Monday, December 9, 2019

MARK TWAIN and the Holy Land: The First Tourism Trip in American History: Review By Polly Guerin

The Legendary American writer Mark Twain 
JOURNEY ABROAD WITH AN AMERICAN LEGEND on THE FIRST ORGANIZED TOURISM TRIP IN AMERICAN HISTORY. The quintessential American writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910)--known professional as Mark Twain---set the bar with high standards in his legendary travelogues. With keen observations, "He set sail from New York for a great adventure abroad whilst capturing the feelings and reactions of many Americans exploring beyond their borders and thereby inspired generations of travelers to document their voyages," stated Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New York Historical Society where the exhibition is on view through February 2, 2020.
      The new exhibition, MARK TWAIN AND THE HOLY LAND, traces the legendary American humorist's 1867 voyage to the Mediterranean and his subsequent 1869 book--The Innocents Abroad or, The New Pilgrim's Progress---through original documents, artwork, photographs, and costumes as well as an interactive media experience. MARK TWAIN departed New York harbor on the steamship QUAKER CITY for a five-and-a-half-month excursion, the first of its kind in world travel. Known at that point for his biting satire and humorous short pieces on California and the West, Clemens had serendipitously discovered a "pleasure cruise" to Europe and the Near East,  and successfully inveigled his way onto the journey with an assignment from the San Francisco newspaper Alto California. Twain was to supply the paper with weekly columns about the trip and his fellow passengers. THE QUAKER CITY TRIP WAS THE FIRST ORGANIZED TOURISM TRIP IN AMERICAN HISTORY . The steamship was opulently outfitted with a library, printing press, piano, and pipe organ. A Quaker City passenger list, an oil painting of the ship are on display as well as a journal entry by Mark Twain.
Mark Twain's /Quaker City Ticket
THE INCARNATION OF THE INNOCENTS ABROAD When Twain returned to New York and then to Washington, D.C. he began reshaping those columns and other notes made during the trip into a book, The Innocents Abroad (1869), It was this work that catapulted Twain to national fame, selling more copies during his lifetime than any other book he ever wrote. Musing about the voyage in a passage later published in Innocents Abroad, Twain so aptly noted: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness." That his travelogue espoused such a liberal sentiment is the very reason we can find Twain;s biting perspective as relevant today. THE HOLY LAND After stops in Europe travelers were greet in Beirut by a grand caravan of horses and mules for a journey of 155 miles to "Baalbec, Damascus, the sea of Tiberias, and thence southward by way of the scene of Jacob's Dream and other notable Bible localities to Jerusalem. But the pomp was in strong contrast to the reality of a small barren land, which was not the vast and monumental landscape suggested by the Bible.  image: THE HOLY LAND
Twain was disappointed that "a fast walker could go outside the the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour." Then too, adding to the artifacts on display a manuscript leaf features Twain's withering satirical soliloquy about the Tomb of Adam at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. "The Tomb of Adam how touching that it was here in a land of strangers, far from home, and friends, and all who cared for me, thus to discover the grave of a blood relation."  TWAIN'S CAUSTIC VIEW OF THE HOLY LAND WITH ITS NOMADS, BEGGARS AND RUINS WAS THE AUTHOR'S WAY OF PROCLAIMING THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEW AMERICAN TRAVELER, SOMEONE WHO SAW THE WORLD FOR WHAT IT WAS, WITHOUT THE DISTORTING LENSES OF TRADITION AND PERCEIVED AUTHORITY. TWAIN HAD SAMPLED THE GUIDES AND TRAVEL VOLUMES AND FOUND THEM ALLWITHOUT FOUNDATION.
    TA TA DARLINGS!!! After this incredible trip to the Holy Land I'm just about ready to fly
back home.  Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's other Blogs at and click in the left-hand column to links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry.

Monday, December 2, 2019

DESIGNS FOR DIFFERENT FUTURES at Philadelphia Museum of Art: Review By Polly Guerin

