Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BARNES, DJUNA CELEBRATED MODERNIST WRITER (c) By Polly Guerin














Djuna Barnes’s extraordinary career as a journalist and illustrator deserves revisiting primarily because she made an important contribution in the development of 20th century English language modernist writing. She was born in a log cabin in 1892 and lived through the Deco years and became one of the key figures in 1920s and ‘30’s bohemian Paris and fulfilled a similar role in Greenwich Village. Though her upbringing in an unconventional household was fraught with incest, rape and hardship, Barnes developed an outsider’s perspective on ‘normal’ life that served her well as a writer. As a woman determined to succeed much of Barnes’s journalism was subjective and experiential. An early twentieth-century advocate for women’s rights Barnes also wrote interviews, features, theatre reviews, and a variety of news stories, often illustrating them with her own drawings. Left: This satirical drawing of a dandyish Greenwhich Village resident accompanied Barnes's 1916 article "How the Villagers Amuse Themselves." Newspaper Fiction: The New York Journalism of Djuna Barnes, 1913-1919, an exhibition of 45 objects including drawings, works on paper, documentary photographs, and stories in newsprint by the celebrated writer Djuna Barnes will be presented in the Herstory Gallery of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art from January 20 through October 28, 2012 at Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/. GREENWICH VILLAGE Barnes’s liberal sexuality fit in perfectly with the bohemian lifestyle of Greenwich Village and, later, the lesbian expatriate community in Paris. From her first articles in 1913 until her departure for Europe in 1921, she specialized in a type of journalism that was less about current events and more about her observations of the diverse personalities and happenings that gave readers an intimate portrait of her favorite character-New York City. Attempting to capture its transition from turn of the century city to modern metropolis, Barnes developed her unique style of “newspaper fictions,” offering impressionistic observations and dramatizing whatever she felt to be the true significance of subtexts of a story. Prior to publishing the modernist novels and plays for which she is now remembered, such as Ryder (1928), Nightwood (1936) and The Antiphon (1958), which present complex portrayals of lesbian life and familial dysfunction, Barnes supported herself as a journalist and illustrator for a variety of daily newspapers and monthly magazines including the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, McCalls, Vanity Fair, Charm and the New Yorker. THE BOHEMIAN LIFESTYLE In 1915 Barnes moved to a flat in Greenwich Village, where she became part of a thriving Bohemian community of artists and writers counting among her social circle Dadaist artists and poets. One supporter was Guido Bruno, an entrepreneur and promoter of published magazines and chapbooks out of his garret on Washington Square. He was willing to risk prosecution by publishing Barnes’s 1915 collection, The Book of Repulsive Women, with its explicit poetic descriptions of sex between women, at a time when lesbianism was virtually invisible in American culture. Barnes was unusual among Villagers in having been raised with a philosophy of free love, espoused both by her grandmother and her father. She retained sexual freedom as a value and had a number of affairs with both men and women during her Greenwich Village days. PARIS SOJOURN (1921-1930) Barnes first traveled to Paris on assignment for McCall’s Magazine, where she soon became a well-known figure on the local scene; her black cloak and her acerbic wit are remembered in memoirs of the time. She was part of the inner circle of the influential salon hostess, Natalie Barney, who would become a lifelong friend and patron, as well as the central figure in Barnes’s satiric chronicle of Paris lesbian life, Ladies Almanack, which was published under the pseudonym “A Lady of Fashion.” However, the most important relationship of Barnes’s Paris years was with the artist Thelma Wood, a Kansas native who had come to Paris to become a sculptor. Driven by Barnes’s influence Wood took up silverpoint instead, producing animals and plants that one critic compared to Rousseau. By 1922 they moved in together in a flat on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. In 1928 Barnes dedicated Ryder and Ladies Almanack to Thelma Wood the year that both books were published and the year that she and Wood separated. NEW YORK CITY AGAIN Barnes published little journalism in the 30s and was largely dependent on the largesse of the art patron, Peggy Guggenheim. Barnes was constantly ill and drank more heavily. After an attempted suicide Guggenheim funded hospital visits and doctors, but finally lost patience and sent Barnes be back to New York. During her Patchin Place years, Barnes became a notorious recluse. E.E. Cummings, who lived across the street, checked on her periodically, others put roses in her mailbox. It is at this time that Barnes stopped drinking in order to begin work on her verse play The Antiphon, that drew heavily on her own family history, the writing was fueled with anger. Although Barnes had other female lovers, in later years she was known to claim, “I am not a lesbian; I just loved Thelma.” BARNES WAS ELECTED TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ARTS AND LETTERS IN 1961. SHE WAS THE LAST SURVIVING MEMBER OF THE FIRST GENERATION OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE MODERNISTS WHEN SHE DIED IN NEW YORK IN 1982.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MEIERE, HILDRETH ART DECO MURALIST (c) By Polly Guerin
























If walls could talk what would they say? They would praise the artisitic oeuvre of Hildreth Meiere, who installed a prolific outpouring of works at a hundred public and religious buildings, like Temple Emanu-El, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Bartholomew’s in New York City, and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C. and the Nebraska State Capitol. Her most famous designs are the Art Deco roundels, the plaques Dance, Drama and Song that appear on the 50th Street facade of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. For this Art Deco muralist, mosaicist, painter and decorative artist the domes, ceilings, walls, windows and floors of monumental buildings were her canvas. She completed more than 100 commissions which ranged from corporate art to liturgical works. SUCCEEDING AS AN EQUAL In the 1930s Meiere was considered the most famous muralist of the Art Deco style, and probably, the most prolific, in the country. She was a woman determined to succeed and beat the odds against professional success for her sex. She wrote to a friend in 1936, “I’ve worked as an equal with men, and my rating as an equal is all that I value.” Hildreth Meiere (1892-1961) was a woman artist who was able to gain the respect of the greatest muralists and architects of her day. Her finest achievements and artistic installations serve as an inspiration for all women in the fields of creative endeavor. MEIERE’S EDUCATION Achieving recognition as an artist takes many avenues of education and exploration, but foremost is the innate talent that Hildreth possessed. Educated at the Art Students’ League in New York, her hometown, the California School of Fine arts, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, she sought after the best teachers and studied in Florence, Italy. There she was overcome by the glories of the Renaissance and all that preceded it, and she fell in love with mural painting and the magnificent walls. MEIERE’S OEUVRE It wasn’t long before Meiere’s talent would attract architects. In 1923, architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue hired Meiere to decorate the dome of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C. and her career took off exponentially. She worked on two additional projects for Goodhue, most notably the Nebraska State Capitol’s eight distinctive works, which collectively became her piece de resistance. Meiere collaborated with other architects and craftsmen who executed her creations which reached beyond painted wall murals to include glass and marble mosaics, marble floors, glazed terra-cotta tiles, stained glass and wool tapestries. Her range was astonishing and identified with rich decorative quality.
HILDRETH MEIERE’S BEAUTIFUL ART OF MOSAIC CONTINUES TO BE ENJOYED IN CHURCHES AND PUBLIC BUILDING ACROSS THE COUNTRY. HER RANGE WAS ASTONISHING YET SHE FOUND TIME TO PAINT THE PORTABLE WOODEN ALTAR PIECES PRO BONO FOR MILITARY CHAPLAINS DURING WORLD WAR II. SHE SERVED ON BOARDS OF SEVERAL PROFESSIONAL GROUPS INCLUDING THE ART STUDENTS’ LEAGUE, THE NATIOANAL SOCIETY OF MURAL PAINTERS AND THE LITURGIAL ARTS SOCIETY TO NAME A FEW. IN 1956 SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN HONORED WITH THE FINE ARTS MEDAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUE OF ARCHITECTS AND THE FIRST WOMAN APPOINTED TO THE NEW YORK ART COMMISSION.

Hildreth Meiere is finally having her overdue recognition. The first thorough exhibition of her work, “Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meiere,” through June 2012, showcases her work at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University in Bonaventure, N. Y., near Buffalo. The exhibit "The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meiere," has been extended to 2012 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D. C.

The International Hildreth Meiere Association conducts activities to promote and perpetuate the legacy of Hildreth Meiere. Contact Email: info@hildrethmeiere.com Web: www.hildrethmeiere.com.

