Tag Archives: Pop Culture History

Roxy Rothafel: Legendary American Showman


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American Showman chronicles the life of Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel (1882–1936), the prolific movie palace showman and radio star who helped transform the moviegoing experience, radio broadcasting, and American popular culture to become an international celebrity.

Ross Melnick’s American Showman: Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry (2012, Columbia University Press) is the first book devoted to Rothafel’s multifaceted entertainment career. Among Roxy’s notable popular culture contributions include the first showings of Robert Flaherty’s documentary “Nanook of the North” and the German film that reinvigorated the a genre, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” – oh, and there was also those Rockettes, and that mention in Cole Porter’s “You’re On Top.”

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Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood


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What was it like to grow up as the son of a Kodak engineer during the company’s glory days? William Merrill Decker presents a vivid portrait of life in the Rochester suburbs where residents eagerly conformed to period expectations: two kids, two cars, a move from a snug middle-class neighborhood to a spacious upper-middle-class subdivision.

In Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood (2012, Syracuse University Press), Decker recollects the blithe and troubled scenes of America’s postwar prosperity and evokes a bygone era. Continue reading

Cambridge Home of Pie a la Mode in Foreclosure


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The invasion of British TV Chef Gordon Ramsey into Washington County during the winter of 2012 did not leave the horrors of the invasion of British General John Burgoyne during the summer of 1777. However, Ramsey’s new program for Fox TV, Hotel Hell, could not remake the historic Cambridge Hotel hotel and has left the home of Pie a la Mode on the auction block.

As first reported here at New York History in January, the Cambridge Hotel is best known for where apple pie with vanilla ice cream, was invented . Since the filming of the Fox TV show, the hotel, which owed nearly $470,000, has been foreclosed on by the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co. The Cambridge Hotel has had financial troubles for years under different owners. The Fox TV show is scheduled to air late this summer.

The American Victory at Saratoga over General Burgoyne in 1777 is known as the Turning Point of the American Revolution. This commentator is hopeful that Chef Ramsey’s TV show will mark a turning point for the Cambridge Hotel.

Sean Kelleher is the Historian for the Town of Saratoga. He served as the Director of the Washington County Fair Farm Museum, and worked with a number of Champlain, Hudson and Mohawk Valleys historic sites on grant writing, interpretive planning, and marketing.

Doris Kenyon’s North Country Connections


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A frequent visitor to Ausable Forks (and once a resident) Doris Kenyon starred in nearly fifty silent films, including 1924’s Monsieur Bocaire with living legend Rudolph Valentino, and 1925’s A Thief in Paradise with Ronald Colman. During her long career, she played opposite all the great stars of the day, among them Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, Ralph Bellamy, John Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Robert Young, and Adolph Menjou. Her fame was such that newborn Doris Kappelhoff (in 1922) was named after Kenyon. Kappelhoff would gain great fame under her stage name, Doris Day.

One of the leading men in several of Kenyon’s movies became the leading man in her personal life. Milton Sills was a major star of the era, and he and Doris had performed together many times. In May 1926, Doris announced she had purchased her brother’s camp, and a few weeks later came an update—she and Milt Sills would soon marry … on the shores of Silver Lake!
The ceremony took place amidst the October splendor of the leaf color change, creating a sensational backdrop at the camp Doris called “Moose Missie.” They honeymooned through the Adirondacks (two days in a suite of rooms in Agora at the Lake Placid Club), plus Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone Park. Meanwhile, workmen were completing a beautiful mansion on their sixty-acre estate in Hollywood, California.
The wedding had been announced in May 1926, but was delayed until October due to Doris being ill. (Seven months after the ceremony, she gave birth to a son, Kenyon Clarence Sills.) Following the wedding and lengthy honeymoon, Doris took some time off from acting, but returned soon to star in several movies with her husband. In effect, they were the industry’s “power-couple” of the day, starring in movies and receiving constant media coverage.
In 1929, they passed the summer at Silver Lake, where Milton was recovering from illness. Doris spent several weeks at the camp, but she also did about a month of vaudeville performances before the two of them returned to making movies. And, upon special request, she served in August as a judge for the baby parade and pageant in Lake Placid’s summer carnival.

In 1929, Doris gave a concert performance in New York City, confirming that she still had a great singing voice. At the same time, unlike many other silent-film stars, she smoothly transitioned into the world of “talkies,” remaining one of Hollywood’s top stars.

