Monday, November 19, 2018

Sarah Josepha Hale: Mother of Thanksgiving: By Polly Guerin

A Thanksgiving Legend: Sarah Josepha Hale By Polly Guerin

As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2018 there are so many more reasons to be thankful. However, none is more interesting than the reminder, "Let us not forget," it was Sarah Josepha Hale, a petite crusader in crinoline, the pioneering Victorian who inspired President Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. 
      Sarah Josepha Hale’s relentless handwritten letter campaign spanned a period of almost three decades in which she urged that Thanksgiving be declared a holiday. With tireless zeal she penned thousands of editorials and wrote handwritten letters to prominent, citizens, governors and went right to the White House, addressing the issue to United States President. She never gave up letter writing her campaign, which had its inspiration at that time for the unification of the country
       As the dark days of the Civil War divided the country into two armed camps Mrs. Hale’s editorials became more vigilant. Who would listen to a lone woman with her persistent plea for "just one day of peace amidst the blood and strife"? Eventually she came to see the nationalization of Thanksgiving not only as a day for counting our blessings, but as a logical bond of union, one more means of drawing the sympathies of the country together. 
Year after year without typewriter or the convenience of a computer Sarah Josepha Hale continued to pour out hundreds handwritten letters, which were sent to influential people urging them to join in establishing the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
     With the country gripped in the North and South divide, Mrs. Hale’s concept of unity finally caught the attention of one man in the White House. Prompted by a letter she had written to Secretary of State William Seward in 1863 President Lincoln recognized the urgency for unification and promptly issued a proclamation appointing the last Thursday in November as a day of national Thanksgiving in America.
                                                                                     HALE, THE LADY EDITOR 
      Sarah Josepha Hale succeeded at a time when there were few opportunities for women to escape the drudgery of domesticity. In addition, like other women of her era, she had been denied a formal education but found refuge in her father’s library, self-educating herself. 
      After her husband died, leaving her penniless, she wrote and published a novel, Northwood, which captured the attention of a Boston publishing firm. She was offered editorship of one of their periodicals in 1836 and at the age of 40, with five children to support, she left her home town of Newport, New Hampshire and moved to Boston to assume the post of Lady Editor. Running one of the most powerful magazines in the country did not escape critics, but she always explained that she was forced to hold down a job to feed her children.
       Sarah Josepha Hale, as Lady Editor of Godey's Ladies Journal, was the arbiter of parlor etiquette, fashion, manners and intellect. As a journalist, lobbyist, career woman and crusader in crinoline she spoke her mind and succeeded where others had failed. A petite woman, she dressed in the crinoline style of the Victorian era. However, even in this cumbersome attire and the pressing restrains of society, she championed numerous women’s issues bringing about a number of important improvements in the lives of women in the Victorian era. She was the first to advocate women as teachers in public schools. She demanded for housekeeping the dignity of a profession and put the term “domestic science” into the language. Sarah Josepha Hale was to prove to be unique exception of her times.
        In addition, she helped to establish Vassar College, the first college for women. Hale was highly civic minded and among her credits she promoted the movement to preserve Mount Vernon as a National memorial and raised the money that finished the Bunker Hill Monument. How she found the time, I will never know, but this prolific lady was also the author of some two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including the best known children’s rhyme in the English language, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
       Sarah Josepha Hale stepped from the shelter of an early nineteenth century marriage untrained, unschooled and stepped forward to become the nation’s most celebrated Lady Editor. For her patriotic part in nationalizing Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! As we look forward to Thanksgiving may you have many more reasons to celebrate a rich harvest of plenty and many more Blessings.Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs on on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Martha RosLer: Irrespective at The Jewish Museum: Review By Polly Guerin

Vacuuming Pop Art
Martha Rosler, the influential Brooklyn-based artist, believes that art should teach, provoke and motivate and she proves her point in the skillful use of diverse materials to address pressing matters of her time, including war, gender roles, gentrification, inequality, and labor.  
Considered one of the strongest and most resolute artistic voices of her generation Rosler advocates for social justice. From her early feminist photomontages of the 1960s and 1970s to her large scale installations, Rosler's vital work reflects an enduring and passionate vision. 
Image:Vacuuming Pop Art, or Woman with a Vacuum, selections from "Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows no Pain," c. 1966-72. Photomontages. Courtesy of the Artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
       Rosler's art is a call to action," says Darsie Alexander chief curator at the The Jewish Museum where a survey exhibition showcases five decades of the artist's work in MARTHA ROSLER; IRRESPECTIVE, which recently opened and runs through March 3, 2019.
       Rosler repeatedly explores the subject of food--its production and preparation, its consumption, and its powerful meanings in our social, domestic, economic and political lives, particularly those of women. In works of the mid- 1970s  Rosler often adopted the voices of an overburdened housewife, food service workers, and domestic servants, articulating the frustration of women forced to adopt particular roles because of their gender or class. In the 1970s Rosler was part of the first generation to use the new consumer-      
 consumer-oriented video equipment for artistic ends. The exhibition includes samples of her video work across more than four decades. She performs in several of her video works, not only in Semiotics of the kitchen, but in others such as Born to be Sold. 
       Semiotics, Rosler's best-known early video, is a deceptively simple portrait of the artist as cook and the cook as artists in which assumptions about both roles are questioned. In the video she adopted the voices of an overburdened housewife, social worker, or hostess and was adept at articulating the frustration and sometimes even self-deception of women forced to adopt roles they didn't necessarily want or skills they felt obliged to acquire, such as being a fancy cook.
House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home 
War and domesticity are recurring subjects in Rosler's art and one that emerged in a series focusing on the Vietnam War. This groundbreaking work, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (c.1967-72) combines mass media images from the first televised war with luxurious domestic interiors found in home decorating magazines of the era. 

         Domestic life serves for Rosler as a kind of microcosm of the world at large, a miniature stage on which gender roles and expectations are defined and tested: where labor is differently apportioned and differently valued; and where issues of economic access, equality and disparity play out. When the United States launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, she resumed the series, once more juxtaposing images of war with serene pictures of lavish homes, lush gardens, and fashion models. Simultaneously critiquing the wars and the superficiality of the contemporary American dream
        Ta Ta Darlings!!! Rosler's art resonates back in time and worth the trip. Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at Click on the links, left hand column, to the Blog that interest you.