Friday, September 30, 2011

NAEGEL, DIANE LYNNE DYNAMIC INNOVATOR (c) By Polly guerin







There are many stars in the galaxy but one very special individual descended on earth bringing with her innovation, creativity, entrepreneurism and publishing. That star that shined its light in so many endeavors was Dianne Lynne Naegel whose vibrant young life was cut short on Sunday, September 25, 2011, from complications due to breast cancer. At thirty-one Diane accomplished what would take some people a lifetime. She was a woman determined to succeed and did so with such grace, charm and beauty that she could pass through a crowded room and turn heads with her personal style. She was part a modern muse, a Vintage aficionado and Art Deco enthusiast, but always her interpretation was original. Diane Lynne Naegel leaves a legacy of inspiration for others to follow. THE AMAZING INNOVATOR Tributes keep pouring in about the life of this young innovator. Kathryn Hausman, president of the Art Deco Society of New York said, “Diane was a lovely young woman who partnered with her fiancé, Don Spiro, on monthly Wit’s End Deco soirees held around the city and featuring a jazz age celebration of music and dance. On occasion ADSNY offered its membership invitations to special venues. Diane and Don partnered with ADSNY on the Madame Yevonde events last year. Knowing how devoted she was to DECO I had invited her to be on the ADSNY board. In addition, she had a major following with the younger Decophiles and I had hoped to have her bring awareness to her group of ADSNY’s mission.” ZELDA MAGAZINE As publisher and designer of Zelda: A Magazine for the Vintage Nouveau, Diane was a born innovator seeing the magazine through several issues, first issue Fall/Winter 2009, and the most recent issue Spring/Summer 2011, the fifth issue was about to be published at the time of her demise. Hausman adds with gratitude: “She had given ADSNY complimentary full page advertisements in several issues, and for this we were very proud.” Alicia Kachmar said, “She was an amazing woman that no amount of words could truly describe. She was a gem.” Sam Altman: “To know that she was able to touch so many lives during her journey is inspirational.” DESIGNER PAR EXCELLENCE Diane Lynne Naegel was no ordinary gal, she was proprietress of the Internet scarf business Lulette.com for a year before coming to New York to work in the fashion business, and how lucky these companies were to have such talent in their business. Working first at the Gap in the International Division and most recently as Accessory Designer at OshKosh b'gosh Corp., she designed children’s accessories. She was passionate about her work and lent some of her expertise on the Rose Marie Reid swimsuits and modeled her own in the Thrifty Vintage Chic Swimsuit Edition. DIANE, THE EARLY YEARS Diane Lynne Naegel was born August 31, 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the first and only daughter of Sarita Diane Naegel and Mark Robert Naegel. No one would have suspected that from a typical upbringing that she would emerge as the dynamic creative individual that she became. She attended pre-school and grade school at Concordia Lutheran School and high school at St. Ursula Academy, graduating with Honors. Diane studied and worked at the University of Cincinnati, the co-op program of the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning and graduated with Honors with a degree in Fashion Design 2003. She received several recognition awards: Fashion Mafia Winner of Saks Fifth Avenue Award-outstanding senior and Collection winner of director’s Choice Award for Senior Thesis Collection. New York’s fashion industry as mentioned previously was her next move.
THE LOSS OF SUCH A VIBRANT AND CREATIVE SPIRIT TOUCHES ALL THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE WHO KNEW HER, NONE MORE SO THAT THAT OF DON SPIRO, DIANE’S FIANCE WHO SAID, “To those who knew and loved her, she would want you to be strong, enjoy every bit of life, and be happy celebrating her memory.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MAYER, TERRY-FASHION ICON, BELLOLOGIST (c) by Polly Guerin

Of all the women who have reinvented themselves Terry Mayer, a woman who wore many hats during her storied career, became a fashion authority, a publicist and product innovator. Terry’s meteoric rise to the top echelon of women determined to succeed was accomplished by the sheer magnitude of her prolific outpouring. As a mentor to many women in the fashion industry she helped to elevate other women to achieve their goals and all the time she was the ultimate fashion icon, beautiful, intelligent and a native New Yorker. Terry Mayer quietly and with dignity leaves a vast legacy of original ‘firsts’ that count her among the legends of New York women, the ‘brains’ behind America’s most glamorous period in fashion.
THE LADDER TO SUCCESS Well suited to the fashion culture of New York City when Terry graduated from college she pursued her dream and entered the business world. After landing a job in the publicity/marketing department of Macy’s Department Store she started on a course that would define her life and her career. Vin Draddy, president of David Crystal Co., makers of fine women’s dresses on New York’s Seventh Avenue recognized her talent and appointed Terry the firm’s publicist. She spearheaded the growth of the company’s fashion recognition and worked on the exciting new colorful line of IZOD golf shirts. Terry far exceeded her ambition and decided to break out on her own.
BECOMING TERRY MAYER PUBLICITY Competition was rampant in the fashion publicity but undaunted Terry created many ‘firsts,’ like the Denim Council. At a time when denim was considered utilitarian she promoted denim as fashionable and chic through newsletters and fashion shows. It was at this time that Terry began her awesome collection of ‘Drum Beaters,’ amusing and animated figures and characters that represented the drum beating of publicity. A unique collection it really should be housed in a museum. Terry aligned herself with the international sectors of fashion and was cited for her work on the Inter-American Council promoting Latin American fashion. She also spearheaded the campaign on the Mayor’s Committee to celebrate New York City. In time she participated in many fashion industry organizations and was a founder of The Fashion News Workshop.
A REGULAR AT ‘21’ Terry had great social instinct and knew that being seen and socializing with clients and the fashion cognoscenti was an essential to a successful publicity career. She became a regular patron of ‘21’ the famous restaurant on W. 55 Street and her name was assigned to her regular table, #53. One could find her meeting a client for a drink to gossip and catch up from time to time. Terry once remarked, “I had been going to ‘21’ since the 60s and enjoyed being made a fuss over. That’s what it’s all about. Maybe that’s what life is about.” When a birthday or a career achievement was celebrated at ‘21’ Polly, her chief copywriter at Amos Parrish where Terry was vice president of Fashion, was often a guest. “I never had a meal I did not enjoy,” Polly exclaimed, “For anyone who was in Terry’s orbit she celebrated life and made it a more exciting.” Terry never lacked for admirers and especially when male diners came forward to greet her. The fashion icons of the day included celebrity designers. Even Bill Blass made his way to her table.
BECOMING A BELLOLOGIST If indeed ideas are planted in the very young then Terry’s subconscious mind held a secret. As Terry recalls when she was a little girl, her mother put bells on her shoes, “so I would not get lost around the house." And so it was that after a 30-year career in publicity and public relations and counting her service as president of the Publicity Club of New York, Terry embarked on yet another career designing bell jewelry. As the commentator of a Denim Council fashion show she had blue-jeaned models wear jingling bells around their waists. That sparked an idea and led Terry to take a course in jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Eventually her own bells, which she designed as jewelry in the shape of fruits, animals, seashells and sailboats with a tinkling bell found their way into stores like Tiffany & Company and as the bull and bear in the financial district.
THE BELL ASSOCIATION With her enthusiasm and success as a jewelry designer it was inevitable that Terry’s path would lead further into the world of bell collecting. As president of the New York chapter of the American Bell Association International, Terry held regular meetings with sort of “show and tell” sessions among avid bell collectors. The collections discussed included all kinds of bells that have maintained a lofty place in American history, in church towers, pilot houses, locomotives and schoolhouses. Today many museums maintain bell collections including world famous historical collections as well as American glass bells, walking sticks, sleigh bells, bicycle bells and even mother-of-pearl teething rings. Most wonderful and privileged were the New York chapter meetings that were held in the music department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where historic bells were the main topic on view and discussion. There were ancient bells that lonely shepherds once used to communicate from mountain to mountain as they tended their flocks of sheep and majestic stone temple bells of the Orient that when struck released a different sound message. These meetings were organized through the largesse of Joe Petnick III who passed these treasures among the bell enthusiasts and regaled us with historic stories and legends of the past.
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL TERRY MAYER WAS GENEROUS; SHE WAS KIND AND A CHAMPION OF WOMEN PURSING CAREERS IN THE FASHION, ADVERTISING AND PUBLICITY ARENAS. SMART, ATTRACTIVE AND INNOVATIVE TERRY MAYER WAS ONE OF THE OUTSTANDING WOMEN WHO SUCCEEDED IN THE COMPETITIVE BUSINESS WORLD. WHEN MOST WOMEN WOULD HAVE RETIRED TERRY MAYER REINVENTED HERSELF FROM FASHION PUBLICITY ICON TO JEWELRY DESIGNER. SHE CREATED NEW WORDS, ‘BELLOLOGIST,’ FOR EXAMPLE, TO IDENTIFY WITH HER ROLE AS JEWELRY DESIGNER AND BELL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT.
THANK YOU TERRY MAYER FOR BEING ONE OF THE MOST ADMIRED AND VENERATED WOMAN OF THE CENTURY
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CAPITMAN, BARBARA BAER, CHAMPION OF ART DECO (c) By Polly Guerin

