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Art and Craft

…and the Craft of Art

“I am thinking of architecture all the time I am awake.” — Ernest Gimson

The evolving story of architect and native son Anson Tennant has made him more than a “one-hit wonder”: He gained a backstory and found a future, for which I am grateful to Dr Bob. The good doctor’s query, “Does he have to die?”, rescued Anson from the Lusitania and gave him a family of his own — a wife, children, a trade. His architectural practice began officially in 1912, in office space bartered in the Wasserman Block for professional services. And that space, with its Dutch door and stained glass window — his window on the world — served another related purpose when his family thought he’d gone down with the ship.

The psychology behind that choice — what to do with a substantial physical artifact that would remind his family every day of their loss — presented three options: #1) preserve Anson’s office as a mausoleum, filled with “him” but not himself; #2) retrieve and few special objects, meaningful to the office, and have a garage sale, neither of which were particularly attractive. Option #3 developed from a suggestion outside the family: Anson “died” on his way to England (with shipmates Mr and Mrs Elbert Hubbard, who were lost at sea) to meet figures of the Arts & Crafts movement and see firsthand some of their product, and bring that philosophy home. So, Martha and Jim and some of their friends established an Arts & Crafts Society and endowed it with the office-apartment Anson had created as studio; a place to meet, to present lectures and exhibits (albeit for small audiences); and to offer a place for visiting craftspeople to stay during their time in Agincourt.

As with so many other aspects of community development — people, places, things, events, rumors, love and death — it put our minds in motion. How would this infant institution function? Who would become its operatives? What would be its/their program(me, for British readers)? I have some notions.

Ernest Gimson: Arts & Crafts Designer and Architect

A very recent book on Ernest Gimson by Annette Carruthers and two co-authors is one of the most comprehensive treatments of any character of the British A&C movement, save William Morris himself. Gimson may not have been a household word here in the U.S. but his case is a persuasive one, crammed with ideas to harvest and transplant in Midwestern soil — with apologies for the agricultural metaphor.

There are some characters already present to be involved with this. Others will emerge as the writing progresses. Feel free to share your own ideas. [I make that offer often but few take me up on it.]

Deep Thought

42

“The great supercomputer Deep Thought is the most powerful computer ever built, with on exception.

“It was designed by hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings, who wanted to know the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everthing.

“Its creation annoyed a fair few philosophers, who felt that it was taking over their turf.

“After seven and a half million years of serious cogitation, Deep Thought spoke the answer. However, it was so inexplicable that Deep Thought then had to go on and design the most powerful computer ever built (with no exceptions) to work out what the question was.”

— BBC Radio 4

Douglas Adams may have been as suspect of deep intellectual speculation as the writers of “Saturday Night Live” when they created Stuart Smalley. I have my own opinions but we know what they’re worth on the open market.

If it seems that in these pages I have attempted to dazzle you with my own cogitation, there was no such intention. That being said…

Several of the entries in this blog have resonated one way or another with the handful of readers with some time on their hands and an open mind. I appreciate your comments and suggestions, especially when my text resonates with some personal aspect or memory. The story of Nina Köpman, for instance, came from nothing personal, but seemed to me to typify the emigrant story during a portion of the American Experience. Miss Köpman, it turned out, was an echo of reader’s grandmother’s story and for that confirmation I am deeply grateful.

The question du jour is simple: Should I measure this project’s worth by the number of visitors or the earnestness of their comments? Consider the question asked and answered.

Ariadne F. Naxos [born 1959]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa.]

NAXOS, Ariadne F. (born 1959)

Fortress of Solitude

2020

oil on canvas / 16 inches by 16 inches

The title suggests a connection with Kal-El, a fictional character from popular culture better known as Clark Kent. But the image itself is more reminiscent of the conclusion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the creature’s trek north into the arctic and oblivion. Ms Naxos attended the Atelier Fusilli in Rome where she studied with Sergio Carbonara.

This and another of her works have been given to the collection in honor of the “Baron Corvo Festival” held at Northwest Iowa Normal College in 1913 — with the hope that it will be staged again soon.

David Hahn [contemporary]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

HAHN, David (contemporary)

“Moonlit Pasture”

oil on canvas panel / 8 inches by 10 inches

n.d.

Hahn is a contemporary Bucks County artist represented by several galleries. One of them says of him that:

Hahn’s work strives for an atmospheric harmony and symmetry that evolves from the landscape. His compositions are achieved by a balancing of color, bringing contrasting hues into areas dominated by opposing colors, thus, creating a mosaic unified by the patterns of light. The reality of trees, brooks, and waterfalls loose themselves in a visual transcendent poetry.

