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.

Anniversary Activities

The French and Indian War was £ought in south western Pennsylvania between 1754 and 1760 as France, Great Britain, and Native America battled for control of one of the most important pieces of real estate in North America. This highly coveted and hotly contested point of land, at the time called the Forks of the Ohio, is now the City of Pittsburgh. In the eighteenth century, the French, British, and Native Americans recognized the value of this place where three rivers converged, for the nation that controlled these waterways also controlled access to the frontier beyond.

A young, inexperienced George Washington became a central figure during this struggle, and much of what he learned in southwestern Pennsylvania served him well in his later military exploits and political career. During harrowing military campaigns he narrowly escaped death several times, while developing a reputation as a seasoned commander and effective leader.

By the close of the bitter conflict, the French empire in North America was destroyed, changing the course of world history. The British empire in North America, victorious but financially strapped, later turned to its colonists to help bear the burden of expansion by imposing taxation upon them, igniting what was to become the American Revolution. The French and Indian War placed southwestern Pennsylvania at the epicenter of the struggle for empirical supremacy and left a legacy of military and societal history that has since been researched, interpreted, and commemorated.

The nation’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War will unfold over the next six years with large-scale reenactments at historic sites, exhibitions of rare historical artifacts, educational symposia, a major public television series, and a broad spectrum of public activities and family events (see “Executive Director’s Message” in this issue). The multi-state initiative created to raise public awareness of the seminal period in American history includes Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

In the Keystone State, the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh has unveiled a long-term exhibit exploring the critical role in America’s history of the “Point” at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, where they form the Ohio River. “Fort Pitt Museum: Keystone of the Frontier” recounts not only the epic struggle over this strategic site during the French and Indian War and its role during the Revolutionary War, but it also chronicles the settlement of the early west.

The signature exhibit emphasizes the significance of Fort Pitt, the greatest of several forts built at the Point by French and British forces to dominate the rivers and the gateway to the west. “Keystone of the Frontier” follows a chronological journey, taking museum visitors back in time more than two and a half centuries to illuminate the environment, people, and politics upon which they stand. Through an introductory video program and diorama, visitors meet a “cast of characters” who inhabited the area in the eighteenth century, including the Seneca, a tribe of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy.

As the exhibit progresses, it sets the stage for war. Using maps and dioramas to place the Point and the surrounding area into a global and intercultural context, the exhibit explains how European competition in America was part of a larger contest between France and Great Britain for world dominance. Also explored is the history of violent conflict between the European powers and the Native Americans, as well as the complex web of alliances and hostilities between Indian nations, relationships that were polarized by the rivalry between France and Great Britain. The French and Indian War, and the role of the young George Washington, conclude this section of the exhibit. On view are the indispensable tools of eighteenth-century warfare, including powder horns, war clubs, tomahawks, muskets, pistols, swords, and canteens. Unusual articles, such as a British officer’s portable bar, show how the colonials attempted to bring the comforts of home to a frontier wilderness.

In addition to its in-depth treatment of the French and Indian War, “Keystone of the Frontier” addresses the geopolitical issues between Great Britain and Native Americans that brought about Pontiac’s Uprising of 1762. It also explores the military significance of the Point in boundary disputes between Pennsylvania and Virginia and the hostilities called Dunmore’s War. Fort Pitt Museum, located at 101 Commonwealth Avenue, Point State Park, is joined in Pennsylvania’s commemoration of the French and Indian War during 2004 by Fort Ligonier, in Ligonier, Westmoreland County, and Fort Necessity National Battlefield, in Farm­ington, and Dunbar’s Camp, at Jumonville, Fayette County. In May 2005, the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center will unveil a comprehensive traveling exhibition entitled “Clash of Empires: the British, French, and Indian War, 1754-1763.”

Additional information about activities, events, and exhibitions during six-year observance is available by writing: French and Indian War 250, Inc., 425 Sixth Ave., Suite 1000, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; by telephoning (412) 392-2408. Admission.

 

Just Seeing

By 1910, Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965) had become recognized as one of the foremost landscape painters in the United States. Although he preferred to think of himself as not a member of any art colony or school of artists – he worked in isolation and styled himself as a curmudgeon – he would become known as the stylistic leader of the Pennsylvania impressionist school of painting that flourished along the Delaware River in Bucks County during the early decades of the twentieth century.

Born in Bridgeville, Delaware, in 1869, Redfield was raised in Camden, New Jersey, where as a young child he demonstrated a prodigious talent for the visual arts. From 1887 until 1889, he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under Thomas Anschutz, James P. Kelly, and Thomas Hovenden. While at the Pennsylvania Academy, he established a lifelong friendship with fellow student Robert Henri, who would become leader of the Ashcan school of American realist painters. Although Thomas Elkins had left the Academy in 1886, his realist teaching methods remained a great influence. Students were encouraged to capture natural effects through close observation and immediate experience.