When it comes to Art Deco preservation and the woman who founded numerous Art Deco chapters around the country I recognize and honor the memory of an amazing Art Deco woman Barbara Baer Capitman. An intrepid little woman with a colossal personality, Capitman was a pioneer and spearheaded the struggle to save Miami’s colorful Art Deco district. Identifying the architectural value of the 1930s buildings in South Miami Beach she literally put her body on the line to protect deteriorating Art Deco buildings marked for demolition. It is amazing how one person with limited resources yet possessing a powerful goal could change the course of a city’s prosperity so completely and wonderfully. It had a ripple effect through its people and tourism, and gave rise to a greater appreciation of Art Deco style nationwide. Barbara Baer Capitman was a woman determined to succeed and her reputation as the indomitable champion of Art Deco treasures of Miami Beach is revered in the architectural history of our country.
BECOMING A PRESERVATIONIST Leave it to a woman to rally behind a cause and put her whole heart and soul into its realization. After the death of her husband William, at 53 Barbara Capitman became a preservationist she admitted, “To fill the void and as a means of making new friends.” Petite and feisty she attributed her quavery voice, which her detractors frequently mimicked, to the shock of his death. Unfazed by any criticism Barbara pressed on as a preservationist, observing as she did that the 1930s Art Deco buildings in South Beach could be a historic district of 20 century architecture. Although Art Deco is somewhat more whimsical in Miami, the style is exemplified by the Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall in New York City, which are the best examples of Art Deco.
THE MIAMI DESIGN PRESERVATION LEAGUE It was inevitable that such a monumental task of saving the Art Deco treasures in South Miami Beach, which Capitman took up unrelentingly, was an insurmountable task alone. Although she began her campaign to create 20th century historic district in Miami Beach in 1975, she no doubt realized that she would need support to back up her preservation goals and in 1976 through Barbara’s efforts and her son John Capitman, The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) was formed. The initial impetus for forming The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) was to find a project to honor the United States’ bicentennial and in 1977 MDPL was duly incorporated by the State of Florida.
THE FIRST ART DECO WEEK As an incentive to showcase the Art Deco Section of Miami Beach, and hoping to attract locals, tourists and Art Deco aficionados to the area, the first Art Deco Week was held in October 13-19, 1978.Within four years, despite opposition by the Miami Beach city manager and the Chamber of Commerce, Barbara and her Design Preservation League won listings of the mile-square district on the National Register of Historic Places, providing federal tax incentives for restoration. The Miami Beach Historic District popularly referred to as the “Art Deco District” is the only district with 20th century architecture in the register. Art Deco Week continues to be a great attraction and draws visitors worldwide. Today the festival is in its 28th year and attracts upwards of 400,000 over the three-day festival.
MIAMI BEACH ART DECO REVIVAL A born visionary, in the early 1980s it was Capitman’s idea to bring the fashion industry and travel writers to South Miami to see the Art Deco architecture first hand. While it was winter in New York South Beach provided a summer venue for fashion industry professionals and photographers. As an incentive she offered the photographers and press inexpensive rooms in the Art Deco District. Miami Beach became a sensation and advertisements and travel stories worldwide garnered millions of dollars in free advertising as did its fame increase with the hit television series “Miami Vice,” which gave the district more free publicity on a major television network. Today celebrities, the fashion cognoscenti, the curious tourist come to call South Beach their own playground of Art Deco delights. World famous artist and one of the pioneering Art Deco collectors Andy Warhol was among the celebs who visited South Beach and the news generated caused a sensation that brought art-world notoriety to the district.
CHAMPIONING ART DECO No better spokesperson ever existed for Art Deco style than Barbara Baer Capitman. In 1981, at her own expense, she went on a three month nationwide tour driving her small car across the country to tell people about Miami Beach’s historic district and to promote Art Deco style. Her feisty personality and determination to popularize Art Deco was singular achievement which led to preserving nationwide the “decorative arts” style of architecture popular between the two world wars. She personified the genre and instigated the founding of Art Deco Societies around the country including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston and New York to name a few. Modeled after these societies many others sprung up all over the world, but Miami Beach became the Mecca for Art Deco enthusiasts. Capitman also became the founder of the World Congress on Art Deco, a major conference that is held in a different country every two years. The 11th World Congress on Art Deco met August 14 to August 2o in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, marking the first ever meeting in Latin America. World Congress’ were previously held in New York, Australia, England, New Zealand, Tulsa and South Africa.
THE INDOMITABLE CAPITMAN After Capitman took her celebrated trip around the nation in search of Art Deco treasures the idea for a book inspired her to write Deco Delights, her definitive book on the efforts to save and protect Miami Beach’s famed Art Deco district published in 1988. At the time of her death Capitman was working on a book, “Rediscovering Art Deco U.S.A.,” her final book, but passed away in the midst of the project, on March 29, 1990. The book was completed by co-authors Michael K. Kinerk (an original member of the MDPL) and Dennis W. Wilhelm, who spearhead the Miami Art Deco Society today. The publishing world was her métier for she had worked all her life in the design and publishing, serving as editor of numerous magazines. At the time of her death, she was president of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies (ICADS), president of Art Deco Society of Miami and counted the Miami Design Preservation League and board member of the metro Dade County Historic Preservation Board among her liaisons.
WHILE MOST OF THE INVESTORS AND BUILDERS WHO RESTORED SOUTH MIAMI’S ART DECO DISTRICT MADE HUGE FORTUNES BARBARA BAER CAPITMAN GARNERED NO FINANCIAL REWARD FOR HER PRESERVATION EFFORTS. FOR CAPITMAN SAVING MIAMI’S COLORFUL ART DECO TREASURES WAS A LABOR OF LOVE. HER SOLE COMMITMENT TO RESCUING ART DECO FROM OBLIVION IN SOUCH BEACH, AND ESTABLISHING SOCIETIES AROUND THE COUNTRY IS A LASTING LEGACY AND A FITTING PROJECT THAT HONORED AMERICA’S ART DECO HERITAGE.
















Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BRANDT MARIANNE, BAUHAUS METALIST (c) By Polly Guerin



Not to be confused with the Edgar Brandt, modernist, Marianne Brandt, born in Chemnitz in 1893 as Marianne Liebe, became a Bauhaus metalist whose name and design innovations rank among those of Marcel Breuer, Mies van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius. She started out as a painter, studying from 1911 to 1918 at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Weimar, and did a brief stint as a freelance painter before marrying the Norwegian painter Erick Brandt in 1919. The couple lived in Norway and the South of France until 1922. In 1923 Marianne Brandt and her husband moved to Weimar but Erik Brandt returned alone to Norway the same year although the Brandt’s did not divorce until 1935. Abandoning painting Marianne Brandt destroyed most of her paintings and drawings and at the age of 32, in 1924 she joined the Weimar Bauhaus. She was a woman determined to succeed by breaking through barriers that barred women Marianne Brandt became the first woman to head of the metal workshop at the Weimer Bauhaus in 1928. Brandt’s designs for household objects such as lamps, ashtrays and teapots are considered the harbinger of modern industrial design.

THE BAUHAUS PHILOSOPHY

The famous glass and steel educational complex were Marianne Brandt studied was brilliantly Bauhaus: Form follows function. It became the icon of Modernism, of the International Style. The workshops were the core curriculum, even for master artists and out of them came daily objects at affordable prices. She became a student of Hungarian modernist theorist and designer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who realized what a talented designer Marianne Brandt was and nurtured her gifts and admitted her to the metalworking workshop. Brandt was one of the few women to have excelled in the man’s world of design. Until her arrival at the Bauhaus, women students had been forced to study ceramics or weaving but thanks to her mentor, Moholy-Nagy, she was the first woman to be admitted into the male bastion of the metal workshops.

QUICK RECOGNITION OF SKILLS

In the metal workshop Marianne quickly rose to the position of workshop assistant. The years 1924-1929 saw Marianne Brandt design numerous utilitarian objects and lamps. She eventually succeeded Moholy as the workshop’s director in 1928 and in the post she negotiated some of the most important Bauhaus contracts for collaborations with industry, launching some of her lamp deigns on a mass-produced basis, mainly for the lighting firm of Korting & Mathiesen in Leipzig and also Schwintzer & Graff in Berlin.

THE TALE OF THE TEAPOT

Perhaps the most stunning of her accomplishments of hand wrought designs is an exceptionally rare silver and ebony tea service which exemplifies the best of the German Bauhaus’s modernist aesthetics and functional ideals. The tea service pictured here rejects ornamentation for simple geometric forms like cylinders, spheres and hemispheres. It also reveals the famed school’s emphasis on function: the push-on lid of the teapot, placed away from the spout, does not drip, and the wood knobs provide heat-resistant grips. The teapot was one of several prototypes designed and made by Brandt, when she was a student, and later a teacher in the Bauhaus metal workshop.

THE TEAPOT AND ITS CREATOR

Brandt made the original prototype in 1924, her first year in the metal workshop, which was then run by the charismatic Hungarian constructionist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The design was inspired by Moholy-Nagy’s constructivist style. However, Brandt strove to ensure that the teapot’s form was directly related to its function. Brandt created an abstract sculpture, which at the same time, is a teapot. According to Richard A. Born, senior curator, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, “The tea service, designed by Marianne Brandt and created by hand in the school’s workshops , consists of tea infuser (pot), creamer, sugar bowl and tray in sterling silver and ebony. The service is firmly set in the tradition of costly craft-based metalworking and was likely intended for a well-heeled clientele receptive to progressive interior design—a point that underscores the limitations of the Bauhaus’s social agenda of mass-produced and affordable domestic items of good design.”

NEW HORIZONS

After leaving the Bauhaus for Berlin in 1929, Brandt was briefly employed by Walter Gropius’ architecture practice in Berlin. She designed mass-produced and modular furniture for the interiors of the public housing project in Karlsruhe-Dammerstock. She subsequently became head of metal design at the Ruppel firm in Gotha, where she remained until losing her job in the midst of the ongoing financial depression in 1932. During the l930s, when Gropius and Moholy and other Bauhauslers fled Nazi Germany, she returned to her hometown of Chemnitz to look after her family.
DERIDED AS A ‘DECADENT’ BAUHAUSLER, MARIANNE BRANDT WAS UNEMPLOYABLE UNDER BOTH THE NAZIS AND THE EAST GERMAN COMMUNISTS AFTER WORLD WAR II. SHE REMAINED ISOLATED ON THE ICY SIDE OF THE IRON CURTAIN UNTIL HER DEATH IN 1983. SOME OF HER BAUHAUS DESIGNS HAVE EVEN GONE INTO PRODUCTION, BUT SADLY NOT THE TEAPOT SERVICE. MARIANNE BRANDT WAS OFTEN OVERLOOKED BUT TODAY SHE IS RECEIVING HER DUE RECOGNITION AS A MAJOR BAUHAUSLER AND CELEBRATED ALONG WITH WALTER GROPIUS, MARCEL BREUER, MIES VAN DER ROHE. SHE WAS A MODERN WOMAN AHEAD OF HER TIME AND BROKE THROUGH THE MALE BASTIAN IN METAL CRAFSMANSHIP IN 1924.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER, Anti-Slavery Novelist (c) By Polly Guerin

