Of all the things to get me out of bed before 7:30 on a Saturday morning, you can bet a conference discussing the intersection of art and revolution would be near the top of the list. Hosted by the American Philosophical Society, this conference expanded on the concepts unearthed when putting together the Curious Revolutionaries, or the Peales of Philadelphia, exhibit.
I missed the keynote on Thursday night and the first day of paper presentations on Friday so I was only present for the Saturday sessions and the closing remarks. But that was ok because I had more space to digest the paper abstracts that were presented. Afterwards, descendants of the Peale family were to donate more artifacts or papers to the American Philosophical Society, but if it happened, I missed it as I was caught up in sandwiches and discussing Alternate/Virtual Reality and it’s potential impact on smaller museums.
*quick note: my only information was from the panel presentations. I have not read the full text of the papers presented.
A full program of events can be found at the event page of the APS’s website:
You can watch the segments live at this link: https://boxcast.tv/channel/wvm92bbypnromwbykzup
Now that I’m living in the greater Philadelphia region, and fueled almost entirely by the first 70-ish episodes of The American Military History Podcast, I’m much more aware of the Revolutionary Era sites within easy driving distance of me. Which is how last weekend happened: on my way back from a Notre Dame Alumni event, I decided to swing by the Paoli battlefield site, as I had heard there were events happening there, and I didn’t want to miss out.
For those of you who don’t know, the Battle of Paoli happened in 1777 in Paoli, PA, which today is about 45 minutes from Philadelphia Proper. Also known as the Paoli Massacre, this event immediately followed the Battle of Brandywine, the largest land battle of the Revolution and a British victory.
So maybe it will be useful to back up a little bit further:
(This is a little late because Real Life has been happening…)
WHEW. Did any one catch the series finale of TURN? ALL THE FEELS.
My life, of late, has been aperfect storm of all things Revolutionary, especially all things Culper: The tv series, relocating to Philadelphia, the first 71 episodes of the American Military History Podcast, the Museum of the American Revolution. Add the two recent books on this subject, George Washington’s Secret Six and Washington’s Spies, and I’ve been wallowing in the Culper Ring like a pig in mud. It’s been fantastic.
You see humanity, savagery, unexpected feels, unexpected plot twists (unless you know how the actual history plays out – funny how history has spoilers like that..). You even get to see Virginia star as Virginia as the excitement moves south! You follow everything obsessively on social media, put people in touch with people so you can say, “I know one of the extras!”, and can talk about the show with other fans at colonial balls so you both know what you mean when all you say is, “all the feels!”
But even more important to me: let me take even more time to gush about the production quality and the cinematography. Because it is beautiful and dramatic and adds elegance and authority and drama and so gorgeously underscores everything the characters do. I can’t coherently articulate my thoughts on the cinematography so I will sum it up with, “all the feels.”
I finally cleared out my reading queue and refilled with Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring. What most likely prompted this was the opportunity to meet the author, Alexander Rose, except I hadn’t read his book at the time of the opportunity, so I avoided him in shame.
To belatedly remedy this egregious faux pas, I went to the library specifically for this book. Perhaps the next time I encounter Mr. Rose, I will be able to engage in witty and engaging discussion on his work, but for now I get to share my review of the book with you, Dear Reader(s).
In my previous post on the MoAR, I had included a picture of some life sized figures, one of whom was solicitously wrapping another in a blanket or jacket. It was a depiction of Charles Willson Peale belatedly recognizing his own brother, and the picture’s caption was something about how much I adore Mr. Peale (hereafter known as CWP).
From the MoAR
Why do I like CWP so much? That is an excellent question. Perhaps it was because I was thrilled when I could consistently put a name to the artist behind all those portraits, which are done in a style I find generally attractive.
If you’re at all into history, you’ve probably heard that a new museum opened last week in Philadelphia – the Museum of the American Revolution. If you’re not into history, you’ve probably heard about this new museum. It’s kind of a big deal. Me? I’ve only been counting down the days to its opening since probably last…May.
Apparently this museum has been in the works for a long time. From all the television coverage, it sounded like some people have been trying to get a museum dedicated solely to the American Revolution for at least twenty years, maybe since the 80’s, or even earlier. I find it quite impressive that with all of the politics involved in the museum world, they were able to create this at all.
What a museum it is!
A side effect of this current colonial kick was the desire to watch The Patriot, a story where two Australians get jealous of America’s origin story and act out on said jealousy. Sadly, Netflix doesn’t have it but suggested similar shows, one of which was TURN: Washington’s Spies. The series is an AMC/Netflix collaboration and is about the Culper Spy Ring, a network of patriot spies operating around New York that provided George Washington with vital information. While it’s set in colonial New England, it’s a full on spy thriller, with aliases, disguises, and back alley murders. But in hose and powdered wigs.
I’m a sucker for political intrigue, and I’m a sucker for period drama so it took me all of the first 15 minutes of the first episode to become totally and completely hooked.
This makes the graphic designer in me very happy. Three colors used boldly and sums up the entire series. If Washington has spies, they’re obviously working against the British but they have to be inocuous. Leaving the coats red is also powerful because the majority of Americans know, I hope, that the Redcoats were the enemy. He’s the main character going against the redcoats. It’s a really modern design for a ye-olde show. Loves.