Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Great Bathers

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), while among the most popular of the impres­sionistic masters, has re­mained one of the least studied. His Great Bathers, a spectacular and crucial work executed with painstaking care between 1884 and 1887, has provoked admiration from the public-and debate among critics and scholars ever since it was first exhibited in 1887. With this work, now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Renoir forged a new alliance between mod­ern art and the grand French tradition of monumental, classical figure painting.

Currently on view, an exhi­bition entitled “Renoir: The Great Bathers,” presents this pivotal work in the artist’s career along with related paintings, drawings, pastels and oil sketches in a dazzling reassessment of one of the highlights of the museum’s collection. Versions and stud­ies of the “Bathers” theme, including several international loans, are shown within the larger context of Renoir in Philadelphia collections, whose great strength and quality make the city an im­portant international center for the study of Renoir.

The exhibit, which brings together twenty-five prepara­tory studies for the work, remains on view through Sun­day, November 25 [1990]. Joining the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection are additional loans from private collections in the Philadelphia area. Approximately twenty-five paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 1880s, concerned with the “Bathers” theme, have been borrowed from public and private collections in both Europe and the United States. The Philadelphia Museum of Art owns sixteen paintings, five drawings and four sculp­tures by Pierre-Auguste Re­noir, including the charming early portrait of Mlle. Legrand (1875), a group of important paintings of the 1880s, such as the portrait of Mme. Renoir and a recently acquired late painting of a single Bather, which approaches the stature of the Great Bathers.

“Renoir: The Great Bath­ers” gives viewers the opportu­nity to trace the development of one of the most beautiful­ – and least understood­ – masterpieces of nineteenth century French painting. It demonstrates the painstaking care with which Renoir achieved a work that he con­sidered to be his manifesto of modern, monumental paint­ing. It also establishes the crucial role the painting played in allowing Renoir to move beyond the fleeting insubstan­tiality of his earlier impression­istic style to a classical style based on the primacy of line, solid form and timeless subject matter.

This exhibition is the latest in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s highly popular series devoted to works by major nineteenth century artists with particular strength in Philadel­phia area collections, including Cezanne (1983), Degas (1985) and Monet (1987).

For additional information, write: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Parkway at Twenty-Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA 19101; or telephone (215) 763-8100. Ad­mission is charged.


Music in Time

Music boxes and clocks and watches have much in com­mon, for they share the tech­nology of clockwork springs, gearing and other mecha­nisms, as well as the beautiful workmanship of by-gone days. Music boxes originated in Switzerland in the late eight­eenth century, and hundreds of thousands of all sizes and shapes were made in Europe during the following century. In 1895, quantity production of disc-type music boxes was started by the Regina Com­pany of Rahway, New Jersey. The Regina Company eventu­ally became the dominant maker of music boxes in the United States.

“Music in Time,” an exhibit continuing through February 1, 1991, at the Watch and Clock Museum, administered by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC), Columbia, Lancas­ter County, features musical boxes dating from 1800 through the early twentieth century. Although the exhibit demonstrates a variety of “music boxes,” many of the objects on view combine time­keeping with music. “Sym­phonion Eroica,” a grandfather clock that houses a music box playing three 14-inch diameter discs simultaneously, is one of the highlights. Each disc plays in a vertical position with the three mechanisms stacked in a row along the waist of the clock case. Other objects fea­tured are a “Revolver Box,” consisting of multiple cylin­ders mounted on common end plates which turn around a central chaft; a “Polyphon Sirdar” in which music is generated when an automated figure shoots a coin into a receptacle; and a variety of extremely rare small pieces dating between 1790 and 1850, including a musical watch fob, musical seals, snuff boxes and a singing bird box. Especially notable among pieces on dis­play are a large Regina upright model that plays 27-inch diameter metal discs inter­changeably and a Seth Thomas grandfather clock outfitted with a Regina bell chime movement in its base.

Perhaps the grandest piece showcased in “Music in Time” is the famous Troll-Baker Mu­sic Box, manufactured in Ge­neva, Switzerland, by Samuel Troll and George Baker about 1890. The pair’s creations are well known for producing rich, superb tones. The Troll-Baker music box included in the exhibit stands more than four feet high – and wide! Fash­ioned of mahogany veneer and brass inlay, the case holds ten large brass cylinders, each measuring nearly twenty inches and pinned for six tunes.

