|Night Bridge Stroll|
Marie also painted. She got 1st Prize for her “snowman” painting of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton at WinterFest. (After the famous duel in Weehawken, NJ, Burr fled to New Hope.) And then she had a successful solo show at the Ed Adams Gallery.
There were about twenty-five galleries in New Hope, and weekends were busy times. The New Hope Art Center, which was very new, offered a variety of shows that were very enjoyable. But our favorite thing to do in New Hope, was to walk across the bridge to Lambertville, and look at the Delaware River in all its glory.
The Delaware is a great river for tubing too!