The Brushstrokes Have Their Own Stories

It was a rainy Saturday in January that brought me to the Brandywine River Museum of Art. I had seen advertisements for an exhibit there on Winslow Homer and this was a good opportunity to catch the exhibit’s limited run.


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However, little did I know what other surprises were in store for me. There was so much art and history (and some art history)  in that place, it set my little nerd heart aflutter.

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They Shall Not Grow Old

I was able to catch a showing of Peter Jackson’s “newest” film during its extremely limited run in the United States. Shown on only two days in select theaters at select times, I was actually kind of impressed at the number of showtimes available. Thus, on Thursday, December 27, I snuck out of work early to catch the 4pm showing with a history-minded friend, and I’m so glad I did.

This film had been the talk of (niche) social circles for a while now, especially as many of the reenactors I know were preparing for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day this past November. The timing of the film was intentional, and it was good to see an abundance of things related to World War I, especially as that conflict has less of a place in our national consciousness over here in the States.

What was revolutionary about this film is classic Peter Jackson. He took original film footage from World War I, performed his moviemaking wizardry on it to turn it into something we recognize in the modern day, and added just enough audio to turn it into an emotional experience.

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Fall at Winterthur

Winterthur, located just south of the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, is the name of the estate that once belonged to Henry Francis du Pont. (Yes, that du Pont family.) My folks were recently in town and we spent a lovely day roving the house and the grounds since my mother has wanted to visit the place since only as long as I’ve been alive.

This jaunt through the rolling lands in the Brandywine Valley contains more personal reflection than actual history, but I hope to go back and get clarity on a lot of the things that were confusing on our tour. (Which was actually a lot.)

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The pool. The three iron circles in the wall ahead are speakers that Mr. duPont had added so he could blast music (preferably opera) for his guests.

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Armistice Day – 100 Years On

Today marks the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war to end all wars.

I have spent the least amount of time in this time period, and so I share with you a collection of links of other more knowledgeable persons and entities marking the occasion.


The Day The Guns Fell Silent

Armistice Day: People Gather Around the World to Mark Centenary

Armistice Day: Victory and Beyond – On 11 November 1918, jubilant crowds across Britain celebrated the end of the war. But many new struggles were just beginning. What was the legacy of the first world war?

A Forgotten Soldier on a Forgotten Front – A long read about the only British woman to serve in a combat role during World War I.

Video: Colorised Footage of World War I – Noted director Peter Jackson’s newest project is colorizing original footage. It looks amazing.

Interactive: What Might You Have Done Between 1914 and 1918?


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Today’s Google Doodle featuring animated stories from each branch of the military.


Poppy Image Source

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Designing the Museum of the Future

It seems the Museum of the American Revolution has turned into a favorite and “frequent” haunt of mine for I was there again this past week for a lecture called “Designing the Museum of the Future.” The speaker, Josh Goldblum, is the CEO of Blue Cadet, the A/V company who did all the digital interactive work for M*AR. If you recall that my very first visit to the place was full of sensory overload and that the beautiful layer masks of the intro video got a special call out – this was the guy leading that production team.


(One of my favorite effects, used throughout, was taking an old ink drawing or etching of a scene and then layering a gradient plus film footage to give that drawing or etching depth and motion. Water scenes were overlaid over actual moving water textures, smoke was overlaid over smoke video footage, and subtle colors brought the scenes to life.)

(This is the link to the M*AR page on Blue Cadet’s website. It’s got some great shots of the museum.)

The lecture was organized by AIGA, the American Institute for Graphic Arts, which is sort of the club to belong to if you want to network yourself most effectively as a designer. There was sort of an interesting dichotomy of attendees – designers in bright, mismatched patters with hair colors not found in nature, next to the more subdued, old school button-down shirts and neutral colored blazers. But what I loved was that a topic like this could bring such disparate groups together.

Mr. Goldblum raised many points that I have at some point or another considered. I am so glad he’s a self-confessed “museum person” – he gets it. Better – he’s in a position to look at different ways of addressing the challenges faced by museums and similar institutions. And because his background is design and technology, these fields are still relatively novel in the museum world so there’s a lot of room to experiment.

One thing this talk did not do was address specific things that museums should do or ought to do, or things that they do that aren’t working. For example, Mr. Goldblum does not offer solutions for successful capital campaigns. This talk was very much more on the effect that technology has had so far on life and how museums are coping.

And so, without further ado, my notes from the talk (with my comments in parentheses):



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The Triumph and Tragedy of Octavius V. Catto

Earlier this month I trekked into Center City, Philadelphia, for an event. En route, I passed by City Hall and stopped short at some recent additions to the grounds that were worth further exploration.

I speak of a new memorial and statue that were installed  at the intersection of Broad Street and City Hall dedicated to one Octavius V. Catto. Behind the statue of the man himself were several granite … pedestals? monuments? … that briefly expanded on different aspects of Catto’s life. Each edifice was dedicated to a particular area where Catto had influence – on one side of each stone was a bronze plaque illustrating each aspect of his life.



Anyway, I had no idea who this man was or why he got a statue erected at one of the main centers of Philadelphia so I hit the googles and am now going to share with you, Dear Reader(s), the fruits of my research.

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Lessons of a Defunct Icon

Recently, I wrote a thing for some people, and since those people opted to go in a different direction, I wanted to share the thing I wrote with you, Dear Reader(s). I had a lot of fun researching this and I think it’s a topic that could easily be expanded upon.

I chose to write about the Studebaker automobile, or more specifically, the Studebaker advertising machine, which really had a lot going for it. Headquartered in South Bend, Indiana  (home to my alma mater-Go Irish!), Studebaker made cars for distribution around the world. One of South Bend’s private high schools is actually located on the grounds of and old Studebaker Mansion (which was later sold to the Bendix family – another local manufacturing family), and I hear that if the kids are lucky, teachers will take them to the mansion part of the building and show them all the Prohibition-era hidey holes. Another Studebaker mansion is now a high end restaurant – Tippecanoe Place. But what I didn’t know about Studebaker was how their success seemed so driven by the power of advertising.

So, Dear Reader(s), what follows is probably not my best research work ever, but there is more thorough information in the Further Reading section that I hope tickles your fancy. Because this topic is really interesting.


1961 Studebaker Hawk


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