In September 1930, tragedy struck Doris’ life. Shortly after playing tennis with his family, Milton Sills, 48, suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack. Doris, just 33 at the time, was devastated by the loss, burying herself in work to help ease the pain.
She had been recognized in the past for other skills—writing, poetry, and as a pianist—but it was singing that Doris really missed. Plans had already been made for a return to regular concert performances, and after the death of Sills, Doris went on a world tour.
After many successful European shows, she returned to the United States with a renewed interest in her film career. Through the 1930s, Doris remained a major movie star, appearing in at least fourteen more films. She was also quite busy on the marital front. First came Syracuse real estate broker Arthur Hopkins in 1933, a union that lasted only a few months (annulled). Next, Doris was married to Albert Lasker in 1938 for a year (divorced). Finally, she married Bronislav Mlynarski in 1947 (that one lasted twenty-four years, ending with Mlynarski’s death in 1971).
Through the WW II years, Doris again supported the troops by singing with the USO. In the 1950s, she acted in television shows, sang on the radio, and performed two roles in radio soap operas. From silent films to the advent of television, she had done it all.
It was an incredible career spanning the Metropolitan Opera, stage, screen, vaudeville, concerts, radio, poetry, television, and writing. She was a success at everything she tried (even marriage, in the end). One of Hollywood’s lasting stars, Doris Kenyon passed away from heart trouble in September 1979, just a few days shy of her 82nd birthday.
Photos: Top―Poster from a Kenyon movie. Bottom―Doris Kenyon in A Thief in Paradise.
The Doris Kenyon story is one of 51 original North Country history pieces appearing in Adirondack Gold: 50+ New & True Stories You’re Sure to Love (352 pp.), a recent release by author Lawrence Gooley, owner of Bloated Toe Publishing.

Woody Guthrie Centennial: Guthrie Archivist Interview


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Music legend and songwriting luminary Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, and this year marks his centennial birthday. To celebrate, the Grammy Museum, the Guthrie family, Woody Guthrie Publications and the Woody Guthrie Archives have planned an international program of events, including tours, concerts, festivals, and conferences.

Ryan Anthony Donaldson of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) recently had the chance to ask Tiffany Colannino a few questions about the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration. Tiffany is the Archivist with the Woody Guthrie Archives, currently located in Mount Kisco, New York, as well as the newly appointed ART Advocacy Chair.

ART: How did the centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum, Guthrie Family/Woody Guthrie Publications, and Woody Guthrie Archives come about?

TC: The centennial partnership between the GRAMMY Museum and the Woody Guthrie Archives has deep roots. For starters, we are both non-profit organizations committed to the history of American music. The Archives’ mission is to perpetuate Woody Guthrie’s life and legacy through the proactive preservation of his Archival material, whereas the GRAMMY Museum’s mission is to explore and celebrate the enduring legacies of all forms of music. Although these missions differ, with the Archives’ focus on preservation and research, and the GRAMMY Museum on public programs and activities, our two organizations can work together to use these archival documents to bring Guthrie’s life to a broad audience.

But it’s more than just our missions that link us together: Robert Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum, is actually a former researcher at the Woody Guthrie Archives. Since 1990, Santelli has researched in the Archives in support of several Woody Guthrie book projects, including his 2012 work This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of the American Folk Song. He has maintained an active working relationship with Nora Guthrie – President of Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc and Director of the Woody Guthrie Archives – for over 20 years.

In a recent press release, Nora Guthrie comments on this partnership, remarking: “Because of its deep enthusiasm for Woody’s creative legacy as well as the underlying influence he’s had on so many musicians and songwriters in all genres of American music, the GRAMMY Museum is the obvious choice to help us celebrate the legacy that he created.”

The centennial celebrations will include concerts, conferences, and exhibits across the United States, Canada, and Europe. We’ve launched www.Woody100.com as a one-stop-shop for all of our North American events, and www.Woody100.de for our European events. In addition to the events we are planning with the GRAMMY Museum, these sites also list the Grassroots events that Guthrie fans and supporters are planning across the world, including lecture series, concerts, hootenannies, and exhibits. In addition, there are many new releases – books, films, and musical albums – including many based solely on material from the Woody Guthrie Archives, set to launch in 2012 to help celebrate Guthrie’s centennial, and perpetuate his legacy.

ART: In terms of centennial celebrations for Woody in the New York area, there will be a concert at Brooklyn College as well as a conference at Penn State University in September. What topics relating to Woody Guthrie would you like to see explored at the conference?

TC: That’s a tough question, because there are so many facets of Woody Guthrie’s life yet to be explored! However, the great thing about the academic conferences being planned for this year is that rather than focus solely on a specific aspect of Guthrie’s life, each conference will use Guthrie as the starting point to open a discussion on a broader, contemporary theme. The theme for each conference will be selected by the host institution, allowing them to decide on a topic that is of direct relevance to their local community.

The 2012 Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebrations will include four large academic conferences: Tulsa, Los Angeles, Penn State, and Brooklyn.

The Tulsa conference, Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100, used Guthrie as a stepping stone to discuss Oklahoma politics. At the University of Southern California conference, Woody Guthrie’s Los Angeles: A Centenary Celebration, we’ll talk about Los Angeles in the late 1930s, where Guthrie worked for several local radio stations and wrote for various newspapers after fleeing the Dust Bowl. Woody At 100: Woody’s Legacy to Working Men & Women, the Penn State conference in September, will use Guthrie to focus on the labor movement and unions, while the theme for the Brooklyn conference, also in September, is yet to be announced.

