Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday High Tea Features Music, Food, Shopping and Fun

This holiday season, revelers will get a rare opportunity to see two of Crawfordsville’s most prestigious historic homes decked out in Christmas finery during the 5th Annual Holiday High Tea & Fashion Show, a fundraiser for the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, on Friday, December 2 from 3:00-6:00 p.m.

This year’s event takes place at both the Crawfordsville chapter DAR House on Wabash Avenue and the old Elston Homestead on adjacent Pike Street, now home to Wabash College President Patrick White and his wife Chris.  These privately-owned homes, two of Crawfordsville’s most well-preserved architectural treasures decorated lavishly for the season, will feature live entertainment, an interactive fashion show, a sale of original themed holiday wreaths, and live holiday music from the T-Tones, a men’s vocal ensemble from Wabash College.

“Our Holiday High Tea has become a valued community event celebrating the advent of the holiday season in a beautiful historic setting,” said Helen Hudson, Chair of the Tea Committee.  “The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Wabash College, and Crawfordsville Main Street merchants cooperate to create for us, and for our many out of town guests, a sparkling afternoon.”

High tea will be served at the Elston Homestead, complete with coffee, sweets, and savory snacks provided by the Tea Committee and Bon Appétit from Wabash College.  Local models will show off fashions from local boutique heathcliff, and the venue will be decorated with seasonal floral arrangements by Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts.  Homestead Greetings & Gifts will showcase the latest Vera Bradley designs, and door prizes from several local merchants will be awarded throughout the afternoon, giving event-goers several chances to win accessories and decorations to brighten their own homes. 

The Daughters of the American Revolution will be offering tours to Tea guests of their beautifully-appointed Dorothy Q chapter house, decorated in a Victorian Christmas motif where a unique display of original themed holiday wreaths will be available for sale.  These wreaths have been created especially for the Tea by artists and designers from throughout the area, and each one will be a fabulous décor item or holiday gift idea.

The afternoon’s festivities will not be limited to the tea, however.  Guests are being invited to make a day of their Crawfordsville sojourn, taking advantage of discounts and specials only for Tea guests throughout the downtown retail district, enjoying lunch at several terrific restaurants, and possibly even culminating their visit by purchasing tickets to the Sugar Creek Players’ presentation of “Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”, which premieres at the Vanity Theater that night.

Reservations for the Holiday High Tea and Fashion Show are $25 per person and due by November 30.  To reserve places for you and your guests, call the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum at 765-362-5769.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Look Inside Our Collection: Randolph Rogers

Throughout his life Lew Wallace had a deep interest in the creative arts. He created original works of art and he acquired works by others. One of the most recognizable works he acquired was a bronze bust of himself created by the famed American sculptor, Randolph Rogers. Wallace’s bust is signed by Randolph Rogers and dated 1862. It was cast by Jules Berchem of Chicago. Who actually commissioned the bust and how it came to Wallace is unknown. It is, none the less, one of the most important works of art in the collection.

Randolph Rogers was born in Waterloo, New York, July 6, 1825. Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he moved to New York City at about the age of 20. Various accounts have Rogers moving to New York to pursue a career as a magazine illustrator but ultimately finding work in a dry goods store (some say a department store). At any rate his employers discovered his aptitude for carving and promptly financed his trip to Florence, Italy in 1848 so that he could pursue formal training. In Florence, he studied at the Academy of Saint Marks with Lorenzo Bartolini. When Bartolini died in 1850, Rogers moved to Rome where he established his own studio. It appears he may have returned to New York for a brief period, but for most of the rest of his life he lived and worked in Rome.

Rogers quickly established a reputation as one of the outstanding and most prolific American neoclassical sculptors of his generation. In 1852, he had a sculpture entitled “Night” exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York. Although this work has been lost, it was very well received. He followed this work with one entitled “Ruth Gleaning” in 1853. The enormous popularity of this statue led to his receiving the commission for the main entrance doors of the U.S. Capitol. The bronze doors stand seventeen feet tall and weigh an impressive 20,000 pounds. Called the Columbus doors, they represent scenes from the life of Columbus in bas relief. Throughout the 1850s, Rogers’ works were largely of mythical subjects in a neoclassical design or portrait busts. Perhaps his most popular sculpture was “Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii.” He sold almost 100 copies of this particular statue and it is considered by some to be the most popular American neoclassical sculpture ever created.

