Monday, August 19, 2019

FORGOTTEN SOLDIER: African Americans in the Revolutionary War: Review By Polly Guerin

Forgotten Soldier' exhibition is a cautionary tale of duplicity, a time of patriotism and a time when enslaved and free African Americans fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War. They had the opportunity to join either the American or the British fighting forces and were lured by the promise of obtaining their freedom at the end of the war.  It was a promise that lured hundreds of men like Bristol Rhodes, an enslaved man to join the Rhode Island Regiment, fought at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781 and many others who are now given their due recognition and respect for their bravery. Their story is now told with rare documents and artifacts on display, lectures and interpretive demonstrations with re-enactors from African American military regiments.          
Portrait by John Trumbull, circa 1797
FORGOTTEN SOLDIER' at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Virginia through 
March 22, 2020 presents the compelling stories of  some of the thousands of African Americans who took part as soldiers in the Continental Army. They fought in George Washington's army for the American cause for a free and independent nation. Men like Crispus Attucks, a sailor, a fugitive from slavery who was the wars first casualty at the Boston Massacre, and later considered "the First Martyr of Liberty,"  While FREEDOM was to be their reward history recounts that after the war George Washington wanted enslaved people to be returned to their owners and sadly the enslavers came looking for their property.
       Then, too, no less significant are the stories of those African Americans who made the risky choice to join nearby British units with the promise of obtaining their own freedom. The exhibition features Dunmore's Proclamation of 1775 on loan from the Library of  Congress. Virginia's royal governor, Lord Dunmore, promised freedom to all enslaved African Americans owned by rebelling Patriots, if they would serve and bear arms with Loyalty to Britain. FREEDOM was at the core of their urge to serve.  What motivated hundreds of enslaved men to leave their life of servitude? You must remember that before the Revolution few enslaved African Americans could ever escape bondage. Yet,  with the promise of becoming Free Men the enslaved African Americans fought bravely with the Continental Army. What's even more disturbing is the fact that at the wars end their former owners tried to enslave these men again, but not everyone. Image: Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and his Negro servant by John Trumbull, ca. 1797. In this oil-painting, Asaba and his owner, Lt. Thomas Grosvenor of Pomfret, Connecticut, look at the fallen hero, Dr. Joseph Warren, killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Asaba survived this battle and was freed by Grosvenor after the war. Painting on loan from Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection. 
Inspection Roll and Book of Negroes
The "Inspection Roll of Negroes Book No. 1," on loan from the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC, and the "Book of Negroes," on loan from the National Archives of the United Kingdom. The Americans and the British created these documents to partially satisfy a requirement of Article 7 of the Treaty of Paris, also on loan from the United States National Archives for the exhibition. These ledgers record the names of approximately 3,000 African American men, women and children who  escaped to British lines during the war in hopes of obtaining their freedom. An interactive in the exhibit offers an in-depth exploration of

of the "Inspection Roll of Negroes Book, No. 1" from the United States National Archives.
          The exhibits interactive and hands on experiences also include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness where an interactive wheel shows the choices that many African Americans made in the hope for freedom. By turning the wheel visitors can find out what actually happened to people who made the same choice and learn about their stories. Then, too, there is "Hidden in Plain Sight, the story of James Lafayette who served as a Patriot spy and relayed messages to George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. 
        Of special note is the original work by Titus Kaphar, an American contemporary artist whose
riveting three-dimensional sculpture invites visitors to "shift their gaze" or look at history in a new light to contemplate the Forgotten Soldier often overlooked in historical accounts.
        The AMERICAN REVOLUTION MUSEUM at Yorktown is located at 200 Water Street, parking is free. Visit Visitors can connect with more stories of African Americans in the Revolution and their wartime experiences by also exploring the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown PERMANENT GALLERY EXHIBITS where senior curator Sarah Meschutt said, "Even the average African American today does not know the story about the participation of African Americans in the Revolutionary War.  In addition to bearing arms their manual labor dug the trenches, they served as musicians, cooks, and in various other capacities. Ms. Meschutt further stated that "Without the participation of African Americans it would have been difficult to win the war." The exhibits in the Permanent Gallery uncovers the lives of Peter Salem, Billy Flora and Billy Lee to name just a few of the men who labored as enslaved men on the docks and in searing hot smelting furnaces.    Martha Katz-Hyman, assistant curator, proudly pointed out two rare items, the Marquis de Lafayette's pistols and references to other notable patriots including Sylas Deane, a Connecticut merchant who figures importantly in convincing the French to support the American Revolution, but that, too, is another worthy story.    
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Forgotten Soldier burns into our collective memory to never forget even our brave soldiers who today are protecting our Freedom.  Please send fan mail and your story to Visit and click in the left-hand column to links to
Polly's other Blogs.                           

Monday, August 12, 2019

TENACITY: Women in Jamestown, Virginia: Feature By Polly Guerin

TENACITY, Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia at Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th Century Virginia history and culture, explores little known, captivating personal stories of real women in Jamestown colony and their tenacious spirit and impact on a fledgling society.   

