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.

Moore Is More

As early as 1915, acclaimed American poet Marianne Moore (1887-1972) had discovered the artists and writers who were shaping what was coming to be known as the “new art.” Comments contained in her notebooks indicate her early grasp of the significance of the New York Armory Show of 1913, a benchmark in the American Modernist movement. In several lengthy letters to her family, Moore described in detail her visit to photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s famous Gallery 291. Moore’s surviving correspondence is an invaluable docu­ment of the writers and artists closely associated with Stieglitz, among whom were Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, John Marin, Francis Picabia, Georgia O’Keefe, and Alfred Kreymborg.

“Making it New: Marianne Moore and the Visual Artists,” on view at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, explores the interaction of writers, painters, and photographers who made up the American avant-garde during the early decades of the twentieth century. This period was marked by a remarkable collaboration among artists who came together to share, discuss and, most importantly, support each other in the brave endeavor Ezra Pound called the “Great American Risorgimento.” The exhibition sheds light on an extraordinary era when extraordinary individuals came together in the common cause of “making it new.”

“Making it New” features rare archival material documenting Marianne Moore’s relationships with the period’s leading painters and photographers. Complementing Moore’s papers are works by artists with whom she was associated, including painters Charles Sheeler, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, and Marguerite Zorach, and photographers Doris Ullman, Lotte Jacobi, Man Ray, Carl Van Vechten, Alice Boughton, Steichen, and Stieglitz.

Among the many strong individualists who formed the Modernist movement, Marianne Moore stands out as an original. Her verse reflects not only her informed interest in European and American culture, but also responds to the disrupted patterns of life during World War I. Making a break with the poetry of the past, her work contains quotations from, and allusions to, everything from a Flemish tapestry to the New York Times, and embraces bits and pieces of archaeology, Chinese philosophy, and the National Geographic. The splicing of such diverse material by what Pound called “the logic of juxtaposition” became the hallmark of Moore’s work.

Moore was the recipient of major awards and honors in American poetry, beginning with The Dial Award for Observations in 1924. For four years, beginning in 1925, she served as editor of The Dial, the sophisticated journal of arts and letters in the twenties. Her Collected Poems (1951) brought her national attention by winning the Bollingen Award, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

Marianne Moore’s association with Pennsylvania runs deep. Born in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, she moved with her family in 1894 to Allegheny City, now part of Pittsburgh, and later to Carlisle, Cumberland County, where she attended the Metzger Institute. In 1905, she entered Bryn Mawr College, majored in history and politics, and worked for the school magazine Tipyn o’Bob. She pub­lished her first poem in the magazine in February 1907 during her sophomore year. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in June 1909, after which she attended the Carlisle Commercial College. For three years she taught “commercial subjects” at the Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, where one of her pupils was Jim Thorpe (see “A King Crowns the World’s Greatest Athlete” by William C. Kashatus III in the fall 1996 edition). Moore left Carlisle in 1916 and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, and later New York. She died in Greenwich Village, three years after arranging for the gift of her literary and personal papers to the Rosenbach Museum and Library.

In addition to her papers, Moore planned a bequest of the furnishings from her living room of her Greenwich Village apartment – which were moved to the museum shortly after her death in 1972 – with the stipulation that it install and maintain the room as a perpetual memorial. In 1995, the Friends of Libraries USA designated the Moore Room a literary landmark.

The Moore Archive includes virtually all of the poet’s manuscripts and a collection of letters from (with carbon copies to) three thousand correspon­dents, including W. H. Auden, e. e. cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Pound, among others. The manuscript collection includes many of her poems and prose pieces, supported by working notes, drafts, and proofs. Moore’s notebooks, filled with reading notes, conversation and lecture notes and drawings, reveal items used later in her writing. These extensive holdings make the Rosenbach Museum and Library the world’s leading resource for Moore scholarship and an important repository for students of twentieth­-century American literature.

“Making it New: Marianne Moore and the Visual Arts” continues through Sunday, March 2, 1997.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library preserves and develops collections of rare books, manuscripts, and works of art to foster appreciation of literature, history, and art. The collections were assembled by A. S. W. Rosenbach (1876- 1952), a preeminent rare book dealer and collector, who owned or brokered some of the world’s greatest masterpieces (see “The Man Who Bought Alice in Wonderland” by Linda Kowall in the winter 1988 issue).

For more information, write: Rosenbach Museum and Library, 2010 Delancey Pl., Philadelphia, PA 19103; or telephone (215) 732-1600. Admission is charged.


New Museum

One of the country’s most significant museums, the National Canal Museum in Easton, Northampton County, was opened in 1996 by the Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums. The new facility is located at Two Rivers Landing, a seventy thousand square foot cultural attraction located on Easton’s historic Centre Square. Two Rivers Landing is also home to the Crayola Factory and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Visitors Center.

The National Canal Museum addresses virtually every aspect of canal history, from the work of early surveying crews to everyday life on a canal boat. The museum offers visitors a firsthand opportunity to discover the country’s illustrious canal history and to explore what the world was like before railroads, highways, and aviation. Interactive, “hands-on” exhibits inspire exploration and offer unusual experiences; for example, visitors may operate a model of a canal lock and pilot boats through it. Dramatic lighting and murals create a sense of history as a canal boatman recounts tales of life on the canal, which are interspersed with traditional canal songs. The museum’s exhibits explain the ways in which the construction and operation of canals in Pennsylvania contributed to the success of the anthracite (hard coal) trade and iron industry of the nineteenth century. Visitors can also inspect the re-created living quarters of a canal boat.

