Monthly Archives: September 2009

Evelyn Longman’s Lowell Monuments

Longman_Wells2Two of Evelyn Longman Batchelder‘s standing bas-relief  monuments are in the Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Mass. Lowell Cemetery is a lovely 19th-century “garden” cemetery with an intriguing history, and just as intriguing are Longman’s graceful and poignant masterpieces.

The larger is Longman’s monument to Louisa Maria Wells, known also as the “Mill Girl” monument. Wells worked all her life in the Lowell mills, and never married. Her will provided for the memorial, which depicts an angel soothing a weary woman who rests her head on one hand and lets a bobbin drop from the other. The inscription reads: “Out of the fibre of her daily tasks/she wove the fabric of a useful life/Louisa Maria Wells/Died February 20, 1886.”  Longman’s beautiful carving catches one by surprise. Instead of stock representations of Victorian sentiment (an angel, a fading mortal, the enveloping drapery of death), the figures radiate emotion and purpose; their faces, gestures,  and clothing are individual and specific.
The bronze high relief figure of death on the Storey memorial is (unfortunately) in a state of picturesque deterioration. A cloaked woman holds a finger to her lips, gesturing for silence. In her left hand she holds a key, and a poppy, symbol of death, sleep, and forgetting. Smaller than the lifesize women on the Wells memorial, this stately figure is similarly arresting in the thoughtfulness of its execution. Longman, working with and within the conventional and antique symbology of death and resurrection, has endowed her figures with an individuality and humanity that communicates to us even after a hundred years.Longman_Storey3

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Lowell Open Studios

Diana_Maidy2The Western Avenue Studio complex in Lowell is growing by leaps and bounds. Now home to the Revolving Museum, the former mill complex also has studios for about 140 individual artists and craftsmen. Open Studio weekend was Sept. 26-27, and and studios are also open every First Saturday.

Shown is painter Diana Zipeto with a work in progress, her portrait of local boxer Matie Desjardins.

Joyce Audy Zarins

JoyceI had the pleasure of visiting Joyce Audy Zarins in her Merrimac studio this weekend. An adjunct art professor at Middlesex Community College, and longtime participant in the Maudslay Outdoor Sculpture exhibit in Newburyport, Joyce is a consummate craftsman who works primarily in metal, welding her own large-scale, outdoor sculptures.

I asked Joyce to comment on the giant maple keys shown with her in the studio, and she replied: “The title of the big maple seeds is Potential 3×3 (as in Potential cubed times three). The thought was, like Claes Oldenburg, to make a mundane object enormous to affect its meaning. … Theoretically, that first seed has the power to generate a forest. So, it’s also about exponential growth. Then … they are kinetic, responding to the slightest breeze. When they are installed on a lawn the support is not visible, so it is always a surprise to people when they move.”

On Maudslay: “I have had pieces in nine of the eleven (Maudslay) shows. The first two years that the core group exhibited together, the show was at Old Town Hill in Newbury, at Trustees of Reservations property. … Then [the show] went to Maudslay and has been there ever since. …This has always been a group effort and jobs rotate–I’ve done just about all at one time or another. The show and the catalogues are gifts to the public.”

Pictured below is Joyce’s “The Whistler”, painted steel, on view at the Maudslay Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Newburyport, Mass., until October 4th.

skywalker_zarins

Outdoor Sculpture at Maudslay

AugeriThe Maudslay Outdoor Sculpture exhibit is up until October 4th at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport. Many pieces are site-specific, and community members (including a few kids) as well as area artists are represented in this diverse show that is, in the words of organizer Bert Snow, “beautiful, thoughtful, humorous, musical, subtle, and wild.” The outdoor sculptures represent many different styles and are located in several different environments around the park. A catalog and map are available at the main entrances.
The park itself, an 80-acre former private estate on the banks of the Merrimack, is home to a theatre company as well as walking, riding, biking, and x-c ski trails.
http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/maud.htm

Pictured is “Untitled”, stripped poplar and linen, by Michele Koenig Augeri.

Rose O’Neill

ONeill_treeAs a child in Nebraska, Rose O’Neill (1874-1944) loved to draw, and at the age of 13 she entered a drawing contest sponsored by the Omaha Herald and won first prize. At 16 she went to New York City on her own where she stayed with the Sisters of St. Regis.  After selling 60 drawings within three months she became the highest paid female illustrator in the United States.

O’Neill then joined the staff at Puck magazine, and led a bohemian life in Greenwich Village. While O’Neill was in New York her father homesteaded a small cabin in the Missouri Ozarks, which became known as “Bonniebrook” and was O’Neill’s home in later life.

Rose O’Neill created the Kewpie characters she became popular for during a stay at Bonniebrook, but the Kewpies were a response to the lives of slum children in New York. The cartoon was instantly famous. In 1912 a German porcelain manufacturer started making Kewpie dolls, and that year she and her sister went to Germany to show the porcelain artists how to make the dolls the way she wanted them.