Redfield traveled to Paris in 1889 with the intention of becoming a portrait painter, but quickly took an interest in painting landscapes directly from nature (en plein air). He was fascinated by the evanescence of the natural world as it appeared to him, and as an artist he committed himself to recreating the experience of a particular moment or scene, painstakingly recording the details of light and weather. His early winter scenes display a vigorous realism in which the facts of nature remain solid even when painted under an atmospheric veil. Redfield was particularly interested in the anatomy of snow and its receptivity to light in the brilliant sun of midday.

Edward W. Redfield was among the first of the New Hope group of painters to settle in the area and paint the surrounding Bucks County countryside. In 1898, he and his wife Elise Deligant purchased a tract of land at Center Bridge, by the Delaware River, where they resided for the remainder of their lives.

Redfield and his family spent many summers in Boothbay, Maine, where he explored the forms of nature unique to the seacoast. During the late teens, he began to focus on impressionist spring scenes, which are among his most beautiful works and reflect the same painterly methods rapid rapid, spontaneous handling of paint seen in his snowscapes. In addition to his works of art, his creative output included hooked rugs, Windsor furniture, and painted chests. He was one of the most widely exhibited landscape painters of his era. During a period of dramatic national transition from an agrarian to a modern and largely industrialized society, both the artist and his work seemed to embody the values of rugged individualism, authenticity, and craftsmanship admired and celebrated by the American public. As early as 1899, he was given a solo exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1915, while he served as a juror for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, he was given his own gallery to show twenty-one of his works. By the time he stopped painting in the 1940s – when his failing eyesight could no longer meet the demands of en plein air work – Redfield had won nearly every significant award and honor available to an American artist, and his paintings had been acquired by dozens of major museums in the country.

The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown recently unveiled a retro­spective exhibition of works by the master American impressionist entitled “Edward W. Redfield: Just Values and Fine Seeing,” The show features more then fifty works – some of which have never before been publicly exhibited – ­spanning the artist’s career. Included in the exhibition are Redfield’s early student drawings, a personal journal dating to 1889, landscapes executed in France, seascapes, nocturnal cityscapes of Brook­lyn and New York City, as well as the Bucks County seasonal landscapes for which he is best known. Hooked rugs, furniture, and craft-type objects made by the artist are also on view. The title of the exhibition derives from a comment made by fellow artist Albert Sterner after viewing one of Redfield’s landscapes in 1939. Sterner told Redfield that the work, “painted as you always paint, from the shoulder,” impressed him with its “just values and fine seeing.”

“Edward W. Redfield: Just Values and Fine Seeing” will remain on view through January 9, 2005.

The Redfield retrospective is one of three major shows at the museum celebrating leaders of Pennsylvania impressionism. “The Cities, The Towns, The Crowds: The Paintings of Robert Spencer,” installed by the museum at the Wachovia Gallery in Doylestown, is on view through Sunday, September 19. Featuring outstanding examples from the fifty-nine Pennsylvania impressionist works of art given to the museum in 2000 by Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, “The Lenfest Exhibition of Pennsylvania Impressionism” is a long-term exhibit.

For more information, write: James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, PA 18901; telephone (215)340-9800; or visit James A. Michener Art Museum website. Admission.

 

Doctor! Doctor!

From its beginning, Hershey has been a community concerned with the health and well-being of its residents, no doubt due to the paternal beneficence of its founder, confectioner and philanthropist Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945). Nine­teenth-century medicine in rural America was fairly typical, with only a handful of dedicated physicians charged with the care of an entire community or area. Painkillers were primitive; antibiotics non-existent. The first public health care center in Hershey opened in 1921, followed three years later by the creation of the Hershey Hospital, a facility boasting ten beds, an operating room, and rudimentary x-ray equipment. Eventually, the Hershey Hospital merged with the Hershey Hospital School, and in 1966 ground was broken for the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine. With larger and better-equipped facilities came huge strides in treatments, including the introduction of sulfa drugs, specialization in specific areas of medicine, and a focus on biomedical research.

Chronicling the advances of health care in the Dauphin County community from 1857 through the present, “Say Ahhhh: A History of Medicine in Her­shey,” is on view at the Hershey Museum. The exhibition uses historical objects and artifacts, vintage images, and oral histories to trace the evolution of treatment from the home use of mustard baths for patients suffering from pneumonia to the role of the medical center in organ transplantation and artificial heart research. Among the variety of medical items included in “Say Ahhhh” are the old Hershey Hospital’s 1940 LaSalle ambulance, equipment used by local physicians and pharmacists, operating room furnishings, and photographs depicting technological breakthroughs first realized at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Oral histories compiled by medical historian Kym Salness offer firsthand memories of the polio scare of the mid-twentieth century, popular home remedies and treatments, and the close-­knit relationships that community residents enjoyed with their family physicians.

“Say Ahhhh: A History of Medicine in Hershey” will continue through May 2005.

To obtain additional information, write: Hershey Museum, 170 West Her­sheypark Dr., Hershey, PA 17033; telephone (717) 534-3439; or visit Hershey Museum website. Admission.