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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Urgent Action Needed: Please vote "no" on Cainhoy Proposal

Please voice your opposition to the following city officials, whose email addresses are linked below.
For your convenience, here's a text you can freely use:
Dear Sirs,
I have been made aware of tonight's vote on the Cainhoy development proposal and strongly urge you to vote no, so that the voices of all stakeholders may be heard.  I stand with the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Coastal Conservation League, the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Charleston Foundation, and residents of Cainhoy in opposing a plan that does not adequately protect our shared cultural heritage.
Sincerely,


Urgent Action Needed: Cainhoy Development Project (Background facts)

While scrolling through my inbox today I received the following message from the Preservation Society of Charleston:


Dear Friends,
On Thursday, February 6, 2014, in the 3rd floor meeting room of 75 Calhoun Street, at 5 p.m., the City of Charleston's Planning Commission will vote on whether to approve a Master Plan for the development of the 9,000 acre Cainhoy Plantation. We urge all of our members to attend this meeting and ask the Planning Commission to vote "no" on this request.
The Preservation Society opposes the plan because it does not address the following issues:
  • It does not provide sufficient protection for historic structures on site and St. Thomas - St. Denis Church
  • It does not provide adequate protection for historic landscapes, roadbeds, and cemeteries
  • It does not provide protection for archaeological resources along the Cooper and Wando Rivers
  • It fails to consider development impacts on adjacent historic communities
The Preservation Society stands in support of other groups such as the Coastal Conservation League, the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Charleston Foundation, and residents of Cainhoy who also advocate for the protection of the historic and environmental resources of Cainhoy Plantation.

While at first this might seem like a local issue, the loss of significant cultural heritage is something that should concern us all.  What can you do?  Well, you could write an email and make yourself heard.  In part two of this post, you'll find the email addresses of those you can write to, and even a simple text to make your life easy.  It will literally take two minutes of your time and, quite frankly, is a good thing to do.  
 5 reasons why Cainhoy matters
  • Site of first porcelain production in Colonial America.
  • Site of 1819 St. Thomas -St. Denis Church
  • Proximity to the Cooper River Historic District
  • Rich archeological evidence 
  • Proximity to the Francis Marion National Forest 







Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Call for Papers: 4th Annual Emerging Scholars Seminar

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms and the American Fine and Decorative Arts Program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art seek submissions for the Fourth Annual Emerging Scholars Symposium to be held at the Stickley Museum on Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Craft and the Machine: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives”

One of the overriding concerns of craft reformers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries was the degree to which mechanization should be integrated into craft production.  On the one hand, Irene Sargent echoed anti-machine sentiments in Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman when she wrote “The slave of the machine must follow its movements at the peril of his health, sanity and life… He is in all things the opposite of the master craftsman…” Yet, at virtually the same time, Frank Lloyd Wright argued the opposite: “The great ethics of the Machine are as yet, in the main, beyond the ken of the artist or student of sociology; but the artist mind may now approach the nature of this thing from experience, which has become the commonplace of his field, to suggest, in time, I hope, to prove, that the machine is capable of carrying to fruition high ideals in art – higher than the world has yet seen!”  We seek papers about craft—broadly construed as both historical and contemporary work—that sheds light on the complexities of this subject.  Less a binary opposition than a strategy that reformers and practitioners employed to connect with audiences, we welcome papers from diverse periods and media that address the role of the machine in craft production.  What sort of strategies—myths even—did practitioners and reformers use?  What do these anxieties signaled by craft tell us more broadly about the cultures that produced them?


We invite current graduate students and recently graduated scholars to submit proposals for 20-25 minute papers that critically examine these issues.  Please direct any questions to:

Jonathan Clancy
Director, American Fine and Decorative Arts Program
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York

Submission Guidelines:
Please submit the following by July 21, 2014:
·       A one-page abstract of your topic with title.
·       A current c.v.

All submissions will be reviewed by August 1 and you will receive an email with the decision about your proposal.

Accepted proposals must submit a final draft of the paper by September 7th, 2013.

