Monday, December 12, 2016

THE MARQUIS de LAFAYETTE: A TRUE FRIEND OF THE CAUSE (Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement) Review by Polly Guerin

The Marquis de Lafayette at Yorktown by Jean-Baptiste Le Paon 1782, oil on canvas
It is popularly known that in 1780 the French frigate, the Hermione, brought the  Marquis de Lafayette to America with exciting news of renewed French aid for the faltering American Revolution and a replicate of the frigate came to the United States in 2015  to celebrate the fact. Significantly, in addition, according to historians without the French Alliance, America would have lost its war of independence. However,  it is intriguing that the youthful twenty-three year old Lafayette's contributions in the areas of politics, diplomacy, and the military have received scholarly and public recognition, yet his role as an ardent abolitionist has not received the same kind of attention. Now in a timely manner a new exhibition offers a more comprehensive look at the man who was a "hero of two worlds." Image: The Marquis de Lafayette at Yorktown by Jean-Baptiste Le Paon 1782, oil on canvas. Courtesy Lafayette College Art Collection.
     The Grolier Club takes a giant step forward in history to focus Lafayette's sustained efforts in France, the United States, and South America on behalf of the abolition of slavery. The exhibition, THE MARQUIS de LAFAYETTE, A TRUE FRIEND OF THE CAUSE: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement is on view through February 4, 2017 with free lunchtime tours from 1-2 pm on December 14, January 11 and 18, and February 1, and are conducted by curators Olga Anna Duhl and Diane Windham Shaw. No registration is required, free admission. Where: 47 East 60th Street
     JUST WHO WAS THE MARQUIS TO GAIN SUCH NOTORIETY? Although the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) fought in the American War of Independence, he was a friend of the Native Americans, defended the rights of French Protestants and Jews during the French Revolution, supported the emancipation movement of people of Poland, Ireland, Italy, Greece and South America, and promoted the ideas and causes of women. Most significantly, he remained throughout his life a fervent advocate of the abolition of slavery and the African slave trade, earning the recognition of prominent British abolition is, Thomas Clarkson, as "a true friend of the cause."
    THE EXHIBITION AT LARGE: This is an exhibition not to be missed for its historical record traces Lafayette's first ideals of liberty and equality.  Early on Lafayette learned that the revolutionary era hardly benefited all members of society. In fact, one of the most daunting paradoxes of that era, which became a source of reflection and action for him, was between the national independence of the newly formed United States and the practice of slavery and the slave trade.  His first encounter with slaves was on the South Carolina coast. 
     Highlights of his role in service with the Continental Army are revealed in letters to his mentor, George Washington, written from Valley Forge, Newport and Virginia during the Yorktown Campaign, where Lafayette writes of the intelligence gathered by one of his spies, James, an enslaved African American. On view are many original artifacts including a highly significant letter written by Lafayette to Washington requesting his partnership in a venture to free slaves.
     Lafayette's complicated story includes his membership in the French Society of the Friends of Blacks. On view are Publications of the Society as well as stunning French prints of the American Revolution as well as the decree abolishing slavery in the French colonies.
    Ta Ta darlings!!!  Lafayette is in town for a short sojourn. Drawn from Lafayette College's rich collections of 18th and 19th century rare books, manuscripts, prints and objects, some of which are on public view for the firs time, the approximately 130 works in the exhibition also include loans from Cornell University and the New York Historical Society.  FAN MAIL ALWAYS WELCOME at Visit Polly's other Blogs at on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Monday, December 5, 2016

BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS at Museum at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin

The often unrecognized impact that designers of African descent have had on fashion garners significant homage to the contribution of black designers at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. 
        Always at the forefront of fashion FIT takes a lead position presenting the exhibit, BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS, from December 6, 2016 to May 16, 2017.
      Although there have been exhibitions on individual black designers, Duro Olowu, Zule Bet and Patrick Kelly to name a few, this is the first major exhibition in many years that highlights the global history of black fashion designers from the 1950s to the present. To their credit, all the objects on display are part of The Museum at FIT.
Duro Clowu, ensemble, Fall 2012
Nigerian designer, Duro Olowu's enthusiasm for fashion was inspired by the unexpected mix of fabrics, texture and draping techniques of the clothing worn by the women that surrounded him. Following in the footsteps of his father, after a stint as a lawyer in Nigeria,  he returned to London to pursue his true vocation, starting his eponymous label at the end of 2004. His first collection was an instant success with fashion editors and buyers worldwide. Pictured Left: Duro Olowu, ensemble, Fall 2012, Gift of Duo Olowu.
     The signature hallmark of his designs includes, alluring silhouettes, sharp tailoring, original prints juxtaposed with luxurious vintage fabrics in "off beat: yet harmonious combinations.  His first collection was an international sell out including Barney's in New York, Harrods in London and Maria Luisa in Paris.  He won the "New Designer of the Year Award' at the British Fashion Awards, the only designer to have ever done so without a catwalk show.
Patrick Kelly dress, Fall/Winter 1986, France
This ground breaking exhibition features approximately 75 fashion by more than 60 designers. Not to be missed, among them I remember Patrick Kelly, who I met in Paris when I was covering the Pret a Portez (ready-to-wear) collections  Sadly Kelly died of AIDS after a short, brilliant career. But his legacy of button accents, zebra prints, clingy knits and safety-pin-trims lives on. Henri Bendel, Bloomgdale's and Bergdorf Goodman were just a few of the high-end stores that sold his designs. And he did it in his signature blue denim overalls. Imagine that, a uniform reminiscent of his humble beginnings in Vicksburg, Mississippi. When you look at his shapes, silhouettes, color, and his playful use of trimmings and whimsical treatments you realize that his take on fashion was very modern and is relevant even today.
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  The exhibit opens tomorrow, FREE admission always. Where: The Museum at FIT, Shirley Goodman Research Center, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, southwest corner Fan Mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the link that interest you in the left hand column on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry from the heart.