In his twenty years of painting, Hahn has studied other American Impressionists, Edward Redfield and his student, George Sotter, in particular, giving his style roots in the French Impressionism of the 19th Century. Many Americans, Redfield among them, studied under the French Impressionists and brought the school of thinking back to this country. The Pennsylvania Impressionism that evolved from this trans-Atlantic school has many distinctive painters, each seeking to transfer the energy of a moment’s vision onto canvas.

Hahn has exhibited throughout Bucks County and has taken top awards in several of the area’s juried shows, among them are the Tinicum Arts Festival, The Riverside Festival of the Arts, and the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts. He has, also, been the subject of three one man exhibitions at the Stover Mill Gallery in Tinicum Township. In April, Hahn was awarded Best of Show and Honorable Mention in the Doylestown Art League’s 2006 47th Annual Members Juried Show. In July 2006, he was awarded Honorable Mention at the Tinicum Arts Festival. In 2007, he was awarded the George Christian Award in the Doylestown Art League’s Juried Exhibition, 4th prize in the Lititz Juried Art Show and 2nd prize in the Tinicum Arts Festival. In September 2007, Hahn participated in the 78th Juried Art Exhibition at Phillips Mill.

The melancholy color palette invites comparison with another small work, “Woman in a Park at Evening“, a much earlier piece by Antonio Maria Aspettati.

This is one of a group of five works given anonymously in memory of Amity Burroughs Flynn.

Edmund E. Niemann [1909-2005]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

NIEMANN, Edmund E. (1909-2005)

“Plateau”

ink and casein on paper / 18 inches by 22 1.5 inches

n.d.

The collection’s second work by Niemann, this is even more abstract than “Stop on Red” and with greater contrast in tone and value. That the collection is not rich with abstraction may be a comment on either local taste or the availability of art in the regional market.

This is one of a group of five works given anonymously in memory of Amity Burroughs Flynn.

Eric Kahn [born 1949]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

KAHN, Eric (born 1949)

“Waterfront View of New York”

oil on canvas panel / 13 1/4 inches by 15 1/4 inches / signed

n.d.

Eric Kahn (Born 1949) is active/lives in Pennsylvania, New Jersey. Kahn is known for landscape painting. This is one of several view we have of the New York harbor at several points in its history.

This is one of a group of five works given anonymously in memory of

Joseph C. Claghorn [1869-1947]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

CLAGHORN, Joseph C. (1869-1947)

“Hill Country”

soft ground etching / 8 7/8 inches by 9 7/8 inches (image)

n.d. (ca1930)

Philadelphia born, Joseph Conover Claghorn (1869-1947) was active/lived in District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania as a painter and etcher whose subjects included landscapes, figures, portraits, and buildings such as Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He was also an instructor in arts and crafts and is known for a mural he painted for the Chamber of Commerce in Florida.

This is one of five works given anonymously in memory of Amity Burroughs Flynn.

Cecil Tatton-Winter [1896-1954]

[From the Community collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

TATTON-WINTER, Cecil William [1896-1954]

Parliament Square, London

etching / 11 inches by 14.5 inches (image)

1920s

The son of William Tatton-Winter, “Cecil served in the army during the First World War, and considered making the army his career, but took his father’s advice and became an architect instead, also producing etchings and paintings in watercolour.” Though the artistic conception here was by Tatton-Winter, it was etched by Edward King, who has also signed the print.

This is one of five works given anonymously in memory of Amity Burroughs Flynn.

Martin J. Slattery [1928–?]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

SLATTERY, Martin Joseph, jr [born 1928]

Manhattan

oil on canvas panel / 16 inches by 20 inches

1940s

Compare this urban abstraction with the slightly larger “Stop on Red” by Edmund Edward Niemann. Niemann was a highly regarded mid-century New York City artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Slattery on the other hand is known only from this single painting, yet they both represent mid-century abstraction of a high quality. How Slattery came to the attention of the Bendix family is uncertain, though we continue to research his identity.

Seymour Remenick [1923-1999]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

REMENICK, Seymour [1923–1999]

Portrait of a Man

undated (but probably circa 1950s)

oil on wood panel / 8 inches by 6 inches

Agincourt’s longstanding association with Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley dates from its founding in 1853. The story of those origins is celebrated on “Founders’ Day” but it is also reflected less obviously in the Community Collection. Seymour Remenick‘s portrait of an unidentified subject is one instance.

Remenick studied art successively at three schools, finally at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA) where he taught in the 1970s. Diane Huygens (born 1928), daughter of Gerrit and Truus Huygens of rural Grou, studied art in Philadelphia during the 1950s and may have known Remenick as faculty or a fellow student. This portrait comes to us from the Huygens family in memory of their aunt Diane.