Participants must be able to attend the symposium in order to deliver their paper.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Americana Week Part 3: Folk Art

While I lament the general lack of concern shown for Americana by many of my peers outside the field, there's one aspect of the market that continues to bring material to the forefront and helps push the sales upward: folk art.  Forget for a minute that the term is impossible to cogently define, as the Esmerian sale demonstrated, good folk art makes people go slightly crazy.  Why?  I have my theories, some of which may be useful.  The first is that there is generally an abstract quality to the works which appeals to many generations, for a number of different reasons.  I think younger generations relate to the work as contemporary in form, and see a formal resonance with the post-war art that they have been raised on.  Spanning all generations (to my mind) is the association of integrity to the pieces, a belief that artists unencumbered by formal training have something more substantially individual and unique to say than trained artists working in an established style.  This dovetails with the general quest for things authentic and vital that arose during the Industrial Revolution and accelerated as the 20th century became increasingly mechanized and corporate.  The commodification of simplicity as honest and authentic has a long history which I see the current fad for folk and outsider art as belonging to.  That said, I am somewhat at a loss to explain how the highest priced figure in the sale was Samuel Anderson Robb's carved Santa Clause, from 1923, which sold for $875K.  Perhaps the combined forces of the folk market and the timeless appeal of Santa were simply too powerful?  In any event, this was an exceptional sale of 227 lots that realized just under $13M.  To put this in context: that's more than Christie's silver, Christie's Furniture, and the Sotheby's furniture sales combined.  It is difficult to guess who is happier at the moment: Nancy Drucker who brought this to market, or Ralph Esmerian's creditors who will finally be paid.  The loser in all of this, it should be remembered, is the American Folk Art Museum, to whom the collection was a promised gift.  While the chance to see the objects, and the incredible work of Nancy Drucker promoting and selling is commendable, I couldn't help but feel that the pieces belong were taken from the folk art museum, not through any fault of their own, but through the inexcusable and unethical actions of a donor.  That these represented probably the finest publication of the museum in modern memory, and that they gained a certain caché as a result of this association, only to be ordered sold as an asset is the real travesty behind this monumental sale.  Hopefully, some of the pieces will find their way back to the Folk Art Museum through the generosity of donors and supporters.

The sale started off with a bang, and was generally unrelenting.  An oval, glazed earthenware dish seemed to stall momentarily at its low estimate of $40K, before finally realizing $281K.  There was a brief respite and steady sales, a few lots passed, but just 17 lots later a poplar spice cup more than doubled its high estimate and sold for $245K.  Just ten lots later a painted pine hanging cupboard (with spoon shelf) went for $209K, well over the $80-120K estimate--and just 26 lots into the sale mind you.  A rare green glazed Rudolph Christ fish flask?  $53K!  Jacob Mantael's John and Caterina Bickel? $401K!  A pair of portraits attributed to John Durand? $389K.  A Ruth and Samuel Shute painting? $665K  A rare Boston sampler estimated at $30-40K? Try $233K on for size.  A painted pine box (with hearts, always a good thing)?  How about $209K.  If you needed a miniature checkerboard chest to go with it?  Just $377K.  And what about rugs you ask?  Well, a knitted wool rug attributed to Elvira Curtis Hulett and estimated at $8-12K sold for $161K.

The pent up demand for folk art that this sale spoke to is indicative of continuing strength in this sector of the Americana market, but one should be cautious too.  All too often after a sale like this, you'll see the market flooded with similar items as people awaken to the realization of what their objects could be worth.  Unfortunately, it sometimes does not occur to these people that the prices they see were the result of pent up demand, and that without competing bidders to bolster the prices, there is little chance of seeing these prices again, without new players entering the market.  Once you remove the top bidder from a sale, it's not the underbidder that matters, but where his underbidder stopped that helps determine the price.  Sometimes, this is well below the sale prices and often a shock to those who consign pieces in the hopes of striking it rich quickly.  