Never underestimate the power of the mighty pen. Harriet Beecher Stowe the author of the anti-slavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” it is said helped prompt the start of the American Civil War. Little did she know that her destiny would be forged in raising awareness of the plight of African-American salves during the 19th century. Harriet Elizabeth “Hattie Beecher was born 200 years ago on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut the sixth of 11 children into a family of powerful and very demanding individuals. The foundation of family values, social service and activism was at the gore of her upbringing. She was a woman progressive in her values and ideals and was determined to succeed. In an era when most women were not formally educated she and her sisters were educated and devoutly Christian. All of her brothers like their father, Lyman Beecher, a fiery, Evangelical Calvinist, became ministers and her sisters were both pioneers in advancing women’s education and voting rights. Harriet choose to do it through the powerful written words of activism.
AN AUTHOR EMERGES In 1832 Harriet’s family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when her father was made the president of the Lane Theological Seminary. It was at this time that Harriet made her first attempts at writing fiction and her writing career was well underway with the publication of two novels before her marriage in 1836 to theology professor Calvin Stowe. The couple opposed slavery and was active in the abolitionist movement and housed runaway slaves from the south and assisted the Underground Railroad. During this time they had seven children but it was the death of her toddler child that inspired Stowe to write about slavery. With a mother’s heart torn by the loss of her child she sympathized with the slave mothers who were forced to give up their children to be sold. She also had the opportunity to visit the South and observed the operation of the slave system there. The riveting details of this trip further fueled her pen.
UNCLE TOM’S CABIN Harriet’s husband Calvin Stowe was called to a position at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where Harriet set about writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The action of the book traces the passage of the slave Uncle Tom through the hands of three owners, each meant to represent a type of Southern figure, the last being the wicked Simon Legree, who causes the death of Uncle Tom. The successful dash for freedom taken by Georg and Eliza is the high point of the book. The story was first conceived as installments and appeared in serial form from 1851 to 1852 in the National Era, a Washington, D.C. anti-slavery newspaper. Harriet wrote more than 40 installments but the book was published in 1852 in a two-volume edition by the house of John P. Jewett. It sold three hundred thousand copies in its first year and a best seller worldwide.
WILD CRITICISM ERUPTED In the North there were universal charges that the world of the slave had been misrepresented and in the South retaliation hit the newspapers in a flood of criticism. Stowe answered her critics in 1853 with “A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” to document the facts in the novel. Harriet also responded to her success by traveling and lecturing widely, receiving her just due and praise in England and in Europe. She never lacked a devoted and enthusiastic American audience and in 1862 when she was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, he is said to have exclaimed, “So this is the little lady who started our big war!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe published more than 30 books in her lifetime but she is best known for a crusading sense of social and political responsibility. Uncle Tom’s Cabin remains a classic product of the culture of her time and made her one of the most widely known American women wrtiers of the 19th century. In later life she returned to her home state, where she died on July 1, 1896 at age 85 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Duff Gordon, "Lady Lucile" One of the First Couturiers (c) By Polly Guerin

Who would have thought that in a male-dominated fashion world of the, 1900s Lucy Christina Sutherland would emerge as the designer, “Lucile,” a couture designer of international prestige. Born in 1863, she and her sister, the future romantic novelist Elinor Glyn, were pioneers who paved the way determined to succeed beyond expectations of women of their era. She survived a lackluster childhood in Canada and the Isle of Jersey, legal actions and business reversals and assorted marital problems the magnitude of such that would have challenged any modern woman to give up. Not, Lucile, she was independent and resourceful, but sadly she is unfortunately immortalized as the cold, imperious woman who, with her husband, Sir Cosmo, survived the terrible ending of the maiden voyage of the Titanic. However, Lucile is a powerful and unforgettable woman in history of fashion. Nonetheless, through her imagination and talent, she helped to lay the foundation for today’s couture and ready-to-wear markets, and the impact of fashion on society. DESIGNING WOMAN In 1884 Lucy married a well-heeled but eccentric alcoholic Scot, James Stuart Wallace who after several years of marriage abandoned Lucy and their young daughter Esme to a life of genteel poverty. In a move that presaged her innate audacity and independence, Lucy separated from and then divorced Wallace and moved to London. After a stint of dressmaking at home, the self-reliant Lucy started out in 1890 by dressmaking for her friends. It was the era of Aestheticism and her clients hoped to appear “artistic” and Lucy was ready for the task. She designed what she called “personality dresses” which allowed each woman’s individuality to shine. THE HOUSE OF ‘LUCILE’ Lucy’s fashions were utterly different and like Poiret, she honed in on what women craved in their attire producing romantic, sensual gowns, innovative at the time, such as draped skirts that revealed the legs. Utterly feminine lingerie was full of the frou-frou, silks and lace so popular during the Edwardian era. Her specialty was picturesque tea gowns in diaphanous layers of pastel silk called, “dream dresses” with names like “Birth of Venus,” worn unrestricted with mild corsetry. Her success blossomed and she opened her fashion house, Maison Lucile in 1890. Like Charles Frederick Worth Lucile held mannequin parades. However, she created over the top fashion shows into a stage productions, complete with mood-lighting, music, little gifts and programs. Customers were invited to watch the catwalk sipping tea and cookies while Lucile announced her ‘emotional gowns’ which were influenced by literature, history and the personality of her clients. The models were gorgeous, statuesque and beautiful and became sought-after as Gaiety Girls. EXPANDING LUCILE HORIZONS Lucile was becoming quite a wealthy woman. In 1903 her business was incorporated as “Lucile, Ltd” and she took on Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon, a dashing aristocrat as a partner in a shrewd business move. They married in Venice in 1900 and Sir Cosmo's keen business sense helped Lucile to expand her horizons. She opened branches in New York and Chicago. Despite French colleague warnings, “Nobody but a Frenchwoman knows how to dress,” her Paris Maison was prosperous. Madame Lucile was a keen business woman and licensed her name to Sears, Roebuck & Co. for a two-season lower-priced, mail-order fashion line. Lucile was on a high and began writing a weekly column for the New York Examiner. She also designed for the entertainment world designing costumes that became famous fashions, such as those for Lily Elsie, star of the smash-it operetta, The Merry Widow, the brightest light of the 1907 season and the large picture hat reminiscent of those of the 1780s, swept though fashionable society. Lucile also counted among her private clients the actress Sarah Bernhardt and the dancer Irene Castle. LEGAL ACTION and LUCILE In 1917 Lucile was embroiled in the case Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, wherein the Judge stripped her of the use of her own name after she contracted the sole right to market her name to her advertising agent. Shortly thereafter the House of Lucile began to collapse. By pre-WWI the name Lucile and the inspiration of its namesake designer were considered old-fashioned and démodé. Unable to adjust to changing fashion sensibilities and suffering from financial difficulties Lucile folded by the end of the 1920s. However, Lady Duff Gordon remained influential as a fashion columnist but her former success proved elusive. After penning her florid and discreet memoirs, Discretions and Indiscretions, in 1932, Lady Duff Gordon died three years later at the age 71. ABOUT THE TITANIC Urgent business required Lucile to travel with haste and although she had been reluctant to sail on the first crossing of the Titanic her fears were overcome when the booking agent reassured her, “Why the boat is absolutely unsinkable.” Lucile’s concerns were not without merit for as history tells the Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Legend has it that the Duff Gordon’s made their way onto Lifeboat 1, which could have accommodated 40 people, but held only 12 passengers when lowered into the water. The actions of Duff Gordon were viewed with suspicion when it was revealed that he tried to bribe the oarsmen to ignore drowning passengers as the boat that he and Lucy were in rowed swiftly away from the wreckage. She further drew the ire of her fellow passengers by complaining about her ruined nightdress when other people were dying. However, later in London, an official inquiry pronounced the charges unfounded.
LUCY DUFF GORDON IS A POWERFUL & UNFORGETTABLE WOMAN IN THE HISTORY OF FASHION. SHE WAS THE FIRST BRITISH DESIGNER TO ACHIEVE INTERNATIONAL RENOWN AND THE ACKNOWLEDGED INNOVATOR IN COUTURE STYLES, THE ORIGINATOR OF THE ‘MANNEQUIN PARADE,’ AND THE TRAINING OF THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL MODELS. SHE LIBERATED WOMEN WITH SLIT SKIRTS, LOW NECKLINES AND LESS RESTRICTIVE CORSETS. SHE DRESSED TREND-SETTING CLIENTELE OF ROYALTY, NOBILITY, AND STAGE & FILM PERSONALITIES, AND FOR ONE WONDERFUL PERIOD IN FASHION EVERY WOMAN WANTED TO WEAR A LUCILE GOWN. Lady Duff Gordon said, “PUT EVEN THE PLAINEST WOMAN INTO A BEAUTIFUL DRESS AND UNCONSCIOUSLY SHE WILL TRY TO LIVE UP TO IT.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