O’Neill made a fortune from the kewpies, and was considered one of the world’s most beautiful women. Known as the “Queen of Bohemian Society” O’Neill used her wealth and visibility to become an advocate for women’s rights and poor children. O’Neill continued working, even at her wealthiest, and studied sculpture with Rodin. She had several exhibitions of her sculpture in Paris and America and held open salons in her Washington Square apartment where poets, actors, dancers and artists of her day would gather. O’Neill retired to Bonniebrook in the 1930s.

http://thelibrary.org/lochist/periodicals/ozarkswatch/ow304h.htm

Photo: a retired Rose O’Neill at Bonniebrook with her sculpture “The Embrace of the Tree”

Judith Shea

shea-07An iconoclastic, virtuoso sculptor, Judith Shea‘s early training was in garment design, and her early works were, in her words, “clothes without figures in them.” Armless dresses symbolized women, and voluminous overcoats were male surrogates. Now, Shea has begun “filling the overcoats with people”, including portraits and images of Catholic saints and martyrs. Shea continues to work in her New York studio, “…to make sculptures, whether they are extremely formal or obsessively descriptive, that will express human states.”

http://collections.walkerart.org/item/object/8816

Pictured: Storage 1999, 1999. Bronze, 5 elements, 9 x 13 x 42 ft. View of work at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri. © ruy sanchez blanco

Daisy Youngblood

DY_BUDHI_clayDaisy Youngblood (b. 1945) grew up in North Carolina and currently lives in New Mexico. She was a 2003 MacArthur  “genius grant” recipient.

Youngblood’s most well-known sculptures are the heads and torsos of people and animals, in low fire clay, occasionally incorporating found objects (sticks, teeth, hair). Some of the heads are representational portraits, and her sculptures of animals convey resounding intelligence.

Youngblood cites Jung and Buddhism as important theoretical influences, and has expressed interest in “correlating worldwide religions and esoteric practices with the individual psyche.”

When living in New York, Youngblood would make journeys to Jones Beach to dig native clay. She often pit-fires her unique (one of a kind) sculptures, resulting in charred surfaces. Her work is almost always unglazed, allowing the raw modeling and marks of her hands to reveal the subject.

Pictured: “Budhi”, clay

http://mckeegallery.com/artists/daisy-youngblood/

TLGUTS

Jocelyn Almy-Testa organizes some fascinating shows and events in this cool alternative space. If you’re in need of a studio, rent the gallery’s Resource Room, which has a library of reference, art, and how-to books, a sewing machine, slide projector, light boxes, hand tools, and much more. The Little Gallery Under The Stairs (TLGUTS), 25 Exchange Street, Lynn, Mass.,
http://www.tlguts.com/

Who Does She Think She Is?

camille photoAn inspiration to all women artists, the documentary “Who Does She Think She Is” was shown recently at my local movie theatre. It’s a must-see for women and men concerned about the politics of the art world, women artists (especially mothers), and anyone interested in the problems of life/work balance.
http://www.whodoesshethinksheis.net/
Camille Musser  (pictured), one of the artists profiled, generously spoke to us in a post-screening Q&A. Camille began her life as a painter after the age of 40, and now runs an art school for children in her native St. Vincent. Visit her websites:
http://camillemusserart.com/, http://youlouarts.org

Adelaide Johnson

suffrage_monumentAdelaide Johnson (1859–1955) sculpted the first monument to American women, displayed in the U.S. Capitol. She was, first and foremost, a feminist who was devoted to the cause for equality of women.

Born Sarah Adeline Johnson to a farm family of modest means in Plymouth, Illinois, she attended rural school and then took classes at the St. Louis School of Design. In 1878, she changed from Sarah Adeline to Adelaide, a name she thought was more dramatic. She moved to Chicago and supported herself with her art. In January 1882, hurrying to get to her studio, she slipped and fell twenty feet down the well of an unguarded elevator shaft. Badly hurt, she sued for compensation and was awarded the sum of $15,000. Ironically, this injury and award gave her the financial freedom to travel to Europe to study painting and sculpture. She studied with Giulio Monteverde in Rome where she kept a studio until 1920.

In 1896 she married Frederick Jenkins, a British businessman and fellow vegetarian eleven years younger than she. He took her name as “the tribute love pays to genius”. They were wed by a woman minister, and her bridesmaids were the busts she did of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. However, the marriage ended after twelve years.

She exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, showing busts of prominent suffragists Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The high point of her professional career was to complete a monument in Washington D.C. in honor of the women’s suffrage movement which was unveiled in 1921.

Her career declined after the 1930s, and financial problems beset her. Faced with eviction for failure to pay taxes, in 1939 she invited the press to witness her mutilating her own sculptures as a protest against her circumstances, and against the failure to realize her dream of a studio-museum commemorating suffragists and other women’s campaigners. She later appeared on TV quiz programs trying to win money to buy back her home. Her flamboyant nature led her to lie about her age through her life. She celebrated her 100th birthday at the age of 88, realizing that it made good publicity. Upon her death, her age was reported to be 108, though she was in fact 96. She is buried in Washington, D.C. at Congressional Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

Pictured: the group portrait monument to the pioneers of the woman suffrage movement, sculpted c. 1893 from an 8-ton block of marble in Carrara, Italy. The monument was presented to the Capitol as a gift from the women of the United States by the National Woman’s Party and was accepted on behalf of Congress by the Joint Committee on the Library on February 10, 1921. From left to right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott.