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.

Wonderful Wildflowers

Andrey Avinoff was born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1884 and raised on a large estate in the Ukraine. By the age of nine, he was making accurate paintings of butter­flies, and as a young man he traveled through Asia, collect­ing eighty thousand central Asian specimens. Avinoff left his homeland in 1917, and supported himself in New York City by portrait commis­sions and commercial illustra­tions. His scientific reputation, based in part on his publica­tions on butterflies, led to an introduction to the director of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and in 1922 he was appointed associate curator of entomology for the institution. Four years later, Avinoff became director.

During his twenty years tenure as director of the Carne­gie Museum of Natural His­tory, Andrey Avinoff under­took the painting of two hun­dred wildflower specimens and created dioramas that showed the specimens in their native habitats. He also taught courses in art in nature and Oriental and Russian art at the University of Pittsburgh, and was the designer and commit­tee chairman for the Russian Nationality Room at the uni­versity’s famous Cathedral of Learning.

Currently on view at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is a selection of twenty-five watercolors painted by Avinoff in 1941-1942. Most of these works accompanied the two-volume botanical study, Wild Flowers of Western Pennsylvania and the Upper Ohio Basin, written by Otto E. Jennings, curator of botany. Jennings and other staff members collected the specimens and hastily brought them to Avinoff to be painted before they wilted. In that two year period, he produced more than two hundred paintings. The guiding principles of his art included “accuracy in form and color; portrayal of the individuality of the plant; and decorative arrangement, com­position and spacing.” He rendered the specimens tradi­tionally and realistically; if the leaves were insect-bitten, he portrayed them as insect­-bitten.

“Wonderful Wildflowers: Botanical Watercolors by An­drey Avinoff” remains on ex­hibit through December 31 [1986]. This display is located in the museum’s changing exhibits gallery.

Museum visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M. A voluntary admission contribution is requested.

For additional information, write: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213; or telephone (412) 622-3328.


Thomas Eakins Material Acquired

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Phila­delphia, recently acquired a significant collection – the last, largely unexplored cache – of Thomas Eakin’s art objects and documentary materials. Acqui­sition of this accumulation­ – known as the Charles Bregler Collection – is one of the most exciting events in American art scholarship and collecting to have occurred in decades. Art historians and researchers have awaited the release of the collection for nearly thirty years. The Charles Bregler Collection consists of more than one thousand pieces, including paintings, sculpture, drawings, photographs and manuscripts by Eakins and his circle.

The circle includes the artist’s father, Benjamin Eakins; his wife, Susan Mac­dowell Eakins; his sister-in­-law, Elizabeth Macdowell Kenton; and friends, students and admirers, Charles Fussell, F. Gutekunst, David Wilson Jordan, Henri Marceau, Sa­muel Murray, William O’Donovan, Amelia Van Buren, Eva Watson (Schutze), Carl Van Vechten, Friedrich Von Rapp and Bryan Wall. The collection also includes many paintings, pastels, drawings and sculptures by Charles Bregler (1868-1958), a student and friend of Eakins in his later years.

Thomas Eakins was born in Philadelphia and, except for a period of study in Europe from 1866 to 1870, lived in the city his entire life. Upon gradua­tion from Central High School in 1861, he entered the Penn­sylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he produced cast drawings and attended lec­tures in anatomy and perspec­tive. He was admitted to life classes in February 1863 and departed for Paris the follow­ing year. He began his teach­ing career in 1874 at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Two years later he began teaching at the Academy as an assist­ant. In 1879, he was promoted to professor of painting and drawing, and three years later was appointed director of the school. He modified the Acad­emy’s curriculum to conform to his experiences in France by including drawing and paint­ing from the nude, as well as dissecting and modeling. Eakin’s insistence on teaching from the nude model led to his dismissal by the Academy in 1886. He continued teaching in Philadelphia and exhibited in the Academy Annuals. He died on June 25, 1916.

Following the death of Susan Macdowell Eakins in 1938, Charles Bregler was authorized by the bank execu­tors and her relatives to visit the Eakins residence at 1729 Mount Vernon Street and retrieve whatever remained in the house. Bregler came away with a sizable collection of paintings, drawings, sketches, sculpture, photographs and personal memorabilia, which he added to his collection of Eakins material acquired dur­ing the lifetimes of Thomas and Susan Macdowell Eakins. Once in Bregler’s hands, the collection was closely guarded; following his demise in 1958, the material became virtually inaccessible.

Works by Thomas Eakins in the collection include twenty­-nine paintings, primarily small oil sketches; twelve pieces of sculpture; two hundred and sixty-one drawings; more than three hundred and fifty docu­ments; and five hundred and thirty-five vintage photo­graphs. In addition, there are sixteen items of miscellaneous memorabilia, such as the art­ist’s watercolor box, drafting instruments, brushes and his school bell.

According to art historians, the sheer quantity of unpub­lished material contained in the collection will lead both the public and scholars to a new understanding and appre­ciation of the life and work of Thomas Eakins. Until the Academy’s acquisition, fewer than one hundred drawings by Eakins were known; the Charles Bregler Collection alone contains two hundred and sixty-one.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is located in center-city Philadelphia, two blocks north of City Hall. For additional information regard­ing current and forthcoming exhibitions, write: Pennsylva­nia Academy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts., Phila­delphia, PA 19102; or tele­phone (215) 972-7600.


The War Effort

The City of Philadelphia, its people and its industries, made significant contributions in helping the United States win the “war to end all wars” – World War I. To exam­ine the many contributions of Philadelphia in winning the war, the Philadelphia Branch of the National Archives has mounted a major exhibition, “Support the War Effort: Phila­delphia on the Homefront, 1918-1919.” The show will con­tinue through April 1 [1987].

“Support the War Effort” revolves around several themes, including posters by Philadelphia artists and those with Philadelphia and Penn­sylvania connections. Featured will be Joseph Pennell’s That Liberty Shall Not Perish From the Earth; Buy Liberty Bonds and Provide the Sinews of War, as well as works by Alfred Everett Orr and Herbert Pullinger. A special section of the exhibit will explore the portrayal of ethnic and immigrant images in posters as means to appeal to the city’s ethnic groups.

Other segments of “Sup­port the War Effort” will graphically depict the muni­tions activities at the Frankford Arsenal and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Photographs and artifacts of the Hog Island Ship Yards will recall the vigorous ship-building activities during the period. Memorabilia – such as diaries, uniforms, letters, postcards and photographs­ – recount the valor of the men and women who served with the Twenty-Eighth Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard, which fought in the Marne and Argonne cam­paigns.

Other areas of this exten­sive show will deal with patri­otic music and sheet music covers, the U.S. Food Admin­istration’s Food Conservation Program and the role of women at home, in the mili­tary service and in the factory.

To obtain additional information regarding “Support the War Effort,” as well as the various programs and public services offered by the Na­tional Archives, write: Na­tional Archives, Philadelphia Branch, Room 1350, Ninth and Market Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19107; or telephone (215) 597-3000.


Signs and the Times

Since 1682, Chester County residents have marked their buildings with architectural elements and decorative de­tails intended to set their prop­erties or businesses apart from other structures. During the eighteenth century, many builders in Chester County documented – and displayed­ – their ownership by incising their initials and those of their spouses into the stonework of a newly completed house. Eighteenth and nineteenth century innkeepers marked their hostelries with large signs painted with symbolic depictions of their inn’s name. Most nineteenth century Americans were illiterate, and the sign of the boot, the rising sun or the black horse helped many weary travelers find a safe night’s lodging.

The Chester County Histor­ical Society, West Chester, has recently unveiled a major exhibition, “The Signs and the Times: Chester County Trade Signs and Datestones,” featur­ing these and other old swing­ing signs which once lured patrons by a simple, hand­painted image. Continuing through June 6 [1987], the display features handmade tavern signs, downspouts, weather­vanes and datestones that adorned Chester County buildings from 1716 to World War II.

Included in “The Signs and the Times” are the simple blue and white post office and railroad station signs, drawn from the society’s collection, which evoke late nineteenth century life in small towns where the post office was the center of social life and the arrival of the train an impor­tant event. Twentieth century signs included in the exhibi­tion are the sign for West Chester’s first department store, and the bar sign at the Green Tree Hotel that was given to Christian Brinton when he ordered the last drink served just before the onset of Prohibition. Photographs from the historical society’s exten­sive library showing the signs in their original locations aug­ment the widely-appealing exhibition.