LANDON, LETITIA ELIZABETH A Literary Celebrity (c) By Polly Guerin

Although Letitia Elizabeth Landon, is relatively unknown today, the work of this beautiful, young English poetess and novelist of the late Georgian and early Victorian period is resurfacing with fascinated interest and feminist criticism has given critical interpretation of her work another perspective. She was born (1802-1838) into the lower middle class, only to become in her teenage years, a published poet, and eventually the most successful poet of her day. Her verse reveals a highly intelligent and emotional intensity. She wrote of passionate love at a time when women were conventionally restricted in their themes making her the favorite among the literary intelligentsia, known to her devoted readers as simply L.E.L. Her success as a young single woman carving out an independent career in the tough arena of literary London in the 1830’s recognizes her as a gentle woman determined to succeed beyond her dreams. Landon’s body of work is an impressive achievement but her mysteriously scandalous life and early death is once again being scrutinized. . THE SCANDAL OF LITERARY ENGLAND Landon’s writing observed today exerts a powerful fascination in the vividness and musicality of her distinctive voice. Her typical themes are about “Sorrow, Beauty, Love and Death.” The influential London periodical, the Literary Gazette began publishing her poetry at the age of seventeen. It is rumored that she had a long-term illicit affair with an older, married neighbor who is also the editor who published her first poem. The gossip mongers and letters circulated among London's social set about Landon and her lifestyle. When she escapes to the countryside every few years the rumors circulate: “Is it to bear his illegitimate children?” Rising above the tide of criticism she wrote movingly of romance and continued to partake in her high-spirited social life. LANDON’S PROLIFIC OEUVRE Landon’s voluminous publications are now again in print and renewed recognition of Landon’s impressive achievement may be due in part to the largess of the exhibit, "The World of Letitia Elizabeth Landon: A Literary Celebrity of the 1830s," which showcased at the Grolier Club in New York in 2011 with manuscripts, first editions, prints, photos and other materials, which illuminated the life and art of this outstanding British writer. Today Landon is attracting attention for her unbridled success as a poet and novelist. Her oeuvre was prolific. THE POETESS and NOVELIST In the eight years that followed the publication of Landon's first volume of verse in 1821, it and the eight collections that followed were extremely popular. Landon wrote reviews, articles, and stories for many London journals. In 1824 her volume of romantic narrative poems, "The Improvisatrice," became a major best seller. In 1831 Landon published her three-decker novel, "Romance and Reality," followed by successful historical novels, Francesca Carrara (1834), and Ethel Churchill (1837). Landon’s celebrity was widespread and her writings were translated into French, German, and Dutch, and distributed widely from Paris to St. Petersburg. She was no shrinking violet. Famous writers who counted among her admirers included Hawthorne, Whittier, Poe and many other prominent American authors. MARRIAGE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH The subject of Landon’s romances is both mysterious and questionable. After the scandal of her teenage romance with a married man, her first editor, she later was engaged to one man or another, only to have those engagements broken by rumors. Why Landon finally chose to marry a man who would take her to far off Africa is yet another mystery. In 1838 Landon married George Maclean, a colonial official, possibly an abusive man, who sweeps her away to Cape Coast, West Africa (in present-day Ghana), where the lonely, often ailing, poetess is found with a vial of prussic acid in her hand, slumped against her bedroom door. Mysteriously dead at the age of 36, the question still remains. Is it by her own hand? Did she administer the elixir as a medicine, was it an accident? suicide? or was it murder? The answer is still pondered, but conjecture suggests that Landon was taking the prussic acid to soothe a stomach ailment.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon wrote movingly and delicately of ‘romance.’ Her vast body of work: poetry, her novels and her life are, once again, being scrutinized. Landon had much to say about life and love. In one of her famous quotes she says it all, “Delicious tears! The heart’s own dew.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

CONE, CLARIBEL and ETTA Art Connoisseurs (c) By Polly Guerin

Henri Matisse fondly called them “My two Baltimore ladies,” and for good reason as the patronage of Matisse by the Cone sisters was a paramount reason for his celebrity. As daughters of prosperous German-Jewish immigrants, the Cone sisters, Claribel and Etta, were supported in their connoisseur art quest by their family’s successful textile business, Cone Mills Corporation, a firm that became widely recognized for producing the fabrics for the fashion industry. The Cone sisters were well-educated and widely traveled independent modern women who were determined to succeed. They found in modern art an emblem of their own independence. Together the sisters amassed one of the finest collections of modern French art in the United States, discovering as they did Pablo Picasso an unknown at the time. Claribel and Etta had the foresight and generosity to envision their extraordinary array of art worlds in a public institution and bequeathed their collection of legendary masterpieces to the Baltimore Museum of Art.
THE GERTRUDE STEIN CONNECTION
With the financial means and important social connections the two wealthy, cultured Cone sisters became world travelers and art collectors. Always, impeccably dressed in ruffled collars and layered petticoats, they immersed themselves in the swirl of Parisian bohemian life and became enmeshed in the excitement of new art and ideas and fell in love with modern art. In Paris, Claribel and Etta spent time with the doyenne of the Parisian avant-garde, Gertrude Stein, and her brother Leo, who influenced their collection. In 1905, Etta went with Gertrude, another Baltimorean, by adoption, to the run-down studio of a young, unknown artist named Pablo Picasso and, on impulse, bought an etching. It was the first purchase of what turned out to be a vast, decades-long art shopping spree. By the time Etta bought her last Picasso 44 years later, she and her older sister, Claribel, had filled their Baltimore apartment with some 3,000 art objects, textiles and decorative arts, which they had acquired from their travels across Europe and expeditions to Africa and Asia. The Steins also introduced them to Henri Matisse at the Salon d’Automne. Tough decried by the critiques for his bright, vividly hued paintings, Etta was intrigued by Matisse’s work and made her first of many visits to the artist’s studio. Etta was close to the entire Matisse family and maintained an ongoing correspondence with the painter as well as his daughter Marguerite and his son Pierre, an art dealer in New York. Ever a devoted patron, she wrote to him, “Of course, I want to do everything I can to add to your father’s fame.” Throughout the years, however, the sisters became friends of both artists.
LEGENDARY MASTERPIECES
Claribel and Etta seem to have had an insatiable desire for shopping, browsing in Parisian lace and button shops, and going to opera, socializing with friends, and buying art at an astonishing rate. And they kept separate records. Legendary masterpieces included Matisse’s “Blue Nude” (1907), Gauguin’s “Woman with a Mango (1892) and Cezanne’s “Mount Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bemus Quarry (circa 1897). Claribel acquired paintings by Pissarro, Sisley and Van Gogh; Etta purchased works by Degas, Rodin, both bought Cezanne, Renoir, and more than twenty works by Matisse. Most of the art collected are images of women including Matisse’s 1929 The Yellow Dress, which shows a woman centered in her own world, very much like the Cone sisters’ independent penchant. In his 1937 Purple Robe and Anemones, a woman in a purple dress sits in a room in a classic Matisse interior filled with patterned rugs, screens, flowery drapes and vases of flowers. The Cone sisters collected art because they loved it and lived in two adjoining apartments in Baltimore.
THE BALTIMORE LADIES
Claribel Cone (1864-1929) and Etta Cone (1870-1949) grew up in a large, close-knit German Jewish family of twelve children. Their father, Herman Cone (Kahn before he immigrated to America) owned a wholesale grocery business which afforded the family with a comfortable lifestyle. However, it was the investment of Herman’s two eldest sons, Moses and Ceasar, in the textile business, The Cone Mills Corporation that made the family wealthy. The brother’s support of their two unmarried sisters enabled Claribel and Etta to devote their lives to collecting masterpieces of modern art. Claribel pursued a medical degree, an unusual path in the late nineteenth century America. Etta was content to stay in her elder sister’s shadow, becoming the family caretaker and spending her time studying music, French and art. There were no early signs that the Cones would develop a taste for modern art but there interests in collection art, textiles and objects were eclectic.
Claribel and Etta Cone were wealthy socialites but they had Yankee spirit and were blessed with excess capital and the leisure pursuit to collect the finest collections of Modern Art in the United States. Considering their accomplishment, the amassing of the Cone Collection, is reason enough to admire two women determined to succeed, who sharpened and refined their collective eye and put Baltimore on the map.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

DAY, DOROTHY Founder of the Catholic Worker Movement (c) By Polly Guerin

Throughout Dorothy Day’s life she searched for a purpose in life and found it in the social reform movement in the 1930s. Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the newspaper, The Catholic Worker Movement, a nonviolent pacifist movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent action on their behalf. Even before she left university Dorothy Day (1897-1980) became a part of the pre-World War I American youth rebellion against the conventions of their parents. She and her friends wanted to create a new and freer society. Dorothy Day was a women determined to succeed counting among her achievements a career as an American journalist, a social activist and as a devout Catholic convert she advocated the Catholic economic theory of distribution.
ADRIFT IN JOURNALISM
The seeds of rebellion were planted early on. She worked for the successor journal to Masses, The Liberator, and a magazine that opposed American involvement in the European war. The post office rescinded the magazine’s mailing permit and five editors were charged with sedition. An activist at heart in 1917 Day went to prison for being one of 40 women in front of the White House protesting women’s exclusion from the electorate. Assigned to a rural workhouse, the women were roughly handled. Finally they were freed by presidential order. Working as a reporter for the New Orleans item in 1922-1923 she wrote and published a commercial successful, partly auto-biographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin (1924), which revealed the great tragedy of her life, an abortion, which resulted from a love affair with a journalist.
A COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE
With the money garnered from the success of the novel Day moved back to New York and using the money from the sale of the movie rights for the novel she bought a beach cottage on Staten Island. She resumed contact with the city’s intellectuals and wrote occasionally pieces for the new Masses. At the same time (1924) she began a four-year common-law marriage with Forster Batterham, an English botanist she had met through friends. There’s was a short-lived alliance. Primarily because they shared conflicting views on life. Batterham was an anarchist opposed to marriage and religion. In a world of such cruelty, he found it impossible to believe in a God. Day’s belief in God, on the other hand, was unshakable. “How can there be no God, “she asked, “when there are all these beautiful things?”
SWEPT INTO ACTION
Her pregnancy with Batterham created a split with her common-law husband, who did not believe it wise to bring a child into this troubled world. On March 3, 1927, Tamar Teresa Day was born and Day quickly had her baptized in the Catholic Church resulting in a permanent break with Batterham. She eventually moved to Mexico City, where Day and her daughter lived on the edge of poverty. The same summer she returned to the United States on the onset of the Great Depression which swept her into the movement for social reform. It was at this time that she met Peter Maurin, a former French Christian Brother and social agitator, who convinced Day that that radical social reform and the Roman Catholic Church could be united.
BIRTH OF THE CATHOLIC WORKER
Surrounded by people in need and attracting volunteers Day’s apartment was the first location of the Catholic Worker and the seed of many houses of hospitality for the homeless to come. During the Great Depression, when no government services existed the Catholic Worker became a national movement and by 1936 thirty-three hospitality houses, havens for the houses spread across the country. For the next 50 years the Catholic Worker Movement was at the forefront of all Catholic reform efforts. In 1965 many Catholic Workers went to prison for refusing to cooperate with conscription, others took part in protests and many went to prison for civil disobedience. Day herself was jailed in 1973 for taking part in a banned picket line to support of farm workers. She was 73.
DOROTHY DAY LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO SEE HER ACHIEVEMENTS HONORED. IN 1967, SHE WAS RECEIVED BY POPE PAUL VI AND NOTRE DAM UNIVERSITY PRESENTED HER WITH ITS ‘LAETARE MEDAL,’ THANKING HER FOR COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED. MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA VISITED HER AS DID MANY OTHER DIGNITARIES. DAY FOUND HERSELF REGARDED BY MANY AS A SAINT BUT SHE DECLARED, “If I have achieved anything in my live, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk about God.” In 2000 the Vatican began the process of considering Dorothy Day for sainthood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RAND, AYN of Atlas Shrugged Fame (c) By Polly Guerin