ART: It has been announced that the research collection of the Woody Guthrie Archives will be relocating from Mount Kisco, NY, to Woody’s home state of Oklahoma in 2013. How is the planning coming along for it?

TC: In 2013, the Woody Guthrie Archives will relocate from Mount Kisco, New York to a permanent home with the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a native Oklahoman, this move will truly bring Guthrie’s life full circle!

The Archives will be located in a repurposed warehouse – the Tulsa Paper Company – along with other arts oriented organizations, and I have had the opportunity to walk through the building site several times. Work is already underway, and it is exciting to see the Archives’ new home come to life! I have had meetings with the building architects to review design plans and requirements, discussing the archival needs to be taken into consideration during the design phase. This relocation to Tulsa will ensure continued researcher access to the material in the collection, and the long-term preservation of over 10,000 pages of documents held in the Woody Guthrie Archives.

More information on Woody Guthrie centennial events is available online.

Oz and Bedford Falls: Upstate NY’s American Icons


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Upstate New York has bequeathed to the American culture two iconic towns, neither of which exist in the real world. Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the village of Seneca Falls…or so claim the people of Seneca Falls! Oz of the Wizard of Oz book series and one memorable movie also derives its origin from the exact same area – author Frank Baum was spurred on by his living in Fayetteville in what is now the Gage Home. Continue reading

The Great Bare: The Celebrity of Adah Menken


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Adah Menken, dubbed “The Great Bare” by writer/admirer Mark Twain, was the first media celebrity, who was known around the world as “The Naked Lady” because her stage show featured her nude (in a sheer body stocking).

Her star power inspired poets like Walt Whitman and writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Menken as the basis for the classic Sherlock Holmes supporting character of Irene Adler. Her popularity was fueled by a new advent of the period, mass circulation newspapers.

Their reporters couldn’t wait to write about her latest adventure, according to biographers Michael and Barbara Foster, who call her the originator of the modern celebrity femme fatale.

In a century remembered for Victorian restraint, Menken’s modern flair for action, scandal, and unpopular causes – especially that of the Jewish people – revolutionized show business. On stage, she was the first actress to bare all. Off stage, she originated the front-page scandal and became the world’s most highly paid actress—celebrated on Broadway, as well as in San Francisco, London, and Paris. At thirty-three, she mysteriously died.

“Menken was an original who pioneered in several areas we now take for granted,” said the Fosters, authors of the newly published A Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves and Scandals of Adah Isaacs Menken, 1835 – 1868 (Lyons Press, 2012). “Adah invented ‘stardom’ in the modern, media-driven sense, making use of the newly invented newspaper, the telegraph, photography, railroads and steamships to become the first global superstar — number one on Broadway, the rage of gold rush San Francisco, the toast of Victorian London and Paris. Onstage, Adah risked her life every evening in the Civil War sensation Mazeppa, in which apparently stripped naked she rode up a four-story stage mountain tied to a stallion. The mix of sexuality and danger made her the Civil War siren, the highest paid actress in the world, and caused her death at 33.”

Moreover, it wasn’t that Adah did these things to garner attention or as cheap publicity stunts. The Fosters believe that “Swimming Against the Current”–an essay she wrote in defense of Walt Whitman–was an essential part of her personality. There was nothing contrived about her.

A Dangerous Woman is the first book to tell Menken’s fascinating story. Born in New Orleans to a “kept woman of color” and to a father whose identity is debated, Menken eventually moved to the Midwest, where she became an outspoken protégé of the rabbi who founded Reform Judaism. In New York City, she became Walt Whitman’s disciple. During the Civil War she was arrested as a Confederate agent—and became America’s first pin-up superstar. Menken married and left five husbands.

Michael Foster is a historian, novelist and biographer. A Dangerous Woman is his fifth book. Barbara Foster is an associate professor of women’s studies at City University of New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Nick Pavlik: A New Face for the Associated Press


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Recently, the Associated Press (AP), one of the world’s most respected news agencies, unveiled its brand new logo (proudly displayed on its official website), retiring its previous logo of 31 years. To help usher in the AP’s new look and its accompanying visual identity system, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York held its latest monthly programming event at the AP Corporate Archives. The event was attended by an impressive turnout and explored the development, design, and promotion of the AP’s new logo.

Featured speakers included Francesca Pitaro, AP Processing Archivist; Matt Cluney, AP Director of Marketing, Americas; and David Jalbert-Gagnier, principal of the design firm Objective Subject.

Ms. Pitaro spoke on the organization of the AP Publications Collection in the Corporate Archives, as well as how the historical graphic art contained in the collection provided invaluable context for the development and design of the new logo. Mr. Cluney spoke on the collaborative ventures between the AP Marketing and Creative Services teams for publicly marketing the new logo, while Mr. Jalbert-Gagnier expounded upon the creative and historical process of producing the AP’s new logo design and associated visual identity assets.