What could have possessed women like Ann Jackson, Anne Burras, Allice Burges, Ann Tanner, Mary Moore, Jane Hill and many other English women to embark on a journey across perilous seas to start a new life in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World? Among them were widows, spinsters, orphans and servant girls, many just teenagers who  sought a better life and adventure. They were lured by the Virginia Company of London, dear readers, with the only honorable profession of their time--the prospect of marriage. 
      The Virginia Company of London sent the first English settlers to Virginia in 1607 they did not include women intentionally, keeping their potentially distracting "fairer sex" home in England.  However, the first women to arrive in Jamestown in 1608 were Anne Burras, age 14 who was the maidservant to Mistress Forrest, the wife of colonist Thomas Forrest. Her mistress died soon afterward  and Anne married John Laydon in the first recorded English marriage in Virginia. Ann's tenacity and resilience insured her survival through relentless troubles including deadly winter of 1609-10, which took the lives of 75 percent of the colonists. Later during Martial Law she survived a severe whipping and later that night lost her unborn child. Go to the exhibit and find
out why so cruel a punishment was decreed.  
      The London Company soon realized that a settlement of men would not thrive without wives and ensuing families. So in order to improve upon the situation, and support their interest in profit, in 1619 the company began a campaign to recruit wives for the Virginia colonists.                   Women's roles in early Virginia were rarely recorded but this exhibit features the names and the personal stories of many of these tenacious women who were lured by incentives that might improve their status in life.  The exhibit gives us the opportunity to share their stories and to give these women a voice and rightful place in history
      Dr. Beverly Straube, Curator of the 17th Century galleries who played a major role in planning the exhibit said, "Our team of five tenacious women got passionate about bringing the women's stories to light."   As for incentives that motivated women to journey to the New World, Dr. Straube pointed out that these women of modest means were offered several incentives saying, "Women received perfumed lambskin gloves, a luxury at that time, and practical items such as clothing and bedding." Unaware of the danger and hardship that awaited them these pioneering women were tenacious, determined and persistent travelers.  ANN JACKSON: Perhaps full of hope and optimism for a new life in Virginia, took it upon herself to leave her father William's  
Ferrar Papers Interactive Screen
house in London and boarded the Marmaduke as one of 56 skilled and respectable women who sailed in 1621. Ann Survived the Atlantic crossing arriving in Jamestown only to have her dream of finding a husband was dashed when in March 1622 the Powathan Indians captured her and 18 other women during an attack on the settlement. Her riveting story of survival and return to England is among many other accounts of hardship and unrequited love. 
     INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS: Among the artifacts on display is the Ferrar Papers, circa 1621. a key source of information about English women who arrived in Virginia in 1621 and 1622. Compiled by a London merchant Nicholas Ferrar, The Ferrar Papers include business documents of many of he 56 women recruited to go to Virginia in 1621, to become wives of he settlers. A touch screen interactive display near the original documents allows visitors to learn more about these early English women. Other interactive Displays throughout the exhibit shed light on many other women including Angelo.
    ANGELO'S STORY: Then, too, there was a woman of a different color. When Angelo stepped off the ship Treasurer she saw no one who looked like her. As one of the first Africans in the colony, she arrived in 1619 as an enslaved woman from the Portuguese colony of Angola in West Central Africa.  To add to the drama of her life in Virginia. English officials traded suppliers forAngelo. It is further revealed from period documents that by 1625 she worked for planter William Peirce and his wife Joane on their property in Jamestown. Look for two rare documents related to Angelo on loan for the first time in America from the National Archives of the United Kingdom.
Naming the Women Step by Step up the Staircase
LEGACY WALL: Add your own Tenacity to the exhibit. An interactive "Legacy Wall" allows visitors to explore the stories of women from 1607 to the present with a touch a screen, as well as share their own stories of tenacious women in history and their own lives. Image Left: Although you can take an elevator instead look for the staircase that leads up to the TENACITY exhibit where the names of these courageous women are listed, step by step, including Temperance Flowerdew Barrow Yeardley West who stepped off a ship in 1609 in Virginia in the midst of a harsh, starvation-fraught winter. Yet tenacious 
Temperance survived.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! This new exhibit TENACITY runs through to January 5, 2020. For information about Tenacity and related programs, visit and Administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
Fan mail welcome at 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Tom Christopher at Molly Barnes Art Salon: Review By Polly Guerin

Tom Christopher at the Brill Building with Window Onlooker
To the art world cognoscenti Molly Barnes' art history lectures at her Friday Brown Bag luncheon salon has introduced some of the country's celebrated emerging artists and others who have acquired international reputations like, Tom Christopher who shared his paintings and views on art last Friday at the host location, The Roger Smith Hotel in New York City. 
        Known for his impressionist urban paintings and murals, mostly of New York City, Christopher said "The energy of New York City caught me up in a love affair with the dynamic flow of the city." He advised "Paint from your heart and with no concern about pleasing anyone. Do not follow trends, do it because you are inspired." Fashion Institute of Technology, Associate Professor, Advertising Design Thomas McManus, School of Art and Design who also has worked with Christopher on special projects added, "Don't do whats being done, do something different and be patient. When Picasso came out with Cubism nothing sold until 8 years later."
Tom Christopher's Bicycle City
The unnamed large-scale painting on exhibit conveyed Christopher's unique take on the cacophony of a congested city 
street through dynamic pulsating acrylic red paint bursting out of the images like the energy of the city. Then, too, the golden sun drenched  light illuminating other figures in a cluster mingling looks like a person on a motorcycle and others hustling in the blaring traffic. One unpainted area reveals the white canvas and draws the eye deeper into the painting.
       POLLY OBSERVES: As a regular attendee at Molly's art salon I am always thrilled to sit among the artists who ask questions, "How do you get your ideas?"  Christopher sent around his note book in which his rough sketches depict real New Yorkers---street people, bicycle messengers, cars, pedestrians, just plain characters who might become subjects in a painting.  Sometimes he uses a camera to record scenes.     
Tom Christopher's painting suggests NYC's Hustling Masses
MOLLY BARNES The lectures are part art history and advice on how to make it in the art world. That's something 
that the dynamic Molly Barnes tells her students at the Otis College of Art and Design where she created a course for artists on how to make it in the art world, including how to look prosperous, For men "Wear new classic shoes. For Women carry a designer handbag."  Then, too, other serious concerns are on the agenda like mingle at gallery openings, promote and publicize yourself with etiquette and decorum. Her Molly Barnes Gallery is located in West Hollywood, California and she has generously launched many art careers.  If you are interested in attending one of Molly's Brown Bag free lectures, usually held from noon to 1 p.m. at The Roger Smith Hotel, located at Madison and 47th Street, make a reservation: Call 212 255 7100. The
art lectures start up again in October.
      Ta Ta Darlings! I never miss a Molly Barnes Brown Bag Lectures that are not only a art
salon experience but also an art history lecture and a splendid networking opportunity for
everyone, especially, of course, artists.  Fan mail welcome at Visit
Polly's Blogs at on visionary men, women determined to succeed, beauty
and even, poetry.

Monday, July 29, 2019


"Botstein and BARD SummerScape shows courage and great imagination, honoring operas that larger institutions are content to ignore"--Time Out New York
     Indeed, BARD Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, committed to reviving important but neglected
operas, presents this year's immersion in "Korngold with the American premiere of THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE ("Das Wunder der Heliane") the grand opera that Erich Wolfgang Korngold considered his masterpiece. A not-to-be-missed extravaganza the music soars with melodic ecstasy under the baton of Leon Botstein, music director of the American Symphony orchestra with a fully staged new production by German director Christian Rath.  
       The next scheduled performances in the Sosnoff Theater, are Friday, August 2 at 4 pm and Sunday, August 4 at 2 pm. The SummerScape Coach from New York City is available on both dates.  Contact the Box Office for tickets and coach information at 845.758.7900.      

THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE (1927),  An allegorical tale, is set in an unnamed totalitarian state in which love, lust and hate emerge in an intricate, erotic triangle between a ruthless despot, The Ruler, portrayed with grim consequences by the brilliant bass baritone, Alfred Walker.  His unrequited passion  focuses on his beautiful and neglected wife, Helaine, with Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte in the title role. She specializes in strong female personalities and does not disappoint as the tortured Helaine. The clarity and sheer volume of her voice is stunning and magically engages our listening pleasure with her soaring soprano. She is put on trail but can she perform a miracle and bring her lover back to life? Then, too, there is the Stranger with internationally acclaimed tenor, Daniel Brenna, bringing the complications of love into the story. Sung in German with English supertitles. All this with captivating Judges in fierce red costumes and the large Bard Festival Chorale adding drama to the epic and sequences of  dancers interpreting emotional charged scenes in choreographed interludes.   Erich WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (1897-1957)   

whose lush romanticism would define the
quintessential sound in Hollywood movies began his career as a classical prodigy in Vienna, becoming a highly respected opera composer at just 19.  Yet, despite his ensuing successes, The Miracle of Helaine was dogged with difficulties from the outset. First caught up in the musical politics of the time, then banned by the Nazis, Helaine all but disappeared from the repertoire, and still almost a hundred years later, the opera never been staged in the United States until Bard's production.  This represents to opera lovers and the music world at large a considerable loss. Helaine features "Ich ging zu ihm," one of Korngold's best loved arias, styling the opera "a huge triumphant song of love and liberation on the grandest scale. Brendan G. Carroll, President of the International Korngold Society explains, "Helaine is not only arguably the composer's greatest work," but also one that stands "among the masterpieces of Romantic Opera."
      Ta Ta Darlings! Everyone stood up with thunder applauds at yesterday's Sunday
afternoon performance. The cast on stage was in top form, the music was glorious, the
singers sensational and the chorale and orchestra beyond measure, just pure, pure excellence. 
Be there next weekend for an experience of a lifetime that even the Metropolitan Opera could envy. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's other Blogs at 

