Tag Archives: Menokin Foundation

Putting All Your Needles Into One Basket

By Alice French – Education and Outreach Coordinator

It’s American Craft Week and Saturday Oct 6 we had a full house of makers at Menokin to learn the craft of Pine Needle Basketry with historic educator, Wisteria Perry. She gave us an overview of the history of Longleaf Pines and then taught us how to make baskets with the needles which fall to the ground.

A few facts to note about the Longleaf:

Longleaf Pine Cone
  • It is one of nine native species in the Commonwealth of VA. Historically they were found from Florida to Virginia and as far west as Texas. 500 years ago the Longleaf pine tree was one of the most prevalent species in southeastern Virginia. When John Smith and Christopher Newport arrived in Jamestown in 1607, there were more Longleaf than Loblolly pines. Longleaf became known as the “tree that built Tidewater”.
  • By 1907, 5.5 million acres of Longleaf were logged per year. In 1932, the Civilian Conservation Corps set up camps under the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. This group was responsible for planting trees and building parks, but they replaced the slow growing Longleaf with Loblolly in heavily logged areas. By 2005, just 200 Longleaf pine trees were left.
  • Recognizing the economic and environmental benefit, landowners are now planting these pines instead of Loblollies. They are resistant to a variety of insects, saltier water, and ice, and benefit many endangered species by providing a long term habitat. These trees grow to 100 feet and don’t begin to mature (make their first pine cones) for 30 years.
  • The Nature Conservancy, The Mariners Museum, and Newport News Shipbuilding are partnering to build a 550 acre forest, and naming each tree planted after a ship or submarine, in honor of the ship building heritage!

Our class was held inside the Visitor Center with a back drop of a Menokin fireplace mantel, believed to have been originally carved from Longleaf pine, almost 250 years ago.

Menokin Visitor’s Center transformed into a classroom

Before everyone arrived, we soaked the needles in some warm water for about an hour, to soften the first bunch for the tightest part of the coil.

For the baskets, we were a little slow getting started, but once you get a hang of it, it’s smooth sailing! All you need are some long leaf pine needles, or really any pine, some waxed thread or raffia, an upholstery sewing needle with a very large eye, (#22)…and a little patience. Wisteria encouraged us along.

Our Makers all left feeling confident with their newly learned skills and a bunch of pine needles to continue their project.

Look for more makers workshop at Menokin in 2019!

Insight on the Artists: Beauford Delaney

The Menokin Foundation is currently hosting a traveling exhibit from the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) through the end of March.  These insights are designed to give you a better understanding of the artists and their work. The exhibit is FREE, so don’t miss the opportunity to come see for yourself. 

On display at Menokin is another artist, Beauford Delaney, American, 1901–1979, an American modernist painter. He achieved an artist’s education in Boston where his black activist politics and ideas became established through associations with some of the most sophisticated and radical African-Americans of the time. By 1929, the essentials of his artistic education complete, Beauford decided to leave Boston and head for New York.

Beauford DelaneyGreene Street, 1946
Beauford Delaney Greene Street, 1946

He is remembered for his work with the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s and 1940s of energetic urban street scenes. Harlem was an exciting place, then the center of black cultural life in the United States. But it was also the time of the Great Depression. Delaney felt an immediate affinity with this city people of all races – spending every night in parks and cafes, surviving on next to nothing. His colorful paintings from his Greenwich Village neighborhood, repeatedly depicting commonplace elements such as fire escapes, lampposts, and hydrants are represented in this painting, Greene Street,1946.

He had many friends among local painters and writers and was an integral part of the artistic life of the community. In time, Delaney would establish himself as a well known part of the art scene. His friends included the poet laureate of the period, Countee Cullen, would become the “spiritual father” to the young writer James Baldwin, and a friend of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and writer Henry Miller among many others. Writer Henry Miller recalled visiting Delaney’s apartment and studio on Greene Street and seeing “some small canvases of street scenes. They were virulent, explosive paintings…They were all Greene Street through and through, only invested with color, mad with color; they were full of remembrances too, and solitudes.”


