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.

Journey in Time

Prom the first interior scenes of Pennsbury Manor, in which light seems to caress each object-pewter bowl, chair, blanket chest-viewers of “Historic Pennsylvania: A Journey to America’s Past” will know this is masterful cinematography. As the camera moves a short distance from the mansion’s front door to the lush banks of the Delaware River, a dazzling journey to the historic homes, workplaces, battlefields, and other landmarks of the Commonwealth is about to begin.

The showcase one-hour presentation, to be broadcast statewide on public television during pledge drive weeks in March, guides the audience chronologi­cally through twenty historic and more-contemporary sites, including Independence Hall, Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Museum, the State Capitol, Eckley Miners’ Village, Hopewell Furnace, Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, and Falling­water. An evocative soundtrack with special audio effects, traditional as well as original musical arrangements, and brief narratives accompanies the images.

And what images they are! A dreamlike, bird’s-eye view of the great Flagship Niagara as wind majestically fills her sails. In the next frame, with the camera now on board, the ship rises and falls to the rhythm of bright blue waves. Stately cannon, replicas of those used in the War of 1812 victory over the British, stand like dark sentinels. Below deck, the camera lingers on quarters that were home to men who made Naval history.

Moving from a vessel of war to a community founded on peace and Christian hope, “Historic Pennsylvania” visits Old Economy Village, nineteenth-century communal home of the Harmony Society in Ambridge. A prosperous German-style village, established on utopian principles and three thousand acres of land north of Pittsburgh, it was fur more culturally oriented and affluent than mo.st frontier towns of the period. Beauty, refinement, personal enterprise – all are reflected in exquisite scenes of calm and innocence reminiscent of the work of artist Johannes Vermeer. Piano and stringed instruments in the music room, richly stocked shelves in the community store, the print shop with its wooden flatbed printing press, and the formal garden lend themselves to ideal still-life scenes of rare grace.

“Historic Pennsylvania” offers a new and compelling vision to each and every site it visits, bringing alive, for example, the bucolic atmosphere of Hopewell Furnace, an ironmaking community, with its barns and horses and sheep. A water wheel gets special, close-up attention – filling the frame as a nearly abstract object.

At Gettysburg, the tranquillity of the countryside is offered in sharp contrast to the soundtrack of guns and cannon, and, seeing row upon row of simple tombstones, viewers will recall the real meaning of those sacrifices, At Landis Valley Museum, the camera sweeps across wood.en desks of a school, each with its own slate. At Clayton, the mansion of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in Pittsburgh, the lavish table settings, luxurious furnishings, and especially the Social Register of Pittsburgh lying on the desk convey the power and privilege of great industrial millionaires of the past.

Every scene offered in this quietly moving and engaging documentary brings home the richness of the Commonwealth’s legacy. Few states, says program producer Beth Hager, “can match the diversity and national significance of Pennsylvania’s historic places. In some ways, this production is a tribute to the hundreds of men and women who work hard to preserve these sites and keep them open to the public.” It is thanks to them, says Hager, that the production staff was able “to imagine so dearly what the sites looked like in their heyday.” “Historic Pennsylvania: A Journey to America’s Past” was produced by public television station WITF, Harrisburg, and is sponsored by Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania.

For more information about the program, or to order video cassettes and audio compact discs or tapes, write: “Historic Pennsylvania,” WITF, P.O. Box 2954, Harrisburg, PA 17105; telephone (717) 236-6000, visit the WITF website or contact your local public television station for broadcast dates in your area.

 

King of Pop

On February 22, 1987, Andy Warhol, the most influential American artist of the second half of the twentieth century, died in a New York City hospital while recovering from what should have been routine surgery.

Ten years after his death, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, where he was born, has gained recognition as one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. Approximately nine hundred paintings, seventy-seven sculptures and collaborative works, fifteen hundred drawings, hundreds of photographs, and extensive displays of related archival material are shown together and offer an integrated presentation of Warhol’s artistic development.

“Everybody,” wrote Warhol in 1985, “has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see. When I was little, I never left Pennsylvania, and I used to have fantasies … about things that I thought … I was missing out on. You live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.”

Throughout his career, Warhol brought his own dreams of fame, glamour, the unknown, the fearful – and by extension, the dreams of ordinary Americans – into a framework of art. Often maligned for creating works that did not meet “high art” standards, Warhol’s importance nevertheless grew over the thirty year period in which he worked and his role is now universally recognized as pivotal in contemporary culture.

His accomplishments extend far beyond redefining art, for he also revived the ability of art to address the public at large. With his use of symbol-laden people and objects – Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Campbell’s soup cans – he created icons of the living beliefs of ordinary men and women.

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928, the youngest of three sons of Julia and Andrej Warhola, eastern European immigrants. At age seventeen, he enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and upon graduation in 1949 moved to New York, where he became a leading commercial artist. By the end of the 1950s he had turned his attention to the realm of fine arts, and by the beginning of the 1960s was exhibiting his pop art paintings and sculpture – including Heinz Boxes, Marilyns, and Campbell’s Soup Cans – in New York and Los Angeles. Death and disaster also became his subjects in images of car crashes and electric chairs.