“Music in Time” chronolog­ically traces the development of music boxes from the eight­eenth through the twentieth centuries. Although a music box does not have the func­tional qualities of a timepiece, it does combine a melody with the same craftsmanship, art and history as a timepiece. Examples featured in this exhibit were selected for both their relationship to timepieces and their rarity.

For more information, in­cluding visiting hours and group tours, write: Watch and Clock Museum, National As­sociation of Watch and Clock Collectors, 514 Poplar St., Columbia, PA 17512; or tele­phone (717) 684-8261.


A Forgotten Woman

Born July 28, 1883, Fern Isabel Coppedge spent a happy childhood on the family farm near Decatur, Illinois. As a young teenager, she yearned to become a painter, as she loved nature and longed to portray the beauty she saw around her. Even as a child her creative, interpretive eye saw the bright, prismatic colors flashing within a white blanket of snow.

Eventually, Coppedge es­tablished her reputation with two artistic styles, first with the landscape painters of the New Hope School – an all­-male group in Bucks County whose members actually shunned her – and later, after abandoning their brand of distinctively American impres­sionism, embraced a more intuitive approach to her subject.

Fern I. Coppedge began her college career at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. She pursued her interest in art by completing a two-year pro­gram at the Art Institute of Chicago and a three-year stint at the prestigious Art Stu­dents’ League in New York under the tutelage of William Merritt Chase, one of the country’s leading painters and art instructors. She attended summer sessions in Woodstock, studying en plein air (“in plain air”), or directly from nature, under the renowned instructor John F. Carlson. Coppedge later attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where she met Daniel Garber, one of the leaders of the New Hope School. She also at­tended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, presently the Moore College of Art, during which she met the women who would form “The Ten,” a group of Philadelphia painters. Among her instruc­tors was Henry Bayley Snell, one of the first artists to settle in the New Hope area. In 1917, the year she began exhibiting her work, Coppedge made her first sojourn to New Hope.

To fully appreciate Coppedge’s work, she must be seen within the context of the New Hope School, although she has been omitted from discussions about this close­-knit circle of male artists. Throughout the 1920s, when her works appeared most impressionistic, her paintings closely resembled those of the New Hope artists in both style and subject. Coppedge’s im­pressionism is only an optical veneer, however, because beneath the surfaces of paint, her creations were thought­fully composed and carefully drawn, and only then executed in a seemingly facile manner that masked their rigorous execution.

By the following decade, Coppedge departed from her New Hope School associates to develop her own distinctive style. She continued to paint landscapes, but attempted to convey a more personal ex­pression of temperament and mood. Her use of color – rooted less in nature and more in her own imagination – has led critics to compare her to post-impressionist Paul Gaugin. She also rejected the small, broken brush strokes of the impressionists in favor of a more broadly decorative sense of pattern and design. On her return trip from Europe in 1926, she displayed a broader, more fluid handling of paint, as well as a more sophisticated appreciation for pattern.

Fern I. Coppedge died in New Hope on April 21, 1951, and remains the only woman associated with the New Hope School to gain recognition within the circle, as well as on a national level. During her career, she was a member of many prominent art associa­tions and the recipient of sev­eral prestigious prizes and awards.

More than fifty paintings will be on view at the James A. Michener Arts Center of Bucks County, Doylestown, through Sunday, November 25 [1990], in a major exhibition entitled “A Forgotten Woman: Fern I. Coppedge Retrospective.” The exhibition, the first retrospec­tive of Coppedge’s entire oeu­vre, will demonstrate how the artist took artistic changes and avoided superficially “pretty” effects. Showcasing her stylis­tic variations, “A Forgotten Woman” features early impres­sionistic landscapes, particu­larly snow scenes, on which she built her reputation, and later works, in which she used brilliant colors to express mood.

“A Forgotten Woman: Fern I. Coppedge Retrospective” is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.

The James A. Michener Arts Center is located in downtown Doylestown, adjacent to the Bucks County Free Library. Visiting hours are Monday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.; and Saturday and Sun­day, 11:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. There is a charge for admission.

For additional information, write: James A. Michener Arts Center of Bucks County, 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, PA 18901; or telephone (215) 340-9800.


Dr. Franklin Sets Sail!

Benjamin Franklin’s roles as printer, statesman, inventor, diplomat and scientist have been celebrated internationally since his lifetime (see “Ben­jamin Franklin, Image Maker” by William C. Kashatus III in the fall 1990 edition), but there was a lesser known endeavor which links the famous Philadelphian to the city’s maritime history.