Presentations were followed by a viewing of the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design, curated by Valerie Komor, Director of the Corporate Archives, and former Assistant Archivist Sam Markham. The exhibit presented historical AP publications and promotional materials that illustrated the evolution of the AP’s visual identity, as well as a timeline of AP World magazine covers from 1944 to 2011.

For New York City archivists, this was a great opportunity to hear about and learn from a wonderfully successful interdepartmental initiative involving archives within a corporate setting.

More information on the AP’s new logo and visual identity system can be found on the AP’s FAQ page on this subject.

Photos: Above, AP seal, 1900; middle, event attendees perusing the exhibit (AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design (courtesy of AP Photo/Santos Chaparro); and below, an AP Service Bulletin from January 1926.

MWPAI Exhibition Explores Graphic Novels


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The dramatic art of a significant emerging literary genre will be explored in the exhibition, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” on view March 4 through April 29 in the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art.

In this look at the development and current practices of sequential art, also known as the graphic novel, “LitGraphic” showcases 200 original paintings, drawings, storyboards, notebooks, comic books, photographs, and a documentary film, offering insight into the lives of the artists and the nature of their work.

Featured artists and writers include pioneers Lynd Ward (“Vertigo”) and Will Eisner (“The Spirit”) as well as contemporaries including Sue Coe and Marc Hempel, whose illustrations for Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking “Sandman” are on view also.

Mary E. Murray, MWPAI Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, said comics have always been an important influence on modern and contemporary artists, from Lyonel Feininger, to Willem DeKooning and Roy Lichtenstein “The art of these publications is more than light entertainment, it is serious commentary on contemporary culture, and we are excited to present this important component of visual culture to our patrons,” she added. Murray noted that more than 60 years ago, the Museum of Art showcased an exhibition of drawings by cartoonist William Steig, creator of the character Shrek; and an exhibition of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon comics.

Published in book form, graphic novels employ words and pictures to address thought-provoking subjects that will serve as the thematic framework for the exhibition. Commentary by artists and curators focusing on recurring subjects, artistic and cultural influences, and the climate that impacts the creative process will be woven throughout the exhibition where contemporary art meets traditional America.

An increasing number of artists are choosing to express themselves through graphic novels, which have received increased recognition in the popular sector, in noted periodicals including “The New York Times,” “The New Yorker” and in classrooms, libraries, and bookstores throughout the United States and abroad. A graphic novel employs the technique of cinematographic narrative, developed by comic-book artists, telling the story through metaphors and visual images, particularly images of action.

Graphic novels, or long-form comic books, have started to gain the interest and consideration of the art and literary establishment. Graphic novels, with their antiheroes and visual appeal, are approaching the popularity of the novel. Focused on subjects as diverse as the nature of relationships, the perils of war, and the meaning of life, graphic novels comprise the fastest-growing sections of many bookstores.

“LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” is organized and toured by the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Illustration: Lynd Ward’s “Beowulf wrestles with Grendel”, 1933 (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibition at the Hyde Collection


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The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, Warren County, has announced it will present the exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec & Company: Prints from the Belle Époque. On view in Hoopes Gallery from March 3, 2012 through May 27, 2012, the exhibition will feature ten lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec and approximately twenty prints by his contemporaries including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Jules Chéret (1836-1932), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), and Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940). Continue reading

Women’s Writes: A Reading and Writing Workshop


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The weekend of March 3rd and 4th, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) is presenting Women’s Writes, a reading and writing workshop featuring two popular authors, Nava Atlas and Kate Hymes. The weekend kicks-off on Saturday, March 3, at 3pm with a guided tour of HHS’s Deyo House, which is set and interpreted in the Edwardian period, a popular time for many celebrated women authors.

At 4pm, Nava Atlas will read from her latest book, The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life, which explores the writing life of twelve celebrated women writers, including such renowned authors as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Madeleine L’Engle, Anais Nin, George Sand, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf through their journals, letters, and diaries. On Saturday evening at 7, the Wallkill Valley Writers will read from their anthology which includes personal essays, poems, and stories.

Sunday, March 4 will feature two three-hour Wallkill Valley Writers Workshops led by Kate Hymes. Session 1 is from 9– 12pm and Session 2 is from 1-4 pm. Anyone with a desire to write, whether a beginner or experienced, is invited to attend these workshops which will be held in a safe environment. Sources culled from the HHS archives and other local history will serve as an inspiration for writing throughout the weekend.

Saturday includes a book signing and refreshments. Fees are as follows: Saturday Deyo House Edwardian tour and reading with Nava Atlas: $15. Saturday evening reading with Wallkill Valley Writers: $5. Sunday per session: $40. Full weekend including one workshop on Sunday: $50.

To register or for more information, call 845-255-1660, x103 or email Jan Melchior at jan@huguenotstreet.org.