The Chester County Histor­ical Society’s museum show­cases one of the best regional crafts and decorative arts col­lections in the country through changing exhibits and its per­manent gallery featuring eight­eenth and nineteenth century furniture. The society’s library and archives offers visitors and researchers an opportunity to explore more than three centu­ries of local, family, political, social and governmental his­tory.

For additional information and traveling directions, write: Chester County Historical Society, 225 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380; or telephone (215) 692-4800.


American Illustration

Seventy-two paintings and drawings, originally illustra­tions in classics of American publishing by some of this country’s best-loved artists, are on view at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley in an exhibition entitled “The Best of American Illustration.” On loan from the Delaware Art Museum, the exhibit continues through January 4 [1987].

Included in “The Best of American illustration” are Frank Schoonover’s illustration for the cover of Hans Brinker; several of Elenore Plaisted Abbott’s illustrations for Trea­sure Island; and Maxfield Par­rish’s A Tramp’s Thanksgiving, featured on the cover of Col­lier’s Weekly. Other acclaimed artists represented include Howard Chandler Christy, Charles Dana Gibson, William Glackens, Rockwell Kent, Howard Pyle, John Sloan, N. C. Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth (who was recently catapulted into international news with the “discovery” of the “Helga cache”). The illus­trators’ works appeared in landmarks of American publishing, including Harper’s Monthly Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Life and The Ladies Home Journal.

Accompanying “The Best of American Illustration” is an exhibit entitled “N. C. Wyeth: illustrations for an American History,” on loan from the Hill School, a prestigious prepara­tory school in Pottstown, Montgomery County. The ten paintings served as illustra­tions for Poems of American Patriotism, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1922. The patriarch of the Wyeth dynasty depicted Paul Revere, George Washington and Nathan Hale for the publi­cation, all of which will be on display.

Both exhibitions have been mounted in the museum’s Founders Gallery. Although the museum normally offers free admission to visitors, an admission fee will be charged for these special shows. The museum is located at Fifth and Court streets in downtown Allentown. Visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, 1 to 5 P.M.

For more information re­garding group rates or current exhibits, write: Allentown Art Museum, Fifth and Court Sts., P. O. Box 117, Allentown, PA 18105; or telephone (215) 432- 4333.


A Dec­ade of Collecting

“On Eagles’ Wings: A Dec­ade of Collecting” is an unu­sual exhibition celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Na­tional Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia. Showcasing the museum’s specialized collections, the exhibit reflects and explores the multiple dimensions of Jewish identity in the United States through an eclectic selection of ritual, decorative and fine art objects, historic documents, ephemera, cloth­ing and personal memorabilia. More than two hundred items are included, many of which have never before been pub­licly exhibited.

Bringing into focus diverse aspects of Jewish experience in the “great experiment” of American democratic society, “On Eagles’ Wings” probes the intermingling themes of pri­vate and communal life, patri­otism and Zionism. The exhibition title echoes a pas­sage in Exodus: “I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself … for all the earth is mine: and you shall be to me … a holy nation.”

A giant eagle, handcarved and painted, with a wingspan of nearly twelve feet, domi­nates the display. This majestic symbol of religious and patri­otic fervor was recovered by a team of conservators working against the clock to remove the Torah ark and other furnish­ings from a deserted South Philadelphia synagogue before its demolition. The “behind the scenes” story of how these treasures were rescued and preserved is recounted in an ancillary exhibit, “The Saving of the Ark.”

Other objects featured in “On Eagles’ Wings” include a fragile 1789 manuscript from Richmond, detailing the cere­monies of Virginia’s first Jew­ish congregation on the occasion of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution; an early nineteenth century sampler illustrating a child’s educa­tional experience; and party favors created to commemo­rate a contemporary Bar Mitzvah celebration.

Both “On Eagles’ Wings: A Decade of Collecting” and “The Saving of the Ark” con­tinue through December 31, 1986.

Museum visiting hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Sunday, Noon to 5P.M.

For more information, write: National Museum of American Jewish History, Independence Mall East, 55 North Fifth Street, Philadel­phia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 923-3811.


Sculpture at PAFA

The first survey of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ extensive collection of American sculpture is on view through January 11, 1987, in the spacious Victorian era galleries of the Philadelphia institution. Approximately two hundred objects, spanning the nineteenth century to the present, are on exhibit, includ­ing works by William Rush, Thomas Eakins, Alexander Stirling Calder, Isamu Noguchi and Louise Nevelson. This exhibit follows last year’s sur­vey of graphic arts, both of which have been designed to share the Academy’s perma­nent collections with the pub­lic.