The firs time I saw the movie Fountainhead, a modern epic of gigantic proportions both by content and visual presentation, I was captivated by the story of the romantic and philosophical story of an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark. This was the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of Ayn Rand’s writing: the ideal man and his struggle against “second handers”-- those who attempt to live through others, placing others above self. The book itself, which Rand wrote over a period of seven years, was rejected by twelve publishers before finally being accepted by Bobbs-Merrill Company. But it became a worldwide success and in 1943 Rand sold the rights for the film version to Warner Brothers. Ayn Rand, a woman determined to succeed; a woman who today is called to the fore of public attention with the release of the movie, Atlas Shrugged is resurrected, so to speak, into the public consciousness.
TWO FAMOUS NOVELS
Two famous best-selling novels define the Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screen writer. The Fountainhead gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism. Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was her greatest achievement and her magnum opus. The plot of Atlas Shrugged involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike and retreat to a mountain hideaway where they build an independent free economy. With this fictional strike Rand intended to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and fall apart. In it John Galt the novel’s hero delivers a lengthy monologue containing Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism. The publication of this novel of more than one thousand pages ended her career as a novelist and began her role as a popular philosopher.
THE PHILOSOPHER EMERGES
Rand is also recognized for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism, which she characterized as “a philosophy for living on earth.” Her philosophy of living on earth has changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with growing impact on American culture. In 1958 Nathaniel Branden established the Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later incorporated as (NBI) Nathaniel Branden Institute, to promoted Rand’s philosophy Rand expressed opinions on a wide range of topics including music, literature, sexuality and some of her followers mimicked all her preferences, wearing clothes to match the characters from her novels. Some describing NBI or the entire Objectivist movement as a cult or religion.
BORN TO MAKE HER MARK
Ayn Rand, Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum was born on February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. During her formative years she was educated in Russia and was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and in 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution which she denounced from the outset. In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States and arrived in New York in 1926 and did not return to Russia. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and sold her first screenplay, “Red Pawn,” to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. We Are Living, her first novel, was based on her years under Soviet Tyranny. She died on March 6, 1982 (aged 77) in New York City.
RAND’S POLITICAL VIEWS EMPHASIZED INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING PROPERTY RIGHTS AND LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM ENFORCED BY A CONSTITUTIONALLY LIMITED GOVERNMENT. HER VIEWS REFLECTED IN BOTH HER FICTION AND NONFICTION WORK. THE NEW FILM, ATLAS SHRUGGED I IS CURRENTLY PLAYING IN New York MOVIE THEATERS.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

ARDEN, ELIZABETH Cosmetic Empire Visionary (c) By Polly Guerin

An invitation to Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door on New York’s Fifth Avenue was my introduction to the pampered world of a luxurious spa and cosmetic beauty regime. The chic Red Door saleswomen or the ‘Ladies’ as some women called them, were immaculately dressed in black sheath dresses, their hair impeccably coiffured and makeup so precise that their personae made it clear that beauty could be obtained for a price. Elizabeth Arden’s brand name was synonymous with a woman determined to succeed, a woman who built a cosmetics empire in the United States that at the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world. FAME IN A NAME Arden was destined for remarkable destiny. Her middle name ‘Florence Nightingale’ was popular choice at the time, honoring as it did the renowned Florence Nightingale of nursing fame. Florence was born on December 31, 1884 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada and was named Florence Nightingale Graham. This name may very well have influenced her career choice as she took up nursing at a school in Toronto but later dropped out. Spreading her wings and looking for a new path she ventured to the United States and joined her brother in New York City where she worked briefly for the E. R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company; spending hours in the lab she began to learn about skincare. The steps leading to her life as a cosmetic tycoon had its fledgling beginning as a ‘treatment girl’ working for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist.
BECOMING ARDEN Learning as she did along the way through association with other culturists, in 1909 Florence partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, and when the partnership dissolved, she coined the business name from her former partner’s first name and from Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden,” and so Elizabeth Arden was born. Arden presented herself to the business and social society as an elegant woman, meticulous dressed and always a ‘Lady.’ She traveled to France to the Mecca of beauty intelligentsia and returned with a collection of rouges and tinted powders she had created. In an era when it was generally only acceptable for entertainers to wear makeup the forward thinking Arden introduced the concept of the “makeover to American women in her salons. A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH Arden’s early lab experience no doubt greatly influenced her scientific approach to her cosmetic formulas. Case in point. Arden collaborated with A. Fabian Swanson, a chemist, to create a “fluffy” face cream called, Venetian Cream Amoretta, and the corresponding lotion, Arden Skin Tonic. “Total Look” was another innovation in which she advocated matching lip, cheek and nail polish colors; coordinated thus this marketing concept meant that a woman would make a three part sale. Another ‘first,’ as there were many, included the fact that Arden was the first to make cosmetics commercials shown in movie houses. Always in step with changing times during WWII the Arden Salon showed women entering the work force how to apply makeup and dress properly for careers outside the home. With her acute awareness of women in the armed forces she created a lipstick called Montezuma Red that would match the red in their uniforms. WORLDWIDE EXPANSION The Elizabeth Arden brand had escalated into a formidable empire which began expanding internationally in 1915, when Arden opened salons across the world all of which she launched personally. By the 1930s through the 1960’s Elizabeth Arden was considered the most upscale cosmetic brand and acquired celebrated patrons from queens to movie stars and president’s wives. IN FULL GALLOP Wealth and prestige heaped upon her empire Arden indulged in her favorite pastime and used the name Maine Chance Farm for her thoroughbred horse racing and breeding operation in Lexington, Kentucky. The association with the blue grass Kentucky land may well have inspired the introduction of the perfume, Blue Grass in 1934, which was a great success. Considered the first all-American scent, it remains on the market today. By the 1940s her stable became a major force in American Thoroughbred horse racing. Among her winners in 1947 her colt Jet Pilot, trained and ridden by future hall of Famers Tom Smith and Eric Guerin won the Kentucky Derby. Other fillies followed and for her contribution to the racing industry, Elizabeth Arden Graham was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. ELIZABETH ARDEN’S LEGACY Elizabeth Arden’s cosmetics company continues to trade today, and was bought by IFF International Flavors and Fragrances in 2003. The company continues its collection of coordinated make-up sets, as well as an extensive line of skin care products and treatments. The focus today, however, is on a number of fragrance lines including the company’s signature fragrance called, “Red Door” named after the day spas which were called “Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons.” Elizabeth Arden lived a rich and rewarding life dying at 81 years old on October 18, 1966 and is buried in Sleepy Hallow Cemetery under the name Elizabeth N. Graham. Sadly towards the end of her life, Arden did not prepare the company for her passing and as a result, her company and private estate was heavily taxed after her death. Her stable was sold and her family had to auction off many of her personal assets. Fortunately, Elizabeth Arden's famed Red Door is still open to women today.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

