All things “William Skinner & Sons” were celebrated this September in our Gallery to correspond with the textile related events scheduled at the museum this fall. The contributions Skinner Manufacturing made to the silk and textile industries were examined through looking at an array of advertising and promotional pieces created for Skinner. This gallery exhibit included print advertising, branding and specialty market items. Whether it was consumer magazines like Vogue, and Ladies Home Journal, or trade journals like Women’s Wear Daily and Men’s Wear Daily, Skinner targeted their marketing to the quality-conscious buyer and consumer. From undergarments to wedding gowns, or from jacket linings to ties, Skinner was the name in quality silk that consumers looked for in their purchases. Also exhibited were label samples, fabric samples, packaging and other promotional materials like booklets, paperweights and letter openers. Information from the US Patent office was also on hand to show how Skinner patented “Name in the Selvage” technology as well as other patents and trademarks. Period reproduction ads are available for purchase in our gift shop – a fashionable vintage collection piece.
May / August 2014
A Genius for Place was a collaboration between Robin Karson, a landscape historian, and Carol Betsch, a landscape photographer. Karson studied hundreds of historical landscapes and selected seven to represent the chronological development of an important movement in American landscape design. Over the course of five years, she and Betsch selected views that would reveal and illuminate the designers’ intentions and express the spirit of each place. Betsch created the photographs with a 4 x 5 wood field camera.Both the book and exhibition trace the development of American landscape design by analyzing a group of landscapes that were chosen for their significance, state of preservation, and chronological and geographical distribution. Most are open to the public today. Karson argues that the spirit of the place–the genius loci–continued to guide these twentieth-century practitioners, even as they began experimenting with other influences, from the Beaux Arts to modernism. The award-winning book has drawn wide praise. The London Telegraph identified it as the “most important book on American gardens for at least a decade.” An exhibition of original photographs specially commissioned for the book toured nationally from 2000 to 2012.A Genius for Place
Robin Karson’s published works include Fletcher Steele, Landscape Architect; The Muses of Gwinn, Pioneers of American Landscape Design (co-editor), A Genius for Place, and more than one hundred articles about American landscape design. She is the founding director of LALH, based in Amherst, Mass.
Carol Betsch (b. 1948) has been a landscape photographer for more than thirty-five years. Her photographs appear in The Winterthur Garden; The Muses of Gwinn; The Gardens of Ellen Biddle Shipman; A Modern Arcadia, and many other books and articles about American landscape design. She is the managing editor of the University of Massachusetts Press.
Founded in 1992, LALH is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to foster understanding of the fine art of landscape architecture and appreciation for North America’s richly varied landscape heritage through LALH books, exhibitions, and online resources.
Work and Culture / Into the Shade
March / April 2014
Deborah Baronas finds that the combination of art and history is especially potent as it can inspire and educate a broad audience. Baronas has captured the lives of Rhode Island and Massachusetts 19th century textile mill workers, domestic servants and tobacco farm field hands, whose cultural histories are reflected in hand stenciled scrims, paintings, artifacts, and other media. These become part of the backdrop and commentary, both literally and figuratively in her upcoming show at Wistariahurst Museum during the months of March and April.
After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Textiles, and working for many years in the textile industry, both abroad and in New York, Deborah Baronas returned to art, painting familiar landscapes. Despite the desire to describe these places, the images did not reflect the story she wanted to tell. Growing up on a farm, and as a textile designer, Baronas was immersed in these working cultures, which had a profound influence on her work, shifting between the worlds of glamour and gritty work culture.
The work of Deborah Baronas is held in numerous collections and has been shown at the Slater Mill Gallery, The Museum of Work & Culture, American Textile History Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, and at Governors’ Island in New York. During the past few years, through grants, Baronas has studied the history of the mill culture in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, resulting in The Mill Project, part of which is on display at Wistariahurst. Through the mixing of color, texture and pattern, fluid fabrics and music, her studies recreate the essence of a time and its inhabitants. Although this body of work is informed by history, and can support historical exploration, it stands on its own as a complete visual and physical experience.
Art Exhibition – Echoes of Industry: The Death and Rebirth of Holyoke’s Mills
Eric Broudy’s photography offers a quiet memorial to a bygone industrial era, yet at the same time presents a proper introduction to its successors. Broudy captures on video an illustration preserved and renovated for a new generation of creativity and commerce.