An exhibit entitled “Dr. Franklin Sets Sail” at the Phila­delphia Maritime Museum is based on Franklin’s maritime discoveries which are recorded in a letter he wrote to Alphon­sus LeRoy while at sea in 1785: ” .. . as I may never have an­other occasion of writing on this subject, I think I may as well now, once for all, empty my nautical budget, and give you all the thoughts that have in my various long voyages occurred to me relating to navigation. I am sure that in you they will meet with a candid judge, who will excuse my mistakes on account of my good intention.” The missive records Franklin’s acute obser­vations regarding navigation, ship flotation, the charting of the Gulf Stream, vessel stabil­ity and other ideas resulting from his eight transatlantic voyages.

“Dr. Franklin Sets Sail” re­creates the atmosphere of the port of Philadelphia during the bustling colonial period, and visitors will experience travel by sea during the eighteenth century. An interactive com­puter will take the viewer back in time to tour the city and port as Benjamin Franklin saw it when he first arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. A large map illustrates such concepts as the Gulf Stream and the early trade routes which con­nected Philadelphia with the world to make it a burgeoning port city. Franklin’s thoughts on preventing vessels from sinking will be explored through the use of lightning rods, lookouts and lighthouses.

Recently opened as part of Philadelphia’s city-wide ob­servance, “Benjamin Franklin 1990: Celebrating 200 Years of His Genius,” the exhibit will remain on view as a semi­permanent installation.

The Philadelphia Maritime Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M.

fur additional information regarding “Dr. Franklin Sets Sail” and museum programs, write: Philadelphia Maritime Museum, 321 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 925-5439.


Pueblo Pottery

During the early nineteenth century, an unusual artistic renaissance emerged in the Pueblo Indian communities. Inspired by the Anasazi pot­tery found near the Pueblos, potters began to imitate their ancient ancestors’ styles and designs to create their own distinctive pottery.

The University Museum of the University of Pennsylva­nia, Philadelphia, captures the essence of the ancient pottery in “Beauty from the Earth: Pueblo Indian Pottery from The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropol­ogy,” continuing through April 28, 1991. The exhibit, featuring more than one hun­dred rarely exhibited examples of painted pottery from the Southwest, circa A.D. 900 to 1950, will present one thou­sand years of ceramic art tradi­tions, illustrating how they have responded to changes in Pueblo life.

J. J. Brody, University of New Mexico art historian and the author of numerous books and articles about Pueblo Indian art, is guest curator.

“Beauty from the Earth: Pueblo Indian Pottery from The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropol­ogy,” funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will feature nu­merous pieces from the prehis­toric period. Examples of Southwestern painted pottery from the western Pueblos of the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and Laguna cultures, such as bowls, canteens, mugs, pitchers and storage jars, will be on display. The pottery was originally created for utilitarian functions – to serve food, store water or hold ritual for some other practical task of daily life – yet all are artistic pieces, steeped in cultural traditions. Rich in visual meta­phor and symbolism, the pottery refers to, reinforces and embodies the Pueblo world view.

Pieces on exhibit were drawn from the University Museum’s extensive South­western pottery collection, which includes approximately thirty-five hundred artifacts and objects originally acquired at the turn of the century. The exhibit will examine the forms, styles and iconography of the pottery painting by providing enlarged ethnographic photo­graphs, graphics, text panels and a video depicting a mod­em Pueblo Indian potter at work. The collection, distin­guished for its artistry, early dates of acquisition and excel­lent documentation, came to the museum from a variety of sources, including collecting expeditions, donations, pur­chases and long-term loans.

The University Museum is open Tuesday through Satur­day, 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., and Sundays, 1 to 5 P.M.

For further information, write: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthro­pology, University of Pennsyl­vania, Thirty-Third and Spruce Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6324; or telephone (215) 898-4000.


Important Acquisition

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has recently acquired an American colonial period mahogany desk and bookcase made in Philadelphia about 1758. This is the first major purchase made possible by acquisition funds recently given to the museum by diplo­mat and philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg. Additional support was provided by the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund, H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., and other donors.