Monday, November 28, 2016

MASTERWORKS: Unpacking Fashion at The Met: Review by Polly Guerin

Ball Gown, Viktor & Rolf spring/summer 2010
Why does fashion matter? Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art says it all, "Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art. Over the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, our collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring a body of masterworks."
    The Costume Institute's fall 2016 exhibition, MASTERWORKS: Unpacking Fashion features significant acquisitions of the past 10 years and explores how the department has honed its collecting strategy to amass masterworks of the highest aesthetic and technical quality, including iconic works by designer who have changed the course of fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form  The exhibition runs through February 5, 2017. Image: Self-proclaimed "fashion artists" Viktor & Rolf celebrates their distinct brand with this blue polyester tulle and black silk-synthetic moire embroidered with white plastic sequins from their "Credit Crunch Couture" collection. The striking sculptural form subverts the tradition of a feminine 1950's-style dress bisecting densely stitched clouds of tulle with a flourish intended to evoke the swipe of a chainsaw.
Maison Margiela ensemble with Red Coat 1787-92  
Some newly acquired objects are paired with pieces already in the collection to illustrate the enduring influence of certain master couturiers and iconic historical silhouettes.  In this Maison Margiela ensemble,  (left) John Galliano reinterprets the eccentric dress of dandified young men in post-revolutionary France. The historical influence is evident in the high collar, oversized lapels, and exaggerated coattails, which have been transformed into trailing lengths of silk chiffon. (right) The red wool broadcloth coat from France (1787-92) was worn by raffish young men known as the Incroyables (Incredibles), whose tightly fitted fashions took on extreme proportions. The high, turned-down collar, narrow sleeves, and sharply curved coat fronts create the impression of an elongated figure.

Heidi Slimane spring/summer 2014

     A selection of Charles James structured ball gowns draws attention as do numerous examples of creations by contemporary designers including Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen and Comme des Garcons.
     Yves Saint Laurent's scandalous 1971 "Liberation" collection featured signature elements of 1940's fashion. (right)The dress at center with a print of bright red lips against a black background belongs to the ready-to-wear interpretation of the collection. (left) In 2014 Yves Saint Laurent creative director Heidi Slimane revived the iconic motif in a white silk crepe blouse, embroidered with lip motifs in white iridescent and red plastic sequins and black glass beads, trousers black wool gabardine.
      The exhibition is a fascinating  If the holidays prove too hectic for you, take this option. The exhibition is featured om the Museum's website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #FashionMasterworks.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Fan mail is always welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column to Blogs on visionary men, women determined to succeed, poetry from the heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

FRAGONARD: Drawing Triumpant at The Met: Review By Polly Guerin

The Swing 1766 Wallace Collection, London 
Whenever I think of Jean Honore Fragonard I recall at best his series on romance,"The Progress of Love," for which he is chiefly known.  It calls to mind his most famous  painting, "The Swing' with its enchanting colorful depiction of an erotic subject that was then in vogue.
    However, the current exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, FRAGONARD: Drawing Triumphant --Works from New York Collections sheds new light on one of the most forward-looking and inventive artists of the 18th century. Now on view through January 8, 2017 at the Met Fifth Avenue, Galleries 691-693,  the exhibition celebrates the artist's achievements as a master draftsman. 
The Armoire (Lover discovered( 1778
    Among the 100 works on paper on view, nearly half are from private collections, some of which will be shown publicly for the first time. Now is your chance to re-discover Fragonard in this rare opportunity to see well-loved masterpieces alongside new discoveries and works that have long been out of the public eye.  The exhibit reveals how Fragonard, one of the most forward-looking and inventive artists of the 18th century was equally skilled in drawing and etching. In this genre, Fragonard explored the potential of chalk, ink and wash to create sheets that were works of art in their own right. As displays of virtuosity and an imaginative spirit, Fragonard's drawings were highly prized from his own day to the present.
     The Armoire was Fragonard's first print and his most accomplished, the culmination of many months immersion in printmaking. A technical tour de force, it would have appealed to contemporary audiences for its entertaining subject.  Furious parents have stormed into their daughter's bedroom, she weeps into her apron while her lover is discovered shame-faced in the armoire.
      The freedom and speed afforded by chalk or wash on paper were particularly suited to Fragonard's improvisational talents and allowed his creative genius to shine.  Among the other subjects for which he is best known are joyful images of daily life, portraits, and landscapes, as well as episodes from the Bible and diverse works of literature from the fantastic to the licentious. The frolicking children, young lovers, and sunlit gardens that spring from his imagination are not weighted down by detail, but rather speak to the viewer's sensitivity and appreciation of the subject.
    The exhibition follows the chronology of the artist's life, from his early training in Paris in 
Fragonard Triumph-Works from New York Collections
the studio of Francois Boucher to his training at the French Academy in Rome, to his return to the French capital, and ultimately to his break with the official arts establishment.  A highlight is the display of all five of the works on paper, three drawings, an etching,  and a gouache, related to the famous composition The Little Park (Le petit parc). Also on view, are many pairs of works whose compositions echo one another, experimental variations on themes, often in different media.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Re-connecting with Fragonard as a master draftsman and printmaker is a challenging experience. Do go with an open mind and find new reverence in Fragonard's genius. Fan mail welcome at  In addition, visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the links in the left hand column to subjects that resonate with your interest.

Monday, October 31, 2016

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL MASTRY at the Met: Review by Polly Guerin

Kerry James Marshall's "Untitled (Vignette) 2012 
The monumental scale and the black beauty of Kerry James Marshall's paintings often evoke familiar themes with black image sensitivity on subjects that often are a Requiem to the 60's a decade synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement.
     Then, too, in the large paintings, some 8 and l/2 x 10 feet, that Marshall has come to be known, art history is also suggestively part of the picture.
     For instance, based on Jean-Honore Fragonard's series on romance, "The Progress of Love," Marshall's "Untitled (Vignette) 2012, places black lovers--a rare subject in Western paintings---frolicking in a pink setting amid heart notes descending form a musical scale, flowers and chirping birds. Marshall gives new dignity to courtship and romance in paintings about Black lovers, that echo universal sentiments of endearment and commitment. Commenting recently Marshall said, "Images don't only express our desirers, but teach us about our desirers."
       KERRY JAMES MARSHALL: MASTRY is the largest museum retrospective to date of the work of Chicago based, American artist, Kerry James Marshall, which opened recently at the Met Breuer and is on view through January 29, 2017. 
      Marshall said, "To be part of the Met's magnificent history has always been my dream.  This is where I always wanted to end up, thankfully while I am still living."
     Encompassing nearly 80 works---including 72 paintings, that span the artist's 35-year career, the monographic exhibit is based on the central concern of redressing the absence of the black figure in the canon of Western art.
Kerry James Marshall's Garden Project series
Black skin is always dominant in Marshall's art---black as you have never seen before. Marshall uses three kinds of black---carbon black, mars black and ivory black and each is subtly different. Look into the depths of the blacks in Marshall's painting, no white has been added, the blacks have absolute value and demonstrate that black can have complexity, be beautiful with rich intensity.
     The exhibition also reunites five paintings of Marshall's Garden Project series, pictures from the mid-1990s that serve to complicate the idea of public housing as bleak or desolate. For the first time in 20 years, included among these is Watts 1963, where the 8-year-old Marshall and his family lived when they first moved to California in 1963.
MARSHALL THE MAN Born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama,before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, he grew up in Los Angeles and was witness to the Watts rebellion in l965.  Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. He holds a BFA (1978) and honorary doctorate (1999) from the Otis College of Art and Design. Marshall is a hometown resident of Chicago where has lived since the late 1980s.   The show originated at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  As a storyteller, Marshall is a born raconteur. In the painting, Souvenir 1 (1997) a middle-aged woman wearing glitter-encrusted golden wings arranges her living room as a shrine to the 1960s civil rights martyrs.  
Kerry James Marshall's "Souvenir 1" (1997)
     Thomas B. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art said, "The exhibition is an important body of work that fills a void in the history if art to tell stories about people we don't usually see at the Met."
     Kerry James Marshall Mastry is accompanied by a variety of educational programs at The Met Breuer, including family tours and exhibition tours. At The Met Fifth Avenue, an all-day symposium "Kerry James Marshall---A Creative Convening: will take place on Saturday January 28, 2017.  Additional information at
     Ta Ta darlings!!!  One visit is not enough to resonate with Kerry James Marshall.You will want to come back to Met Breur another time. The scale of his works are monumental and resonate in some cases with Renaissance magnitude. Fan mail always welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left-hand column to links to amazing Art Deco divas, visionary men, fashion and poetry.

