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.

Franz Kline At PAFA

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia is presenting the only East Coast showing of the exhibition of “The Vital Ges­ture: Franz Kline in Retro­spect” through September 28 [1986]. The exhibition consists of seventy-five paintings and twenty-five works on paper and is the first major retro­spective of the native Pennsyl­vanian since 1968. The Philadelphia showing is the final stop of a three-city tour that included Cincinnati and San Francisco.

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Lu­zerne County, in 1910, Franz Kline became a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement during the 1950s. Following his artistic debut in 1950, Kline met with escalating success until his untimely death in 1962. He was an im­portant and integral member of the avant-garde group of artists which included expres­sionist artists Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning, Mark Rothko and others who were known as “The New York School.” Franz Kline devel­oped his own distinctive style using sweep-slashes of thick black and white strokes across large canvasses, but color never left his work. “The Vital Gesture” includes works rang­ing from the artist’s early figu­rative pieces to late examples of his expansive, gestural paintings.

Franz Kline, known as “an irresistible storyteller” who, along with deKooning and Pollock, made the Cedar Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village legendary during the 1930s. Possessing a robust personal­ity, the dashing good looks of a one-time athlete, and an abiding appreciation of women, Kline presented a public personality at odds with his actual complexity as a man and as an artist. “There were two Franzes – no, not two­ – there were a thousand Franzes,” his wife Elizabeth said of him years after his death.

Kline studied art in Boston and in England, hoping to eventually become an illustra­tor. His excellent training in draftsmanship is apparent in even the most abstract of his works. The dramatic paintings in black and white, with their powerful, sweeping brush strokes, established Kline’s outstanding reputation with his first one-man show in 1950. Color was returning as a strong element in many of his late works but his death, at the age of fifty-one, came at the height of his career.

Early figurative works, paintings in which color is vibrantly employed, and the large black and white abstrac­tions, for which he is best known, all contribute to the breadth of the exhibition. The Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and New York’s Museum of Modern Art have loaned pieces especially for this traveling exhibition. The retrospective was orga­nized by the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Dr. Harry F. Gaugh, authority on post­-World War II art, serves as guest curator.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue authored by Gaugh includes a critical essay on Franz Kline, his life and time. In addition to a detailed chro­nology and bibliography, the catalogue features more than one hundred illustrations, more than half of which are in color.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, housed in a historic structure designed by famous American architect Frank Furness, is located at Broad and Cherry Streets in center-city Philadelphia. Situ­ated two blocks north of City Hall, the Academy is conven­ient to public transportation and parking. Visiting hours are: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Wednesday, 10 A. M. to 7 P.M.; and Sunday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. Admission is charged, but the public is admitted free on Tuesday, when donations are requested. Regularly scheduled and group tours are also available.

Founded in 1805, the Penn­sylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the oldest art museum and art school in North Amer­ica. Presently its collection of American art exceeds seventy-­three hundred pieces.

For additional information, write: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19102; or telephone (215) 972-7600.


Packwood House Exhibits J. F. Francis

A major exhibition of por­traits and still lifes by an important – but largely unknown – nineteenth century American painter is currently on view at the Packwood House Museum in Lewisburg. “A Suitable Likeness: The Paintings of John F. Francis,” which continues through November 2 [1986], contains forty works representing various phases of the artist’s career.

John F. Francis (1808-1886) was born in Philadelphia. Little is known of his early training or background, but through his dated portraits, it is possible to trace his travels throughout the central Penn­sylvania region to small towns and cities such as Harrisburg, Lewisburg, Milton, Jersey Shore, Bellefonte and Potts­ville, among others. There is also evidence that he lived for brief periods in Washington, Delaware, Tennessee, Ken­tucky and eastern Ohio. Fran­cis eventually returned to Pennsylvania and settled in Jeffersonville, Montgomery County, where he lived for nearly twenty years until his death in 1886.

Francis’ career spans the 1830s through the 1870s; no paintings executed by Francis after 1879 have been discov­ered. His accomplishments consist mainly of portraiture and still lifes, for which he is best known. His earliest works were devoted to portraiture, and his lifestyle suggests that he may have been an itinerant portraitist, painting “a suitable likeness” in exchange for bed and board, not unlike early limners. His technique, de­scribed as falling between folk and academic, was fairly sophisticated.

