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.

When Worlds Collide

History, politics, and art collide in a newly opened exhibition of works by renowned illustrator N.C. Wyeth (1882- 1945) and his grandson, James Wyeth (born 1946), at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Delaware County.

One Nation: Patriots and Pirates Por­trayed by N.C. Wyeth and James Wyeth brings together eighty draw­ings and paintings that challenge viewers to find their own defini­tions of “patriot” and “pirate,” primarily in the political arena. The collected works of the two artists, a genera­tion apart, chronicle the changing attitude of the nation regarding patriotism from the be­ginning of the twentieth century to the present.

From 1912 until his death, when Newell Convers Wyeth was extremely productive, the United States was embroiled in two World Wars. Wyeth, whose illustrations have been traditionally characterized as “quintessentially American,” was called upon by the United States government to create images and propaganda posters depicting Uncle Sam and brave fighting troops in World War I and World War II, in effect creating symbols of patriotism.

Wyeth also illustrated books such as Poems of American Patriotism, Cease Firing, and The Long Roll depicting historical fig­ures such as Paul Revere, George Washington, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Growing up, James Wyeth encoun­tered a nation unlike the one his grandfather had known. He came of age in a time of turmoil, when both the atti­tudes of the nation and the definition of patriotism were often different. Being “pa­triotic” meant marching in protest – as well as marching off to war. An acclaimed painter, James Wyeth witnessed and recorded momentous events that defined the attitudes of the nation, such as the Vietnam War, Watergate, and journeys into space launched by the National Aero­nautics and Space Administration (NASA). One of his best-known portraits, Draft Age, depicts a young man in a black leather jacket and dark sunglasses, the picture of defiant American youth during the Vietnam era.

The artist gradually fos­tered a close relationship with people in Washington, painting a posthumous but nonetheless defining portrait of President John F. Kennedy, apparently in a moment of indecision. Robert F. Kennedy said Wyeth’s painting made him think of the way his brother looked during the Bay of Pigs invasion. In 1974, Wyeth attended the Watergate trials and congressional hearings as a commissioned artist for Harper’s Magazine, recording events as they unfolded. He also participated in the “Eyewitness to Space” program, jointly sponsored by NASA and the National Gallery of Art to record details of space probes conducted by the United States.

One Nation: Patriots and Pirates Portrayed by N.C. Wyeth and James Wyeth is an exploration – as well as a celebration – of twentieth-century America. Continuing through Monday, September 3 [2001], the exhibition brings to life the innocence and deceit, and the promise and disappointment, faced by Americans of the twentieth century in the vibrant art of two generations of America’s best-known family of artists.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue containing more than one hundred images by N.C. Wyeth and James Wyeth, and essays by television journalist Tom Brokaw, David Michaelis, author of N.C. Wyeth: A Biography, and Lauren Raye Smith, curator of the exhibit.

For more information, write: Brandy­wine River Museum, P.O. Box 141, Chadds Ford, PA 19317; telephone (610) 388-2700; or visit the Brandy­wine River Museum website. There is a charge for admission; group tours are available with advance reservations.


Discovery Center

At the beginning of the last century, Johnstown, in Cambria County, stood at the forefront of an industrial revolution that was changing the look of America and the life of Americans. Efficient, modernized steel production in the community’s mills was helping to drive the United States to its place as a leading industrial power. Pennsylvania’s process­ing plants were churning out millions of tons of iron and steel for a new America­ – for railroads, warships, bridges, skyscrapers, and common nails. During this exciting and frenetic period, John­stown became home to thousands of men and women who journeyed to America in search of a better life in a new land. Between 1870 and 1914, millions were leaving Europe in one of the greatest waves of mass migration in world history. For the first time, entire families of common people who had been oppressed or persecuted in European countries gained power to change their own destinies. Immigration to the United States marked a dramatic turning point for the European peasants and storekeepers who would supply the muscle for a new industrial economy. Struggling against hardship and severe prejudice, these newcomers eventually succeeded in making a good life in America.

Johnstown’s immigrants were, in their own right, history-makers; they were ordinary people whose contribution to the rise of industrial America was extraordinary. They enriched beyond measure the life and culture of a changing city and country by keeping traditions, values, and customs alive for their families and fellow residents.

To explore the plight and the promise of life in America, specifically in the Cam­bria County seat, the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, recently opened by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, has unveiled a long-term exhibit entitled America: Through Immigrant Eyes. The exhibit recreates the environments encountered by immigrants after they left the portals of Ellis Island. The exhibit immerses the museum visitor in the sights, sounds, even the smells, of Johnstown at the opening of the twentieth century. Through interactive media, the visitor enters the world of immigrants who sought work in the mines and mills of the Cone­maugh Valley a century ago. As they enter the exhibit, visitors receive a card with a photograph of one of eight fictional characters. When these cards are inserted into interactive displays, the exhibit responds differently to each of the personalities.

For instance, the story of Polish immigrants is told through the accounts of Josef, a twelve-year-old peasant, and Ste­fan, age twenty-one, a migrant farmhand. The Slovaks speak though nine-year-old Anna, a peasant girl, and Prokop, a butcher who is twenty-nine. Visitors may tour with Andrej, a twenty-four-year-old farmhand, of Katerina, age thirty, a goose farmer of Hungary. Other personalities are nineteen-year-old Italian peasant, Maria, and Mosha, a thirty-six year-old shop­keeper from Russia.

The immigrants’ stories begin in the Old Country but quickly move to an interactive video station where today’s museum visitor can actually experience what is was like to be interviewed at Ellis Island. A nearby exhibit area creates the sights and sounds of a busy railroad station where a panoramic video depicts the newcomers disembarking from trains in Johnstown, many of them being reunited with family and friends.