Delaney_Marian Anderson_1965
Marian Anderson, 1965 

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions.


 

In Greenwich Village, where his studio was, Delaney became part of a gay bohemian circle of mainly white friends; but he was furtive and rarely comfortable with his sexuality.  The pressures of being “black and gay in a racist and homophobic society” was difficult. Delaney had tremendous pride in black achievement and also participated in a number of black artists exhibitions with fellow artists like Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden.

In 1953, at the age of 52, Delaney left New York for Paris. Europe had already attracted many other African-American artists and writers who had found a greater sense of freedom there. Writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Gibson, and artists Harold Cousins, had all preceded him in journeying to Europe. His years in Paris would lead to a dramatic stylistic shift from the figurative compositions of New York life to abstract expressionist studies of color and light. Delaney believed various hues held spiritual significance and was drawn to the color yellow, which he felt possessed the properties of light, healing, and redemption.

 

Insight on the Artists: Charles Wilbert White

The Menokin Foundation is currently hosting a traveling exhibit from the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) through the end of March.  These insights are designed to give you a better understanding of the artists and their work. The exhibit is FREE, so don’t miss the opportunity to come see for yourself. 

On display at Menokin this month is a reproduction from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts of The Guitarist, 1959. Charles White’s meticulously executed drawings and paintings speak of and affirm the humanity and beauty of African American people and culture.

From VMFA transcripts, Charles White said this of his work:

“I believe in the transcendent power of music.  I studied the violin  for about nine years.  My mother insisted on music, even though art was the most important thing for me.  Later, I became interested in dance and I studied modern dance for awhile.  I also illustrated a book, Songs Belafonte Sings.  Harry Belafonte and I have been very close friends for a number of years, and he’s been a great help to me in expressing my ideas in art.

I guess the most important thing is to say something that is meaningful.  I’ve boiled it down to three things I’ve essentially tried to do.  The first is that I try to deal with truth, as truth may be revealed in my personal interpretation.  Truth in a very spiritual sense, underscoring the sense of the inner man.  Second, I try to deal with beauty; the beauty in man and the beauty in life.  I come from the perspective that man is basically good.  I’ve lived in the South, and we’ve had 5 lynchings in my family, and I’ve been beaten up twice, once in New Orleans and once in Virginia.  But in spite of my experiences, and my family’s experiences and tragedies, I still feel that man is essentially good.  I have to start from this premise in all my work because I’m incapable of doing meaningful work that has to do with something I hate.  The third thing I try to deal with is dignity.  I think that once man is robbed of his dignity he is nothing.

I focus primarily on my people and try to give my images universality – meaning an enduring sense of truth and beauty.  I always feel that the artist only does meaningful things when he draws upon that which is closest to him, and he uses that as a springboard to deal with a more broad, all-encompassing subject.  It is only natural to have a special concern to my own people – their history, their culture, their struggle to survive in this, a racist country.  I’m proud of being black.  However, my philosophy doesn’t exclude any nation or race of people.”

Charles Wilbert White (April 2, 1918 – October 3, 1979)

Charles White is one of America’s most renowned and recognized African-American & Social Realist artists. He worked primarily in black & white or sepia & white drawings, paintings, and lithographs. His artwork encompassed an incredibly skilled draftsmanship and artistic sensitivity and power that has reached and moved millions. Common subjects of his artwork included scenes depicting African-American history in the United States, socio-economic struggles, human relationships, and portraits.

He is best known for his WPA era murals, especially The Contribution of the Negro to American Democracy, a mural at Hampton University, depicting a number of notable blacks including Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Peter Salem, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Marian Anderson.

Charles Wilbert White was born on the South Side of Chicago. Due to the poverty of his parents, his parents could not afford a babysitter while they worked, so his mother would leave him at the library. This caused a young Charles to develop an affinity towards art and reading at a young age. White received a full scholarship to be a full-time student at the Art Institute of Chicago. White also began working as a Works Progress Administration artist, and was later jailed for forming a union with fellow black artists who were being treated unfairly and wanted equal rights. 