About the Presenters

Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of visual books on family themes, humor, and women’s issues, including The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life (2011), exploring first-person narratives on the writing lives of twelve classic women authors, and commenting on the universal relevance of their experiences to all women who love to write. Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife (2009) is a satiric look at contemporary marriage and motherhood through the lens of a faux 1950s cookbook. Nava Atlas is also the author and illustrator of many books on vegetarian cooking, a book on leafy greens will be on the shelves in the spring of 2012. An active fine artist specializing in limited edition artist’s books and text-driven objects, her work is shown and collected by museums and universities across the U.S.

Kate Hymes, a poet and educator living in the Hudson Valley, leads weekly writing workshops and writing retreats. She has over twenty years experience as an educator with experience teaching writing on college level, and over ten years leading workshops for people who make writing an artistic practice. Kate is certified to lead workshops using the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She has co-led trainings with Pat Schneider and other AWA instructors to teach others how to lead workshops. Kate and Pat also lead the workshop: If We Are Sisters: Black and White Women Writing Across Race. Kate serves as Executive Director of the Hudson Valley/Catskill Partnership: Regional Adult Education Network providing technical assistance and staff development to adult educators in a ten-county region of New York State. Kate currently serves as a member of the Dutchess County Arts Council and as panelist for Special Project, New York State Council on the Arts. She has a Master of Arts in American Literature from SUNY Stony Brook.

Early Albany Deptartment Store Exhibition Opens


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The Albany Institute of History & Art is presenting Temple of Fancy: Pease’s Great Variety Store, an exhibition featuring Richard H. Pease’s upscale “Five and Dime” where Albany families could purchase fancy goods, toys, household items, children’s books, and games from the 1830s to 1855. The exhibit will draw from the collections of the Albany Institute, and includes a reproduction of Pease’s 1850-51 Christmas card, considered to be the very first printed in America, on loan from the Manchester University Museum in England, where the only surviving copy resides. The exhibit opened November 19, and will run through March 25, 2012.

Before F. W. Woolworths’, Whitney’s, or even Myer’s department store, there was Pease’s Great Variety Store, located in the Temple of Fancy at 516 and 518 Broadway in Albany. As with other fancy goods stores, Pease’s catered to the middle and upper middle class selling highly decorated goods like ceramics, prints, furniture and other decorative household items that progressively thinking people might have wanted to purchase.

The 1844 Wilson’s Albany City Guide provides a flattering description of Pease’s: “For richness and extensive variety of novelties, combining the beautiful, the useful and the ornamental, this establishment excels any in town. Mr. P. has many fancy articles which are surpassingly rich; exceeding anything in elegance that we have ever thought, dreamed or read of.” Pease’s advertisement in the Albany Evening Journal on December 17, 1841, was the very first time Santa Claus was used to advertise a store. They also produced the hand-colored lithographs of fruit for Ebenezer Emmons’ Agriculture of New York published between 1846 and 1854.

Temple of Fancy: Pease’s Great Variety Store will be on display in the library cases at the Albany Institute of History & Art, located at 125 Washington Avenue, Albany. The exhibition . Coinciding with the exhibition, the Albany Institute has produced a 20-page booklet, “Pease’s Great Variety Store and the Story of America’s first Christmas Card”, that will be available for sale in the Museum Shop.

Illustrations: Above, courtesy Albany Institute of History & Art; below, America’s First Christmas Card, Designed and printed by Richard H. Pease for his “Pease’s Great Variety Store in the Temple of Fancy” c.1851. Image courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.

New Book Features the American Art-Union


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The American Art-Union, based in New York City, founded in 1844 with the goal of fostering the arts in America through education and publication, is the subject of an outstanding new book, Perfectly American: The Art-Union & Its Artists.

Modeled after European organizations, the American Art-Union sought to establish a national aesthetic in the United States and unite all regions of the country through art. A small subscription fee entitled members of the Art-Union to at least one engraving of a prominent piece per year, as well as entry in an annual lottery distributing larger works of art.

The Art-Union appealed especially to genre painters; William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Charles Deas, William Tylee Ranney, and other noted artists submitted their works for jury and acceptance. As the United States grew increasingly divided in the 1840s, the Art-Union’s selections came under heavy scrutiny and there were accusations of supposed abolitionist and Whig sentiments. Low on funds and facing an ultimately successful lawsuit over the legality of their annual lottery, the American Art-Union disbanded in 1852.

At 200 pages, and with contributions by Patricia Hills, Peter J. Brownlee, Randy Ramer, Amanda Lett and 60 color illustrations Perfectly American provides a new look at the American Art-Union and the culture of the United States in the 1840s.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Brooklyn Museum Cancels Street Art Exhibition


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The Brooklyn Museum has canceled the spring 2012 presentation of Art in the Streets, the first major United States museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, where it is currently on view at The Geffen Contemporary through August 8, 2011, the exhibition had been scheduled at the Brooklyn Museum from March 30 through July 8, 2012.