Monday, October 24, 2016

TEFAF, International Art Fair Comes to New York: Review By Polly Guerin

La Ciel, Art Deco Mystery Clock, Cartier
Maastricht, AKA, TEFAF, (The European Fine Art Foundation) and Artvest Partners introduces the quintessential fair of all art fairs "TEFAF New York Fall" at the Park Avenue Armory through October 26 where 94 art and antique dealers are holding court. To the general public this is an experience not to be missed.
       The fair showcases the world's most illustrious dealers of fine art, design, furniture, and jewelry from antiquity through the early 20th century. In a never before seen environment that carries the signature visual identity of TEFAF Maastricht, Europe's biggest and most prestigious art and antiques fair, it gives visitors a taste of the world-renowned Dutch event that takes place annually in March.
Image Left: Le Ciel, an Art Deco mystery clock with a transparent blue night sky dial embellished with rose cut diamond comet hands and mother-of-pearl and enamel hour markers in the form of stars.Signed at the base 'Cartier Paris Londres NewYork.' Paris 1928. At Siegelson, New York.
     Tom Postma Design has transformed the Armory's 
stately historic rooms into a palace of art. Shrouded in translucent white veils to protect the period rooms on the second floor and awe-inspiring white floral arrangements throughout the cushioned exhibition hall, the treasures on display are prominently showcased against a more modern architectural environment for viewing the museum-quality works of art.   Don't be surprised is you run into museum directors, curators and collectors, just about everyone interested in art. As my cab pulled up in front of the Armory the director of the Morgan Library and Museum was waiting patiently for me to exit. I greeted him and he said, "It's a wonderful show, you'll enjoy it."
Book of Hours of Queen Claude de France
     That is exactly right, the new gossamer white atmosphere invites the visitor to linger, to revisit the dealers, and sit on the many couches that provide a chance to catch one's breath as there is so many museum-quality artifacts to discover.
     Image Right: Book of Hours of Queen Claude de France. Illuminated manuscript on vellum in a gold and enamel binding, comprising 39 miniatures, fully illuminated borders surrounding each of the text pages. Circa 1522-1523, binding in Prague, Imperial workshop, circa 1600. From Antiquariat Bibermuhle AG Heribert Tenschert, Remsen, Switzerland
       Then, too, there are other reasons to linger. Bollinger Oyster Bar on the second floor is another respite where you can enjoy Oysters a la Rockefeller or salmon on brown bread with a glass of champagne. The main floor cafe is another choice worthy of mention. Although it was packed when I was there recently, the overflow sat on the banquets outside.
Art Nouveau Screen an Settee Maison Gerard

There are so many wonderful art works to visually tempt our cultural senses that it can set one's head swirling with imagery, so I cannot mention all of the dealers, but one of my favorites is Maison Gerard, New York City and its Art Nouveau treasures exhibited at the fair.
Image Left: Art Nouveau Screen, Carved maple, walnut, mahogany and satinwood. Signed in inlaid monogram. Italy, circa, 1902.
     To the right: Art Nouveau Settee, painted wood, silk velvet upholstery, typical of Georges de Feure's style at the turn of the twentieth century. The high back with scooping lines, paired with straight legs is reminiscent of pieces De Feure created for the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.  France,circa 1900.
    TEFAF Coffee Talks take place daily from 10:30 to 11:30 am, Empire Restaurant, Board of Officers Room as follows:
Global Art Networks: Digital versus Physical on October. 25, The Art is at Least Twice my age' Life in the Art Market Under 40, Wednesday, October 26.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! It's been quite an adventure at the TEFAF New York Fall Fair. Don't miss it, but if you do there will be a TEFAF New York Spring in 2017. Fan mail welcome at  Polly's other Blogs can be accessed at her website Just click in the left hand column for topics on visionary men, womendeterminedtosucceed (amazing divas) and fashion historian.