September and October 2014 Gallery Exhibition:
What Comes of the Fall: Works by Lyn Horan
Last Fall, artist Lyn Horan’s exhibition What Comes of the Fall, a selection of bold drawings, paintings and mixed media collages, was on view in the Wistariahurst gallery. Horan’s show was a visual celebration of Autumn, the contradictory season of life that rolls in with fantastical colorful promises, then blows it all to the Winter ground waiting below in a single rainstorm.
Fall has long been Horan’s favorite season. She states that the season ignites something deep, mysterious, and innately sensual in all of us with its crisp, spicy air, show-stopping colors, its harvest of many tastes, and the pull of its golden-orange moons looming large over the horizon, and that with all its beginning fantasy, Autumn is also the season of reality and immediacy, as we know that Winter is pending.
Local artist Caleb Colon gives an intimate look at the artist’s process of selection, direction and creation. Colon’s latest show features displays of his works as paintings begin, progress, and finally accept completion. The paintings and sketches on view in the Wistariahurst Gallery portray Colon’s career in art, with the necessary amount of studying, researching, cataloguing, archiving and preliminary sketching that an artist enlists to complete a work. These items seldom leave the studio, but are the defining foundations of the artist’s passions, methods and reasoning of the final product, portraying an intimate introduction into the thought process behind his works.
The pieces being shown in Sketches to Cityscapes are from local scenes in surrounding towns and sites along the Connecticut River. Studies, sketches and photos are also on view, showing the layers of work and the artist’s process to the final painting.
REACH was funded in-part by the Easthampton Cultural Council (ECC), the city’s Local Cultural Council Program funded by the MCC. The Gold Star Program annually recognizes model community arts, humanities and science projects funded by the 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) across the state. The recognized projects celebrate diversity, foster collaboration, showcase artistic excellence, and provide learning experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds.
In April and May of 2013, REACH curators brought a diverse contemporary arts festival to the Pioneer Valley. Organizers invited over 30 dynamic artists and performers to exhibit installations, video, sculptures, sounds, and performances in exhibition and performance spaces within nine venues in Easthampton and Holyoke. Each REACH venue offered a different challenge for participating artists—whether it was in a historic museum, a large white box space or a window in a storefront.
The Gold Star awards are nominated by Local Cultural Councils and are evaluated by the MCC based on a variety of criteria including: artistic quality, success in reaching out to underserved constituents, educational value, and ability to engage with the community. REACH organizers are proud to join the roster of selected Gold Star programs.
The LCC Program is one of the largest volunteer-run, grassroots arts funding program in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences annually.
REACHis a multi-city exhibition of contemporary practitioners in an alliance between the cities of Easthampton and Holyoke, MA. REACH will showcase over 30 local and national artists working in a variety of non-traditional formats.
The exhibition at Wistariahurst will feature installation, interactive sculpture, found media (the reuse of archived or appropriated video, documents, photographs, etc.) performance and future-media (media currently and soon-to-be-used under the umbrella of contemporary art practices). REACH aims to bridge the arts and spaces in the neighboring communities by encouraging interactive experimentation. Community members are invited to experience and participate in an array of contemporary art practices, which will be exhibited in traditional, non traditional and underutilized spaces. Among the artists exhibiting at Wistariahurst are Chris Nelson, Burns Maxey, Victor Signore, Peter Waite, Nyugen E. Smith, Rosalyn Driscoll, Kim Faler and Alicia Renadette. Admission to REACH during regular business hours through May 20 is $3
Visit www.reachfest.com for more information. Watch REACH organizers Maggie Nowinsky and Marjorie Latham with artist Chris Nelson on WGBY’s “Connecting Point”, click here. Read about REACH on Pioneer and MassLive.
JANUARY THROUGH MARCH 2013: Massachusetts Green: Building Holyoke’s High Performance Computing Center Exhibition
This winter, view Greg Saulmon’s photo essay documenting what some believe may be one of the city’s most significant economic development projects since the building of its paper mills. A partnership between private technology companies and world-class institutions of higher education, the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center represents a turning point as the city attempts to reimagine its urban core — a transition from a manufacturing economy to one rooted in technology and creative industries. The photos lead viewers on a journey from the original status of the site to the building process to a detailed look at the new building’s features and “green” infrastructure.