The desk and bookcase stands 102 inches tall and is constructed of mahogany, with secondary woods which in­clude red cedar, poplar and pine. It was made in two sec­tions, with the upper bookcase section designed with a pitched pediment, asymmetri­cal center cartouche, carved and molded cornice and fret carved frieze. Scrolled fret­work carving on each bookcase door-frame creates a border enclosing fifteen shaped pan­els of mirror, rarely used in early American furniture be­cause of their fragility and expense. The bookcase interior retains its original carved and gilded detail on the shelves.

The desk and bookcase was originally owned by Anne Shippen Willing in the mid­-eighteenth century and de­scended through daughters in the family for two centuries, remaining in private hands until it was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is currently [in 1990] on view in the museum’s recently renovated American galleries on the first floor.

For additional information, write: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Parkway at Twenty-Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA 19101; or telephone (215) 763-8100. There is a charge for admission.


Rodgers Field Revisited

The Buhl Science Center’s legendary holiday exhibit, a miniature railroad and village, has opened its thirty-sixth annual at the Pittsburgh insti­tution.

The popular display, which has enchanted generations of visitors since 1954, soars to new heights this year with a detailed replica of Rodgers Field, Pittsburgh’s first munici­pal airport. Named after calbraith Perry Rodgers, the first aviator to complete a transcontinental flight, the 41-acre triangular landing strip was located near present-day Fox Chapel Area High School on Powers Run Road in O’Hara Township. Both Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart landed at Rodgers Field, earning the city a cov­eted spot on the national avia­tion map.

The miniature Rodgers Field features matching hang­ers and the “First Annual Air Show Welcomes Charles Lind­berg,” boasting high-flying re­creations of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 Flyer, Rodgers’ own Vin Fiz Flyer, a Sopwith Camel, Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis, a dirigible and a hot air balloon that actually rises. To ensure the exhibition’s authen­ticity, the Buhl Science Cen­ter’s staff painstakingly researched the airfield’s his­tory through books, articles, newspaper clippings and even personal interviews, including a nostalgic visit with a local resident who worked at Rodgers Field in 1925.

The railroad segment cap­tures the breathtakingly beau­tiful western Pennsylvania countryside with its rolling hills, lush valleys and thick forests, as well as depicts the excitement of busy city life. Five Lionel trains chug along seven hundred feet of track, a trio of steamboats glide majes­tically on the river, while an old fashioned trolley speeds through crowded streets.

Information on extended [1990] holiday hours is available by writing: Buhl Science Center, Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15212; or by telephoning (412) 237-3333.


Path to the Past

An innovative experiment with the Benjamin Franklin Parkway encourages visitors “to follow a path to the past.” Recently completed, the Red Line is designed to help both Philadelphia’s visitors and residents find their way more easily to the cultural institu­tions¢ the museum area. The project showcases the Ben­jamin Franklin Parkway as home to some of the city’s most treasured historical and cultural institutions and, at the same time, makes it conven­ient to visit more than one by helping visitors locate them.

Beginning at the Philadel­phia Visitors Center at Six­teenth Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, the series of red lines painted on side­walks guides visitors to eight cultural institutions, with white symbols on the line representing the institutions and arrows indicating direc­tion. Seven museums – the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, the gal­leries at Moore College of Art and Design, the Please Touch Museum, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Academy of Natural Sciences and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – and the Free Library of Philadelphia Central Branch are represented. The Parkway Coalition produced a Parkway Museums map show­ing the Red Line, which is available free at each partici­pating institution.

The Red Line, a cooperative project involving the Parkway Coalition, the City Planning Commission and Philadelphia Streets Department, is imple­mented by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bu­reau. Public response to the Red Line has been favorable, and following a six-month trial period, the Red Line project may become a permanent feature of the Benjamin Frank­lin Parkway.

For more information on the Red Line, write: Philadel­phia Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1515 Market St., Suite 2020, Philadelphia, PA 19102- 2071; or telephone (215) 636-3330.


Evolu­tion of the Dowry

The Lancaster County His­torical Society and the Heri­tage Center of Lancaster County are presenting a series of fascinating exhibits through­out autumn.

“A Good Start: The Evolu­tion of the Dowry in Lancaster County” and “Quilted for Marriage,” focusing on the acquisition and creation of household goods for young people in Lancaster County, will continue at the Heritage Center in downtown Lancaster through Saturday, November 24 [1990].