Americana Week Part 2: Sales and Such

Americana week is really all about the sales (or to be honest, the previews, since most of the items are beyond my price point).  Maybe it's just me, but I always sense a certain nervousness about these sales as auction houses, collectors, and scholars wonder whether the market will be able to maintain forward momentum.  Prices realized ultimately matter, but so do the season's offerings.  In many ways the market for American furniture and decorative arts is facing similar crises to other established markets--the Old Master's market comes to mind--as much of the field's best material has been removed from the market into museums and foundations.  If, for scholars anyway, this is a good thing since the public is more able to view items, and since objects are more easily accessible, the reverse is true for the auction houses, which have to make do with much less.  In addition, there is the persistent challenge of getting a younger audience interested in the field.  For reasons that I don't quite comprehend, my own generation (not to mention those younger) seem more comfortable plunking down their money at Pottery Barn than they do at auction.  They'll go to Design Within Reach and spend more for a reproduction often than they would by visiting Wright Auctions, or David Rago's modern sales.  What this means for the market is that the great objects which come up are generally insulated from the downward pressure of prices, while the middle and lower sections of the market continue to struggle.  This was in abundant evidence this week in the major sales at Christie's and Sotheby's.

Christie's struck first, and had a number of exceptional lots to offer including items from the estate of Eric Martin Wunsch.  It should be noted that they did this even while continuing to have a September sale (Sotheby's did not).  The Christie's sale totaled just over $5.6m on 136 lots, and saw six lots exceed the quarter million dollar mark.  By the contrast, the Sotheby's sale netted more than $5.4m for 428 lots, with one lot exceeding the quarter million dollar mark (all figures include premiums).  If we add in the results for the silver sale at Christie's (which makes sense as the Sotheby's sale included silver) the Christie's total exceeds $7.3m for a total of 225 lots, with an additional lot passing the quarter million dollar mark.  It was a strong performance, and Andrew Holter (a Sotheby's American Arts Course alum, by the way) an John Hays deserve a lot of credit for continuing to find property and bring it successfully to market.  

Some highlights from Christies included an exceptional silver bowl, made by Cornelius Vander Burch in New York, ca. 1690, which went for $317,000 and set the high water mark for silver this week at auction.  A Philadelphia tea table, probably from the shop of Benjamin Randolf, ca. 1770, sold for $905,000.  The storied pedigree of the table (at least in the twentieth century), is indicative of the persistent desirability of the table.  Beginning in 1929, when it was exhibited and illustrated in the Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition, the table remained with the Keep family, until it was acquired by Israel Sack in 1966.  From there, it went into the Wunsch family collection, continued to receive accolades, and was illustrated in in Wendy Cooper's In Praise of America (1980).  Albert Sack thought it worthy of inclusion in his 1993 The New Fine Points of Furniture and since the 1990s it has been referenced in a number of important sales catalogs from both Sotheby's and Christies.  The Chipstone Foundation continued to deaccession objects to benefit acquisitions, and sold the Deshler Family Chair, which brought in $725,000.  

 The star of the show, in terms of performance vs. expectation, was surely the Octagonal sewing box, attributed to Thomas Seymour and painted by John Ritto Penniman.  The modest estimate of $3-5,000 made even the lowliest of collectors think they might have a chance at this box (I'd buy it for that price).  When the smoke cleared after bidding, and the final price of $125,000 was realized, it became clear that exceptional quality and rarity, even in a seemingly small item, continue to thrive in this market.  If there was hiccup or two at Christie's (certainly the Wunsch chair that passed at its $200-300K comes to mind), the general tenor of the sale was strong, the quality of merchandise very good, and buyers seemed eager.

The Sotheby's sale started more quietly, and if the Audubon prints proved a dependable way to get things rolling, any assurances that the sale would go smoothly quickly evaporated with the frankly dismal performance of the export porcelain (lots 17-70).  Then the silver portion of the sale (lots 72-166) struggled mightily.  While many lots just reached their estimates (if premiums are included) a number of lots failed to generate sufficient interest to sell.  In a particularly grim stretch of ten lots (90-99), only four sold.    The high point was a piece of Southern silver, a Thomas You bowl made in Charleston, ca. 1765 which went for well beyond its $20-30K estimate and finally was bought for $53,125.

Furniture at the Sotheby's sale fared better, and here the efforts of Erik Gronning (another alum) and Leslie Keno deserve credit for getting salable property even in a tight market.  As expected, the major northeastern producers (Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Newport) continue to be strong in sales and fine examples, such as the Chippendale side chair, ca. 1765 from Philadelphia performed well for Sotheby's.  The standout of the furniture was a classical work table, ca. 1815 from Boston, that went for more than twice the high estimate of $60K.  It was somewhat curiously listed as "the property of various owners" suggesting perhaps that a number of dealers or investors had gone in on this and brought it to auction.  

