Gordon Parks bought his first camera in a pawn shop and got his first real photography job at the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration (FSA).”American Gothic,” his bold arrangement of a White House cleaning lady with a mop in front of a flag, got him in trouble on his first assignment.
As a multifaceted creative artist, Parks stacked up firsts again and again in a long career that has been seeing numerous tributes over the past year. 2012 was the 100th anniversary of his birth, and exhibits are still underway. Read more
Scape Studio. Plan for Oyster Reefs in NY Harbor
As people blow dry the mold from basement walls and vacuum Sandy from corners and carpets, city activists gathered in a forum sponsored by the Municipal Art Society and Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate, called “Sink or Swim: Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era.”
Controversy over Gertrude Stein continues to fester and boil, even after the great public acclaim for the Metropolitan Museum’s The Steins Collect show. Michael Kimmelman’s review in the New York Review of Books (“Missionaries,” New York Review of Books, April 26, 2012. also his July 12 letter in response to criticism) revived old charges that Gertrude was a Nazi sympathizer. Kimmelman gave an overview of the exhibition, which focused on the early years of the Leo and Gertrude Stein in the ebullient art scene in Paris. Read more
As downtown Manhattan assesses damage, more specifics are being reported, especially in low-lying Zone A. The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), which is running the South Street Seaport Museum ,says that the storm surge waters soaked drawers of metal type in the Bowne and Co., Stationers. Read more
As New Yorkers still struggle without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it plunges us right into the heart of a discussion about the historic waterfront. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Vision for the 21st Century, proclaimed in 2002, the crumbling infrastructure along the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront that once served the port of New York should be harnessed for a variety of development schemes. Read more
Armory Armoire. Carol Hepper
Architectural white elephants are a specialty of large urban areas, and armories form a particular subset of these: rife with possible new uses, dauntingly expensive to reclaim. In recent years New York City’s Park Avenue Armory Conservancy has refurbished its 1881 building and turned it into an exciting new space.
Its theatre programs have featured amazing performances with audiences moving on rails for Die Soldaten, or viewing the vast Peter Greenaway multimedia interpretation of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Dance companies, concerts and artistic programs are flourishing and a partnership with the Williamsburg, Brooklyn Art and Design High School gives high school students access to a historic preservation program. Read more
1853 Singer Sewing Machine
Material culture stormed the British airwaves several seasons back when the BBC broadcast “A History of the World in 100 Objects.” Accompanied by a popular website which actually allows listeners to see images of the objects selected from the world class collections of the British Museum, the series fed an untapped appetite for history in small bites. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum observed “Telling history through things is what museums are for.” Read more
Artist John Sloan is better known but his wife Dolly was a tireless campaigner for causes in the Village. Sloan’s diaries are full of vignettes describing her buzzing off to demonstrations for the Socialist Party, the International Workers of the World (IWW), and Suffrage. He seems to be following her, and soaking up the atmosphere, more than out there professing his beliefs.
However, Sloan supported votes for women and rights for workers, and drew illustrations for such left wing publications as The Call. Read more
The pharaohs commissioned their pyramids, the wealthy and powerful today emblazon their names on buildings, philanthropies and great estates. But in earlier times in America, a convenient way to stamp your ambitions and achievements in the permanent record was to call on the silversmith.
The silver collection at the New-York Historical Society has taste, ornament, style, luxury, sparkle – and permanence. But it also has some quirky and memorable tales associated with its dazzling objects. The exhibition Stories in Sterling showcases some outstanding pieces, with richly detailed annotations in the accompanying catalog by curators Margaret K. Hofer and Debra Schmidt Bach. Read more
Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor Kathleen Hulser. Hulser is an independent historian who manages cultural projects and teaches at New School in New York.
She is currently working on a smartphone augmented reality interpretation of the War of 1812. Her interests include urban history, slavery, women, public space and the social history of the nineteenth century, especially popular disorders. She also gives walking tours, workshops, curates exhibitions and conducts digital humanities sessions.