“Sculpture at the Pennsyl­vania Academy of the Fine Arts” has been arranged chronologically, and begins with the native wood-carving tradition of William Rush and continues with the distinctive neoclassical style represented by marble busts and figures by American sculptors working in Italy during the early nine­teenth century. Throughout the late nineteenth century, Paris and its famed Ecole des Beaux-Arts attracted numer­ous artists, including Thomas Eakins, who later instituted similar teaching methods at the Academy’s school. A sec­tion of the exhibition will focus on the training of sculptors at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and will feature reliefs and anatomical casts by Eakins and bronze busts and allegorical groups by his fol­lower, Charles Grafly.

Sculpture of the 1930s and 1940s is represented by direct carvings of animals and hu­man figures in wood and stone. The more recent trends in sculpture will be shown by works in a wide variety of media by Alexander Calder, David Smith, George Segal, Mary Frank, Dennis Oppen­heim and Siah Armajani.

In preparation for “Sculp­ture at the Pennsylvania Acad­emy of the Fine Arts,” the objects have been conserved by the institution’s chief con­servator. During the conserva­tion process, the Academy’s sculpture collection has been exhaustively researched and studied, and a catalogue of its entire sculpture holdings will be published in 1987.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, founded in 1805, is the oldest art museum and school in North America. It is located at Broad and Cherry streets, center-city Philadelphia, two blocks north of City Hall. For more informa­tion regarding visiting hours and tours, write: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts., Phila­delphia, PA 19102; or tele­phone (717) 972-7600 or 972-7642.


Indian Exhibit

The ink had scarcely dried on the newly ratified United States Constitution when Pres. George Washington invited the powerful Seneca chieftain Cornplanter to Philadelphia in a peace overture to the trouble­some Indian tribes of the Great Plains. Cornplanter’s diplo­matic mission to Philadelphia in 1790 – followed by fifty-one chieftains the following year – ­launched a remarkable parade of Indian delegations to pow wow with the nation’s presidents from Washington to Andrew Jackson, first in Phila­delphia and later at the new capital in Washington, D.C.

In extending the first olive branch to Cornplanter, Presi­dent Washington thought negotiations would be Jess expensive than war with the Native Americans, still strongly resisting the west­ward migration of white set­tlers.

No mere docile reservation Indians, many of the visiting chiefs were veterans of battles among themselves and against the growing tide of white pioneers pushing relentlessly across the Great Plains. They sat patiently for their portraits in colorful wardrobes of both native and European ceremo­nial regalia, often looking as much like ancient Roman senators, Scots highlanders, Turks or Arabs, as Native Americans.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, has mounted a selection of rare, century-and-a-half-old lithographs which originally were published as plates in the three volume set, History of the North American Indian Tribes. On view through January 31 [1987], the lithographs were printed from original watercolors by frontier artist James Otto Lewis and later copied by Charles Bird King, or painted from life by King in his Washington, D.C., studio.

The portrait of Cornplanter on display is from an original painted by F. Bartoli in New York in 1796 and copied by Bass Otis in Philadelphia. The images of Leni-Lenape chief­tain Lappawinsoe and Dela­ware chief Tishcohan were painted in the 1730s by Gus­tavus Hesselius and given to the Historical Society of Penn­sylvania in 1834 by Granville Penn, descendant of William Penn. The society still owns and displays the original paintings, as well as the litho­graphs, in the current exhibi­tion. Most of the remaining portraits were painted by Charles Bird King at the insti­gation of Thomas Lorraine McKenney, superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during four administrations until he was dismissed by President Jackson in 1830. Political opposition to McKen­ney included a scathing con­gressional committee report denouncing him for spending thirty-one hundred dollars in government funds for “por­traits of these wretches.”

In 1836, McKenney pub­lished a series of large volumes containing color lithographs of these vividly garbed Native Americans, entitled History of the North American Indian Tribes. One hundred and twenty plates were included and the text was written by James Hall, frontier historian, writer and lawyer.