Monday, October 17, 2016

CHARLOTTE BRONTE: An Independent Will at The Morgan: Review By Polly Guerin

Charlotte Bronte 1850 National Portrait Gallery
Charlotte Bronte,  a woman determined to succeed, declared herself "a free human being with an independent will." She was born in the era of The Cult of Domesticity on the desolate moors of Yorkshire, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman. 
   Charlotte and her sisters, and their brother, Branwell,  grew up blighted by domestic tragedy and loss and had to create a world of imagination for themselves. Save for the Parsonage cemetery at their doorstep and monotonous hours exploring the windswept expanses of the moors they were led as teenagers on a path of creative Juveniiia that resulted in plays and hand-made miniature books, illustrated with watercolor images. 
      For Charlotte and her sisters later it was Jane Eyre, Withering Heights, and Agnes Grey that gave the mid-nineteenth century a new concept of women in love and trying to live in society. 
Image Left: Life portrait of Charlotte Bronte, by George Richmond, on loan from London's National Portrait Gallery.
     CHARLOTTE BRONTE: An Independent Will, a new exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum runs through January 2, 2017. It traces the writer's life from imaginative teenager to reluctant governess to published poet and masterful novelist. The exhibition celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Bronte's birth in 1816, and marks an historic collaboration between The Morgan, which holds one of the word's most important collections of Bronte Manuscripts and letters, and the Bronte Parsonage, in Haworth, England which lent a variety of key items including the author's earliest manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s.
Bronte's earliest surviving miniature manuscript book
THE MINUSCULE BOOKS Reading of the classics, the bible and Milton, Scott, and Lord Byron to name a few,  fueled the Bronte children's imagination and their games informed their writing, and enhanced their stories. The selection of Juvenilia presented in the exhibition highlights the whimsy and imaginativeness of the Brontes' production.  On one view is Charlotte's earliest surviving manuscript, a tiny handmade booklet. I observed, it is no more than two and a half inches by one and a fourth inches illustrated with watercolor drawings. It presents the story of a little girl named Anne who goes on an exciting journey. Best to use the magnifying glass provided in the exhibit hall to try to see the almost indecipherable writing. Bronte wrote it when she was about twelve. Image Right: Charlotte Bronte's story, beginning "There once was a little girl and her name was Anne ca 1828 Bronte Parsonage Museum.
TEACHING and PUBLISHING: In 1836, when she was nineteen, Bronte entered the Roe Head School where she previously had been a student, as a teacher, but chafed in her new role.  A few years later she took a a short-term position as a governess in a private home, caring for what she called the "riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs."   Relief came with the largesse of an aunt. Bronte and her sister Emily went to Brussels in 1842 to study and improve their teaching credentials.  It was there that she fell under the influence of her inspiring teacher, Constantin Heger and later suffered years of what appeared to be unrequited love for the married professor.  
Add caption
      As Bronte biographer Rebecca Fraser wrote, "Working as governesses, teaching school, traveling to the continent, and caring for their volatile and tragic brother, Branwell, Charlotte and her sisters led difficult and fiery lives---lives that electrified their fiction, challenged the Victorian Age, and made them the most distinctive, enduring women---and novelists--of their time."
     In 1846, she and her sisters Emily and Anne self-published a book of poems, which by the record sold but one copy, yet was held in esteem by some of her followers. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. and Agnes Grey followed. The authors retained the pseudonyms they had chosen for their book of poems the year earlier. Charlotte was Currier Bell, Emily, Elias Bell and Anne, Acton Bell.
 LEGACY:  Bronte published her last novel, Villette, in 1853. The following year, at the age of thirty-eight, she married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate. A mere nine months later, she died, most likely from complications of pregnancy.  Bronte's writing continues to have a profound impact on readers throughout the world, and many find her life story just as compelling as much of what lays within the stories parallel her extraordinary life's experiences. A woman who wrestled with her own independence. Charlotte Bronte's, An Independent Will Gallery Talk takes place Friday November 4 at 6 pm Free with museum admission. For further information about programs and the adult workshop visit  
      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  A reading group on Charlotte Bronte's final novel, Villette, in the historic family rooms of the nineteenth-century Morgan House,takes place on Nov. 1 and Dec. 13. Advance tickets are required. I'm going!!!  Polly loves to receive fan mail at Visit Polly's other Blogs at and check the Blog that interests you listed in the left-hand column  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE: Stained Glass Panorama of History at GSMT October 17 By Polly Guerin

Tom Holdman, Stained Glass Artist and 'Roots of Knowledge'
The most inspiring work of art glass ever created may well be credited to the monumental "Roots of Knowledge" a panorama of history and human drama in stained glass splendor by glass artist Tom Holdman. He was commissioned to create the masterpiece, a series of 80 panels that come together in a vast undulating window that will eventually be 10 feet tall and 200 feet long, and comprising 60,000 pieces of glass.  It begins with fire. The creation of glass, an ancient process re-imagined and relevant today in a new art form, the "Roots of Knowledge" stained glass mural. This behemoth work represents years of painstaking research on the events and people that shaped humankind from the days of the woolly mammoths to the IPhone, and perhaps even more than meets the eye of the beholder.
        Illuminating Knowledge: Creating a Major Stained Glass Installation to Foster Engaged Learning at Utah Valley University is the first Artisan Lecture this fall at The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, Monday, October 17th, 20 W. 44 St. Free Exhibition viewing, same day, from 11 am to 8:30 pm.  Advance registration recommended, contribution, $10,  to attend the 6:30 pm Panel Discussion and Reception. (Visit for the other free exhibition visiting hours scheduled from October 12 to October 15.
ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE  Stained Glass Mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree's roots connecting humanity

    This Artisan lecture will be in a panel discussion format and the program will discuss the creation of "Roots of Knowledge," a significant new work of monumental proportion that will soon be installed in the Library at Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah. The mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree and the roots that flow through the windows include leaves from part of the world a section is depicting, along with a DNA strand running through the roots and connecting humanity.  Speaking at a Roots of Knowledge UVU meeting the artist said, "Our goal is to create the most inspiring piece of art glass ever created on this earth. I love the medium of glass, there is nothing else like that feeling, it just speaks."
      Rootsof Knowledge invites the public's interest. It is an interactive piece. People will be able to click on a picture of the window and get more information about why the artists on the project choose certain elements.
The program on the 17th will also touch upon the production of stained glass in New York City.
Roots of Knowledge: Conceived by Utah artist and former UVU student, Tom Holdman, and UVU President Matthew Holland, the work was commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of what is today the largest public university in the state. In this program Mr. Holdman and President Holland will speak about the evolution and development as a fusion of art, education, and public spaces.
Tom Holdman  and his mural at Utah Valley University 
Cybele Maylone, Executive Director of Urban Glass in Brooklyn, will give a short lecture, followed by a panel discussion with Tom Holdman and Kate McPherson UVU professor of English, from the Roots of Knowledge team and Rebecca Allan, moderator.