Most of Francis’ portraits were painted in the romantic tradition, with somewhat idealized subject matter and soft colors applied in a fairly painterly manner. He was probably influenced by Thomas Sully, a contemporary and Philadelphia’s leading portrait painter of the period. As did Sully, Francis flattered his subjects with becoming poses and a healthy rosiness that suffused their skin tones, but his portraits were strongly characterized, particularly in facial features.

After 1850, John F. Francis began to paint fewer portraits and concentrated on the still lifes that make up the bulk of his known work today. In his still lifes, the artist maintained the tradition of Philadelphia’s Peale family. His work moved from simple compositions to elaborate and complex ar­rangements, most of which involved a limited range of foodstuffs and tableware. In later still lifes, Francis some­times included a window behind the table, through which a partial landscape is viewed. With his subject mat­ter of well-laden tabletops crammed with pitchers, bot­tles, fruits, cheeses, cakes and nuts, he became a leading specialist in the “luncheon” or “dessert” type still lifes. The glassware, silver and food­ – often large split-open melons – gave Francis the opportunity to show subtle tones and textures within his paintings, while still utilizing his soft, yet glowing, colorism. His compositions showed only minor variations of subject matter over long periods of time.

During his lifetime, John F. Francis was a relatively ob­scure artist, and his fame as a leading still life specialist is fairly recent. The majority of his work remains in private collections, although notable pieces have recently been added to museum and gallery collections throughout the country.

Packwood House Museum owns three John F. Francis works; they are portraits of members of a Lewisburg fam­ily. The portrait of Mrs. Bridget Bright Miller was painted in August 1841, and her lawyer­-husband, the Honorable George F. Miller, was executed in Sep­tember. A portrait of their son, George, was completed seven years later. These paintings, along with others from various private and museum collec­tions, are showcased in the Francis exhibition.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

“A Suitable Likeness” is hung throughout the Pack­wood House Museum and in the Kelly Gallery of the muse­um’s tour center. Museum visiting hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Saturday, 1 to 5 P.M.; and Sunday, 2 to 5 P.M. Ad­mission is charged.

The exhibition is partially funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

For more information regard­ing” A Suitable Likeness: The Paintings of John F. Francis,” write: Packwood House Mu­seum, 15 North Water St., Lewisburg, PA 17837; or tele­phone (717) 524-0323.


Valley Forge Exhibit

The Valley Forge Historical Society has recently opened a new, permanent exhibit de­signed to highlight its priceless holdings which tell the saga of the historic encampment two centuries ago in a dramatic and graphic manner. “Valley Forge: The Reality and the Symbol” is a powerful supple­ment to the society’s mission of educational outreach and public appreciation of the historical significance of Valley Forge. Creation of the exhibit was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust.

The Society’s George Wash­ington collection consists of personal mementos, as well as memorabilia, decorative pieces and artworks created in his honor. Unlike Washington himself, Valley Forge was slow to emerge as an important symbol for Americans. With the evolving significance ac­corded to the encampment, only then did Valley Forge became inextricably tied to the popular Washington legend.

Visitors first enter the intro­ductory area of the exhibit which summarizes the theme with documents and artifacts relating to founder William Penn and the initial settlement of the region. The “Reality” segment is devoted to the pre­-encampment periods covering occupation by the Lenni­-Lenape (Delaware) Indians and European settlers, and pre-Revolutionary War inhabi­tation as a thriving agricultural and industrial community. It also encapsulates events of the encampment itself. Among the highlights in this section are displays depicting the arrival of the dispirited army, winter hardships and the turning of the tide in America’s favor as foreign generals von Steuben and Lafayette forged a unified and disciplined Continental Army. The “Symbol” portion is ingeniously designed to trace the gradual development of both the George Washing­ton legend and the corollary growth of public appreciation of Valley Forge’s historic and symbolic significance through a widely varied collection of rare art and artifacts.