All of these figures, however, were dwarfed by lot 319, a decoy of an eider drake, carved about 1900 probably on Mohegan Island, by an unknown craftsman.  Having never been offered publicly before, the decoy surpassed its high estimate of $500K and realized a whopping $767K.  As the catalog noted, "This is arguably the most sophisticated of all eider decoys, with flowing lines and stylized abstract paint worthy of a Zen calligrapher."  Whether or not that's true, it does provide a fitting transition to part 3 and allow me to wrap things up here.  I leave you with the following thought: the folk art market is apparently alive and well, and amongst the strongest performers of Americana Week.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Americana Week 2014: Part 1

Yes, it's here, Americana week, and although it seems as though it occurs as regularly as my blog posts of late, my new year's resolution is to correct that.  Let's hope it sticks.

The nexus of several important shows--the Winter Antiques Show, the New York Ceramics Fair, The Metro Show, and the Armory Antique Show--as well as major sales at Christie's and Sotheby's forms the backbone of Americana week.  Sandwiched in between all of these events are the other events, the openings, the Wunsch Americana Foundation Awards, the lectures, the private gatherings, and the dinners.  Even for the most excited of Americanists, this week can try one's stamina.  Add to that temperatures in the single digits for much of the day and scurrying between events seems like a cross between Antiques Road Show and the Iditarod.

The New York Ceramics Fair is a real treat, and the opening on Tuesday night (Jan. 21st) might be a useful place to start Americana Week.  For starters, the opening night tickets at $90 are a real bargain, and perhaps the best value in the city.  Second, the show is extremely manageable in size; it thus rewards close looking, a second visit, and a chance to handle a variety of ceramics from Ancient through Contemporary.  In fact, once you give in your ticket, they stamp your hand with some sort of spooky black light dye that allows you to visit again and again--for the whole run of show--without any additional admission.  More shows might consider this as a way to reward visitors and increase the chance for sales by encouraging, not deterring, repeat visitors.  Opening night was a who's who in ceramics (collectors, dealers, designers, editors, and museum people), with the likes of Ralph Harvard, Joe Gromacki, Robert Hunter, and Mary Mills all spotted on the floor.  Virtually everything is available from classic stoneware and glass from the Stradlings, to early English Pottery from Garry Atkins, and ancient pottery from Anavian Gallery.  Those favoring contemporary ceramics with a strong tradition of craft and exquisite technique were rewarded by the presence of Cliff Lee, who brought exquisite examples of his hand-carved porcelain to the show, and Michelle Erickson, whose ceramic forms span historical reference and post-modern, assemblage sensibilities.  Though at first glance, their works seem to be in polar opposition, these ceramists in some ways define the best of the current field.  United by a dedication to their craft and exquisite technical skills, the work of Erickson and Lee resists the crass decorative quality of much of contemporary work and firmly asserts the notion--seemingly lost in much of fine art and craft today--that the success of the object is more than an idea; artistry is the combination of thought and skillful execution, not just a novel idea.  What's refreshing about both of these artists is their willingness to discuss the craft, the process of their work, and their willingness to patiently instruct you on the subtleties that you might over look.  Instead of rejecting historicity and craft as something passé, both artists play with historical associations, reference history, and yet are able to bring these into contemporary voices that are strong, resonant, and talented.

Wednesday is in some ways a day to breathe, except if you are on the vetting committee of the Winter Antiques Show.  So, yes, I vetted all morning, had a lovely lunch in the afternoon, and after a quick break to get some work done I headed over to Christie's for the Wunsch Americana Foundation awards.  In some ways, it felt more like the Met than an auction house, as curators Morrie Heckscher and Peter Kenny gave remarks and introduced the evening's honorees: Linda Kauffman and Dick Jenrette, two individuals whose contributions to American Decorative Arts, scholarship, and bettering the public discourse of objects is difficult to overstate.   The Kauffman gift to the National Gallery of Art is simply astounding, and the impact on the field--through enhanced public visibility, education, and familiarity with early American furniture--will be felt for years to come.  If you haven't gone and seen it, you should.  It's a beautiful blend of furniture that even includes southern examples, something all too rare in many museum collections outside of the South.  Similarly, though perhaps more quietly, Dick Jenrette's Classical American Homes Preservation Trust has worked since 1994 to bring this important aspect of American history to the public.  It's an amazing gift that both of these individuals have given, and one certainly worthy of honoring.