TOM HOLDMAN:  Owns and operates Holdman Studios, Inc., located at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. His works of art appreciated worldwide and represent many different techniques in glass. In a field where competition can be steep, he has committed himself to producing visually stunning, emotionally moving and inspiring pieces of art that stand the test of time. His journey has included enhancing edifices of all types---private and public, sacred and secular. 
     Tom Holdman is a visionary. Along with the incredible designs that fill his mind are the endless possibilities of how to use those designs to enhance the life experiences of others. Bravo to Tom Holdman, a man who overcame a speech impediment to express his genius in "Speaking Through Glass," which incidentally is also the title of a video documentary created about Tom and aired on PBS.
    Inquiries about this review may be addressed to

Monday, October 10, 2016

MARTIN LUTHER'S REFORMATION: Word and Image: Review by Polly Guerin

Theologian (1483-1546) Martin Luther 
When Martin Luther, thinker, monk, rebel hammered his 95 These to the door of the castle church, the sound reverberated throughout the world. Or so the legend goes.
    His influence spread through Western Europe, with European settlers, to the United States. Lutheran communities scattered across America are all direct beneficiaries of Luther's legacy. 
THE WORD: His weapon was the word. He not only revolutionized the church, but also the way people thought, giving them reassurance and conveying to them the comforting image of a merciful and forgiving God. Luther's 95 Theses constitutes one of the most important documents in German and European history. Luther was a man who defined his time and whose message is as relevant today as it was 500 years ago.
     October 31, 1517 is considered the day the Reformation began, and the 500th anniversary of this momentous event is October 31, 2017. In celebration of this historical landmark the Morgan Library and Museum presents WORD and IMAGE, Martin Luther's Reformation with nearly 100 artworks and objects on loan to the Morgan thorough a collaboration with several German museums, and most of the objects have never been seen before in North America. Exhibit runs through January 12, 2017.
INDULGENCES: Martin Luther forever changed Christianity when he began the Protestant 
Reformation in 16th Century Europe. Luther was given a permanent post at Wittenberg University in 1512. It was the selling of 'indulgences' that drove him to publish his 95 Theses. 
Excerpts from Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses
In 1517, Pope Leo X announced a new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter's Basilica. On October 31, the same year, an angry Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper with 95 Theses on the university's chapel door.  Though he intended these to be discussion points, the Ninety-Five Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences as corrupting people's faith. Luther pursued further and sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences.  Aided by the fortuitous invention of the printing press, copies of the Ninety-Five Theses spread throughout Germany with two weeks and throughout Europe in two months.

Martin Luther Translated New Testament into German Language
EXCOMMUNICATION: The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance.  In 1518 the Church investigated Luther on charges of heresy, and in 1521 he was declared an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor. A condemned man he took refuge in Wartburg Castle. While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God's word. Though still under threat of arrest, Luther returned to Wittenberg Castle Church in May 1522 and began organizing a new church, Lutheranism.
    His actions fractured the Roman Catholic Church into new sects of Christianity and set in other reform within the Church. Luther's translation of the Bible into the language of the people, radically changed the relationship between Church and their followers.   
    LECTURES and Discussions: November 13th Martin Luther and Anti-Semitism, and December 8th, Social Media and Activism. Gallery Talks: Word and Image October 21 and December 16th.
    Ta Ta Darlings! Did you know..."As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." With these words, preacher Johann Tetzel vociferously sold indulgences, which promised absolution from sins, and served to finance St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Fan mail welcome. Contact Polly at  Visit her other Blogs listed in the left hand column on

Monday, October 3, 2016

DUBUFFET DRAWINGS: Magical and Childlike at The Morgan Museum: Review by Polly Guerin

The Swindle  1962 Gouache on Paper
"Anyone can be an artist," declared French artist, Jean Philippe Dubuffet (1901-1985). "Look at what lies at your feet. A crack in the ground, sparkling gravel, a tuft of grass, some crushed debris, offer equally worthy subjects for your applause and admiration."  Dubuffet invites us to tap into our childlike wonder and express ourselves with the exuberance of discovery, and serendipitously create enchanting works of art. His imaginative ouevre clearly indicates that he was attracted by the art of children and the mentally ill, and did much to promote their work. Subsequently, he was a forerunner in the Art Brut genre. So is Dubuffet relevant today? 
VisageRougetVisageBleu, Dubuffet's Le Metro series 1943
 DUBUFFET Drawings, 1935-1962.  You have an opportunity to find out at The Morgan Library & Museum where the exhibit of Dubuffet's drawings and collages challenge us to observe our world with amusement, patios and wicked frivolity.  The exhibition , the first museum retrospective of Dubuffet's drawings---includes about one hundred works from his most innovative years, borrowed from private and public collections in France and the United States. He achieved international recognition in the late 1940s for his paintings inspired by children's drawings, the art of psychiatric patients, and graffitti. Dubuffet's early works, thus inspired by outsiders, was also shaped by the interests in materiality that preoccupied may of the post-war French French artists associated with the Art Informel movement of the 1960s. He created a new graphic style, which he called 'Hourloupe,' and would use it in many important public commissions. While the public after post-war Paris looked for the restoration of old values, Dubuffet confronted them with childlike images that satirized the conventional genre of high art. Drawing played a major role in the development of his art as he explored on paper new subjects and techniques.
THE ARTIST IN SPITE OF HIMSELF Dubuffet wavered for many years between painting and working in his father' wine business and did not seriously think  about painting until well into his 40s.  In Visage Rouge et Visage Bleu he seemingly pokes fun at the Parisian subway riders during the German occupation with the red, the color of rage, silenced by blue, the color of  communication. The formality of the occupants' silly hats allude to their stoic attitude of resignatio
Dubuffet's JAZZ BAND

JAZZ BAND lightens up the mood and evokes the nightclub
darkness and escape into the night. Dubuffet gave his critics coarse textures and drab colors, which was likened to dirt and encrement.
    Several lectures and discussions accompany the exhibit. DUBUFFET IN CONTEXT on October 28, l:30-5:30 pm, Film: The Artist's Studio October 21 at 6:30 pm, 7:15 pm and 8 pm.
Gallery Talks take place October 14 and December 2. Contact:
TaTa Darlings!!!  It is wonderful to know that we all can experience artistic expression,  if  only we would just set some time aside from our electonics and the look at the world around us with rose-tinted glsses.  Fan mail always welcome at Vist Polly's Blogs at and click in the left-hand column where you will find links to Blogs on visionary men, women determined to succeed, poetry and even fashion.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Proust's Muse, THE COUNTESS GREFFULHE: Review By Polly Guerin

Elisabeth de Caraman-Chmay, the Countess Greffulhe
With Celebrity recognition The Museum at FIT's exhibition, introduces Proust's Muse, Elisabeth de Caraman-Chimay, the Countess Greffulhe (1860-1952). A famous beauty, she was known for her "aristocratic and artistic elegance, a fashion icon comparable to Daphne Guinness today. 
    The exhibit showcases some 40 garments and accessories once owned by the celebrated beauty, fashion icon, and patron of both arts and sciences.The Countess Greffulhe patronized the greatest couturiers of her day, Worth, the founder of the French Haute Couture, principal among them, known for the use of exquisite, and lush textiles.
    "The Countess Greffulhe believed in the artistic significance of fashion, " says Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT. "And although she patronized the greatest couturiers of her time, her style was very much her own. Today, when fashion is increasingly regarded as an art form, her attitude is especially relevant."
House of Worth Lily Dress, Photo by Paul Nadar