Priceless articles treasured by the Valley Forge Historical Society include the marquee in which Washington worked and slept (on loan from the Valley Forge National Histori­cal Park Visitors Center), von Steuben’s drill manual, Wash­ington’s silver camp cups and General Muhlenberg’s field pistols. The period pistols are representative of the extraordi­nary quality and rarity of the superb weapons display incor­porated in the exhibit. The life and work of officers and sol­diers are reflected by the weapons, tools and utensils devised not only to wage war, but to survive the rigors of harsh weather and heavy wear. Books, documents, paintings and sculpture illus­trate the continuing presence of Valley Forge in American consciousness.

“Valley Forge: The Reality and the Symbol” represents the culmination of more than sixty-five years of curatorial expertise, acquisition, conser­vation and fundraising. It was conceived in 1977 after Valley Forge was designated a Na­tional Park and the need for a significant museum became evident.

The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 4:30 P.M. Admission is charged. The museum is located on route 23 at the Washington Memorial, one mile west of the Valley Forge National Histori­cal Park Visitors Center. For additional information, write: Valley Forge Historical Society, P.O. Box 122, Valley Forge, PA 19481; or telephone (215) 783-0535.


Dankfest in Harmony

The town of Harmony in Butler County was settled in 1804 by German Christian separatists who founded the famous communal Harmony Society the following year. The sect left the town in 1814 and sold Harmony and surround­ing lands to Mennonite settlers from eastern Pennsylvania. Today, Harmony includes one of only four National Historic Landmark Districts in the Commonwealth, and much of its European-styled architecture-including the 1809 museum building-still remains.

Harmony will host its sixteenth annual Dankfest, or “thank you festival,” and fea­ture scores of craftspersons and artisans who will demon­strate early pioneer crafts and homemaking skills during the weekend of August 23-24 [1986]. Sponsored by the Harmony Museum, Dankfest commemo­rates the traditional harvest festivals held by the early settlers and encourages the continuation of the skills that were a necessary part of every­day pioneer life. Costumed artisans will offer a wide vari­ety of demonstrations ranging from weaving, cross-stitching, yard-dyeing and candlemak­ing to beam-hewing, ropemak­ing, shinglemaking and gunmaking.

The Harmony Museum will be open for guided tours, and carriage tours of the Harmony National Historic Landmark District will be offered. Bus tours to points of interest near Harmony will also be availa­ble. For the first time in the history of the annual event, the Dankfest will occupy the center of the town, in addition to its customary museum grounds, as it has evolved into a community festival.

Harmony is located twenty­-eight miles north of Pittsburgh. It is located near other area attractions, including the Pasavant House in Zelienople, Moraine State Park and Mc­Connell’s Mill State Park. Ad­ditional information may be obtained by writing: Harmo­nist Historic and Memorial Association, P.O. Box 524, Main and Mercer Sts., Har­mony, PA 16037; or by tele­phoning (412) 434-2445.


Historic House-Museums Aid

A new assistance program offered by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation will help non-profit organiza­tions and institutions that are responsible for the mainte­nance and operation of historic house-museums. The National Trust’s program, now in its initial year, is targeting historic properties in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Penn­sylvania. The major qualifica­tion is that the institution or organization can accurately identify the problems and needs, as well as demonstrate an interest in establishing long-range goals and priori­ties.

Problem areas to be consid­ered by the National Trust in this program are: on-going maintenance, major repairs, fundraising, insurance, con­servation, restoration, volun­teerism, membership, marketing, publicity, visita­tion, taxes, exhibits, acquisi­tions and reorganization. Separate teams of professional specialists will be assigned to each selected site to work with staff, directors and volunteers with their specific problems. The specialists will prepare a detailed report for each organi­zation that will include a long-range plan and recom­mendations for resources and procedures. Additional assist­ance will be given as requested during the tenure of the three year grant period.

The National Trust’s direct assistance approach by a team of professionals is rare because organizations usually can find assistance for only one prob­lem at a time. The team ap­proach of this program is essential for many museums to achieve future stability. Currently, applications are being accepted for the second year of the program which will be conducted during 1987.

Applications and additional information are available by writing: Janet S. Klein, Project Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 6401 Germantown Ave., Philadel­phia, PA 19144; or by telephon­ing (215) 438-2886.