Thursday is another busy day: one must figure out what to cram in and see before the opening of the Winter Antiques Show that evening.  I have always found opening night somewhat magical, especially in the transformation between the choreographed chaos that accompanies vetting day into the elegant splendor of the opening reception.  Within 24 hours, the floor of the armory changes radically.  Gone are the union workers, the lifts, the debris and detritus of the set-up; lights are in place, carpets laid, labels hung; works shine in the booths, people smile (rather than scowl) and the physical transformation of the space echoes the emotional transformation of all involved.  It is simply a night to enjoy.  Sales will be made, wine and hors d'oeuvres consumed, outfits worn and commented upon: it remains one of the most enjoyable nights of the year--a time to see old friends and acquaintances, to make new ones, and to glimpse at or examine the best of what the field has to offer in a given season.  Selfishly, too, it is also a time to check up on my students, since they intern at the Winter Antiques Show each year.  During the course of two weeks, they see an art fair intimately, and work all aspects of it.  From the opening day's rush and loading in to the scurrying before the opening to the quiet pattern that emerges once the show is up and running, my students see it all, work it all, and get to experience a fair from the inside.  This means they not only help with show set up, press inquiries, and mundane tasks like staffing events or handing out brochures, but they also work with dealers, with vetters, and with the public at large.  I can think of no better way for them to learn about the business and am grateful for the support of Elle Shushan and Executive Director Catherine Sweeney Singer who make this happen each year.

That seems like enough for a post without pictures, more to follow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Boston, Salem, and the Fall so Far (part 2)

The first longer trip we took this semester (we'll be traveling to Charleston, SC, then Philadelphia and Delaware later this semester) was to Boston and Salem.  I should preface this by saying travel is a bit of an exaggeration, since we did an absurd amount of sitting in the train due to a system wide meltdown that affected all train traffic in Connecticut.  We were supposed to leave Penn Station just before 7:00 and arrive in Back Bay Boston by noon.  When we got to the hotel at 2:30, it was clear that students felt both annoyance and relief (are we there yet?), but we had lunch to eat, art to see, and we make the best of it.

Our first stop was the MFA Boston, and this is great museum.  We're especially lucky to have Gerry Ward (Senior consulting curator, and recipient of the first Wendell Garrett prize) teaching the first semester of American Decorative Arts and grateful that he takes us around the museum when we come to Boston.  Since he knows the collection so well, and since he teaches with many of the MFA's objects, the students get a chance to see them up close and personal, to ask questions about the objects that didn't occur to them during the lecture, and to physically confront objects.


This allows Gerry to continue to make connections with the objects, to talk about the impact of display and the choices made by the curatorial team, and to keep reviewing material with students in a manner that deepens their understanding and improves their learning outcomes.  We arrived at the MFA by about 3:30.  Three hours later, we had made it through about two floors.  He takes him time and we are always grateful for that.  


Additionally, and quite unexpectedly, Nonie Gadsden joined us too.  You may notice a strange, tricycle-like apparatus beneath her right leg.  Injured, but back at work, she spent time with the students talking through individual pieces (here we are in a silver gallery of sorts, and she's speaking about the influence of English design forms on American Colonial production), but also about the aesthetics and messages conveyed by display.  Those who haven't been to the MFA should go, because the aesthetic experience of the galleries (from the scale of the rooms, the mixture of paintings and decorative arts, the choices of wall color and even wallpaper) are a much different interpretation of museum context than the Metropolitan Museum of Art's.  In some ways, this also seems to reflect the organization of the respective departments, which seems to reflect more deeply held core values: the Met has a strong sense of specialization and the separateness of objects, the relative paucity of integrations seems to reflect this.  By contrast, the curatorial appointments at the MFA seem more broadly constructed, and the emphasis on integration of disparate media seems in line with a team of curators whose work extends broader ranges of media and time.