Monday, July 22, 2019

GIFFORD PINCHOT, The Father of American Conservation By Polly Guerin

Gifford Pinchot "Father of American Conservation"
In September 1963, while giving a speech dedicating Grey Towers, Gifford Pinchot's ancestral home in Milford, PA to the National Forest Service, President John F. Kennedy declared Gifford Pinchot the "FATHER OF AMERICAN CONSERVATION."  
      Yet, in some regard, Gifford Pinchot's
name has been lost to history, He may not be as oft quoted as Thoreau or John Muir, but  PINCHOT has a well-earned spot in American wilderness conservation serving as its First Chief, and friend and advisor to
president Theodore Roosevelt.
      GIFFORD CHOOSES TO BE A FORESTER: While other career paths were available to this son of a wealthy clan, he chose forestry.  It was an odd choice at the time because in the 1870s there were no United States Foresters.  
      That did not deter the outdoor adventurer. He had honed his skills as a boy scouting the woods, hunting and  fishing around his boyhood home in Pennsylvania. Later his father, James, recognized the destruction of natural resources overtaking the nation in the 19th century, advised his eldest son, Gifford to consider a career in forestry. thus introducing the idea of conservation to America. Gifford took naturally to the suggestion attended college and with further knowledge of forestry, acquired in Europe, Gifford returned home determined to implant conservative techniques to save our forests.
1925 Black Butte fire lookout, CA USFC Photo
One must look back to the 1870s and 
1880s, to the sheer magnitude of the lush rich land and its forests Americans thought the the forests would last forever but that was not the case.  Loggers plundered the land and there seemed  no need to plant trees or replant for the future. Hillsides laid barren further caused the cry for conservativism.
      Pinchot worked hard to to change what was happening, and through a long and arduous struggle he as was so successful that he was appointed head of the U.S. Forest Service, and often called the Father of Forestry. Forest Rangers were trained and stationed throughout major forests with fire lookouts and patrols to protect forests for generations to come Pincholt once said the goal of conservation was the use of the Earth for, THE GREATEST GOOD, FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER, FOR THE LONGEST RUN,"
      The Theodore Roosvelt connection: When New York State governor Theodore Roosevelt needed advice about the state's forests in 1899, his choice of adviser was Gifford Pinchot. The two
men talked forestry and a bond of friendship formed with respect for the forests and the great need for conversation was formed so strong that in 1905, President Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest
Service and appointed Pinchot the first Chief Forester.  During Pinchot's five years in that position
millions of acres became national forests.  
      Sadly, conservation of the forests was threatened. In 1910, President
Add caption
 William Taft began unraveling some of the Roosevelt-Pinchot conservation policies and Pinchot became a vocal critic.  The result, Taft fired Pinchot, who then came home to Grey Towers and launched his political career. Pinchot later served as governor of Pennsyvania from 1923 to 1927 and 1931 to 1935 and accredited much of his success in the political arena to his wife Cornelia Bryce 
Pinchot, who was a "tour de force" herself. 
      Cornelia was a suffragette, she worked tirelessly for the public good, taking a stand against low pay and poor working conditions for women and she worked tirelessly to campaign for her husband's future as governor.  However, Cornelia Pinchot's viewpoint resonates even today that women---as a strong block of constituents--can bring about change in a society. Need I say more? Cornelia is yet another historical figure worthy of a follow-up feature, Stay tuned.
P.O.Box 188, 151Grey Towers Drive, Milford, PA. For tours information for schedules and fees.  Telephone: 570.296.9630. Grey Towers is open daily Memorial Day through October and on limited days other times of the year. 
       Natural resource agencies groups and organization doing conservation work can use the Grey Towers Conference Center for workshops, conferences, seminars and programs that address the management of natural and cultural resources.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Grey Towers, originally a private home has magnificent period rooms that reflect the grand style and grand entertainments of the Pinchot family. These rooms and the surrounding acreage make a visit here both a historical and pleasurable experience. Fan mail
welcome at  Visit Polly's other Blogs at