Following his graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago, White moved to New Orleans in 1941. He taught at Dillard University and was briefly married to famed sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett who also taught at Dillard. Beyond this, White also taught at the Otis Art Institute from 1965 to his death in 1979.

White and his wife Frances Barrett moved to California in 1956, which was the beginning of White’s career as a Los Angeles artist. He had several shows in Los Angeles, and was represented by the Heritage Gallery.

Charles White was on faculty at Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) from 1965 to 1979 where he taught many African American students who came to study with him including Alonzo Davis, David Hammons, and Kerry James Marshall. 

Discover more at https://tinyurl.com/ycd7qky8.

What do Menokin and NNEC have in common? Jay Garner!

A familiar face on the Menokin Foundation’s Board of Trustees is now the new public relations manager at Northern Neck Electric Cooperative (NNEC).

Jay’s duties will include writing the NNEC pages for Cooperative Living Magazine, managing internal and external communications and overseeing social media outlets.

Join us in congratulating Jay on his new position!

2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education goes to Jorge Silvetti

COPIED IN FULL FROM THE  AIA.

Search “Harvard Graduate School of Design” on Menokin’s blog for more posts about their collaboration with The Menokin Glass House project.

2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education
Jorge Silvetti, Int’l Assoc. AIA

Jorge Silvetti-02
2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education Recipient

Born in Argentina, Jorge Silvetti has taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design since 1975, serving as a gifted professor and mentor, and with Rodolfo Machado has worked as a design leader in Boston since 1974. While his influence at GSD was most strongly felt from 1995–2002, when he served as chair of the architecture program, he has propagated a distinct school of thought among the design professionals who have graduated in the past 42 years.

“This is not a stylization of architecture that is visually and immediately identifiable, but a way of thinking about history, precedent, and the contextual complexities of architectural production that has inspired generations of architects and educators such as myself,” wrote Christian Dagg, AIA, head of the Auburn University School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, in a letter nominating Silvetti for the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion.

Currently the Nelson Robinson, Jr. Professor of Architecture at Harvard, Silvetti leads design studios and delivers regular lectures on history, contemporary theory, and criticism. His groundbreaking 1977 essay “The Beauty of Shadows” provided a compelling argument for how a profession caught between postmodernism and deconstruction should proceed. Later works co-authored with Machado that expanded upon his arguments have greatly influenced his students as well as other schools of design nationwide. The list of deans and department chairs who were former students, colleagues, or employees of Silvetti is long and impressive.

“As chair of the architecture program at Harvard, his emphasis on design as a form of research, coupled with his expansion of the field of architecture to include other design practices, had a profound effect on the discipline at large—an influence that can still be felt today,” Mónica Ponce de León, dean and professor at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, wrote in a letter supporting Silvetti’s nomination. “Through conferences, symposia, and exhibitions, Silvetti brought allied disciplines in conversation with architecture—long before interdisciplinary became a catchphrase in academia.”

Since 1986 Silvetti has overseen a number of research programs, including an examination of Sicily’s urbanism and architecture that won a Progressive Architecture award. Other projects have explored the future of public space in the shifting metropolis of Buenos Aires and the future development of previously industrial Bilbao, Spain. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize, and since 1996 has served as a Pritzker Architecture Prize juror. In 2000, he was a juror for the former Mies van der Rohe Prize for Latin American Architecture.

Beyond academia, Silvetti’s work in association with Rodolfo Machado since 1974 and under different professional firms that they founded and led (presently MACHADO SILVETTI), has been widely celebrated. Run like a studio where all employees contribute ideas and everyone shares in the learning experience, the firm’s notable projects include work at many major Universities and Colleges in the U.S., (among them Dartmouth and Bowdoin Colleges, Princeton, Harvard, Rice, and Arizona State universities), abroad at the American University in Beirut and the Vietnamese and German University in Vietnam, as well as notable cultural and educational institutions such as the Getty Trust in the U.S. The firm received the First Award in Architecture from the American University of Arts and Letters in 1991 and numerous design awards and citations from AIA.