You may also have noticed by my annoying tendency to defocus things that in addition to traveling, I have taken a shine to instagram.  But I digress, the experience is what is important to convey, not my photographic aspirations.  Because of the train fiasco, we missed the Gardner museum on Wednesday, pushed it to Thursday, and all retired after twelve hours of art and travel.  There was probably dinner, but days like this (getting up at 4:00 to meet students by 6:30) are exhausting.

The next day was a bit of a chronological whirlwind, but it is not always possible to match the trip to the specific moment they are studying (in truth, it is always possible, but doing so would mean that they do not see things they should experience).  With that in mind, with some travel realted readings under their belt and additional resources, we made our way to the first stop: the Boston Public Library.  In some ways, it's useful to see this before the Gardner, because next to Sargent's masterful work in El Jaleo, the murals are frankly a bit dry and underwhelming.  While the controversy surrounding the installation of Church and Synagogue, and the backstory of the public reaction to these murals is interesting historically, there is a bit of gap between aesthetic and historical interest that is usually not present in Sargent's work.  Nonetheless, the library is a real testament to civic spaces, and the additional work by MacMonnies, French, and Puvis de Chevannes tells a story about the public decoration of buildings that is not always easy to accommodate in narratives of art and history.  To me, aside from the addition by Phillip Johnson, this is among the most successfully executed civic spaces of the period of the nineteenth century on.  There is a real sense of harmony in the parts--as disparate as they are--and a sense (not always evident in the study of American art) of the international tastes of architects, and the exposure to international art by the general public.


Here's an example of the type of imagery from Sargent's murals that I don't find aesthetically compelling.  Yes, in terms of technique, theme, and history one can make an argument for this, but truth be told, this is Sargent at his driest.


There are flashes throughout the cycle of the technical brilliance he is known for, but--and perhaps the long duration of the commission contributed to this--there is no real sense of cohesion to it.  Later artists realized that this was a problem, and thus Jacob Lawrence in completing the Great Migration cycle worked on numerous panels at the same time, so that there would not be a stylistic shift, even in a more compressed period.  


The grand staircase, with murals by Puvis designed to echo the collections holdings, is simply a stunning space.  From the BPL it was a quick jaunt across Copley Square, and soon we were treated to the best tour of Trinity Church I have ever received.


This is my attempt to make a contemporary view of Trinity Church resemble a period photograph, and again seems to exhibit my fascination with Instagram.  [Those desiring to learn about the travel we do can search #maafda (this program) or #sothebysinstitute (the school in general)].  In any event, whereas all of the tours I have taken in the last four years have begun inside, and relied upon my knowledge of the project to explain the exterior before we began, Trinity gave us an amazing guide who started with the exterior and explained to the students what was Richardson's work, and what elements were later additions.  

Here, we are standing between the old and new, looking at the space containing Richardson's initial exterior (behind the students, with the doors) and the later addition of this porch which provides a transitional space into the church's narthex.  What's exceptional (to my mind) is the manner in which Richardson varied the capitols on the columns, choosing all native species as the basis, but giving the church a real sense of sweep and motion that is both breathtaking and likely unnoticed by most visitors. Here's an artful shot of some of the capitols.


The exterior of Trinity is stunning, and yet it no way prepares you for the interior by LaFarge and his assistants.  It's quite honestly the type of space that makes me want to go to church.  Blending paintings, stained glass, text (some of it not even real) and decoration, it simply is one of the most beautiful religious spaces in the United States.  It's rare that in a slide, in a classroom, sitting in a standardized desk / chair, that students can ever get the feeling of a space.  They can understand the decorative scheme, but fundamentally--at a very deep and almost instinctual and pre-cognitive level--architecture is about the relationship of self to space.  If you want students to understand this, you need for them to experience it, to see how subtle shifts in natural light change dynamics of color and contrast, to be able to hear the difference in their footfalls in enclosed versus open spaces.  I'm lucky in this regard because the program I run allows for this to happen through travel.