Warhol used a Polaroid camera to take the source photographs for commissioned portraits and carried a small tape recorder to record every detail of his activities – at his studio, known as the Factory, at parties, at the grocery store. He also began shooting 16mm films in the early 1960s, including Empire, The Chelsea Girls, and Lonesome Cowboys.

In 1969 he founded Interview, a magazine which brought together his interests in film, fashion, and the portrayal of glamorous people and events. In the 1970s and 1980s, Warhol produced some of his largest and greatest paintings, including Skulls, Shadows, and Last Suppers.

The Andy Warhol Museum collection includes drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, film, audio and video tapes, and an extensive archives which consists of ephemera, records, source material, and other documents related to the artist’s life and to postwar American pop culture. The museum, located on Pittsburgh’s North Side, is one of the Carnegie Museums, and is a collaborative project of Carnegie Institute, Dia Center for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. It is housed in the handsome, renovated Frick and Lindsay Building, an eight-floor office and warehouse structure, and in a three-story addition.

For more information write: The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212-5890; or telephone (412) 237-8300. Admission is charged.

 

Visions of Home

For more than two hundred years, the character of this nation, particularly as represented in the arts, was imbued with the spirit of the western frontier. But by 1890, with the disappearance of that frontier, a new national identity was being sought – not in the open expanses and Edenic wilderness that had been celebrated by such movements as the Hudson River School of painting – but in a fresh appreciation of the distinctive character of familiar and settled places.

Writers such as Willa Cather described the qualities of specific regions, and visual artists sought to emphasize the individual appearance of the locales where they lived and worked. Often painting their own homes and property or those of fellow artists, American Impressionists helped establish the post­-frontier vision of the country. They depicted places where the indigenous terrain was still evident and where the land’s inherent features had been accepted and enhanced rather than radically changed by its inhabitants.

Their works reflected the concept that there was still an American preference for the natural over the civilized, but that the freshness of nature once found in untamed wilderness could also be found in familiar settings. In views of suburban and country homes and their surroundings, American Impressionists revealed the preferences of their time in their depictions of gracious dwellings set harmoniously in semi-cultivated plots of land and often linked with abundant gardens.

A collection of these images will be shown at Dickinson College in the Trout Gallery of the Weiss Center for the Arts from Friday, April 4, through Saturday, June 14 [1997]. Entitled “Visions of Home: American Impressionist Images of Suburban Leisure and Country Comfort,” the exhibit features thirty-five oil paintings of gardens and homes by many of America’s foremost artists at the turn of this century. Borrowed from museums and private collections, the presentation includes works by William Merritt Chase, Philip Leslie Hale, Dennis Miller Bunker, Daniel Garber, William Chad Wick, Edward Redfield and Abbott Fuller Graves, among others.

Paintings selected for the exhibition offer such aspects of the suburban and country home and its surroundings as old farmhouses converted to summer places or suburban homes, lush wild­flower-filled gardens extending from the backs of houses, and communities of summer homes set in sunlit river valleys. The exhibit clearly demonstrates that American Impressionists drew inspiration from specific social and cultural developments during the period from about 1890 to 1925, when new modes of transportation combined with a growing antipathy to city life resulted in the widespread development of suburban and resort communities settled largely by the middle class. Seeking to escape from anonymous, boxlike, airless, and cramped city dwellings – yet not retreating to rural farms with their rough realities and concern for self-sufficiency – these new residents established private and personalized environments that were meant to be beautiful, comfortable, and linked with nature. These views of home grounds are strikingly different from those of French Impressionists, who generally painted Parisian and urban scenes, as well as coastal and river views.

A catalogue accompanying the exhibit will include an entry for each painting that identifies the site and architectural aspect of each image and analyze how artists chose to present their subjects both through their choice of motifs and their stylistic treatments.

For more information, write: Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013-2896; or telephone (717) 245-1344. There is no charge for admission.

 

American Tradition

Spanning four decades and including more than fifty paintings by fifteen artists, an exhibition of Pennsylvania Impressionist artists wiU be held from Sunday, April 13 to Sunday, July 13 [1997] at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg. “An American Tradition: The Pennsylvania Impression­ists” includes works by Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, John Folinsbee, Walter Schofield, and William Lathrop, among others. They represent a core group of Pennsylvania Impressionist artists who painted the natural beauty in and around Bucks County at the turn of the century. Less well-known artists such as Fern I. Coppedge, Walter E. Baum, and Elizabeth Price are also included (see “Painting a Sense of Place: Walter Emerson Baum and the Lehigh Valley” by Martha Hutson-Saxton in the spring 1997 issue).

The Pennsylvania Impressionists, who painted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, turned away from the preferred urban scene and industrial subject of the Ash Can school, choosing instead to focus on the landscape which most of them painted from nature.

For more information, write: Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 North Main St., Greensburg, PA 15601; or telephone (412) 837-1500. Admission is free.