“After teaching for many years and participating in many conversations, he stands among a select group of peers,” wrote Machado in a letter supporting his partner’s nomination. “In fact there are only a few still fully engaged in teaching, who have witnessed and indeed participated in the wild swings of academic pedagogy—from the post-modern to the parametric to the current heterotopic panorama. Throughout all of it, Jorge has been committed to teaching the core canons of architecture while simultaneously supporting those innovating people and emerging projects that benefit the core and expand the reach of architecture.”

Jury

Chere R. LeClair, AIA, Chair, LeClair Architects, Bozeman, Montana

Don Keshika De Saram, Assoc. AIA, AIAS President, Washington DC

Donna Kacmar, FAIA, University of Houston, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, Houston

Toshiko Mori, FAIA, Toshiko Mori Architect, PLLC, New York City

Nader Tehrani, Dean, The Cooper Union, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, New York City

Image credits

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Meet Juliana Grassia

The Board and Staff of the Menokin Foundation are pleased to introduce our newest  team member.

Juliana has joined the Menokin staff as Development Coordinator and hit the ground running on Monday.

I moved to the Northern Neck from the mountains of western North Carolina, and although the landscape is different, I’ve found the same commitment to history, culture, and conservation here that I did in Appalachia. I’m excited to explore the region and get more involved in the community.”

JULIANA’S BIO

Prior to Menokin, Juliana was with the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she served in the Division of University Advancement. Her work at UNC Asheville centered on engaging alumni, donors, and community members to help them feel connected to the mission and vision of the university. In addition, she previously worked on two local political campaigns where she gained valuable experience in community outreach, relationship building, and advocacy.

Originally from New Jersey, Juliana graduated from UNC Asheville in 2015 with degrees in political science and French. Her undergraduate studies focused primarily on American government and comparative political theory. She is an avid New York Mets baseball fan and enjoys good books, long hikes, and exploring new places. A young non-profit professional and lifelong lover of history, Juliana is honored to be a part of the team working to preserve Menokin.

The Marking of Menokin

Menokin Marker 2017
Menokin Marker

The Menokin Foundation is honored to be commemorated with a marking by our local DAR and SAR chapters. This marker now graces the front entrance of Menokin, honoring the home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe. The marker was placed by the Henricopolis Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Rappahannock Chapter, National Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

Menokin’s Martin Kirwan King Visitor’s Center was filled with guests from neighboring DAR and SAR chapters, and from the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) Virginia Chapter, for the marking ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Opening remarks were made by the Rappahannock Chapter of the SAR’s President, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, and

Carl Strock 2017
Carl Strock

the Henricopolis Chapter of the DAR’s President, Barbara Sethmann, welcoming guests and recognizing visitors around the room who made this event a reality. Menokin’s Executive Director, Sam McKelvey, thanked the CAR, DAR and SAR chapters on behalf of the Foundation for their commitment to forwarding patriotic causes and commemorating the contributions of Francis Lightfoot Lee.

The room was filled with excitement and readied cameras as the marker was revealed by DAR member, Anita Harrower. Following the revealing of the marker and dedication,

Wreath Laying
Wreath Laying

wreaths were laid in commemoration from various CAR, DAR and SAR organizations. Remarks were made on the histories of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Menokin by the Virginia Society SAR President, Michael Elston. Elston was then joined by the Society’s Secretary and Assistant Treasurer, Wayne Rouse, for award recognition of military service to two members of the Rappahannock Chapter. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock was honored with the War Service Medal and Gregory Burkett was honored with the Military Service Medal. At the event’s conclusion, guests enjoyed a reception followed by hard hat tours of the Menokin house.

Thank you to all who visited for this ceremony and made this marking possible.

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