The National Trust, estab­lished in 1948, was chartered by Congress as the only inde­pendent organization to pro­mote preservation of the nation’s historic resources, including buildings and struc­tures, site, objects, even entire villages and neighborhoods. The nonprofit organization is actively advocating the preser­vation, rehabilitation and effective re-use of historic commercial buildings through­out the United States. The National Trust’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office is located in Cliveden, the elegant country house of noted Philadelphia lawyer and jurist Benjamin Chew (1722-1810).


Military Museum Acquisition

The latest – and one of the most significant – acquisitions by the Pennsylvania Military Museum at Boalsburg, Centre County, is an unusual World War II halftrack which com­bines the use of a tread (such as that still employed by tanks) and regulation front tires. The combination allowed the ar­mored vehicle to be used for either the mounting of weap­onry or as safe transportation for troops. The restored M-3 halftrack was added to the Military Museum’s collection with the assistance of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Completely restored by the combined support mainte­nance shop at Fort Indiantown Gap, which volunteered assist­ance, the halftrack may have served with Pennsylvania’s 28th Division or with the Pennsylvania State Guard. Original vehicle markings had been removed years ago.

The addition of the M-3 halftrack largely completes the Military Museum’s World War II gallery exhibits which docu­ment the service of the 28th Division, originally a Pennsyl­vania unit and now part of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and honor the Pennsylvanians who served in all branches of the armed forces. The stories of these soldiers are recounted by the actual artifacts they used, including combat uni­forms worn in France, weap­ons, photographs taken in battle and miscellaneous equipment. The gallery also chronicles the 28th Division’s recall to Europe during the Korean War and includes uni­forms and weaponry em­ployed during the Vietnam Conflict. Much like the halftrack, most of the exhibited artifacts and objects were do­nated and documented by the generous individual soldiers and veterans to whom the gallery is dedicated.

The Pennsylvania Military Museum is located on U.S. Route 322, just east of State College. Admission is charged.

To obtain additional informa­tion, write: The Pennsylvania Military Museum, P.O. Box 148, Boalsburg, PA 16827; or telephone (814) 466-6263.


At Philadelphia: “Freedom’s Doors”

Tuned to coincide with the centennial celebrations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a recently opened exhibition at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadel­phia, recounts the story of immigration through seven ports other than New York: Philadelphia, Boston, Balti­more, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The seven ports welcomed one-third of the fifty million immigrants who ar­rived in America between 1820 and 1980.

During the next decade, the United States will celebrate the centennials of two of its most hallowed symbols: the Statue of Liberty this July and Ellis Island in 1992. The great activ­ity surrounding the landmark anniversaries prompted the Balch Institute to complement the Ellis island exhibit while benefiting from the burgeon­ing interest in the history of immigration and ethnicity in America. The National Mu­seum of Immigration at Ellis Island exhibits primarily chronicle the saga of immigra­tion through the port of New York, and the Balch’s Insti­tute’s exhibit, “Freedom’s Doors: Immigrant Ports of Entry to the United States,” recalls the arrival of immi­grants at the other ports dur­ing the past one hundred and sixty years. Philadelphia, in 1913 alone, opened its doors to more than sixty thousand newcomers!

“Freedom’s Doors: Immi­grant Ports of Entry to the United States” was undertaken with the support of educa­tional and cultural institutions, scholars and historians throughout the country. The exhibit will remain on view to the public through September 30, 1992. Objects comprising the show include documents, household items, heirlooms, handwoven textiles, as well as artifacts reflecting the immi­gration experiences of individ­uals and their families. Also highlighting “Freedom’s Doors” are photographs of the immigration facilities at the major ports.

Additional information regarding “Freedom’s Doors: Immigrant Ports of Entry to the United States” is available by writing: Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, 18 South Sev­enth St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or by telephoning (215) 925-8090. Admission is free.


The Philadelphia Sword­ at The State Museum

A small, but important, exhibit has recently opened at The State Museum of Pennsyl­vania in Harrisburg which displays the creativity and craft of some of Pennsylvania’s finest artisans: the sword­makers of Philadelphia. Enti­tled “The Philadelphia Sword,” the exhibit is the story of dedi­cated craftsmen, amateur workers and immigrants and natives – all of whom at­tempted to supply the needs of military regulars and the militia between 1780 and 1851.