In a segment entitled “The Neighbor­hood of 1907,” residents of four different tenements talk on topics of their day­ – whether or not a family’s twelve-year-old-son should go to work in the mines, how to divide a steelworker’s meager wages, an accident in a steel mill, and plans for a daughter’s marriage. Other audio-visual exhibits present a bar mitz­vah, a Ukrainian wedding, and an Italian funeral. The neighborhood exhibit also includes a butcher shop (in which a homemaker buys meat on credit), a steamship agent’s office, a boarding house, an ethnic social club, and a clothier that was the forerunner to Glosser Brothers Department Store, a Johnstown landmark for many years.

Interactive exhibit stations give visitors a taste of life and work in steel mills and coal mines. Museumgoers actually feel the heat and see the flames and sparks in the recreation of open-hearth steel furnace. The section devoted to coal mining depicts a gruesome mining accident and gives visitors an opportunity to work at picking tables, where rock is separated from coal by hand. A “picking boss” will rate pickers on their skill.

One of the concluding areas of Amer­ica: Through Immigrant Eyes, the Generations Theater, presents videotaped interviews with the children and grandchildren of Johnstown immigrants. They talk about what life was like for their ancestors in carving our a new life in a new world, but they also reflect on issues common to the second generation in the United States: obtaining an education, moving out of the settlement neighborhood, and marrying outside of one’s nationality.

The exhibition invites visitors to share their personal stories through the use of four interactive computers called History Jukeboxes. These jukeboxes record visitors’ voices and images and add their stories to the center’s archives for future reference and sharing with others.

The Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center is located at Broad Street and Sev­enth Avenue in the community’s Cambria City Historic District.

For more information, write: John­stown Heritage Discovery Center, P. 0. Box 1889, Johnstown, PA 15905; telephone (814) 539-1889; or visit the John­stown Heritage Discovery Center website. There is an admission charge.


Driving It Home

As Pittsburghers celebrated the open­ing of their new baseball stadium, PNC Park, this past spring, the Frick Art and Historical Center unveiled Driving It Home: A Baseball Exhibition showcasing Pittsburgh’s players, teams, and ballparks from 1909 through the 1970s. Installed at the center’s Car and Carriage Museum, the exhibition features photographs, works of art, artifacts, memorabilia, and ephemera on loan from a number of insti­tutions and individuals.

Driving It Home offers visitors an excit­ing opportunity to survey the history of baseball in tandem with another of Amer­ica’s unquenchable passions: the automobile. Vintage vehicles contribute to this portrait of American life in the early twentieth century – when both the game and motor travel attracted popularity – ­which suggests the exhibition’s title. The exhibition melds the cultures of art, sport, and automobiles in an exhibition appeal­ing to a wide spectrum of audiences. The interest in baseball and automobiles, for instance, crosses many boundaries.

The exhibition features a collection of photographs documenting great moments and figures in baseball history. Images by Barney Stein, legendary photographer of the Brooklyn Dodgers, portray the drama of the game. Stein’s photographs also depict many of the celebrities drawn to the game, both spectator and player, including shots of Marilyn Monroe kicking a soccer ball to open a game at Ebbets Field, Jackie Robinson stealing home under Yogi Berra during the 1955 World Series, and a crestfallen Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca after throwing the home-run pitch that enabled the New York Giants to win the final game of the 1951 playoffs. Pictures by Pittsburgh’s noted African American photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908-1998) capture the Pittsburgh Craw­fords and the Homestead Grays, National Negro League teams, playing baseball at Forbes Field and Greenlee Field.

The rotunda of the Frick Art Museum provides another distinct perspective on the game with works of art such as Philip Evergood’s The Early Youth of Babe Ruth (circa 1939), William Morris Hunt’s The Ball Players (1871), Arnold Friedman’s World Series (undated), and Raoul Dufy’s The Ball Park – Boston (circa 1950). Original anima­tion drawings on paper from several cartoons – among them Casey at the Bat/Make Mine Music, Casey Bats Again, How to Play Baseball, and Motor Mania are on public view for the first time ever from the Animation Research Library of Disney Enterprises, Inc. Visitors can also watch the actual cartoons in the complex’s video theater.

The exhibition includes three murals depicting Pittsburgh’s ball fields, including a large work by Pittsburgh artist Tom Moser, on loan from the permanent collection of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a digital view of an arcade at Forbes Field designed by Len Martin.

A number of Pittsburgh baseball leg­ends are honored in the exhibition with the inclusion of memorabilia, works of art, and automobiles that recount their personal stories. Following his retirement in 1917, Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner (1874-1955) owned a Regal car dealership. Driving It Home features a 1911 Regal Un­derslung Raceabout, in addition to Wagner’s caps, an autographed ball, and his gold lifetime pass to major league parks. For the exhibition, the Carnegie Mu­seum of Art lent Frank E. Bingham’s 1910 gelatin silver photographic print Honus Wagner. Roberto Clemente is remembered in the exhibit with a 1960 Pirates team pen­nant, his cap from the 1972 season, an autographed ball used in the last game at Forbes Field, and a team jersey. A video of Clemente in action during a 1960 World Se­ries game is being shown daily. Other Pirates players featured in Driving It Home are Pie Traynor, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, and Wille Stargell. Representing the Pittsburgh Negro League players are Buck Leonard, “Cool Papa” Bell, and Josh Gibson (see “Josh Gibson, The Heartbreak Kid” by John B. Holway, Fall 1994).

Driving It Home: A Baseball Exhibition re­mains on view through Sunday, July 29 [2001].

To obtain more information, write: Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Pittsburgh, PA 15208-2923; telephone (412) 371-0600; or visit the Frick Art and Historical Center website. There is a fee for admission.