Phoenix Exoskelton, suitX
We often think of art museums as places that venerate past art treasures but the Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibit, DESIGNS FOR DIFFERENT FUTURES, brings to light the fact that museums can and should also be places that inspire us to think about the future. This enlightening exhibition, which runs through March 8, 2020, "Offers visitors an opportunity to
understand how designers are imagining---and responding to---different visions of the future, but also an opportunity to understand just how profoundly forward-looking designs contributes in our own time to shaping the world we occupy and will bequeath as a legacy to future generations," stated Timothy Rub, Director and Chief Executive Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Image: Phoenix Exoskelton , designed around 2013 by Dr. Hom- ayoon Kazerooni for suitX (courtesy of the manufacturer) Photograph (c)suitX . Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art 2019.
       Thinking about the future has always been a field of inquiry by designers and architects. whose speculations on this subject---ranging from the concrete to the whimsical---can profoundly affect how we imagine what is to come. Among the many forward-looking projects in view visitors will encounter lab grown food, robotic companions and textiles made of seaweed. 
Recyclable and Rehealable Electronic Skin 
The exhibition is divided into eleven thematic sections. In Bodies, designers gribble with choices about how our physical and psychological values might look, feel and function in different future scenarios. Featured here is one of the world's lightest and most advanced exoskeletons, designed to help people with mobility challenges to remain upright and active. The EARTHS section of the exhibition speculates on the challenges of extra-terrestrial communication in Lisa

Moura's alien nation installation and showcases typeface from the 2016 science-fiction film Arrival. Image: Recyclable and Rehealable Electronic skin, designed 2018 by Jianliang Xiao and Wei Zhang. (courtesy of the
designer). Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additional sections of the exhibition focus on the future of jobs and how cities will function and look 100 years from now, with robotic
baby feeders, driverless cars, and other developments offering a glimpse about how we might navigate living beyond this planet.       
       In a section devoted to MATERIALS on view are shoes grown from sweat and POWER looks at how design may affect our citizenship. INTIMACIES explores how technologies and online interfaces may affect love, family and community. Through Internet generated devices, designers explore the possibility digitally meditated love and sex, suggesting what advanced digital networks hold for human sexuality.                                                      Image: CIRCUMVENTIVE ORGANS
Electrostabilies Cardium (film still) designed by Agi Haines (Courtesy of the designer). Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art. FUTURES THERAPY LAB: Weekly programs, many of which occur on Pay-as-You-Wish Wednesday Nights, will connect visitors with designers, artists, and locally based creatives. The Futures Therapy Lab contains a crowd-sourced Futures library that includes everything from science fiction books to the exhibition catalogue. The Futures Therapy Lab is a place for conversation, and critique and creativity in which visitors can imagine their own hopes, fears and solutions for the future through reflection, discussion, and art making.
       TA TA DARLINGS!!! I look forward to meeting you in the Futures Therapy Lab where we
can discuss our destiny into future. Send Fan Mail to: Visit Polly'a other Blogs at and click on the links in the left-hand column.

Monday, November 25, 2019

WATERFALLS, Sparking "AWE!" in Central Park By Polly Guerin

Waterfall at the Loch in Central Park 
Ah! Wilderness!!!                                       The breathtaking views will spark "AWE!"  As you contemplate the beauty of nature, the powerful waterfall engages our senses and help us to feel less stressed out. No need to trek up to the Adirondacks, go no further than Central Park to get that "AWE" feeling.
       Nature is the healer and the health benefits of waterfalls is due  negative irons that are released as  the water cascades down the rocks. It leads to fresh cool water that creates a feeling of calm for serene contemplation or meditation. Central Park's waterfalls allow escape from the cacophony of the city with it blaring orchestra screaming at us with daily sirens. Just sitting still and listening to the cascading water helps to reduce that stress and even depression.
         In Frederick Law Olmstead's plan he sculpted meadows, knolls, ponds and waterfalls At the entrance to Central  Park West between 101st street and 106th street in the North Woods , you'll find water flowing from the grassy banks of the Pool and the ravine of the Loch in the center, before connecting o the Meer on the East Side.
       "It's not an area in the park that is as visited as others," Central Park Conservancy guide Juan Jesus said. "And they are kind of hidden in the sense that they are shrouded or like hidden by this canopy of trees that we have all around us."      
Another view of the Lush Cascading Waterfall
The man-made stream called the LOCH  contains several dams, which have created  three magnificent cascades or waterfalls that have gone surprisingly unnoticed for years. Take the challenge and go to west Central Park and find your special respite.
      There are several components to the waterfalls that have made it some of the greatest features of engineering and art. "The big boulders of Manhattan make up a schist, which happens to be the foundation  that we have on the island of Manhattan," Jesus said. "There's also elements like coconut husk fibers that are used to maintain the edge of the LOCH---of this continuous stream--and regular New York tap water."    
Contemplating in the Ravine
Waterfalls are a gift of nature providing the soothing sounds of birds chirping and the flowing water that continues our stream of consciousness to become refreshed and invigorated with a new sense of peace and harmony in our life. What the sound of waterfall does is rather magical, too, it allows us to enjoy the beauty of the people and the pulsating city and, at the same time, to escape the madness going on around us.  It's free, it's nature's gift where peace and solitude provide refuge and restoration, to feeling connected with the cascading rhythm of the waterfall and life itself.
Ta, Ta DARLINGS!!! It's time to get back to the simpler joys of life where waterfalls transcend the
ordinary and bring us to heights of greater enlightenment.  Fan mail:
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Monday, November 18, 2019