Mule-drawn canal boat rides on the Lehigh Canal in Hugh Moore Park, just minutes away from Two Rivers Landing, allow visitors to experience the excitement of America’s canal era. Aboard the Josiah White II, visitors will see canal-related sites and attractions, including a restored locktender’s house. The mule­-drawn canal boat rides may be taken from April through October each year.

For more information about the National Canal Museum, including changing and permanent exhibitions, schedule of activities and events for 1997, and travel directions, write: National Canal Museum, Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums, 30 Centre Sq., P. O. Box 877, Easton, PA 18044-0877; or telephone (610) 250-6700. There is an admission fee.


A Celebration

Since its opening in 1988, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown has energetically collected, preserved, and interpreted works of art reflecting Bucks County’s rich artistic heritage spanning two centuries. With holdings of more than a thousand works of art, the museum is a major repository of paint­ings, sculptures, and works on paper from the colonial era to the present. The collections include significant works by artists associated with Pennsylvania impressionist and New Hope schools, as well as important pieces by American primitive painters, limners, and mod­ernists. Writer James A. Michener and his late wife, Mari Sabusawa Michener (1920-1994), made their first contribution to endow the museum in 1988, and have played an active and lasting role in supporting the institution.

A recently opened wing, named in honor of Mari Sabusawa Michener, offers an additional seventy-four hundred square feet, enabling the museum to expand its scope beyond the visual arts. The wing contains permanent and changing exhibition spaces, a featured artist exhibition area, video theater, family education center, seminar room, and interactive artist database.

The Mari Sabusawa Michener Wing was designed to harmonize with the Romanesque Revival style architecture and building materials of the museum’s main structure, located within old stone walls of the former Bucks County Prison. Erected in 1884, the original prison structure was designed by well known Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton.

One of the highlights of the new wing is an unusual permanent installation, “Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists,” that traces the impact made by twelve Bucks County residents on the country’s culture, entertainment, and thought in the twentieth century. The names of these dozen individuals featured in this interactive exhibition are known throughout the world. The project was first suggested to museum officials by Michener himself in 1992.

I had always wanted the museum to be not only in honor of the fine painters of Bucks County but also the writers. The painters came first – they established the playing field, as it were …. But the writers were even more famous than the painters, and they came along about twenty years later, like me – Johnny-come-latelys – but they were a sterling group of people: Pearl Buck with the Nobel Prize, Hammerstein with a Pulitzer, Kaufman and Hart with their Pulitzer, me coming along at the tail end with mine – a very good group of writers.

“Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists” explores the lives and careers of literary and dramatic geniuses who, at one time, called the county home. The exhibit honors writer, philanthropist, and Pulitzer Prize winner Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature; Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960), one of this century’s greatest lyricists and author of numerous Broadway musicals, including Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Carousel, The Sound of Music, and Showboat; Moss Hart (1904-1961), one of America’s premiere dramatists and leading stage directors, who won a Tony Award in 1965 for directing My Fair Lady; George S. Kaufman (1889-1961), drama editor for the New York Times and playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for the political satire Of Thee I Sing, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin; Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), acerbic wit and prominent member of the famous Algonquin Round Table, who won the O. Henry Prize for her short story “Big Blonde”; S. J. Perelman (1904-1979), “America’s lampoonist laureate,” a regular contributor to The New Yorker and winner (with two others) of an Academy Award for best screenplay adaptation for Around the World in Eighty Days; and Jean Toomer (1894-1967), one of the major figures of a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, a flowering of African American culture that took place in New York during the 1920s, and author of the critically acclaimed book Cane.

Artists featured in “Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists” include Daniel Garber (1880- 1958), recipient of nearly every major award available to an American artist and member of a distinguished group of artists who Jived and worked in Bucks County during the first half of the twen­tieth century; Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965), whose work is found in the collections of many of the most important museums in the United States and Europe; Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), photographer and painter whose six works were featured in the landmark 1913 Armory Show that introduced to American audiences such European masters as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso; Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930), a visionary whose love of history prompted him to establish what is today the Mercer Museum and whose admira­tion of craftsmanship led him to establish the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, both in Doylestown; and Edward Hicks (1780-1849), arguably among the most significant American primitive painters of the nineteenth century, best known for his many versions of The Peaceable Kingdom.

“Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists” is accompanied by a book which serves as the definitive history of the arts in the county. The Genius Belt opens with a reflective, anecdotal essay by James A. Michener, “The Golden Years,” which describes his personal connections with Bucks County’s artistic community. Four chapters written by leading biogra­phers focus on the visual arts, theater works, and crafts traditions, as well as the important writers and artists who lived and worked in the area. The Genius Belt is available for purchase at the museum.

Michener, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific, grew up in Doylestown and maintained a residence in Bucks County for more than thirty-five years, remain­ing active in area affairs (see “You Can Go Home Again: An Interview with James A. Michener” by Michael J. O’Malley III in the winter 1993 issue). Mari Sabusawa Michener was born in Las Animas, Colorado, the daughter of a farmer who had left Japan in search of a better life in the United States. She met her husband in December 1954 at a luncheon arranged to introduce him to people who could provide information for a magazine article on Japanese war brides for Life. They were married the following year.

The James A. Michener Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 A. M. to 4:30 P. M.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 A. M. to 5 PM. Admission is charged.

Additional information may be obtained by writing: James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, PA 18901-4931; or by tele­phoning (215) 340-9800.