BEACH, Amy Marcy Cheney Foremost Female Composer (c) By Polly Guerin

There are children who come into the world with a talent so extraordinary at such an early age that they are recognized as a child prodigy. Such is the amazing case of Amy Marcy Cheney, the American composer and pianist, who was immensely talented and largely self-taught. Imagine the wonder of it all. She was able to sing forty tunes accurately by age one and by age two she could improvise a countermelody to any melody her mother sang. As young as she was the seeds of determination to succeed took shape and later in life she developed a significant performing career. She taught herself to read at age three, began composing simple waltzes at the age of four and performed publicly at age seven. Many talented prodigies fizzle out when they mature but not Amy Marcy Cheney. She became the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music and composed copiously throughout her life. Amy March Cheney (Amy Beach) remains one of the foremost female composers of her time. THE FLEDGLING ARTIST Amy was born in Henniker, New Hampshire September 5, 1867 into a distinguished New England family that nurtured the precocious child’s talent. She began formal piano lessons with her mother at the age of six, and a year later started giving public recitals, playing works by Handel, Beethoven, Chopin and her own pieces. Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem,”The Rainy Day,” the young composer at thirteen wrote her first published song. She was immensely talented and largely self-taught and during her lifetime she composed over 100 songs including the Three Browning Songs, OP. 44. In particular the delightful song “The Year’s at the Spring” proved enduringly popular. FORMAL STUDIES With such a precocious child further musical training was paramount to her development. In 1875, Amy’s family moved to Boston, where they were advised to enter her into a European conservatory. Because her parents could not afford to send her abroad she received local training in Boston, but was primarily self-taught learning orchestration from a treatise by Berlioz and counterpoint by writing out figures from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Prepared as she was beyond her years, in 1883, at age sixteen, she made her professional debut as a pianist. Later she became a soloist with the Boston Sympathy Orchestra. BECOMING MRS. H.H.A.BEACH At eighteen, Amy could almost certainly have made a brilliant career merely as a concert pianist, but she married Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, a prominent Boston physician who was 25 years her senior and from then on most of her compositions and performances, were under the name Mrs. H.H.A. Beach. Much to his credit and influence he encouraged her to limit public appearances and concentrate instead on composition (she later returned to the platform following his death in 1910). Her first major success was the mass in E-flat major, which was performed by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1892. Finding inspiration in Romanticism and the European folk music tradition of her New England ancestors, she composed copiously including Gaelic Symphony in E Minor, OP. 32 in which she turned to the Celtic folk tradition which incorporates Irish melodies. It was the first symphony by an American composer to gather significant attention in Europe. Beach composed the Jubilate for the Women’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exhibition, held in Chicago in 1893. AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN After Dr. Beach’s death Mrs. Beach resumed her career as a performer, changed her professional name to Amy Beach and embarked on a three year tour of Europe. She returned to the United States in 1914 later moved to New York which she became the virtual composer-in-residence at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. She wrote most of her later works while visiting the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire including her two famous piano pieces, “The Hermit Thrush at Eve and “The Hermit Thrust at Morning.” When she died of heart failure in 1944, she left the rights to her music to the MacDowell Colony. Amy Beach’s output was prolific and covered all the major genres. Piano Concerto, OP. 45, for example, is a large-scale bravura masterpiece in the manner of contemporary late-Romantic concertos. Three of the four movements are based on material from Beach’s own songs. Amy Beach used her status as the pre-eminent American woman composer to further the careers of young musicians, serving as leader of several organizations, including the Society of American Women Composers as its first president. In Boston her name was added to the famous Hatch Shell and is the only woman composer on that granite wall. She received numerous honors and was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 24, 1999.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

HOLT, Winifred and Edith, LIGHTING THE WAY (c) by Polly Guerin

When you are the daughters of the renowned publisher, Henry Holt, the Misses Winifred and Edith Holt might just as well have carried on as any proper heiress was expected to and lead a life of social pleasure. However, the Holt sisters were of that fine breed of American women that break down barriers and forge ahead as women determined to succeed in making the world a better place for people without sight. In the 1900s the problem of helping the blind in New York City was long in waiting for an intelligent solution but no program had been established. The pioneering Holt sisters, however, take their rightful place as the founders who facilitated that solution. Their humble goal became the Lighthouse International, an organization recognized for its pioneering work in vision, rehabilitation services, education, research and advocacy which enabled people of all ages who are blind or partially sighted to lead independent and productive lives.
A SERENDIPITOUS EVENT
The custom of the day for taking the ‘grand tour’ was on the Holt sisters’ agenda. During a concert in Florence, Italy, Winifred noticed a group of blind school children in the audience who were evidently enthralled with the music. Intrigued by their participation she investigated further and discovered that a free ticket program enabled the children to attend the concert. Inspired by such a simple solution to bring pleasure to blind individuals when the Holt sister returned home they established the Lighthouse Free Ticket Bureau in 1903. Their single thought was that like the Florence ticket service they might relieve the somber lives of the blind by procuring tickets from entertainment managers or their own friend’s tickets for concerts and operas and theaters. The ticket service went on for some time, but the sisters also became increasingly aware of the world of adults who were blind and their greater purpose that was unfolding.
FOUNDING THE FIRST LIGHTHOUSE
The Holt sisters pooled their resources and borrowed $400 from their dress allowances, which was a considerable sum at the time. The visionary sisters personally gave over their family brownstone at 44 East 78th to the work for the blind, installing clerks, stenographers, and other helpers for the larger work in their hands for all those in need. Their home became a hub of workers engaged in advancing the interests and education of the blind in many ways. In order to facilitate the program of training and educating the blind the sisters themselves studied the blind alphabet with blindfolded eyes in order to understand the difficulties of learning the various demands on blind persons to perform tasks. The blind men and women were given work to do and how to do it. Women were trained to create handcraft items. If a seamstress had lost her sight she was shown how to thread a needle and how to use a studded tape. The blind showed a remarkable ability with the typewriter and other pursuits, for which they are trained before they are gainfully employed. A workshop for blind men was established at 147 E. 42nd Street, where chairs were caned and brooms were made for house and factory use and other marketable items.
LEGISLATION AT LAST
The Lighthouse organized the first census of people who were blind in New York State resulting in the astonishing number totaling nearly 10,000 cases. Furthering the sisters’ research, after many efforts, in 1904 a legislative commission was formed to investigate the conditions of the blind in New York State and an appropriation of $5,000 was secured from the State for the collecting of all the data concerning the blind. Miss Edith Holt was appointed chief to head up the commission for gathering this important information. Winifred Holt also participated in founding the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
THE LIGHTHOUSE INCORPORATES
From this early seed, in 1906 the Lighthouse was officially incorporated as The New York Association for the Blind, Inc. Home teaching and instruction began, marking the first community-based direct service—the forerunner of today’s professional vision rehabilitation services. It was a fortuitous beginning and many programs were staffed by teachers who were blind. In 1907 Winifred Holt personally traveled to Albany to draft a bill making the use of a medical measure at birth mandatory to prevent “ophthalmia neonatorum.” She also established the first lay committee to address blindness prevention. In 1988 The Lighthouse Inc. became the Lighthouse International, in recognition of its global reach---and outreach---on behalf of 180 million people who are visually impaired worldwide.
THE HOLT SISTERS LEAVE A LEGACY OF PHILANTHROPY THROUGH ACTION AND PERSEVERANCE. FOLLOWING IN THEIR LEAD THE LIGHTHOUSE TODAY CONTINUES TO OFFER NEW AND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES OF VISION LOSS AND TO LEAD PRODUCTIVE, ACTIVE AND INDEPENDENT LIVES.

Visit http://www.lighthouse.org/abouthistory/ Learn more about The Lighthouse.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

HORNE, LENA Elegant Chanteuse (c) By Polly Guerin

Dear Lena Horne: I never dreamt that I would meet you, the elegant chanteuse-entertainer, on the stage of Paramount Studios in Hollywood. But there I was a fledgling journalist invited to watch a rehearsal dance routine as Ms. Horne glided across the limelight like a glorious bird in flight, a backup team of men following in formation. Her vitality and star presence dominated the scene as it did in so many of her performances. I especially treasure this encounter and remember that her signature song was Stormy Weather and indeed she did weather many stormy race-related situations but remains one of the most respected, talented and celebrated performers of all time. A woman of great beauty and commanding stage presence, she performed in nightclubs, concert halls, movies and on radio and television. In the hallowed halls of celebrity Lena Horne is known as one of the most popular African American entertainers of the twentieth century.
DISADVANTAGES OF RACE
It is fitting to write about Ms. Horne during Black History Month and to remember that there were prevailing racial attitudes during the time when Lena was just starting her career yet she was a woman determined to succeed and forged ahead holding her head up high not only for herself but for her race. In Brian Lanker’s book, “I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed the World” she is quoted, “My own people didn’t’ see me as a performer because they were busy trying to make a living and feed themselves Until I got to cafe society in the ‘40s, I didn’t even have a black audience and then it was mixed. I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn’t work for places that kept us out…it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the World.”
SEGREGATION DILEMMA
Ms. Horne, in her own refined way, was a staunch fighter in making great changes in society that paved the way for anti-segregation. In WWII Italy, for example, she was scheduled to make an appearance before the troops, but she refused to appear before a racially segregated US Army audience. The plan was to have one show for the white troops and another show solely for black troops. Nothing doing for Ms. Horne, this African American woman, determined to succeed, stood her ground and insisted on performing for mixed audiences. She won the argument and put on a show for a mixed audience consisting of black US soldiers and white German POWs.
CONQUERING STEREOTYPES
While at MGM, Ms. Horne’s roles were shot so that they could be cut easily from the film. That was because MGM feared audiences of the day, especially in the South, would not accept a beautiful black woman in romantic, non-menial roles. Many in the show business believed that this was the main reason that she lost out on playing the mulatto “Julie” in MGMs remake of Show Boat in 1951. However, she had already appeared in the Show Boat segment of Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) in which she appeared as “Julie” singing “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” again shot in such a way so that it could easily be edited out of the film. Because of her association with Paul Robeson and her progressive political beliefs Lena was branded a “Communist sympathizer,” which led to her to being blacklisted in the 1950s. Robeson had made her realize that African American people were going to unify and she felt that she needed to be part of that movement. From that point onward, Lena Horne became a significant voice in the struggle for equality and justice for African Americans in the United States.
LENA’S EARLY YEARS
The seeds of entertainment were inbred in Lena Mary Calhoun Horne’s genes. She was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn New York. Her mother, Edna, was an actress with an African American theater troupe and traveled extensively. Lena was born on June 30, 1917 and when her parent divorced she was raised mainly by her grandparents. Later when her mother took her on the road she experienced the first pangs of segregation when she attended various small-town segregated schools in the South. From an early age Lena dreamed of becoming a performer, much against her educated, middle class family. Lena, however, was a young woman determined to succeed against all odds and at age sixteen she was hired in the chorus at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club.
PREPARING FOR STARDOM
Lena took voice lessons and landed in an all-black Broadway show, Dance With Your God. From then on she was jet propelled ahead and in 1936 she performed as a ‘single’ in a variety of New York City nightclubs. Romance tickled the ivories and the beautiful and talented songstress married Louis Jones, a minor politician, by whom she had a daughter, Gail, and a son, Edwin. They divorced and she pressed on to join the great white swing band, Charlie Barnet Orchestra. However, as the group’s only black member she suffered many humiliations of racial prejudice, especially from hotels and restaurants that catered exclusively to whites.
CIRCUMVENTING PREJUDICE
Despite all the early prejudice and race segregation during the 1940s Lena Horne rose to heights of celebrity few African American women at the time could claim. Her singing roles in movies established her as the highest-paid African American entertainer in the United States. In 1981, Lena had her greatest triumph, a Broadway show called Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music and in 1991 she was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.
Lena Horne was an amazing woman determined to succeed. With pride of her heritage, and her innate elegance, grace and dignity she helped to improve the status of African Americans in the United States and particularly in the performing arts. She died May 9, 2010 leaving a profound legacy that has enriched the lives of her vast audience of admirers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GUGGENHEIM, PEGGY ART COLLECTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE (c) By Polly Guerin