Monday, July 15, 2019

WOMEN and DOGS and ART at AKC Dog Museum: Review By Polly Guerin

Bea Godsol with Sealyham Terriers
Women and their dogs have been inseparable throughout history and in England Queen Victoria, wealthy and influential women became dog breeders, one of the only sports at that time that women could compete on equal footing with men. Pictured here is Beatrice H. Godsol, the legendary Dog Show Judge who had a great knowledge of dogs and was known for her gracious ring manner. Popularly known as. Bea Godsol, she was painted by J. Dwight Bridge in 1930 with her Sealyham Terriers.
     The AKC Museum of the Dog's exhibition 'WOMEN AND DOGS IN ART IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY makes a strong case, however, for women artists and their portraits of dogs.
       "Beginning in the early 20th Century women artists were starting to become a greater force in the dog art world,"says Alan Fausel, Executive director."I'm delighted to showcase these incredible women and teir amazing talents."
      The exhibition runs through September 29th, 2019 at 101 Park Avenue, New York City a short distance from Grand Central Station.
      Breeders such as the Duchess of Newcastle emerged in America, then, too, Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge was unparalleled in her pursuit of breeding and showing dogs. Queen Victoria may have set the precedent when she began commissioning the world's most renowned dog artists to paint her pets.  Lucy Dawson, a British painter and author of numerous children's books, for one, was commissioned by the Royal family to paint their Corgi Dookie,     
The Queen unwittingly started a trend, and other important dog breeders and fanciers started commissioning works of their dogs. Under these circumstances, female artists broke into the dog world. The exhibition showcases the work of several prolific and influential female artists including over 80 works by he preeminent dog portraitist MAUD EARL. Edward VII's fox terrier Caesar was the subject of paintings on two occasions. The second one, pictured here, depicts
the dog mourning his master's death. 
       There are also nearly 40 works by renowned etcher Marquerite Kirmse. Both Earl and Kirsme were able to become householdnames in the dog world through the dissemination of their work in the thousands through multiples such as prints, bronzes and ceramics. 
      Then, too, Maud Earl's career in particular had recently received a great amount of attention, cementing her status as on of the most talented and inventive dog artists. As for my observation, it seems pretty clear to me
that women dog artists seem to have a greater insight into the personality of the dogs they portray though the eyes of the dog and also their facial expressions that revel such individualistic character studies.
      Sculpture is widely re;resented throughout the dog museum with Kay Finch, a successful artist and ceramist and a top breeder in the United States. Her bronzes were prized possessions. The American sculptor, Laura Gardin Fraser, is also represented and was also the first woman to also design a coin for the U.S. Treasury 
I Hear a Voice" St. Bernard"
Along the way you will also encounter works in the museum's permanent collection by contemporary artists following in the footsteps of these groundbreaking women.

     Pictured left: "I Hear a Voice" by Maud Earl captures the intensity of this magnificent St. Bernard's attention.
    Another treat in store. The AKC Library and Archives presents "Bannister Babies and Pet Pin Ups, featuring vivid color portraits by Constance Bannister, one of the most recognizable American photographers during the post World War II boom years. Bannister's work, including photographic prints, comic strips, and magazine covers including the AKC' own AKC Gazette, capture the cultural moment when Americans began to treat their dogs as full fledged members of the family.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  My dear little black poodle went over the Rainbow Bridge years ago and like all dog owners I still mourn but take comfort in viewing this grand exhibit of women artists who
painted and cherished dogs. Fan mail welcome at  
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Monday, July 8, 2019


Grand Tour Travel Guide book by Baedeker
Travel today may be extremely challenging, but nothing compares to the GRAND TOUR of the 18th and 19th centuries when upon graduation young aristocratic men would set off for a Grand Tour with their tutor and servants that might last from two to five years. In a fascinating documentary exhibition, the GRAND TOUR, at the Salem Athenaeum, Salem, Massachusetts you can vicariously travel, as I did recently, to Paris, Mont Blanc, Rome, Venice, ruins at Pompeii and Vesuvius, and the Rhine. Artifacts, impressive travel guides, such as the Baedeker's (pictured) complete with fold-out maps prepared the way to adventure.               
Lord Byron in Albanian Dress
       Armed with letters of introduction and letters of credit a young man's trip was composed to enlighten the young elite of England.  Fraught with danger they would cross the Channel from Dover to Calais. Sea sickness was common and during heavy storms ships were known to capsize. 
     Notwithstanding, adventure lured the young men on a cultural journey to acquire as much polish and knowledge as possible to complete their bearing as a noble gentleman.   Pictured: Lord George Gordon Byron, first painted in 1813 by Thomas Phillips. Among the celebrated travelers Lady Caroline Lamb, Byron's most infamous lover, declared that he was, "Mad, bad and dangerous to know."  Byron's life remains the stuff of legend, and his poetry is still read and studied worldwide.     

       In this captivating display of documents and books from the library's historical collections, exhibit curator Elaine Von Bruns has assembled a pamphlet entitled, "Advice for Grand Tourists which includes Cross the Alps "In case of fierce weather, be ready to clamber on hands and knees (even though you may be the son of an Earl."  The pamphlet includes quite a detailed packing list such as "Plate and Cutlery Chest, since inn cutlery will likely be filthy and the knives dull."  Then, too, protection was a major issue and be so advised, "Pistols in case of encounters with brigands and highwaymen." In Hints about "Travel in Italy" travelers are advised, "Plan to reach your destination before dark, not just from fear of bandits, but because the city gates will be closed at
night and locked against you."   
   The Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex Street, Salem, MA. 978.744.2560.
      Ta Ta Darlings!  You, too, can take the GRAND TOUR at the Salem Athenaeum, just be prepared to spend some time lingering over the historical documents on display from books to letters to personal souvenirs of the long, long ago Grand Tour. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's other Blogs on visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian and poetry with links in the left-hand column on 

Monday, July 1, 2019

PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY TO CHINA:19th Century: Review By Polly Guerin

Photographers and their creative oeuvre have documented and preserved the ancient world allowing us not to forget our ancestors. Such is the legacy of Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1871) one of the first photographers to document East and South Asia, starting in the 1860s. Image: John Thomson, The Island Pagoda,1873. Carbon print, Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Anthony Rives. (c) Peabody Essex Museum. Photograph by Ken Sawyer.             Thomson gathered the resulting photographs in a rare album titled FOOCHOW and the RIVER MIN, which presents more than 40 striking landscapes, city views and portrait studies by Thomson as he traveled the Fujian province in South East China from 1870 to 1871.  Fewer that 10 of the original 46 copies of this album survive. THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM (PEM) counts itself privileged to hold two examples of the Album and presents one of them in the exhibition titled, A LASTING MEMENTO: JOHN THOMSON'S PHOTOGRAPHS ALONG THE RIVER MIN. This photographic journeys past and present show China in a new light at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA through May 17, 2020. 
       "Many people have a conception of China as very industrialized and modern, even sterile, but the photographs on the exhibition walls complicate that notion, and reveal the country's incredible beauty and geographic diversity," says Sarah Kennel, PEM's Byrne Family Curator of Photography."This exhibition affirms how photography can bring us back
in time and can change the way we see the world."
        Among the many remote and dramatic landscapes, the Yuen-Fu Monastery fascinated Thomson where he set up his camera at various points along the steep, rocky terrain.  No doubt the journey was even more challenging for his Chinese porters, who had to carry not only his equipment, but also Thomson, his dog, and a large coterie of traveling companions up the stairs in sedan.
Thomson's Altar of Heaven, Lone figure in the Foreground
Thomson's dramatic landscapes of mountains, rivers and streams frequently place a lone figure in the foreground to convey scale and to intensify  the sense of the individuals communion with the mysterious and atmospheric quality of nature. Then, too, the exhibit viewer, like the solo figure in the photograph, might vicariously view the sheer majesty of the sweeping vista. Image: John Thomson, The Altar of Heaven, 1870-71. Carbon print. Gift of  the Estate of Mrs. Anthony Rives. (c) Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer.

      This exhibition is complemented by a section of photographs by contemporary artist LUO DAN who was inspired by Thomson to undertake his own journey in southwestern China where he lived with and photographed the Lisu and Nu Christian ethnic minority communities for nearly two years.  Image: John Thomson, Coolies 1870-71.Carbon print, gift of the Estate of Mrs. Anthony Rives. (c) Peabody Essex Museum. Photograph by Ken Sawyer.
Nearly 150 years after Thomson photographed in China, Chinese photographer Luo Dan's (b. 1968) SIMPLE SONG series  features 10 works by Luo that reflect and reverberate with the spirit of Thomson's 19th century
John Thomson Coolies 1870-71
 project. In making his body of work LUO referred to Thomson's photographs and used the same wet collodion process that Thomson had employed.  LUO traveled to the remote Nu River Valley in southwestern China where he lived with and patiently photographed the Lisu and Nu Christian ethnic minority communities for close to two years. LUO's photographs are infused with his own sense of nostalgia for a place seemingly  untouched by industrialization.
  .       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  You may not be going to China soon, but the Peabody Essex Museum takes you there vicariously visiting such remote places that even modern Chinese have probably never seen before. Fan mail: Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column on links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian,and poetry.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

St. Benedict's Courtyard: Hidden Gem of a Garden: By Polly Guerin

Step down into St. Benedict's Courtyard Garden
In the cacophony of New York City there are some rare and wonderful places to visit, to stay, to pray, to meditate, to write by long hand and compose a poem, or write a play and maybe,  just maybe, you will throw off the mantle of stress and reclaim your composure and child-like-wonder personality.  
       That wonderful place is A HIDDEN GEM OF A GARDEN, St. Benedict's Courtyard. Enter at 222 W. 11th Street to St. John's in the Village hidden garden.  Open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. St. Benedict's invites all writers and would-be novelists to bring their laptops and let your mind create in this peaceful place. a story. Get inspired in this tranquil oasis where the metropolis melts away and the garden of serenity. 
Historical: The garden and parish was newsworthy. In a congratulatory article from 1927, the writer wrote, "On Waverly Place and West 11th Street, there stands a church in proud dignity. And well may it be proud, this church of St. John the Evangelist, tucked away, just off one of New York's busiest avenues, under its eyes it has seen the ugliness of the past give way to beauty, squalor of a bygone era to flowers and birds, song, and sunshine.
Friends Gather  to Relax and Quietly Converse
It was not so long ago that this church was was in danger of being swamped by teeming tenements, rundown apartment houses, and indifferent neighbors Bit by Bit its very life was 
being chocked. 
        The Rev. John A Wade, rector of the church, realized this and sought a way to remedy it. He conceived the idea of buying some of the surrounding property, of renovating the houses, of cleaning up the back yards. He was a visionary and he dreamt of a garden. 
       And that is how the garden began. A lot of neighborhood clean up. Paths were laid out, trees and shrubs planted, and today this
hidden garden of St. John's is not a secret anymore, but unique in the garden history of New York.
      THE JEFFERSON MARKET GARDEN  is also one of Greenwich Village's hidden treasures. Nestled in one of New York's busiest corners, 70 Greenwich Avenue. Treat yourself to the beauty, color and scents of the garden's peaceful oasis, adjacent to the historic Jefferson Library, a landmark, which in the old days was a women's prison.But that' another story of the long, long
which in the old days was a women's prison. But that's another story of the long, long ago.
       At a time when health advisories stress the importance of spending with nature these garden gems in New York City provide nourishment to the soul and mind
As they Say, "Get out and smell the roses." For that matter, wouldn't it be wonderful to learn more about planet earth and you may even cultivate interest in horticultural studies.
      You can also create a miniature garden in a large bowl or anything that has (or can have) drainage holes, from a planter to an old pot.  To do: Pour gravel into the bottom of your planter and add soil, then plant greenery like succulent, mini cactus and jade plants. Now you can add personal accessories, available in craft stores, like miniature animals or even tiny fairies, toadstools, a small patriotic flag and even an itty-bitty umbrella like the ones used on flamboyant tropical drinks . Add mini furniture, like a small bench, where you can  vicariously sit and meditate or become dreamy and nostalgic. Remember to water your small garden of inspiration and pray with gratitude the best of every thing that makes your life meaningful and inspired. Share your joy each day, inspire others to appreciate nature and the gift of the garden.

Monday, June 17, 2019


Phillips & Taylor, Photo of Walt Whitman, 1873
Summer Museum hopping leads the way to Exhibition Summer at The Morgan Library and Museum; showcasing  four exhibitions all summer long and some well into September/October. On the agenda: Walt Whitman: Bard of Democracy, Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak's Designs for Opera and Ballet,  Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor and Among Others: Photography and the Group.
     THE MORGAN CELEBRATES THE DEMOCRATIC SPIRIT OF WALT WHITMAN'S POETRY AND LIFE through September 15, 2019.  In celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth, The Morgan exhibits the work of the beloved American poet.
      In a notebook in 1859 Whitman wrote, "Comrades! I am the bard of Democracy," and over the seventy years (1818-1892), he made good on that claim.  Right: Phillips & Taylor photograph of Walt Whitman, 1873, Prints and Photographs
Department, Library of Congress. 
     From humble beginnings in Long Island and Brooklyn he earned a global audience that never stops growing. As he bore witness to the rise of New York City, the Civil War, and other transformations in American life, his prolific reflections on the events of the times bore witness through his poetry. 
Whitman's prolific body of work included the most celebrated texts of American literature--LEAVES OF GRASS (1855) which continues to speak to new generations of readers and eventually earned a global audience that has never stopped growing .  On display among the artifacts is the famous letter written to Whitman by Ralph Waldo Emerson commending that book.                   The exhibition includes Whitman's response to the Civil War and displays the great poem that he wrote in honor of the martyred president including, "O Captain! My Captain!"
    Also on view are letters and documents from Oscar Wilde,
Hart Crane, Frederico Garcia Lorca and Alan Ginsburg, that trace the writer's influence on the twentieth century.  Programs include Walt Whitman's World, June 26 and Reading: Poets on Walt Whitman: Susan Howe and Shane McCrae, July 11.
Maurice Sendak (1982-2012) Ship Nutcracker (1982-4)
Get ready to channel the child in us all. A new summer exhibition DRAWING THE CURTAIN: MAURICE SENDAK'S DESIGNS FOR OPERA 
AND BALLET through October 6, 2019, celebrates an extraordinary bequest of the acclaimed and illustrator of children's books Maurice Sendak (1928-2012). Best known for his 1963 Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak was an avid music and opera lover. Beginning in the late 1970s, he embarked on a second career as a designer for opera. Drawing the Curtain brings together nearly one hundred and fifty drawings and more than 900 by Sendak in the Morgan collection, including storyboards, finished watercolors, and painted dioramas.
     At the entrance of the exhibit in the Morgan Stanley Gallery West be invited by colorful prop characters and nearby a TV wall screen features scenes from operas and ballet. Image Right: Maurice Sendak (1982-2012) Ship Nutcracker (1982-4), gouache and graphic pencil on paper (c) The Maurice Sendak Foundation. The Morgan Library & Museum, Bequest of Maurice Sendak, 2013, 107 289 . Photograph by Jenny Chu,  Also on view are a number of earlier works by Sendak on loan from theMaurice Sendak Foundation, and a number of props and costumes. THIS IS THE FIRST MUSEUM EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO SENDAK'S SET AND COSTUME DESIGNS OFFERING NEW INSIGHTS INTO THEARTIST'S INSPIRATION, CREATIVE PROCESS AND EXCEPTIONAL SKILL AS A VISUAL STORYTELLER.  The exhibit presents a wide selection of works from five of his most important productions: Mozart's The Magic Flute,' Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev's Love of Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky;s Nutcracker and an opera based on Where the Wild Things Are. 
     Sendak's drawings for the stage embody his singular hand, a fantastical mode of storytelling, a keen, sometimes bawdy sense of humor and his profound love of music and art history.  Programs include Lecture/Performance: /Behind the Scenes: Maurice Sendak's for Opera, September 27th. Check listings for June and August at The Morgan website:
    TA TA DARLINGS: The rich and entertaining summer exhibitions at The Morgan make it a pleasure to stay in town in air-conditioned splendor.  Fan mail welcome: Visit Polly's other Blogs at and click in the left-hand column to the link to
visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion or poetry.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