During the period the exhibit chronicles, swords were or­dered by individual officers, by militia companies or through state and federal con­tracts. Supplying many of these swords were members of the Rose family of Blackley Township, near Philadelphia, who today are considered the best of American born crafts­men. The Rose family became involved in sword and tool manufacturing during the 1790s and continued produc­tion through 1835. Their busi­ness prospered in the opening years of the nineteenth cen­tury when federal contracts and special orders demanded extremely high quality presen­tation blades. At the time, the Rose family’s blades were the finest produced in the United States. The family enterprise was one of the few domestic sword producers which did not import blades for their swords.

One of the most popular pieces in “The Philadelphia Sword” is the “Watmough Sword,” made by the Rose family and presented to Jona­than G. Watmough for his valor at the siege of Fort Erie in 1814. The sword was presented to Watmough by Gen. Edward Gaines.

The Rose family also pro­duced swords designed by Harvey Lewis, a noted Phila­delphia silversmith. Philadel­phian John Meer etched blades designed by Lewis and manu­factured by the Roses. Exam­ples of Lewis’s and Meer’s work are featured in the show.

Not all sword makers were craftsmen or designers. Swords made by Emor T. Weaver and Frederick Wid­mann during the early nine­teenth century were poorly designed and crafted. Both craftsmen imported their blades from Germany and England, and lavishly deco­rated the scabbards and hilts, which camouflaged a lack of imagination and poor technical ability.

Included in the exhibit are examples of the “Prahl” class of swords made by Lewis Prahl, an artisan who manufactured contract arms during the last quarter of the eight­eenth century. A distinctive characteristic of the Philadel­phia sword is the cast brass grip, named after Prahl be­cause several known speci­mens bear his mark.

“The Philadelphia Sword,” on view on the museum’s ground floor, depicts the his­tory of design and technology of Philadelphia during the late eighteenth and early nine­teenth centuries. The show continues through September [1986].

Visiting hours at The State Museum are: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.; and Sunday, Noon to 5 P.M. Admission is free.

For more information, write: The State Museum of Pennsyl­vania, P.O. Box 1026, Harris­burg, PA 17108-1026; or telephone (717) 783-9882 or 787-4978.


Grey Towers

One hundred years ago this summer, James Pinchot, his wife Mary and their three children moved into Grey Towers, their nearly completed summer home nestled in the steep mountains overlooking the borough of Milford in Pike County. The French chateau­-style manor house, designed for Pinchot by noted architect Richard Morris Hunt, offered the family magnificent views of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and the sweeping Delaware River Valley. The residence-with its broad porches and patios-was built as the family’s summer retreat from the heat and con­gestion of New York City.

The Pinchots selected Au­gust 11, 1886, as the day to move into the baronial man­sion. The day was also the twenty-first birthday of their eldest child, a student at Yale University, who was later to become governor of the Com­monwealth of Pennsylvania. The family celebrated the dual occasions with a lavish after­noon tea.

Gifford Pinchot, instilled with a great sense of public spirit and responsibility by his visionary parents, embarked on a career that eventually won him recognition as the father of conservation in America. During his much­-lauded career as a public ser­vant, he served as the first chief of the United States For­est Service, which he helped to create, and later two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor. During his terms as governor, Grey Towers served as the relaxed and informal executive mansion during the summer months.

In 1963, the heirs of Gifford Pinchot, imbued with his generosity and public spirited­ness, donated the splendid structure and more than one hundred acres to the United States Forest Service to inter­pret his forestry career and to further the work he had begun in the conservation of natural resources. Today, the National Historic Landmark houses offices of the Forest Service and is the headquarters of the Pinchot Institute for Conserva­tion Studies.

To mark the one hundredth anniversary of Grey Towers, the Forest Service and the National Friends of Grey Tow­ers have planned numerous events throughout the sum­mer. The multi-faceted centen­nial celebration will acquaint visitors with the lifestyles of two generations who called Grey Towers home, highlight the many – and munificent­ – contributions made by the family to society, and involve the public with the historic site’s ongoing interpretive programs.

During the months of July and August [1986], Grey Towers will host concerts, lectures and celebrations, all of which will be open to the public.

For additional information and schedule of centennial events and activities, write: Grey Towers, U.S. Forest Serv­ice, P.O. Box 188, Milford, PA 18337; or telephone (717) 296- 6401.