THE PROUST CONNECTION When Proust wrote his novel In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu), the Countess Greffulhe inspired his immortal character Oriane, The Dutchesse de Guermantes, of whom he wrote, "Each o f her dresses seemed like the projection of a particular aspect of her soul." The Countess Greffulhe, like her counterpart, the Duchesse de Guermantes, represented for Proust, the aristocrat as a work of art. "But elements of her style," noted Valerie Steele, "also influenced characters as diverse as the courtesan Odette de Crecy (later Madame Swann) and the Narrator's bourgeois lover, Albertine." Image right: "Lily Dress," 1896, attributed to Worth, black velvet application of ivory silk in the form of lilies, embroidered with pearls and sequins. But the Countess clearly contributed to  ideas about its design and decoration. 
The motif of the lilies refers to a poem in her honor by the dandy-poet Robert de Montesquiou, who served as the main inspiration for another of Proust's characters, the Baron de Charlus. In her correspondence with Montesquiou, Elisabeth Greffulhe confessed, "I don't think there is any pleasure in the world comparable to that of a woman who feels she is being looked at by everybody, and has joy and energy transmitted to her."  
                                                                                       THE COUNTESS'S AUDACIOUS STYLE
Robe de Ceremonie, Byzantine Empress Gown  
Another highlight of the exhibition is an exotic emerald green and blue "robe d'interieur"(1897) which epitomizes the countess's audacious style. She loved to wear green, which complemented her auburn hair.
    Image Left: One of the countess's most famous gowns was a sensational gold lame Byzantine empress gown, pearl-encrusted, fur-trimmed robe de ceremonie, that she wore to her daughter Elaine's wedding in 1904. It said that people in the crowd exclaimed, "My God, is that the mother of the Bride>" Although labeled Worth, it was probably created for the countess by the young Paul Poiret. 
SPONSOR OF THE BALLETS RUSSES. A pioneering fund-raiser, the countess was a major supporter of the Ballets Russes, and in the years prior to the First World War her fashions also gravitated toward avant-garde Orientalist styles. When Proust describes the exotic Fortuny gowns of his fictional Dutchesse de Guermantes, evoking "that Venice loaded with the gorgeous East," he was clearly inspired by the Countess Greffulhe.  Crafting her image like a work of art, she cultivated an elegant signature style that highlighted her svelte, wasp-waisted figure. Besides Charles Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci are among couturiers represented. There is also an ensemble inspired by the Countess Greffulhe created by contemporary fashion designer Rick Owens. In addition to the 28 garments on display are dozens of accessories, a selection of photographs. Through Jan. 7, 2017, at The Museum at FIT, (FREE Admission) 27th street and Seventh Avenue. For information about the Proust Muse Fashion Symposium on Thursday, September 20th contact the museum.
   Ta Ta Darlings!! The exhibit is too, too marvelous, I am green with envy, but alas I do not have a wasp-waist. Polly welcomes fan mail at  Visit Polly's other Blogs at and click on the links in the left-hand column.


Monday, August 29, 2016

CHILDE HASSAM: American Impressionist and the Isles of Shoals at Peabody Essex Museum: Review by Polly Guerin

Childe Hassam painting on Celia Thaxter's porch
Can an artist find inspiration on a treeless island, called Appledore? Childe Hassam, the celebrated American impressionist painter found his oeuvre in the celebrated Maine island for nearly thirty years. Bracing each day through gusty salt Atlantic breezes, the relentless sun blazing over his shoulder he painted en plein air seascape vistas, and spent summer nights at poet and author, Celia Thaxter's salon. Today one can vicariously visit the island through Hassam's prolific Appeldore paintings at PEM.
    THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM,  (PEM) in Salem, Massachusettes presents AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST; CHILDE HASSAM AND THE ISLE OF SHOALS, through November 6, 2016, and pays homage to Hassam with the first exhibition in more than 25  years to focus on Hassam's paintings of the celebrated island. More than 40 of  Hassam's greatest oil paintings and water colors record the coves, inlets, ledges and expansive seascapes that inspired his thirty year engagement with this alluring island. Six miles off the coast of southern New Hampshire and Maine, Appledore is the largest island in the storied archipelago in the Atlantic known as the Isle of Shoals.  (Image: Attributed to Karl Thaxter (1852-1912). Childe Hassam painting on the porch of Celia Thaxter's cottage, c. 1886. Portsmouth Athenaeum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Isles of Shoals, Photograph Collection.)
A ROCKING CHAIR VISTA. Visualize the seascape mood. Just pull up one of the white rocking chairs provided for visitors and reflect upon the magnificent and multi fascinating paintings of the gorges and rocks at Appledore. "His paintings of a wave dashing the spray among the rocks was magnificent and matchless for its technique and coloring," wrote Oscar Leighton, 90 Years on the Isles of Shoals. 1929. Then, there is a large photo image on one wall where an empty rocking chair on a cottage veranda invites you to vicariously sit and listen to the audio of the relentless ocean crashing against the rocks. At the post card table, visitors are invited to write a commentary for the commemorative scrapbook. You may also send a free postcard with Childe Hassam's Sunset at Sea image, and it will be stamped and  posted by the museum and mailed to your friends. Just drop it in the mail box on the wall.
Isle of Shoals, 1907. Oil on canvas
MEETING CELIA THAXTER: When Celia Thaxter took painting lessons in Boston, given by 
Frederick Childe Hassam,a friendship ensued and continued on Appeldore. Celia was a published author and poet and her modest cottage was located next to her family's popular resort hotel. Although Celia was known for her exquisite garden, she is better known for hosting a cultural center, a brilliant salon, where artists, literary and musical celebrities were her guests.  
      In addition to Hassam, who was a regular visitor, other literary and artistic luminaries of the day, were enjoying informal morning concerts, lively discussions and evening readings. Too numerous to record here they included Nathanial Hawthorne, celebrated author of The Scarlet Letter and House of Seven Gables, Henry David Thoreau,  philosopher, naturalist, abolitionist, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, best loved-American poet and Ole Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist among the great number of visitors invited to Celia's Salon.   
Moonlight, Childe Hassa, 1892 Photoby Alex Jamison
CHILDE HASSAM AT APPLEDORE: It was during one of those inspired evenings that Celia suggested to Frederick Childe Hassam that his professional name would be more effective if he dropped the first name.  He took her advice and ever after he was known simply as Childe Hassam. 
     The initial interest for Hassam was the exquisite garden of poet, author, and painter and local celebrity, his new friend, Celia Thaxter, Appelore's greatest champion. Hassam loved painting on the island and after frequent visits he purchased a parcel of land from Celia's brother and built a small studio and worked there, but mostly en plein air. Celia and Childe's friendship was a rock solid relationship that lasted from the late 1880s to 1912. 
     Thaxter published An Island Garden in 1894 with illustrations by Hassam. Over four summers Hassam painted Thaxter's garden and the views from her cottage piazza and the exquisite book is a collectible today. The PEM exhibition offers a sustained reverie on nature, the pleasure of painting and a rapturous sense of place and color. Image: MOONLIGHT: Childe Hassam 1892. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Photo by Alex Jamison. 
      PEM IS LOCATED at EAST INDIA SQUARE,  161 Essex Street, SALEM, MA. Tel: 866.745.1876.  A 124-page exhibition catalog with 100 color illustrations, American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals, edited by Austen Barron Bailly, PEM's  George Putnam Curator of American Art, and John. W. Coffey, deputy director and curator of American and modern art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, limited edition, is available through the PEM gift shop and online at
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Coincidentally, THE SALEM ATHENAEUM celebrates Celia's Salon through September 23, 2016. The historic private library shares a common mission with Celia Thaxter: to encourage creativity and share literature, music and are. In the summers, like Celia, the Athenaeum enjoys a lovely garden and Friday salons. Experience an ambiance of art and literature "in the key of sea." Find them at 337 Essex Street, Salem, MA. Learn more at Polly welcomes email comments from her readers:
Visit Polly's Blog and in the left-hand column there are links to Poll's other Blogs on remarkable women, visionary men, poetry and fashion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Monday, August 22, 2016