“This is an exhibition about which we were tremendously enthusiastic, and which would follow appropriately in the path of our Basquiat and graffiti exhibitions in 2005 and 2006, respectively. It is with regret, therefore, that the cancellation became necessary due to the current financial climate. As with most arts organizations throughout the country, we have had to make several difficult choices since the beginning of the economic downturn three years ago,” Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman said in a prepared statement.

The announcement follows a recent follows the limiting of Friday hours, effective July 1. The Brooklyn Museum will no longer remain open until 10 p.m. every Friday, a change resulting from what museum officials called “the challenging economic climate confronting many public institutions throughout New York City and the country.”

41st Annual Rhinebeck Car Show


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The 41st Annual Car Show, for everyone in the old car hobby Spring officially arrives on the first weekend of May with the Rhinebeck Car Show. Rhinebeck 2011 will be held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on May 6, 7 and 8. Gates will open at noon on the 6th for spectators to go through the vendor’s sites. This event is a sure cure for “cabin fever” and hobbyists from all over the Northeast have been celebrating spring for over forty years by converging at Rhinebeck to participate in this popular event. Rhinebeck is one of the biggest car shows in the Northeast and hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators will be filling the Fairgrounds for this spring celebration of automotive history.

Rhinebeck 2011 will be fun for the whole family. Mom and Dad will be reminded of that first date in one of these special vehicles or that first new car their family had. Many car collectors are fulfilling old dreams in the car that they really wanted but were out of reach when they were younger. The kids and grand kids will enjoy the cars too but should also enjoy the old toys displayed and for sale by vendors. In addition to all of the cars on display, the family can wander through the Swap Meet looking at automotive memorabilia. Plenty of food vendors will be offering an interesting variety of food choices and, as usual, Fosters Coach House will be open at the Fairgrounds for those who prefer to sit down to relax and enjoy their meal.

This year we will be featuring a display by the Saratoga Automobile Museum on our show field. They are planning to bring several cars and motor cycles for your viewing enjoyment following is a bit about the activities they plan this year:

The Saratoga Automobile Museum displays Autos from May to October, there are over 20 lawn shows that feature cars from Alfa and Auburn to Stutz and Volkswagen. In early May, the Saratoga Spring Invitational is a showcase for a select group of breathtaking automobiles from the Brass Era to Classics from the Golden Age of Motoring, to today’s most modern and exotic Supercars. On the same weekend is our traditional Spring Car Show, while later in the summer we are pleased to host Hemming’s Sports & Exotics Show.

When fall and winter come, the Museum is still active with lectures and technical sessions, our unique “Living Legends” interview sessions (this year featuring racers A.B. Shuman, Jack DeWitt and automotive journalist Ken Gross). Add in the young people’s exhibits at SAM’s Garage, our educational programs (last year’s building of a Model A Huckster and this year’s upcoming “Build a Hot Rod”), our onsite school-age programs (for elementary to college level students), the “…fun for kids of all ages…” racecar simulators, and it is apparent that the Saratoga Automobile Museum is your place to be for year round automotive entertainment.

Saturday’s show spotlights the creativity and ingenuity of the owners and builders of some of the finest hot rod, custom cars and sport compacts in the country. 800 Cars are expected to be on the show field for your enjoyment. These vehicles feature amazing paint schemes including fancy flames and cool graphics. They include incredible custom body designs with chopped tops and channeled bodies.

Monster motors built without caring that they get less than 10 miles per gallon; and fine custom interiors you’ll wish you could live in. The Atlantic Coast Old Time Racing Club will take a break from their racing competition to show off their antique racers at Rhinebeck. The Sport Compact cars have special sounds systems, low rider wheels, unique exhaust systems and special paint schemes. The guys who customize these cars are very creative and develop truly unique and fun vehicles. Sunday’s show focus is on restored antique and classic cars.

Over 1100 old cars from all automotive eras up to 1986 are expected. These vehicles are some of the finest restorations to be found anywhere. Owners and restorers pride themselves restoring their vehicles to “showroom” condition. Actually, many of these vehicles are restored too much better condition than when they left the showroom.

Sunday’s show will include early antique vehicles, cars from the roaring twenties, thirties classics, fabulous forties cars, and plenty of vehicles from the fifties, sixties and seventies. Many of the cars on display disappeared from showrooms years ago. Antique trucks, motorcycles, plenty of sports cars, and other foreign cars will be there too. Many
of last year’s award winning vehicles will be on display in the “Winners’ Circle” on both Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone looking for a way to get started in this great hobby will find plenty of opportunity in the Rhinebeck Car Corral. A wide variety of over 500 collectable cars will be for sale there.

In the Swap Meet area, about a thousand vendors will be selling plenty of auto hobby related material. There will be lots and lots of old car parts, tools, restoration supplies, and automotive literature. Many of the vendors will be selling both old and new toys.

The Dutchess County Fairgrounds is located on Route 9, just north of the village of Rhinebeck. The gates open at 6:00 AM on Saturday and at 8:00 on Sunday. Admissions are $10.00 but children 12 and under are admitted free. For additional information, call 845-876-3554 from 7 to 9 PM.. This year we also have early birds day Friday with gates open at 12:00. Weekend passes are available at the gate to those who plan on attending more than one day at $17.