Today, the society’s three volume set of these elephant folios is one of the rarest and most valued pieces of Americana, and probably the finest example of early American lithography. The impressions are extremely significant be­cause the original portraits were destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian Institution in 1865. Before the disaster struck, one prominent Phila­delphian, following a visit to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, described McKenney as “sur­rounded by uncouth por­traits.” Another account noted the “row after row of portraits of grim-faced Indian chiefs who had visited their ‘Great Father’ in Washington.” But Thomas Lorraine McKenney, undaunted by political ene­mies and harsh criticism, maintained that his gallery was meant for future genera­tions who might be “curious” about the Native American leaders.

The exhibit, located in the society’s galleries, is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.; Saturday, 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

Additional information regarding this exhibit and the programs of the society is available by writing: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107; or by telephoning (215) 732-6200 or 732-6201.


University Museum Centennial

To celebrate the centennial of the University of Pennsylva­nia’s University Museum, a diverse selection of eighty-nine African sculptures, masks and objects of ceremonial and everyday use is on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through February 8 [1987]. Most of the carvings in “African Sculpture from the University Museum” are of wood, and were often painted or embel­lished with copper, brass, nails and beads, as well as animal and vegetable matter, includ­ing antelope hide, basketry, textiles, seeds, twine, hair, claws and beeswax – materials often believed to hold magical powers. The University Mu­seum has been collecting archaeological and anthropo­logical materials from Africa for nearly a century, with particularly rich holdings from Zaire, Gabon, Angola and Nigeria (but also including examples from many other areas of West Africa in which art was produced). This exhibi­tion does not attempt to pro­vide a comprehensive survey of West African tribal art but, rather, provides an opportu­nity to view these powerful carvings – many of which have rarely been shown – as beauti­ful and eloquent works of art.

On display are objects fash­ioned of wood, gold, ivory and bone, including male and female sculptures, ritual items, and decorated utilitarian pieces, such as architectural elements, furniture, pipes, cups and weaving pulleys. The oldest objects may be up to a century and a half old. Se­lected from the University Museum’s collection of nearly nine thousand African objects, many of these works have not been publicly displayed since their acquisition in the early years of this century.

The University Museum acquired its first important group of African objects in 1891, beginning an era of ambi­tious collecting which continued through 1937. Particularly fruitful were the years 1910 to 1927, when large and signifi­cant groups of objects ap­peared on the market, and the University Museum was virtu­ally the only institution in this country actively acquiring African art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, by long­standing agreement with the University Museum, does not actively collect in this field.

“African Sculpture from the University Museum” is accom­panied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Further information, in­cluding visiting hours and group tours, is available by writing: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Parkway at Twenty­-Sixth St., Box 7646, Philadel­phia, PA; or by telephoning (215) 763-8100. There is an admission fee.


We the People

During the sweltering sum­mer of 1787, fifty-five men in Philadelphia argued, debated, discussed and, eventually, authored a four-page parch­ment document, the most important document in Ameri­can history – the Constitution of the United States. And the varied bicentennial observ­ances of its creation will, par­ticularly in Philadelphia, reach historic proportions. The bi­centennial of the U .5. Consti­tution will be celebrated throughout the country, but the focus of the national com­memoration will be in Phila­delphia, the site of the Con­stitutional Convention. This celebration, entitled “We the People 200,” began in Septem­ber 1986 and will continue through the end of this year [1986].

Virtually every historic site and structure associated with the landmark document is located in the City of Philadel­phia, and many of the com­memorative activities will take place in Independence Na­tional Historical Park. The celebration was launched this past fall with the opening of a major exhibition, “Miracle at Philadelphia,” at the Second Bank of the United States, Chestnut Street. Featuring documents related to the crea­tion of the Constitution­ – including original drafts – the exhibit runs through Decem­ber 31, 1987.

“We the People 200,” in addition to commemorating the glorious history of the Constitution, will also make history itself. A joint session of Congress will be held in Phila­delphia on July 16 [1987], the two hundredth anniversary of the Connecticut Compromise, which established the House of Representatives and the Senate in their present forms. The event will mark the first time the Congress has con­vened outside the seat of gov­ernment, and the first time it has met in Philadelphia in one hundred and eighty-seven years.

Other activities planned for the duration of the bicenten­nial celebration include fo­rums, workshops, lectures, fireworks displays and numer­ous family-oriented festivities.

To obtain further informa­tion on this national celebra­tion in Philadelphia, write: “We the People 200,” 313 Wal­nut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106; or telephone (215) 922-1987 or 597-1787.