Dear Peggy: I first saw your extraordinary art collection at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in Venice when I took twenty college students from the Fashion Institute of Technology on a whirlwind fashion tour several years ago. In an attempt to include some cultural venues to the fashion expedition I took the students to Venice to view your magnificent collection of modern art. They were in awe of the art works as well as your sculptures in the garden, but more than that your presence, though absent, was felt deeply and inspired their vivid reports back to the college. Your name is synonymous with the Guggenheim Museum yet you carved out a life determined to succeed as an independent art collector who bought art, not as an investment, but primarily because you loved them.
THE HEIRESS AND ART
It certainly makes a big difference if you have enormous wealth to support purchasing art, sometimes even picking up works of art even if they didn’t sell. However, Peggy was unique and became a true patron of the arts discovering among modern artists Jackson Pollock when he was working as a humble carpenter in the Solomon Guggenheim museum. Peggy was a unique woman, born in 1898 to a wealthy New York City family. Her lineage gave her certain advantages. Peggy’s father was Benjamin Guggenheim and she was the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. However, her education in modern art did not begin until 1920 when she inherited from her father, who went down with the Titanic in 1912, a trust fund with an income of $22.500 a year. With her inheritance Peggy Guggenheim could have chosen to play the role of a socialite among New York’s tony social set, but she became something more than that: an avid art collector who safeguarded modern art from obscurity.
THE AVANT-GARDE CONNECTION
With such financial resources Peggy realized her desire to carve out a life of her own. When Peggy was twenty-two, she traveled to Europe and discovered the literary and art worlds in Paris and lived there on and off for some twenty years returning to New York sporadically. She made Paris her home base and quickly immersed herself in the arty circles. Peggy became celebrated not only as a patron and collector of modern art, but also for her love affairs with important artists including Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock and Samuel Beckett. A dedicated collector she acquired Constantin Brancusi’s “Bird in Space and works by the abstract painter Robert Delaunay. In 1938 she opened the gallery Guggenheim Jeune in London and Marcel Duchamp was her chief advisor showing the first one man show for Wassily Kandinsky, the abstract expressionist, and Yves Tanguy, the surrealist painter’s work, Le Soleil dans son ecrin (The Sun in a casket) 1937. In 1942 on the advice of the surrealist painter Max Ernst and the poet Andre Breton she continued to add to her collection and opened the gallery Art of This Century in New York. Venice beckoned in 1949 and she moved into the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where she installed her remarkable collection of modern art.
LOVE AFFAIRS AND FAMILY
Peggy coveted both art and lovers and became notorious for her overt love affairs, such was her free spirit. However, she did sandwich in several marriages. On one of her visits to New York when visiting a gallery owned by a cousin, Harold Loeb, she met Laurence Vail, a Dada sculptor and writer who was part of the avant-garde intelligentsia in Greenwich Village. They married two years later and had two children, Michael Sindbad and Pegeen Vail Guggenheim. The marriage ended and in 1928 she met and formed a relationship with the English intellectual John Holms, never a success he was a man who suffered from writer’s block. They engaged in a tempestuous alliance that was riddled with drunken harangues and boisterous rows. Her second husband was Max Ernst, in 1941. Another liaison was with Kenneth McPherson with whom she felt comforted and safe, and they eventually became the best of friends. Throughout her days in Venice Peggy was always surrounded by her beloved Lhasa terriers and when she died she was interred in the sculpture garden of her home next to her beloved dogs inside the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM’S MODERN ART COLLECTION IS HER MOST DURABLE ACHIEVEMENT NOT ONLY AS A PATRON, BUT AS A PHILANTHROPIST SHE HELPED ARTISTS AND FOUNDED A PUBLIC MUSEUM.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RUBINSTEIN, HELENA...QUEEN OF BEAUTY(c) By Polly Guerin

Dear Helena: Aladdin may have had his lamp, but you had a magical elixir, a simple face cream that eventually made you one of the world’s richest women. Determined to succeed with little else at first but your milky complexion and pots of gold you became a legendary beauty authority, industrial pioneer, patron of the arts and philanthropist. Who would have imagined that Chaja Rubinstein (later adapting the first name Helena), the eldest of eight children born December 25, 1870 to Augusta and Horace Rubinstein in Cracow, Poland would shape the way generations of women see themselves. Like loyal subjects women bowed at your beauty throne to acquire the cream that made the Helena Rubinstein Empire a reality.
AUSTRALIAN OPPORTUNITY
At the age of eighteen, Helena immigrated to Australia in 1902 arriving with no money and little English. However, Helena’s milky complexion and stylish clothes did not go unnoticed by the Melbourne ladies. She noticed that the Australian women had rough reddish faces that required attention. At a time when career opportunities for women were virtually nonexistent Helena Rubinstein created a successful business enterprise. She opened a modest shop in Melbourne where she dispensed her “Crème Valaze,” supposedly including herbs imported “from the Carpathian Mountains”. Costing ten pence and selling for six shillings, it walked off the shelves as fast as she could fill the pots.
THE SECRET INGREDIENT
Fortunately a key ingredient for the beauty cream was readily on hand. Coleraine, in Western Victoria, might not have seemed the likely place to find the gold for Helena’s cream, but the secret ingredient came from sheep, some 75 million merinos that produced the finest wool, secreting abundant grease in the process. To disguise the ship oil’s pungent pong, Rubinstein experimented with lavender, pine bark and water lilies. Helena’s cream was an enormous success and she could soon afford to open a salon in fashionable Collins Street, selling glamour as a science to clients whose skin was ‘diagnosed’ and a suitable treatment prescribed.
A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
Helena knew that women craved the attention and coveted the beauty results of her Crème Valaze. So overwhelmingly was her success that she went to London in 1902 and financed a Salon de Beaute Valaze, to Paris in 1906, and to New York in 1912. As such, Helena formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies. Remember, this was accomplished at a time when women could not obtain bank loans, so the money was her own. Helena was a brilliant innovator in developing her business so that it required beauty routines and women to dispense advice. She trained sales people to teach women skin care and inaugurated a “Day of Beauty” in her salons, which became an instant success.
GETTING PERSONAL
In 1937 after a shaky marriage she divorced her husband Edward William Titus in London. They had two sons, Roy Valentine Titus and Horace Titus. Eager to pursue a regal title to call her own in 1938 she married the self-proclaimed Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia, a Georgian royal twenty-three years her junior, which enabled her to pass herself off as Helena Princess Gourielli. Always alert to market trends Madame developed a line of male cosmetics which bore his name. Author, Ruth Brandon relates in her book, “Ugly Beauty,” that the war also boosted Rubinstein’s business. Because “glamour was recognized as being of the greatest psychological importance” in the Allied countries, cosmetics sales spiked and Rubinstein’s company’s profits nearly doubled between 1941 and 1942 alone. During the same time Madame also sold the United States Army kits of toiletries for every G. I. deployed in the invasion of North Africa; sunscreen and camouflage makeup, not to mention deodorant and cologne which became lucrative new additions to her product line.
HELENA RUBINSTEIN FOUNDATION
As Helena Rubinstein’s business grew, so did her interest in the arts and philanthropy. Later in life she used her enormous wealth to support charitable institutions in the fields of education, art and health. She was a friend and patron of many artists and also accumulated significant collections of African sculpture, modern paintings, Oriental and Oceanic art and Egyptian antiquities. In 1953 she created the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, which provided the necessary funds to organizations concerned with health, medical research and rehabilitation. The Foundation also supported and awarded scholarships to Israelis. In 1959, she went to Moscow where she officially represented the cosmetic industry in the United States at the American National Exhibition. She died April 1, 1965, aged 94.
One of Rubinstein’s numerous mantras is: “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” Some say that Helena Rubinstein was a ruthless entrepreneur, but to a multitude of women she was “The Queen of Beauty.”