Friday, January 27, 2012

Reconstructed Landscapes

Happy New Year from the Education Department!

Starting now and continuing every month through our May opening, we will be posting popular family art activities from Owl Cottage and the Art on the Go Carts for you to try at home. We hope to inspire you to break out your art supplies on these dark winter days and create something special! 

Pleissner, Clearing, Wyoming, 1932
Project: Constructed Landscapes

The landscape is a favorite artist's subject, and we have many of these scenes on view at the Museum. For this project, I  "reconstructed" two of Ogden Pleissner's early landscape paintings.

Pleissner painted Clearing, Wyoming (above) on a dude ranch in Dubois, Wyoming in 1932, where he and his wife spent seventeen summers. He completed Autumn, Lyme, Connecticut (below) in 1935. Both paintings are remarkable because Pleissner made them during the Great Depression, when he struggled to make a living as an artist.

Pleissner, Autumn, Lyme, Connecticut, 1935

Project Time: Approx. 20 minutes (excluding drying time)

Make a landscape collage out of materials you might find in a craft drawer or around the house. A landscape is a picture that shows a scene by land or sea. It can be real or make believe, but the subject is always nature--for example, fields, hills, forests, or water.

-White poster board or card stock
-Tacky glue
-Glue sticks
-Pom poms (trees, bushes)
-Craft fluffs (clouds, snow, leaves)
-Yarn and ribbon (grass, mountains, sky)
-Buttons (rocks, shrubs, leaves)
-Pipe cleaners (trees)
-Feathers (trees)
-Glitter (sunlight)
-Newspaper & magazine clippings (hills, grass)
-Construction paper & tissue paper (sky, ground)

1. Spread out tablecloths or newspaper. (This activity can be messy.)
2. Start with the poster board or card stock. You may want to sketch an idea in pencil first.
3. Choose materials for your project (see suggestions above and add some of your own!).
4. Arrange materials on the paper and then secure materials using glue sticks or tacky glue.
5. When the glue has dried, place the landscape collage on display for everyone to see.

You can see my pictures "under construction" below. Enjoy, and let us know how your Constructed Landscape goes! Be sure to check back in February for another fun art project, and don't miss Pleissner Gallery the next time you're at the Museum.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Sniffles Got You Feeling Down?

Like many cold-weather dwellers, I suffer from my fair share of sniffles, coughs, and colds during the  winter season. While desperately searching the local pharmacy for a wonder drug, I wondered what exciting cures from yesteryear lived in our Apothecary Shop. Here are some of my findings:

Dr. J. H. Moore Air Medicator & Injector
This clear glass vaporizer, or "Air Medicator & Injector," was patented in 1884 by Dr. J. H. Moore of Cincinnati. The globe-shaped center is topped with two smaller glass globes. A hand-compressed air pump (similar to a perfume atomizer ball) attaches to one of these small globes. When the ball is compressed, it forces medicated air from the large globe through the other small globe --the patient then inhales medicated air through a tube attached to the second small globe.  According to an advertisement from Unity, Volume 15, published by Harvard University Press in 1885, the medicator "forces or pumps Medicated Air into the most remote passages of the head or lungs." The Air Medicator was advertised as "sensible, practical, scientific and certain." Even weak lungs could benefit from the Air Medicator and Injector!

Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizer

The lamp-like Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizer "charges the atmosphere" with medicinal inhalant that combats bacteria. On the box, Vapo-Cresolene explains the Germ Theory of Diseases: "It is now an admitted fact that all Zymotic Diseases, as Scarlet, Typhoid, and Typhus Fevers, Whooping Cough, Catarrh, Asthma, Croup, Measles, Diptheria, and Hay Fever are generated by the agency of bacteria and other low forms of life." According to its label, this gold-painted iron stand with alcohol lamp disperses medicinal vapors that could cure you of all your maladies.

Blosser's Cigarettes
Marketed "for the Temporary Relief of the Paroxysms of Asthma and for the Relief of Discomforts of Minor Nasal and Bronchial Catarrhal Conditions associated with Head Colds," Blosser's Cigarettes are another example of an early medicinal cure for seasonal ailments. These cigarettes "soothe the mucous membranes of the Nasal and Bronchial Tracts" and "loosen the phlegm in the Nose and Throat," making "Breathing Easier."

Make sure to take a look at some of the other interesting pharmaceutical items on your next visit to the Apothecary Shop during the 2012 season!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remembering the 2011 Season

Since the museum is closed for the season, the Education department has sadly said goodbye to the guides and carefully stowed away their work materials. But, the work is far from over. Education staff will spend the next six months preparing for the 2012 season and beyond.  I asked staff members to share their favorite memory of the season as well as what projects they expect to work on in the upcoming winter months.

Fellow Angela Pratt remembers when her Week in 1795 summer campers learned how to contra dance – a popular form of entertainment during the late 18th century – and one camper fell down laughing within a spiral of fellow dancers. She remembers that moment with a smile because her campers got to “imaginatively recreate a historical tradition through play, which they might not have a chance to do in school”

Academic Programs Coordinator Hannah Weisman also appreciates the creative opportunities the museum’s summer camps provide to local children. She is grateful for our partnerships with organizations like the King Street Center, Sara Holbrook Community Center, and several elementary schools; which allow us to award children involved with those organizations scholarships to attend one weeklong camp at the museum.

In the same spirit of community outreach, Hannah will be working with the Turning Points in American History program this winter to help Vermont teachers learn how to integrate primary sources (a document, object, image of a historical period under study) into their lessons. Hannah asserts that primary sources, like the artwork collected by museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb “help students think critically about history as well as form their own opinions about historical events.”

Looking back at her Sunsets events, Renee Compagna, the Family Programs Coordinator chuckles as she thinks about the little girls participating in the doll fashion show; amazed at how even at their young age they all knew how to strike a pose. “It’s pretty awesome,” she says. Renee will quickly start creating a special events schedule for 2012, which has to be set in stone by February in time for the museum’s “What’s On” publication. On top of that, she will soon start coming up with a list of next season’s Owl Cottage art activities. “The second I wrap up my review of 2011 and my office is organized I start work on the 2012 season.”

Karen Petersen, the Director of Education & Public Programming, stated that the “announcement of the new building was amazing for the museum.” She’s looking forward to “strategic planning with all the departments about the new building and year-round programming.”

The announcement of the new center for art and education at Shelburne Museum has brought a palpable excitement to the department. Adult Programs Coordinator, Katelyn Ziegler, will be trying to figure out what programs, like Art at Hand and Lunchbox Lectures, will look like in a year-round space.

It’s hard not to look back fondly at the 2011 season nor is it easy to contain the excitement of the possibilities for tomorrow. But, in retrospect neither Angela Pratt nor I were prepared to enter Dutton House a week after the museum’s closing. The collections management had just installed the blackout shades in all the windows – cutting off the only source of light into the house. We simply needed to collect the guide procedural handbook, but instead we got a test in true bravery. “It was terrifying,” Angela remembers. Paired with the screaming wind coming from the upstairs, we felt as though the house did not like our presence. We got the book and bolted from the house. Lesson for next year: find someone else to get the book.

The 2012 season opens on May 13 and runs through October 28. Check the museum web site in coming weeks for information about upcoming exhibits.