Celia Thaxter American Poet by the Sea (c) by Polly Guerin

Celia Thaxter in her island garden painted by Childe Hassam

 The incredibly beauty of Celia Thaxter's poetry, inspired by her life on Appledore, one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire, is a solitary testament to her poignant prose about nature and the sea.
   When I visited her island garden, so painstakingly maintained by the Portsmouth Horticultural Society, it inspired me to think of the patience and endurance of a remarkable woman. Her love for the minutest detail of nature found its way not only into her poetry but also her watercolors and ceramics. Every flower, leaf, bug, slug, sandpiper, seabird and the mighty gray rocks were her intimate friends envisioned into poems that resound with a life well lived by the sound of the sea.
At first glance the Isles of Shoals seems very sad, stern and bleak, but to Celia Appledore  was an enchanted island, where her poignant poetry seemed to crest the waves of inspiration by the sound of the sea.
     In our fast paced electronic world one could revive at Appledore and to the imaginative mind, all things become a dreamy tableau of never ending beauty. The eternal sound of the sea on every side seemingly wears away the edge of preoccupation with the mainland; sharp images become blurred and softened like a sketch in charcoal and tranquility takes over the senses.
A SEASIDE SONNETBy Celia Thaxter: As happy dwellers by the seaside hear In every pause the sea’s mysterious sound, The infinite murmur, solemn and profound, Incessant, filling all the atmosphere, Even so I hear you, for you do surround My newly-waking life, and break for aye About the viewless shores, till they resound With echoes of God’s greatness night and day. Refreshed and glad I feel the full flood-tide Fill every inlet of my waiting soul; Long-striving, eager, hope, beyond control, For help and strength at last is satisfied; And you exalt me, like the sounding sea, With ceaseless whispers of eternity.
Celia reminisces “All flowers had for me such human interest, they were so dear and precious. I wondered how every flower knew what to do and to be; why the morning-glory didn’t forget sometimes, and bear a cluster of elder-bloom, or the elder hand out pennons of gold and purple like the iris; or the goldenrod suddenly blaze out a scarlet plume, the color of the pimpernel, was a mystery to my childish thought. 
     And why did the sweet wild primrose wait till after sunset to unclose its pale yellow buds; why did it unlock its treasure of rich perfume to the night alone? Few flowers bloomed for me upon the lonesome rock; but I made the most of all I had, and neither knew of nor desired more. Ah, how beautiful they were!” (From “Among the Isles of Shoals, by Celia Thaxter, 1873, J.R. Osgood publisher)
A LIFE SANCTIONED BY THE SEALife on the Isles of Shoals, in its remote and pristine beauty vividly colored Celia’s poetry and prose. As I witnessed this sea-locked vista I can tell you that the landscape of the Isles of Shoals has changed little since the time when Thaxter lived there. First as daughter of the lighthouse keeper on White Island Lighthouse and then later on Appledore where her family had the finest island hotel. 
     It became an intellectual and literary Mecca drawing artists like William Morris Hunt and Childe Hassam to the Shoals as well as well known authors. The burden of caring for her brain-damaged child, Karl, and an invalid husband, Levi, must have weighted heavily on her and would surely have been enough to discourage any writer, but Celia was committed to her role as a poet. She wrote with quiet passion of the place and land that she loved most and gave poetry readings daily throughout the summer season at Appledore.
AMERICA’S FAVORITE POETCelia Thaxter (1835-1894) reputation as the most popular of America’s women poets far surpassed many other poets’ names better known today. Although Celia’s fame began to fade, even in the school system that once had made Celia's poems a priority in nature studies, her poetry is regaining its place today new followers who have come to appreciate her beautiful words and poignant sentiments. And now in tribute to this great poet, may you find inspiration and solace; I leave you with an excerpt from Celia Thaxter’s poem “Land-Locked.”
O Earth! Thy summer song of joy may soar
Ringing to heaven in triumph. I but crave
The sad, caressing murmur of the wave
That breaks in tender music on the shore.
The Salem Athenaeum is featuring Celia Thaxter's Salon and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA celebrates American Impressionism with Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals through Nov 6, 2016.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

