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.

Kingdoms Come

Edward Hicks (1780-1849), one of the best known of America’s folk painters, was a native and Lifelong resident of Bucks County, and a devoted Quaker preacher and missionary. His images of The Peaceable Kingdom, inspired by the Book of Isaiah‘s prophetic vision of a peaceful world in which “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie with the kid,” are among the most beloved in American art. For Hicks, painting portraits or other “vain” and “self-indulgent” forms – although relatively lucrative – was incompatible with his religious beliefs. To satisfy his creative impulses and his Quaker convictions, he devoted most of his energies to painting inspirational and instructive subjects.

The artist’s life and artistic ambitions will be explored in “The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks,” a comprehensive exhibition of unprecedented scale opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday, October 10 [1999]. Featuring more than eighty original works of art, the exhibition will include paintings and decorated objects, as well as important manuscript materials that illuminate Hicks’ deep spirituality, artistic talent, and the intense doctrinal controversies that divided his fellow Quakers in the early years of the nineteenth century.

A man of strong faith, the artist lived in two worlds (or “kingdoms”): the religious and the secular. “The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks” will examine the distinctions between his religiously-inspired paintings and the secular works he created to earn a living. Highlighted will be two dozen representations of The Peaceable Kingdom, a subject Hicks treated in more than one hundred paintings dating from the early 1820s to 1849. Works of great visual charm, his evolving explorations linked the parable to William Penn’s legendary (but unsubstantiated) treaty with the Lenape or Delaware Indians, and reflected his great concern with growing dissent among the Quakers. The Peaceable Kingdom became the artist’s most compelling personal and artistic testament.

In addition to important examples of The Peaceable Kingdom, the exhibition will feature rural landscapes and pastoral scenes, including An Indian Summer View of the Farm and Stock of James C. Cornell (1848) and A May Morning View of the Farm and Stock of David Leedon (1849), his final painting; an advertising signboard (circa 1800-1805); decorated furniture; and A Por­trait of Edward Hicks (1838-1841) by his nephew Thomas Hicks (1823-1890). “The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks” will also include revealing artifacts, among them his palette, register of paintings, letters, and copies of his published memoirs.

“The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks” will continue through Sunday, January 2, 2000.

Complementing “The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks” is a spectacularly thorough exhibition entitled “Worldly Goods: The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680-1758,” also on view from Sunday, October 10, 1999, through Sunday, January 2, 2000. The exhibit will explore, for the first time ever, the decorative and fine arts of early colonial Pennsylvania and the lower Delaware Valley, a period of great influence on following centuries. “Worldly Goods” will showcase more than three hundred and fifty examples of furniture, textiles, silver, metalwork, ceramics, prints, maps, books, and paintings created between 1660 and 1758.

Crucial advances in technology, scientific inquiry, philosophy, and commerce during the colony’s first eighty years tremendously influenced and transformed the tastes, manners, and mindset of its earliest inhabitants. In Philadelphia and its environs, these advances were most apparent in both the facades and interiors of public and domestic buildings. Entire cities and towns were shaped by this emerging aesthetic, and confirmed founder William Penn’s 1683 pronouncement that, “I must with vanity say, I have led the greatest colony into America.”

“Worldly Goods: The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680-1758,” will also illuminate the experience of diverse cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious groups of the region, including Native Americans, Jews, Catholics, French Huguenots, Swedes, African Americans, and slaves and indentured peoples, and their contributions to the broader cultural landscape.

Both exhibitions will be accompanied by copiously illustrated catalogues.

For more information, write: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646; telephone (215) 763-8100; or visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art website. Admission is charged.


Miles of Tiles

Throughout its history, the city of Erie, strategically situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie in the northwest corner of the Commonwealth, has served as the principal port for its western portion. In the early decades of this century, Erie’s manufacturing industries enjoyed tremendous growth, which coincided with the great era of ceramic tile making in the United States. Construction of new housing, schools, churches, a theater, a department store, and a zoo in Erie called for extensive installations of decorative tiles manufactured by leading tile makers of the period, including Rookwood, Grueby Faience, Moravian Pot­tery and Tile Works, Batchelder, and Flint Faience. The search for historic tiles in the community, initiated two decades ago by scholar Cleota Reed, has identified nearly one hundred individual installations at more than twenty locations.