A resident of downtown Holyoke, Greg Saulmon works by day as an online editor at The Republican / MassLive.com. Outside of his work in the world of breaking news, he is the writer and photographer behind The Birds Downtown, a blog about urban birding, and an avid documentary photographer. His photos have been accepted to juried art shows at the Forbes Library and Vermont Center for Photography, and his documentary project “Full Employment: Major Employers in the Pioneer Valley, 1851-2010″ was exhibited at the Forbes Library (Jan. 2011) and the Wistariahurst Museum (June 2011). Works on view through March 18, 2013. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Holyoke Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
- photo courtesy of The Springfield Republican-Michael Gordon
This fall, Wistariahurst will display select pieces from the world renowned collection of the late Sidney H. Radner—a Holyoke native and accomplished magician and escape artist. Radner, during seven decades of collecting, put together one of the most significant arrays of Harry Houdini memorabilia in the world. Harry Houdini (1874–1926) was considered the world’s greatest escape artist when performing before audiences of thousands throughout the U.S. and Europe, breaking free of handcuffs, shackles, and water tanks as well as being buried alive. Houdini began with a magic act in 1891, was known as the “King of Cards,” and later transitioned into escape acts. Houdini’s acts, considered life threatening and highly dramatic, earned him the moniker “The Handcuff King” for his ability to escape from custom made restraints.
Radner performed professionally under the name “Rendar the Magician,” and worked in the military and later as a specialist exposing crooked gambling practices. Radner also became an expert escape artist. Radner met Theodore Hardeen—Houdini’s brother, known simply as “Hardeen”—at a magician’s convention in Springfield, MA, in 1935. Hardeen also was an escape artist. After his brother’s death in 1926, Hardeen kept a warehouse full of Houdini’s tools and props and Radner bought many from Hardeen, and then inherited the balance when Hardeen died in 1945.
In the community of escape artists, magicians and magic collectors, Radner was credited with having preserved some of Houdini’s most important props and building one of the world’s largest Houdini collections. Radner died in 2011. He had been the organizer of the annual Houdini Séance. The last séance was held at Wistariahurst on October 31, 2011—the anniversary of Houdini’s death. Radner was a Holyoke businessman, and his son William now runs the business American Rug Co., helps maintain the Houdini collection and oversees the Houdini Séance.
The exhibit explores Radner’s connection to the history of magic and Houdini through his collection, which includes handcuffs, tools, posters and other documents. Join us opening night and be surprised and entertained by roving magicians. Admission to the opening reception on Friday, September 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. is $10.
ARTIST EXHIBITION INTERPRETS WISTARIAHURST MUSEUM
In the fall of 2011 Wistariahurst hosted the first Wistariahurst Museum Artist Exhibition. Artists were invited to create original works of art inspired by the beautiful design details and artistic features that exist in the landscape and throughout the rooms of Wistariahurst – choosing elements from the grand mansion, elegant gardens and fascinating collection. The show integrated modern works of art expressed in a rich variety of media such as painting, video, photography, wood turning, ceramics and sculpture, installations, poetry, digital imaging and surface design throughout the historically rich spaces. Artists created original pieces that were installed throughout the museum. Wistariahurst offers a glimpse of the past, showcasing elaborate woodwork, parquet floors, wall coverings and other significant details that have been preserved and reflect the art and craftsmanship of a bygone era. New unique works created a twist on Wistariahurst’s familiar appearance. The result was an exciting artist interpretation. Special thanks and recognition to Guest Curator, Vitek Kruta and to Videographer, Denis Luzuriaga who contributed the above video clip.
Alan Gilburg, Veronika Kruta, Jeff Margolin, Torsten Zenas Burns, Jeffrey Byrnes, Carole Guthrie, David Barclay, Denis Luzuriaga, Laura Radwell, Lee Hutt, Lori Divine-Hudson, Margaret Lloyd, Molly Cantor, Peter Dellert, David Poppie, Roger Sayre, Dane Johnson, Dean Nimmer, Gregory Stone, Claire Zeller Barclay, and Sarah Brown Roux.