Just prior to the Civil War, Rogers received a commission to complete the Washington monument that stands in downtown Richmond, Virginia. This monument had been left unfinished by Thomas Crawford, its original designer. This was a fortuitous commission for another reason because in 1857, during his time in Richmond, Rogers married. Around this time he was also completing a statue of John Adams in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts and “Angel of the Resurrection” for the Samuel Colt monument in Hartford, Connecticut. Beyond these monumental works, Rogers was one of the most sought after sculptors by Americans who were completing their grand tours of Europe. It was customary for travelers who were preparing to depart Europe to sit for a portrait bust in one of the studios in Rome, and Rogers was one of the most popular artists.

By 1863, Rogers was beginning to receive commissions for busts and statues relating to the Civil War. In just a few years he became the preeminent sculptor for Civil War memorials and statues with notable commissions like the Soldiers Monument in Gettysburg, the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Detroit (considered among the first large scale commemorations of the Civil War by a large city), an impressive statue called “The Sentinel” for Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, a statue of Abraham Lincoln for Philadelphia and one of William H. Seward in Madison Square Park in New York. In keeping with the Civil War commissions he was receiving at this time, he created the bust of Major General Lew Wallace in his Civil War uniform.

In 1873, Rogers was chosen a professor of sculpture at the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome, the first American to be so honored. In 1882, he suffered a stroke and was never able to work as a sculptor again. In 1884, he was awarded the order of the Caviliere della Coronoa d’Italia, an honorary knighthood bestowed in recognition of service to the Italian Republic.

Randolph Rogers passed away in Rome on January 15, 1892. Among the museums in America that boast works by Rogers are the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Detroit Institute of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian in Washington, the Brooklyn Museum/Luce Center for American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and, closer to home, the Indianapolis Museum of Art which has it’s own version of Roger’s famous “Ruth Gleaning.” With the bust of General Wallace created by Randolph Rogers as part of our art collection, the Study is in good company.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wintertime Blues, I Mean Blooms

I am sitting at my desk, which I don't do very often, watching snow flurries out the window. Just 2 days ago, the weather was a balmy 68 degrees and I worked in the gardens. I am getting the gardens all prepped for the long winter with pulling up annuals,cutting back and mulching the perennials. I noticed some lingering color, even though we've had quite a few frosty mornings.

Myrtle, wild violets, Liberty snapdragons, Evolution salvia, Lady in Red salvia, Stella d'Oro daylilies, zinnias, Blue Hawaii ageratum, Harmony and Scarlet Sophia marigolds and chrysanthemums are just some of the flowers still blooming at the Museum. They may be covered in snow shortly or with Indiana's unpredictable weather, basking in warm temperatures again.

Bulbs are being planted and a layer of mulched leaves is being added to the gardens. It's wishful thinking that Spring will be here sooner, rather than later.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Museum Welcomes New Associate Director

Erin Gobel joined the staff at the Lew Wallace Study as the Associate Director in October 2011. Erin received a BA in history from Hanover College in 2007. She earned an MA in Public History and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from IUPUI in 2010.  She wrote her thesis about the Free Kindergarten Society of Indianapolis.  She interned and worked at the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana Supreme Court, and the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. She currently works part-time at the Rotary Jail Museum as the Curator. She also researches and writes National Register nominations as a consultant for Partners in Preservation.  She is currently working on the nomination for Dwight and Jamie Watson’s home on East Wabash Avenue.

Erin and her husband, Kyle, recently bought a house in Crawfordsville.  She enjoys baking and watching Purdue basketball and football. She also loves baby-sitting her two nephews.

“I’ve enjoyed my first few days working here and meeting everyone at the Study,” said Gobel.  “I’m looking forward to learning more about the educational programs offered, particularly the Lew Wallace Youth Academy. I’m really excited about this new opportunity.”