Researchers discovered some of the city’s most interesting and unusual tiles in its public schools, several of which were designed by St. Louis architect William B. Ittner, a leading innovator of American public school design. Ittner’s East High School, demolished to make way for a new facility, contained twelve highly unusual landscape tile panels, which were rescued for placement in the new, state-of-the-art East High School.

To emphasize the significance of the community’s historic tiles, the Erie Art Museum will open “Poems in Clay: Arthur Osborne’s ‘Plastic Sketches’ for the Low Art Tile Works” on Thursday, October 21 [1999]. The exhibit features sculptural tiles designed by Arthur Osborne (1855-1942) during his association with the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works of Chelsea, Massachusetts, from 1879 through the late 1890s. The J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works, a successful and award-winning concern, was founded by artist John Gardner Low in 1877.

The exhibition focuses on the Low Art Tile Works’ “Plastic Sketches,” which Os­borne designed and modeled in the 1880s. These decorative art tiles are low-relief sculptural images, press-molded by hand, and designed to be framed and hung as works of art. Transparent color glazes were applied to the tiles, imparting a sense of light, transparency, and atmosphere to the images. No other tile maker, in England or the United States, had taken this approach to tiles, treating them as art objects worthy to be displayed like paintings.

Osborne, who was Low’s chief modeler, immigrated to the United States from England. He was artistically versatile, able to produce intricate and distinctive designs. Inspired by various cultures, nature, and mythology, he depicted animals, birds, people, and classical and genre scenes. In addition to the “Plastic Sketches,” Osborne designed hundreds of individual tiles for the company, many of which decorated the interiors of both residential and commercial buildings. They were used in embellishing fireplace surrounds, vestibules, doorways, and borders. Os­borne’s tiles are highly sought by tile collectors.

Arthur Osborne left the company in 1898 to return to England and establish his own business in Faversham, Kent, where he designed and produced his own “Ivorex” plaques for many years.

“Poems in Clay: Arthur Osborne’s ‘Plastic Sketches’ for the Low Art Tile Works” continues through Sunday, March 5, 2000.

From Wednesday through Sunday, Oc­tober 20-23 [1999], the Erie Art Museum and the Tile Heritage Foundation, Healdsburg, California, will host a landmark symposium entitled “Tiles of Erie: Preservation and Possibilities.” The event, supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, will feature an exhibition, lectures, toms, workshops, discussions, activities for children, and a tile festival.

For more information, write: Erie Art Museum, 411 State St., Erie, PA 16501; or telephone (814) 459-5477.


Pop on the Easel

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was born in his family’s two-room apartment on Orr Street in Pittsburgh. By the time of his death in New York fifty-nine years later, he bad been working prolifically as an artist for nearly four decades and his fame and influence extended throughout the world.

Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh’s Carpatho-Rusyn community, whose culture and Eastern Rite Catholicism his mother passed on to her children. Julia Warhola constantly reminded Warhol of his heritage by sharing with him the news of her family members living in Eastern Europe and telling him stories and anecdotes about life there.

A frail child, Warhol spent much time alone. His mother nursed him through critical illnesses and shielded him from the taunts of peers intolerant of the boy who did not take part in their games and sports. Having artistic inclinations of her own, she recognized her son’s talent early on and encouraged him in various art activities She realized her son was unusual and possessed the potential to lead a creative life removed from the strenuous physical demands of work in Pittsburgh’s industries. Warhol went on to study art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). After graduation, he moved to New York.

Warhol was joined by his mother in New York three years later. The two lived together, and Julia Warhola continued to cook and care for him. They even collaborated on several art projects. Although Warhol was involved in a frenetic social life with New York’s cultural avant-garde and glitterati, his mother insisted he attend mass. Just as she had shepherded him through the anxieties of youth and the frustrations of an artist’s Life, Julia Warhola stood by him as his most caring and comforting source of security and encouragement until her death in 1972.