“A Good Start” chronicles the evolution of the dowry, or aussteier, as practiced by Penn­sylvania German farm families from the mid-eighteenth cen­tury to present-day and re­markably similar practices among the Amish. The exhibit illustrates how those “gifts from home” were – and re­main – a part of a complex inheritance system which begins in earnest for both young men and women in adolescence and culminates near their marriageable age. Ceramics, textiles, iron- and tinware, tools, grains, vehicles, animals, beds, desks, chests of drawers, tables, chairs, even clocks, were among items considered necessary for “a good start.” Several of the objects on view were “marked” with names (or initials) and dates.

The exhibition is based on the work of guest curator Jean­nette Lansansky, whose exten­sive manuscript research among old indentures, family account books, correspon­dence and wills was supple­mented by dozens of interviews with members of the Amish sects.

A complementary exhibi­tion, “Quilted for Marriage,” addresses the tradition of preparing groupings of quilted bed coverings for young peo­ple in Lancaster County dur­ing the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The ex­hibit includes more than twenty-five historic Lancaster County quilts prepared for this significant rite of passage. The quilts are interpreted within the context of their makers’ lives and as expressions of shared community values.

The third exhibit, “Plain Banns: Wedding Customs of the Amish, Mennonites, and Moravians” is currently on view at the Lancaster County Historical Society. Curated by society staff member Randall Snyder, the exhibit continues through Saturday, December 8. “Plain Banns” documents and illustrates the wedding customs of the three sects from 1800 to 1900 through clothing, portraits, photographs and objects used in the wedding ceremony, as well as given to the newly married couple. Many of the objects have direct family lines of ownership.

For further information on the related exhibitions, write: Franklin and Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604.


Tanner Celebrated

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was the foremost African-American artist at the turn of the century. Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Phila­delphia, Tanner studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under the renowned artist Thomas Eakins. Declar­ing he could “not fight preju­dice and paint at the same time,” Tanner sailed for France in 1891, where he was to settle for the rest of his life, with brief visits to the United States.

He began to exhibit at the annual Paris Salon in 1894, and was soon winning awards and selling his paintings to muse­ums and private collectors. During a visit to Philadelphia in 1893-1894, Tanner painted two of his most famous can­vases, “The Banjo Lesson” and “The Thankful Poor,” original and moving depic­tions of the life of poor African-Americans following the Civil War. After his return to Paris in 1894, however, Tan­ner became especially renown for his portrayals of Biblical subjects, which were endowed with the same human dignity and contemplative spirit that characterize his scenes of eve­ryday life. His long, illustrious career was recognized by the French government, which made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1923.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a major retrospective exhibition de­voted to the work of Henry Ossawa Tanner, January 20 through April 14, 1991. The exhibit will assemble over 90 paintings and about 15 draw­ings which illustrate Tanner’s entire career, from his student days to the mature works which won acclaim at the Paris Salon, as well as photographs made by Tanner and other photographs and memorabilia relating to the artist’s life. The works are lent by public and private collections throughout the U.S. and France. Mu­seum programs planned in­clude tours, lectures, a public symposium, an art history course, performances and workshops. A videotape on the artist will be located within the exhibition, and a gallery guide will be available free of charge.

After leaving Philadelphia, the exhibition will travel to The Detroit Institute of Arts Muse­ums of San Francisco. Addi­tional information may be obtained by writing: Philadel­phia Museum of Art, Parkway at 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19101; or by telephoning (215) 763-8100.


The New Deal

Economic crisis caused by the Great Depression created hardship throughout Pennsyl­vania. People were out of work. Savings and homes were lost. Food and money were scarce. The Federal gov­ernment created a series of relief programs, used with varying success in different areas of the Commonwealth. Public works projects were undertaken including road building, hospital and school construction and environmen­tal conservation.

The legacy of these pro­grams is visible throughout Pennsylvania not only in pub­lic works projects, but in the arts and humanities. Writers, musicians, historians and artists were employed, and their works document the spirit and style of the times.

“The Art and Politics of Relief: The New Deal in Penn­sylvania” will open in October in The State Museum, and will run through April 1991. The exhibit, which has been in the making for over two years, will include New Deal memorabi­lia, photos, art and posters, political artifacts, and a stage for Federal Theatre Project productions and readings. The historical backdrop for the New Deal will be presented in detail, along with video oral histories, all focusing on Penn­sylvania.

In this exhibit, visitors will recall or learn about the hard times of the 1920s and 1930s and explore the programs designed to provide relief. For further information, write: PHMC, P.O. Box 1026, Harris­burg, PA 17120; or telephone (717) 783-9882.