CHARLIE ROMO's Roman Candle at the Green Room By Polly Guerin

CHARLIE ROMO channels America's great crooners with a youthful style that is a crowd pleaser welcome to a stunning, new talent. The 'TIMES CHRONICLES' WROTE, "Charlie Romo does something wonderful. While not changing the felling of these songs, he gives them a new infusion of life." This youthful upstart from Staten Island, Tottenville to be exact, is stirring up the New York nightclub scene when he returns to the stage at The Green Room 42 with his brand new show, ROMAN CANDLE,  on Friday, June 28th with The Ultimate Bobby Darin Experience.

   Backed by an incomparable 7-piece band, the award-winning contemporary crooner brings the sound, style and swagger of Bobby Darin to The Green Room 42 for one special, 'swingin’ night! This theatrical concert is the definitive look at the career, life and legacy of the multi-talented artist who refused to be define

Featuring all the hits—"Mack The Knife," "Beyond the Sea," "Dream Lover," "Splish Splash" and so much more...
Seating is limited and there is no food/beverage minimum, so get your tickets now by clicking the link below!

"I closed my eyes and found myself in a dream—I was hearing Bobby Darin live."
- Theater Pizzazz

"Charlie Romo has the ability to turn theaters into an intimate scene out of the 1960's when Bobby Darin was on the Copacabana stage. He even has a similar magnetism."

"The Green Room 42 is Broadway's newest urban entertainment cabaret club, that since its opening on Valentine's day has featured Broadway names like Alice Ripley, Telly Leung, Josh Groban, Eva Noblezada, Lillias White, James Snyder, The Skivvies (Lauren Molina & Nick Cearley), Matt Doyle, Constantine Maroulis, and many more. Located on the fourth floor of YOTEL New York, The Green Room 42 boasts a funky new vibe, and no food or beverage minimum-- opening up the cabaret industry to an affordable, relaxed atmosphere, perfect for theatre people and theatre fans alike."  
Ta Ta Darlings!! I'll be there on June 28, please stop by and say Hello and let's give this brand new talent support, he may just be the next great crooner to emerge on the entertainment scene. Polly fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

MEDIA OUTREACH: A Revolutionary Summer at NYHS:

A Replic of George Washington's Headquarters Tent
REVOLUTION SUMMER at the New York Historical Society is an extravagant multi-media event that invites visitors to journey back to the Revolutionary War and learn some pretty amazing facts even omitted from classroom lessons.
     Starting on the Fourth of July and all summer long the visitors can vicariously travel in time to the War for Independence including visiting a replica of George Washington's Headquarters Tent, pictured left. On July 5 and 6th Your top secret mission enter Washington's encamoment, meet the General and is spies, then decode your own message.
      It is an opportunity like no other, a chance to explore amazing artifacts from the Revolutonary era including The Declaration of Independence, a broadside from King George lll officially ending the war.. 
      Topics through June through August are both educational and entertaining such as Revolutionary Trivia scheduled for June 12 and August 23. For example, "Do You Know What What Washington''s Favorite Breakfast Beverage Was?" You may not care one bit, but there are other tricky treats in store to learn more trivia. Getting into the right spirits, wine is included with the ticket. 
Deborah Sampson Trans Gender Warrior
Then, too, women get recognition in this extravagant roster of activities On June 24 dive into the fascinating and true story of Revolutionary War Hero DEBORAH SAMPSON in an event titled "TRANS IDENTITY and THE INCREDIBLE STORY DEBORAH," Alex Meyers discusses his novel.  She was a

Massacsetts woman who deguisedherself as a man in order to served in the Continental Army, However, she
was one of a small number of women 
with documented record of military
      FIELD MUSIC ON THE MARCH also on ta, singalongs with the Hudson River Ramblers and drum corps music, and living Historians just regular folk in period costume including John Adams, who will read
the Declaration of Independence in the NYHS stately library. 
Lifing Historians Ordinary Folk and Military
MEET FASCINATING HISTORICAL FOLK, plain and fancy Living Historians portraying early Americans from all walks of life. Chat 
and find our how they spent their days during the Revolution.  It's a great photo opportunity, too.
     Check out exceptional 18th Century artifacts and documents. Fun all summer for everyone especially fledgling historians and a DJ party
to liven up the summer's halcyon
   For additional information and