Rhinebeck 2011 is sponsored by the Hudson River Valley Antique Automobile Association Inc. which is an association of six local car clubs whose members volunteer hundreds of hours each year to organize and run this event.

Syracuse’s Clark Music Company, Melville Clark


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In Pulling Strings: The Legacy of Melville A. Clark, musician Linda Pembroke Kaiser explores the extraordinary career of Melville A. Clark (1883–1953), a musician, inventor, entrepreneur, community leader, and collector whose colorful story is largely unknown. The story is told by Kaiser, a musician who performs on the harp, piano, and guitar. She has published articles in the International Folk Harp Journal and has published and recorded an album of harp music, Lullabies for Earth Children.

Beginning with an account of Clark’s musical family, Kaiser chronicles the founding in 1859 of the Clark Music Company, of which Melville Clark became president in 1919. Originally just a tinkers shed, the business ultimately moved into a six-story building in the center of Syracuse. The Clark Music Company celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2010. Clark also combined his talents as a gifted musician and astute entrepreneur to start the first Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

Kaiser recounts the development of the Clark Irish Harp, the first portable harp manufactured in the United States, that could easily play accidentals. There were other Clark inventions, such as the first nylon strings for instruments. In addition, Clark designed balloons that the British used in 1918 to drop more than 1,250,000 pamphlets over Germany.

Clark’s story unfolds in detail: a musical encounter with President Wilson, entertaining President F. D. Roosevelt, a visit to Buckingham Palace to present Princess Elizabeth with a music box, and the journey of a Clark Irish harp to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd.

Pulling Strings uncovers the life of a musical genius and also sheds light on a forgotten chapter in Syracuse history.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

JAY-Z to Appear at Brooklyn Museum


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In a rare interview, multi-platinum, 10-time Grammy Award-winning artist and icon JAY-Z will speak with Charlie Rose, executive editor and anchor of the Charlie Rose Show, before a live audience in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday, November 18, at 7 p.m. The conversation, which will be taped to air nationwide at a later date on the Charlie Rose program, will focus on JAY-Z’s book DECODED, to be published on November 16 by Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint. DECODED recounts JAY-Z’s life from his childhood in Brooklyn’s Marcy housing projects to becoming a world-famous performer and songwriter, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Tickets to the event will go on sale TODAY, Wednesday, November 10, at noon. They may be purchased online at www.museumtix.com (two-ticket purchase limit for this program) or at the Brooklyn Museum Visitor Center in person. Ticket prices are $50 for the general public, older adults, and students and $45 for Brooklyn Museum Members. Become a member at www.brookklynmuseum.org/support/membership_plans.php. Ticket price includes a copy of DECODED by JAY-Z that will be provided to the patron upon admission to the program the night of the event.

Printouts of tickets will not be accepted. Patrons must check in at the will-call desk (the night of the event) at the Brooklyn Museum to receive hard copies of their tickets and must provide ID matching the name on the ticket. There will be no standby line for this event.

Decoded Book Cover In his conversation with Charlie Rose, JAY-Z will speak candidly about his journey from drug dealing to becoming one of the best known hip-hop artists of his time. He will explore issues that informed him and his songwriting, including how visual art and poetry influenced his craft, how he became involved in politics and business, and how he managed to stay true to himself in the midst of extraordinary fame.

“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry, if you look at them closely enough. The second was that I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”–JAY-Z from DECODED

77th New York Regimental Balladeers at Olana


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Sunday, October 10th, from 1-3 p.m., at Olana State Historic Site, the New York 77th Regimental Balladeers will reenact musical selections from the Civil War era.

Co-founded by John C. Quinn and Michael Yates, the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers are dedicated to preserving the songs, history and spirit of the 1860s. John, Mike, and fellow Balladeers John Perreault, Jim Broden and Kathleen Ross use the original Civil War music arrangements and lyrics to convey the thoughts, motives, and sorrows of the men and women who lived during one of the most defining periods of our American heritage. The songs are sung as they would have been performed in camp or the family parlor 138 years ago.

A $5 per vehicle grounds fee includes the performance. House tours will be available on a first come, first served basis starting at 10 a.m., with the final tour of the day beginning promptly at 4 p.m. Come early to ensure tour availability and shorter wait times. House tour tickets are $12/adult, $10/student or senior. Children under age 12 receive free tour tickets! Call 518-828-0135 for information.

Olana, the home and studio of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, is a New York State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. Olana is one of six historic sites and 15 parks administered by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region. The Olana Partnership is a private, not-for-profit organization, which works cooperatively with New York State to support the preservation, restoration, development, and improvement of Olana State Historic Site. Call 518-828-0135, visit www.olana.org for more information.