Andy Warhol changed attitudes toward art and artists in unprecedented and indelible ways. During the fifties, when he was one of the most celebrated graphic designers in New York, artists were not widely considered as being engaged in a serious profession. In the course of his career, which took him from commercial artist to radical innovator, filmmaker to portrait painter, diarist to publisher, shy observer to international celebrity, Warhol played a major role in establishing artists as leading figures in American life.

In addition to garnering greater respect and recognition for artists and their activities, Warhol set an example of apparently unlimited options in the creative process by extending the scope of his work to include film and video, as well as the worlds of fashion, dance, music, and publishing. He brought to his fine art the discipline, inventiveness, and varied techniques he had developed as a commercial artist, graphic designer, and illustrator.

Of his many art forms, Warhol is probably best known for his vibrant, multiple silkscreen prints that explore the icons of popular culture – celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as the famous Campbell’s Soup can. Through Sunday, November 21 [1999], the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown is showing “From Soup Cans to Nuts: The Prints of Andy Warhol,” featuring some of the artist’s most celebrated images. The works are drawn from the collection of Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum.

“From Soup Cans to Nuts,” a first for the greater Philadelphia area since an astonishing show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1965 drew four thousand people to the opening, examines his printmaking activities from 1964 to 1987 through lithographs on paper and screenprints on wallpaper, vinyl, paper, and museum board. Included are the quintessential pop images he created as a result of his fascination with American popular culture, as well as a variety of series, which were more artistically ambitious.

In the 1960s, Warhol began incorporating ideas about consumerism, commercial processes, and the latest machine technology – all of which he had become familiar with in the fifties while working in advertising. He appropriated visual images directly from popular culture: comics, magazine advertisements, film stills, and promotional photographs of movie stars. He also consulted friends and other artists working in diverse disciplines for ideas. “I was never embarrassed,” Warhol said, “about asking someone, literally, ‘What should I paint?’ because pop comes from the outside, and how is asking for ideas any different from looking for them in a magazine.”

Some of Warhol’s first pop pictures were made by hand; in other works, though, his hand was scarcely evident. To make his pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, he made silkscreen prints of photographs, which he colored. He had adopted the methods of mass production to make images of celebrities who were themselves mass-produced. They existed not only in flesh and blood, but in millions of likenesses on the silver screen and in newspapers and magazines. They were infinitely reproducible. Similarly, Warhol’s images were hybrids of photography and printing and (for that flesh and blood) a few strokes of paint. Popular pieces in the exhibit include Liz (1964), S & H Green Stamps (1965), Self-Portrait (1967) Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) (1967), Campbell’s Soup II (1969), Mao (1974), Jane Fonda (1982), and Grace Kelly (1984).

Several special events accompany “From Soup Cans to Nuts: The Prints of Andy Warhol.” On Wednesday, October 20 [1999], Michael McGonigle, resident film expert at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will give a talk entitled “Artists on the Big Screen.” He will discuss how moviemakers have portrayed artists such as Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Following the lecture, the museum will screen Basquiat, a film starring David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Jeffrey Wright, Gary Old­man, and Dennis Hopper. The film looks at the life of Basquiat and his meteoric rise from living on the streets on New York, to the heights of the art world in the early eighties, to his early death from drugs. The museum will host a Warhol Dance Party on Saturday, October 23, recalling the heady days of Warhol’s New York with music from the sixties and seventies. Art historian Lori Verderame will present a lecture entitled “American Art Since 1950” on Wednesday, November 10. Her talk will offer an overview on Ameri­can art at mid-century, including work by the postwar artists of the New York School, such as Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler; the pop art icons of the sixties, such as Warhol and Roy Licht­enstein; the earth art and women’s art movements of the 1970s; the eighties “shock of the new” art; and the art trends of today.

To obtain more information, write: James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, PA 18901-4931; telephone (215) 340-9800; or visit the James A. Michener Art Museum website. There is an admission charge.