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.