A WONDER T0 BEHOLD: Craftsmanship and the Creation of BABYLON'S ISHTAR GATE: By Polly Guerin

Reconstructed panel of bricks with a Striding Lion
A little known treasure, and one of my favorites, is The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW). It's fascinating exhibition A WONDER TO BEHOLD: CRAFTSMANSHIP and the CREATION OF BABYLON'S ISHTAR GATE, is a new venue for understanding the most spectacular achievement of the ancient world. On view through May 24, 2020 at 15 East 84th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue, the exhibition is a time capsule of ancient history with Free Admission. It will illuminate your vision of the spectacular and the extraordinary achievements of old-world craftsmanship. It features 180 objects that bring to life the masterful craftsmanship and ancient beliefs that transformed clay, minerals, and organic materials--seen as magical potent substances---into this powerful monument. Image: Reconstructed panel of bricks with a striding lion. Neo-Babylonian period (reign of Nebuchadnezzer 11, 604-562 BCE). WONDER OF THE ANCIENT WORLD is an eye-popping demonstration of how the master craftspeople who designed and built the Ishtar Gate and its Processional Way were not merely skilled technicians, though they were certainly that, but also artists, historians, and ritual practitioners known as "experts"(ummanu).  They were capable of creating artworks that manifested divine powers on Earth, and the Ishtar Gate, offering entry into the imperial city of Babylon. The exhibition opens with an introduction to the gateway with a variety of archival drawings, photographs, and objects that demonstrate the immense  of this undertaking.  A 1901 watercolor by archaeologist Walter Andrae, for example, shows the Babylonian system of fitters' marks that he deciphered, revealing the painstaking process through which the monument was created. This process began by marking out the design on a wall of unadorned bricks, and continued with he molding, glazing, and baking of each individual bricks before fitting them together, a task that is something like designing and assembling an intricate puzzle.

Replica of the Ishtar Gate at the Berlin State Museum
      Travelers to Ancient Babylon were met with an astonishing sight--a gate nearly 50 feet high and 100 feet wide--made of jeweled glazed bricks and adorned with bas-relief lions, dragons and young bulls believed to be powerful beings associated with the king's role as protector of the people. The beasts are depicted in bold relief, projecting the space of the viewer, as they intimidated unwelcome visitors while protecting the inhabitants. A colossal undertaking it was built over the course of King Nebuchadnezzar 11 reign,
         The Ishtar Gate (named in honor of the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, goddess of fertility, love and war, was at the epicenter of a major empire that extended from present day Iran to Egypt. In its final and most spectacular phase, imagine the stunning edifice, the monument was built with brilliantly glazed bricks, molded in relief to depict hundreds of dragons, lions, and bulls--all set against a background  the color of Lapis Lazuli.        
Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar
Treasures within the exhibit include a cuneiform tablet from the Middle Babylonian Period (ca, 1300-1200 BCE) which records a recipe for making red glass that sheds light on the secret alchemical knowledge of ancient Middle Eastern craftspeople, while an Egyptian glass vessel from (ca. 1400-1300 BCE) showcases the range of brilliant colors that these experts were able to achieve.
      The Institute for the Study of the Ancient  World (ISAW) is an independent research center within NYU for advanced scholarly research and graduate education with the aim of forming a new generation of scholars who will enter the global academic community and become intellectual leaders. GALLERY HOURS: Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm and Friday from 11an to 8 pm with free guided tour at 6pm.
      TA TA DARLINGS!!! This exhibit is a golden opportunity to realize the tremendous talent and production of the ancient world's craftsmen, It's a "Must See!" cultural experience. Send fan mail to Visit Polly's other Blogs on


Monday, November 11, 2019

COST OF REVOLUTION. The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier at theMuseum of the American Revolution: Review By Polly Guerin