Photographs and images of interiors, to my mind, are useful to the degree that they allow you to recall the experience of spaces, or to the degree that they prepare you with knowledge to understand the spaces you will visit.  They are not, however, a useful substitute for the experience of space, but remain instead a poor substitute for that.  Trinity Church is simply overwhelming and rewards close looking, frequent return visits, and time.

We then went from the sacred to the secular (after lunch, of course, these students demand food), and took a short T ride to the Harrison Gray Otis House, a stunning achievement by in architecture designed by Charles Bullfinch.   Unfortunately, the House does not allow photography inside.  To me, this is a mistake and something that house museums across the country need to rethink.  With the advent of social media and the interconnectedness of people across these platforms (facebook, instagram, and there are others I am sure) museums should be thinking less about their photography policies with a proprietary interest (if people take photos, they'll be less likely to buy the books of photographs we publish), and more of these an an effective means through which to market their properties to visitors otherwise impossible to reach.  In effect, the promise of social media promotion is that it allows museums to reach out directly to a client base in a manner more effective, and far less expensive, than direct marketing.  The benefit is that this marketing comes with a level of trust and recommendation that is impossible to secure through other means.  If a friend posts an image from someplace I have never been, it allows me to see it through their eyes, and--as an association with that image--I also (immediately, and likely unconsciously) form an empathetic relationship with the place through the connection I have with the person.  Now, to be sure, there is the potential for this to cut both ways (say, for instance, my friend Larry hates a place, I might be less enthusiastic to visit), but the point is, whether positive or not, the idea of visiting the site likely would not have occurred to me at that moment without the mention on social media.  Museums, especially many smaller house museums and local historic societies, need to find a way to leverage the potential these emerging platforms have, and that requires finding the language to convince their boards, who often retain a strong sense of precedent (i.e., "we have never allowed photography") but have little understanding of how these policies are suppressing the potential for visitor outreach and engagement.  

From the non-profit world, we dove back into the world of profits, paintings, and the process by which objects are brought to market (without which, I should note, we'd have little knowledge of them, and certainly few museums would have any indication what precisely to collect, because truth be told, the cultivation of collectors and donors relies upon the type of price discovery only available through a market).  Back to Copley Square we went, then it was a short walk to Vose Galleries  the oldest family owned art gallery in America.  Quite simply, if you look back at Vose's history, the links between markets, museums, and American art as we know it, are made clear.  Beth Vose and her staff were incredibly gracious hosts, and allowed the students to ask questions, examine works closely, and confront works directly.  The highlight for me was an exceptional Gilbert Stuart portrait on panel, with an exquisite cradle on the back.  It's great for students to be able to see objects from all angles, and in a proper frame, and something that slides will not ever quite convey.

Because it was only about 4:30, and because the students are young (i.e., they never tire or complain of all the walking) and because they need constant looking to foster constant thinking and critical engagement, and mostly because of the Amtrak fiasco, we departed Vose and headed to the Gardner Museum.  The Gardner Museum is at once breathtaking, frustrating, overwhelming, and full of incredible things which are poorly lit, horrendously labeled, and quirkily placed.  The Gardner is a bit like new love, an exquisite agony whose potential is glimpsed, frustrated, acknowledged, and unknown.  It's sublime, in the truest sense of the word, somewhat terrifying, breathtaking, beautiful, and magical.  Bound to the conditions that Mrs. Gardner laid out in the early 20th century, it also (to my mind) serves as a warning about donor conditions--we cannot know what the future will bring, and we should resist the hubris that causes us to believe that we can--and yet brilliantly resists the idea of the museum as a reified narrative.  That said, I wish I could take pictures.  I wish there was better lighting.  I wish that I could stand with students in front of an object and discuss it without incurring the wrath of what can only be described as amongst the surliest gallery guards I have ever encountered (seriously, if I have a question, is it too much to ask that you do not preface your answer with a long sigh that conveys your annoyance with me?).  Anyhow, it's a necessary experience for the students if they are to think broadly about installation, audiences, and objects.  From there, and after a long day, the students scattered like sand in the wind, and made their ways to dinner.

As this seems a bit long already, I should address the trip to Salem in part three, which will follow shortly.