THE FRENCH QUARTER: New Orleans Remembered By Polly Guerin

St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica
This is the final report from Polly's recent Mississippi Riverboat cruise
New Orleans' Gallic charm, its enchanting historical rhetoric, Mardi Gras mania and Jazz Funerals light up the collective imagination with dreams of the 'good time' city that never ceases to amaze, entertain and renew itself over and over again.
      New Orleans has a strong vitality and has survived steadfast through the Civil War, World War I and II, the Great Depression, epidemics and storms, and even Katrina.
     I was drawn to the heart of Le Vieux Carre, the French Quarter at Franklin Square, the city's most historic area---its lacy balconies, elegant courtyards, unique boutiques and exceptional restaurants.
     At the heart of this ancient quarter is the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France, which stands as a testament to the city's French influence and culture. Founded in 1718 and established as a parish in 1720, it was not until 1964 that it was designated a basilica. Looking back to its original setting, the curved road, bordered with tress and green hedges was the passageway where fine horse-drawn carriages arrived in style with fashionably dressed French women and noble men in military attire.  It was Sunday at its best "en famille" with lavish dinner to follow the service and time for romantic encounters under chaperon protection.
     Louisiana was claimed for France in 1682 and La Nouvelle Orleans was named in honor of the Duke of Orleans, France's ruling regent until the young Louis XV could take the throne. Unlike the Protestant founders of most New World settlements the French were Catholic and early formalities did not share the strict view of life with the New England Puritans. Although the major influence was religious, the French Catholics were a different breed of settlers and enjoyed good food and sensual pleasure. Mardi Gras, the most famous festival, is a Catholic holiday after all and in French, Mardi Gras, means "Fat Tuesday," a time of happy indulgence and merry-making before the self-imposed austerity of Lent.
      In 1872 the Russian Grand Duke visited he city and the masquerading and partying reached epic proportions and New Orleans declared Mardi Gras an official holiday in the Duke's honor. Then they crowned their own king---Rex, the Lord of Misrule---who decreed that the event's official colors were purple (for justice), green (for faith) and gold (for power). The city-wide celebration's extravagant floats, outrageous costumes, and non-stop partying are reason enough to attract visitors worldwide to experience Mardi Gras madness. The Mardi Gras Museum located in the French Quarter is an eye-popping experience with the historical account of Mardi Gras, a treasure trove of  costumes on display and memorabilia, which remain key components of the party ever since. Next door to the Mardi Gras Museum is the Katrina Museum which chronicles Katrina with memorabilia, photographs and artifacts.
     Such a neophyte place as New Orleans needed some form of discipline and the formality of instruction, To this end, a coterie of Ursuline nuns were invited to establish a convent to provide the colony spiritual guidance and instruction. No one was left out of their orbit, the nuns included all races, enslaved and free, into Catholicism which solidified New Orleans' Catholic character. The Catholic girl's school they established in 1727, the oldest one in America is still operating and debutante's emerge the wiser.
      However, immigrants today continue to shape the French Quarter but the heart of the city holds fast to its French roots. Even during forty years of Spanish rule, New Orleans remained French, schools taught lessons in French, newspapers published in French and New Orleanians adapted French culture and fashions. Since then New Orleans has become an iconic American City, but its French heart is still beating. Nearby St. Louis Basilica is the Old Ursuline Convent Museum.
                                                          BREAKFAST AT BRENNANS
Brennan;s Dining Patio
      One special day I visited Brennan's restaurant to sample their famous Bananas Foster. a delicacy of honey fried bananas with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch drizzle and dined in the inner patio as a sweet summer breeze of summer wafted through the lush greenery.
    However, breakfast at Brennan's has much more to offer including an egg cuisine of particular note such as Eggs Sardou with crispy artichokes, Parmesan creamed spinach and choron (pork) sauce.
        As history would tell, when Owen Brennan, the proprietor of the old Absinthe House, was teased by Count Arnaud that an Irishman's culinary skills end with boiled potatoes, he was determined to prove him wrong. In 1946 he opened Owen Brennan's View Carre restaurant on Bourbon Street, where Bananas Foster and history were made in the process. After a successful decade the restaurant moved to its present quarters at 417 Royal Street, a new location with an illustrious past.
Brennan's Pink Building
      Legend has it that the building was constructed in 1795 by the great grandfather of Edgar Degas, The famous pink building building and patio, one of the Vieux Carre's most interesting it was erected during the twilight of Spanish rule over Louisiana by Don Jose Faurie, a wealthy merchant.
       Later the building housed The Louisiana State Bank, first banking in the Louisiana territory. Later still, it served as a private residence frequented by President Andrew Jackson, and was home to eccentric world-famous master chess champion Paul Murphy, who lived there until his death in 1884.    
     Then it was bequeathed to Tulane University, leased and the sold to Brennan family in 1984 and in 2013 it was bought by partners Ralph Brennan and Terry White, who completed a major restoration and re-established the iconic restaurant in 2014.  Today, Brennan;s is both historic and contemporary proof that fine dining remains proudly relevant in New Orleans. I also visited Bubbles at Brennan's courtyard and Roost Bar, which makes Bubbly libations and snacks a "must treat" after an afternoon of sightseeing.   www.brennan'
Historical Postcard
     I'm an old-fashioned gal so when it came to dinner I went to Antoine's Restaurant at 713 Saint Louis Street. which has become as much a part of New Orleans as Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral---a restaurant that have been operating continuously by the same family, since 1840.
     It all started when Antoine Alciatore arrived from Marseilles, France in 1840, and became immediately a culinary notable in New Orleans. He was eighteen years old, and young Antoine had been apprenticed, since the age of eight, to the Great French Chef, Collinet, of the Hotel de Noailles in Marseilles..
Oysters a la Rockefeller
        By the time he left France, Antoine had served Kings and royalty, and the aristocracy of that country. Before Antoine arrived here the meals served at public table were simple. Boiled or roasted meat, fowl, fish and sauces were mainly non-existent and haute cuisine preparations virtually unknown at that time Antoine changed all that. He was he first to serves visitors New Orleans culinary treasures such as Chicken Creole, Crayfish Etouffee, and Shrimp Remoulade. The names of his dishes tell a history of the great chefs of France.  His son Jules created such unique offerings as Oysters Bienville, Foch and Rockefeller Yes, Oysters a la Rockefeller was invented here; the recipe a sacred family secret.
     The Vieux Carre has so much more to offer but these were a few of my favorite things to share with you. The French Quarter possesses an old-world charm but there are other districts of equal interest, such as Upland where antebellum mansions proudly stand their place grounded in history, the Garden District, Botanical Gardens, Audubon Zoo, and others. Not to be missed is New Orleans Historic French Market, since 1862, the 24-hour meeting place for New Orleans most delicious coffee and BEIGNETS, a pastry delicacy that melts in your mouth.
     Ta Ta darlings, fan mail welcome please email Visit Polly's Blogs at and check the link in the left hand column to Blogs the resonate with your interest.