Commentary: Demolition of Marx Brothers Place


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The following commentary and call to action was issued by the 93rd Street Beautification Association and is reprinted here in it’s entirety for your information:

Anybody who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to the doings of Marx Brothers Place over the last few years knows full well that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has dispatched numerous letters refusing the community’s request to calendar this historic block for a public hearing. The LPC’s lack of interest in landmarking historic Marx Brothers Place is nothing new: It’s legendary.

In fact, it was precisely the LPC’s anemic response to Marx Brothers Place that inspired the broad coalition of advocates to speak out in support of extending the Carnegie Hill Historic District (CHHD) so as to include the incomparable collection of historic structures on East 93rd Street before the entire block is marked with a big red X for the wrecking ball.

Notoriously, historic districts have been repeatedly rejected by the LPC for years – a commission into whose vortex designation requests (RFEs) disappear like socks in the dryer – and languished without legal protection from demolition before finally being calendered and properly designated.

The community coalition which robustly supports designating historic Marx Brothers Place – and includes the 93rd Street Beautification Association; Carnegie Hill Neighbors; Historic Districts Council; New York Landmarks Conservancy; Place Matters (a collaboration of the Municipal Arts Society and Citylore); Members of the Marx Brothers family; Woody Allen; Bob Weide; Andrew Berman; Bronson Binger; Michael Devonshire; 93rd Street Block Association; Brewery Hill Block Association; Assemblyman Micah Kellner; Assemblyman Jonathan Bing; NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin; NY State Senator Jose Serrano; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and countless other preservationists, homeowners, residents, artists and historians – has been battling against the LPC’s lethargy toward historic Marx Brothers Place since day one.

Backed by the uncompromising historic evidence – research unearthed by a Preservation historian at Columbia University’s acclaimed Graduate School of Architecture & Historic Preservation – this massive community coalition continues its efforts to try to enlighten and educate the LPC as to the fact that Marx Brothers Place not only meets the criteria for landmarking in NYC, it surpasses it.

Make no mistake: The Marx Brothers Place community coalition stands resolute in its position that this world famous block in Carnegie Hill warrants immediate protection from indiscriminate demolition because of its historic, cultural and architectural significance.

So on Monday, July 19 – when Community Board 8’s (CB8’s) Landmarks Committee voted 7-0 (with one abstention) to send a powerful message to the LPC resolving that this important historic block should be landmarked by the city – this devoted community coalition had much to celebrate when, after years of advocating, it had successfully moved that much closer to its goal.

And had the 93rd Street Beautification Association’s request to CB8 gone according to normal procedure, the next step in this public process would have been for CB8’s Landmarks Committee to present to the Full CB8 Board the fact of its overwhelmingly 7-0 vote and the reasons the Committee had decided to so strongly support the request to landmark historic East 93rd Street. But, as many of you know by now, what followed was anything but ‘normal procedure’.

NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick had insisted that the 93rd Street Beautification Association first get the blessing of CB8 before he would be willing to wield his influence in asking the LPC to calender Marx Brothers Place for a public hearing. But then instead of celebrating the Association’s 7-0 victory before CB8’s Landmarks Committee, the Council Member chose instead to turn his back on his constituents and, without so much as a heads-up to the Association, furtively did his level best to undermine the preservation campaign’s progress.

On Wednesday, July 21 – the same day that the full CB8 Board was scheduled to vote on Marx Brothers Place – CM Garodnick reportedly contacted a co-chair of CB8’s Landmarks Committee, Jane Parhsall, to offer her copies of a stale letter he had received from the LPC dated May 26, 2010.

The ‘Garodnick letter’ – as it has come to be known – was not a revelatory piece of news and its boilerplate language was nothing more than the same old, same old misinformation that the coalition has been disputing for years (it should also be noted that despite repeated requests, CB8 has – to date – failed to provide the Association with a copy of the ‘Garodnick letter’ which it only allowed the Association to see after CB8 Landmarks Committee co-chair Parshall had already dramatically misrepresented its contents to the entire CB8 audience before the full CB8 Board vote on July 21).

While deliberately overstating the import of yet one more of the LPC’s perennial letters – brushing off the request to calender Marx Brothers Place for a public hearing – CM Garodnick and CB8’s Parshall sorely underestimated the public interest in landmarking this storied block.

Smacking of the sort of dirty, petty politics the public has come to expect from its elected and appointed officials – who time and time again fail the public while proving unworthy of carrying out the people’s business – Garodnick and Parshall’s blatant breach of the public trust in the process to which Marx Brothers Place is due smells riper than a rotten fish.

Thanks for your continued interest in historic Marx Brothers Place!

For more information about the 93rd Street Beautification Association or Marx Brothers Place, contact 93rdst.beautification@gmail.com or 212.969.8138 or visit the blogs at Save Marx Brothers Place or The Marx Brothers Place Report.

You can also follow Marx Brothers Place on Twitter @93rdStreet, Facebook @ Save Marx Brothers Place, YouTube @ Marx Brothers Place and on MySpace @ Marx Brothers Place.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the preservation campaign, click here.