The American Revolution and its fight to be free of British rule is an inspiring battle cry that also
spirited on the cause for rebellion in other countries, particularly  Ireland. 
COST OF REVOLUTION: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN IRISH SOLIDER at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia tells the untold story of RICHARD ST. GEORGE, an Irish soldier and artist, whose personal trauma and untimely death provide a window into the entangled histories of the American Revolution and the ensuing Irish Revolution of 1798. "You may not have heard the name Richard St. George before, but you'll be astonished by what his life can tell us about America and Ireland during the Age of Revolution," said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President and CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution. "This exhibit extends the Museum's internationally acclaimed, story-driven approach into the global stage to examine the broader influence of the American Revolution through St. George's remarkable personal journey."   On view through March 17, 2020.   
Richard St. George by Thomas Gainsborough
        St. George, mind you, did not fight on the American side, yet his story is a compelling reference to the time and place when history took on the monumental cry for liberty. As a young officer in the
British Army, Richard St. George crossed the Atlantic in 1776 to try and stop the growing American Revolution. He returned home to Ireland after surviving a severe head wound at the Battle of Germantown, near Philadelphia in 1777. Back in Ireland he found his native country roiled by the effects of the revolutionary spirit sweeping across America and Europe. Inspired by the rally call for freedom St. George became an outspoken critic of the growing movement to establish an Irish republic, independent of the British Empire in the late 1790s. Sadly, a few months before the outbreak of the Irish Revolution of 1798, St. George was ambushed and killed by a group of Irish tenants in County Cork who were influenced by the United Irishmen and the Defenders. He was eulogized at his funeral in 1798 at St. Mary's Church in Athlone, Ireland for having devoted his life to defending the British Crown. 
         American Revolution history buffs will appreciate the KEY ARTIFACTS ON DISPLAY: The 1775 bound maps of the estate of Richard St. George in County Galway, on loan from the Galway County Council Archives, Galway, Ireland. A rare silk flag carried by the Delaware militia tha the British light infantry captured during the Philadelphia campaign of 1777, on loan from the Delaware Historical Society, Richard St. George's personal sketches from the American Revolutionary War, on loan from a private collection. One sketch depicts St. George being carried off the battlefield following his wounding at the Battle of Germantown in 1777.  Image: A portrait of Richard St. George by English artist Thomas Gainsborough (1776) that depicts him just before he shipped out for New York to fight against the growing American Revolution, on loan to the Museum from Australia's National Portrait Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne).        

Exhibition Display COST OF REVOLUTION
Five portraits of Richard St. George, created over a span of 25 years, are known to survive and are reunited in the exhibit for the first time since they left the possession of St. George's descendants more than a century ago. Every piece of surviving artwork by St. George himself, including cartoons, sketches from his military service in America, and a self-portrait are also assembled for the first time in this exhibit. Together, the portraits, cartoons and sketches reveal the physical and emotional toll of revolution. Among the other portraits are paintings of the Battles of Paoli and Germantown by Italian artist Xavier della Gatta that St. George helped to create in 1782 to reflect on St. George
's participation in those battles. The paints are in the Museum's permanent collection. SPECIAL PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS: The Museum's monthly History After Hours Series includes COMIC RELIEF on November 19; CAMPED OUT on December 10, and A WINTER'S BALL on January 21, 2020.   For more information visit Or call 215.253.6731.

MUSEUM of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 101 S. Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
       Ta Ta Darlings!!! Even if you are not an aficionado of historical research COST OF REVOLUTION reminds us to remember that the American Revolution is the birth of our
nation with Freedom and Liberty at the core of our fundamental beliefs. Fan mail always
welcome at Visit Polly's other Blogs at

Monday, November 4, 2019


Greenwich and Dey Streets New York City 1810
Rare depictions of early America by the pioneering woman artist and French refugee, the little known Baroness Hyde de Neuville, illuminates by meticulous and charming detail what it was like in America in the 1800s. A keen and particularly sensitive observer, the Baroness traveled extensively and recorded individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and landmarks that you may recognize. Other historically correct and mesmerizing images may no longer exist but they serve as historical references to the fledgling nation. Image: Greenwich & Dey Streets, New York City. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Collection of Art, Prints and Photographs. Stokes Collection 1810.
     The New York Historical Society's exhibition, ARTIST IN EXILE: THE VISUAL DIARY OF BARONESS HYDE DE NEUVILLE is on view through January 26, 2020 in the Joyce B. Cowin Women's History Gallery of the Center for Women's History with 115 watercolors, drawings, and oher works by Anne Marguerite Josephine Henriette Rouille de Marigny, Baroness Hyde de Neuville (1771-1849). Self-taught and ahead of her time, Neuville's art celebrates the young country's history, culture, and diverse population, ranging from indigenous Americans to political leaders.  The Baroness' oeuvre is an enchanting observation of early America, views so well recorded with such fine and innocent detail that her images vicariously take you, like a time traveler, back into an early American place, its people or an event. Image: Indian War Dance for President Monroe, Washington, D.C. in 1821. Colonial Willamsburg Foundation Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
Indian War Dance for President Monroe, Washington, D.C. 1821
"Neuville could never have envisioned that her visual diary---created as a personal record of her travels and observations of early America---would become an invaluable historical of the early republic. Yet, her drawings vividly evoke the national optimism and rapid expansion of the young United States and capture the diversity of its individuals," Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New York Historical Society. Image: Among the notable events the Neuville's attended was an "Indian War Dance" performed by a delegation of the Plains Indian tribes in front of President Monroe,  and 6,000 spectators at the White House, Washington, D.C. on November 29, 1821. Neuville's watercolor documenting the event includes likenesses of half-chief Shaumonekusse (Praire Wolf) and one of his five wives,  Hayne Hudjihini (Eagle of Delight) Later the "War Dance," was performed at the Neuville's house.. Black and brown ink. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. 
THE BARONESS HYDE de NEUVILLE, the artist who stated in 1818 that she had but one wish "and that was to see an American lady elected president." A woman ahead of her time she was born to an aristocratic family in Sancerre, France. She married ardent royalist Jean Guillaume Hyde de Neuville, who became involved during the French Revolution in conspiracies to reinstate the Bourbon monarchy and was accused of participating in a plot to assassinate Napoleon, In an effort to disprove the charges against her husband, the baroness took her cause directly to Napoleon who was impressed with her courage and allowed the couple to go into exile.      

They arrived in New York in 1807 and stayed for seven years. During their second American residency (1816-22) when her husband served as French Minister Plenipotentiary in Washington, D.C., Henriette became a celebrated hostess. John Quincy Adams described her as "a woman of excellent temper, amiable disposition, profuse charity, yet judicious economy and sound discretion. Image: Self-portrait Baroness Hyde de Neuville, Black chalk, black ink. New York Historical Society purchase 1953-238. A GALLERY TOUR OF ARTIST IN EXILE, Led by curator, Roberta M. Olson, will take place on January 6. In honor of the Baronesses' heritage, several French movies will be shown as part of the New York Historical Society's Friday night film series. 1938's The Baker's Wife on November 8 and 1946's Beauty and the Beast on December 6. On select weekends throughout the exhibition's run, young visitors can explore the Baroness' life and the art she created with touch objects and living historians.  TA TA DARLINGS!!! Wonderful exhibition of
life in small-scale renderings, be sure to pick up one of the magnifiers on loan at the exhibit to see up-close the fine details of the Baroness' images. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at with links in the left-hand column to visionary men,
women determined to succeed, fashion historian and poetry.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

BACH CHRISTMAS ORATORIO Nov. 24 Performed By Canterbury Choral Sodiety

"Listening to Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a holiday experience like no other!" The Canterbury Choral Society's concert begins the holiday season by reminding us to remember how the joys of Christmas can lift our spirits with praise and wonderment,
        The Canterbury Choral Society's concert, presenting Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachtsoratorium) brings to New Yorker's one of the most venerable concerts of all time on Sunday, November 24, at 4 p.m. at the Church of the Heavenly Rest located at 1085 Fifth Avenue at 90th Street.
        The CCS artistic director Jonathan de Vries will conduct the Canterbury Choral Society and full orchestra, with a cast of soloists, in the Bach Christmas Oratorio consisting of cantatas that resonate with the Christmas season.
     Bach composed the  "Christmas Oratorio" in 1734, for two Leipzig Churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, for which he served as music director. Bach intended the Oratorio for performances in church during the Christmas season. Now, some 285 years later the Canterbury Choral Society similarly ushers in the holiday season with this glorious Oratorio, its cantatas and timeless story. 
         EACH OF THE CANTATAS HAS ITS OWN STORY, AND ITS OWN SOUND: Each part is a cantata for 1 of 6 feast days within the twelve days of the Christmas season. The Story begins with the birth of Jesus:
PART I Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf,  preiset die Tage, Cantata for Christmas Day. 
PART II Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend, Cantata for the second day of Christmas. 
PART III Herrscher des Himmels, erhore das Lallen, the shepherds. Cantata for third of Christmas. 
PART IV Falit mit Danken , Falit mit Loben describes the naming and circumcision of Jesus, Cantata for New Year. 
Part V Ehre sei, dir, Gott, gesungen, is Cantata for the Sunday after New Year (Not sung ll/24) 
PART VI Herr, wenn die stoizen Feinde schnauben, Cantata for Epiphany describes the Three

Kings, or Magi for the first Saturday after New Year. 
       TICKETS: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and $10 students. Order on line at