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Saturday, February 28, 2009

National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa

There is a Shrine at Czestochowa, Poland honoring the Blessed Mother and a painting of her and the Christ child with a legendary history filled with mystery and intrigue, created sometime in the 5th or 6th centuries but that also involves St. Luke, who suposedly painted it himself, to St. Helen, who if we remember some of the stories we heard in Italy, went about rescuing great works of art with religious significance and bringing them back to Constantinople for safekeeping in the 4th century. The painting made quite a journey around eastern Europe and ended up in Poland where it was damaged by bandits attempting to steal it. The scars can still be seen on the Lady's face. After the famous siege of Czestochowa by invading Swedes, Our Lady of Czestochowa was declared Queen of Poland and has been venerated by Polish Catholics and Catholics the world over ever since.

In the 1950s the Pauline Fathers brought a reproduction of the painting to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where they established a monastery. It is now the home of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and stands on a hill overlooking Doylestown, PA. Skeptics about these legends, we nevertheless appreciate houses of worship as works of art and went to see the stained glass windows designed by Polish immigrant and artist Jerzy T. Bialecki and produced by the Willet Studio of Stained Glass Windows in Philadelphia. Two entire monumental walls of the church are filled with color and light, telling the stories of America on one side and Poland on the other. Breathtaking.

One of the window walls (note little me in the lower left-hand corner, for scale)

A statue stands outside the Shrine, with the faithfull leaving rosary beads on its prayerful hands. We wonder how often they have to remove those that collect here and how many they have now. Reminded us of the exvotos we found in Italy (milagros, in Spanish) left by grateful believers to acknowledge a miracle (or ask for one) and we wondered if this has the same significance.

The National Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa, Doylestown, PA

Wall of Color - it is beautiful the way the light reflects on the interior walls of each individual, recessed window that make up these walls of stained glass

Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

Henry Mercer was a true Renaissance man - historian, archaeologist, collector and ceramist, artist and writer, he championed the Arts and Crafts movement in his hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and was considered by many at the time to be a crackpot. Eccentric he was for sure - but creative and innovative undoubtedly. He became fascinated with the decorative stove front designs on the old German stoves brought to Pennsylvania by immigrants, bought up as many as he could get his hands on - as well as the pre-industrial revolution tools and artifacts that now fill the Mercer Museum there - and used them as the basis for his ceramic tile designs. Much like many famous artists, he "borrowed" from earlier cultures (copyright free art?) and left a lasting legacy.

We toured the Moravian Pottery and Tile works factory where he and his team created his tiles, his home Fonthill and the Mercer Museum that houses his tool and artifacts collection - these last two operated by the Bucks County Historical Society. Fascinating stuff!

The Moravian Potter and Tile Works, factory where they still create tiles in the same way the Henry Mercer did in the early 1900s.

Detail of Tile Column

Ceramic artist cutting out a tile pattern

Image on the left shows a finished tile design, on the right, the pattern or form used to create it - raw clay in pressed onto the form, removed, fired and constructed as you would a puzzle, then I believe glazed and fired again (please correct me, you ceramic artists out there reading!)

Where Washington crossed the Delaware River

"These are the times that try men's souls..." were words that Thomas Paine wrote - drumming up support for the troops in Revolutionary War times. In the dead of night, on a frigid Christmas day 1776, with the password "Victory or Death," General George Washington and his rag-tag band, crossed the icy Delaware River through sleet and hail, into Trenton New Jersey, surprising the Prussian mercenaries and changing the course of history. Washington Crossing Historic Park preserves this historic site and the small town of Taylorsville with a boat house used to store replicas of the Durham boats used to make the crossing, and other 18th century structures, including the home of Robert Thompson and William Neely used to aid wounded soldiers during the winter of 1776-77. Every year on Christmas Day they re-enact this moment in our nation's history. Check their website for a calendar of events and other information.

Monument commemorating Washington's Crossing of the Delaware

The Hibbs House, built in 1828-30 for tenant craftsmen as part of the village of Taylorsville, open hearth demonstrations are held here throughout the year

The site of the crossing. It looks so calm and peaceful now - but imagine a snow storm, driving wind, sleet and hail, hunks of ice, dead of night, holes in your shoes, the Prussian army waiting...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Travel Art: Italy (you're invited!)

Here's the invite for our reception at the Buttery in Lewes, Delaware for those of you in the area!

Photographs & Watercolors by Rosemary and Bob Connelly of Live Cheap and Make Art Studios, will coincide with the Buttery’s Italian Wine Dinner on Monday, March 9th. The Connelly’s lived in Italy for two years fulfilling their dream to “live cheap and make art.” Together they contrast and complement each other’s vision, with Bob’s evocative color photographs and Rosemary’s watercolor journal paintings.

This exhibition of travel art from Italy is on display and available for purchase March 8 through April 18, 2009 with an artists’ reception Sunday, March 29, 2009, from 4 - 6 pm at The Buttery Restaurant, 102 Second Street, Lewes, Delaware. R.S.V.P. to Bob and Rosemary at livecheapmakeart@gmail.com. Visit their website at www.livecheapmakeart.com (Contact the Buttery for information and reservations for their Italian Wine Dinner at 302-645-7755.)

These two images will be included in the exhibition:

Scicli, Sicilia, Rosemary's watercolor and Bicycle with flowers, Agrigento, Bob's photograph

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Art on the Town, Wilmington 2/6/09

Crumbly Palazzo, Venice, limited edition giclee print from an original watercolor

This is one of the prints that sold last night during our reception at the Brew Ha Ha in Wilmington. We had a lot of fun and met some very nice people, discussed art and Italy and just enjoyed the evening. It started out kind of quiet but there was a good turn out and a steady flow of people out enjoying the first "Art on the Town" of the year. We want to thank Jerry Bilton for giving us this opportunity to show our work to the people in the Wilmington area and to the Brew Ha Ha for staying open late to allow us to be part of the Art on the Town art loop.

Woman Warrier, one of Bob's black and white photographs on display

If you didn't get to the reception, the exhibition "Chiaro/Scuro" will remain on display at the Brew Ha Ha, 835 N. Market Street in downtown Wilmington until February 28, between 6:30 a.m. and 4pm. Say hi to Selina for us and enjoy their specialty coffees and delicious baked goodies too!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Snowy Delaware

A friend asked about the snow in Delaware so we decided to post some photos here of Milford. We had a nice little snowfall and Bob went out and took these shots. We're lucky here though, so far, no ice storms, power outages and the like. It usually melts within a day or so and only leaves behind memories of whiteness, trees and roof tops dusted with snow and the sound of geese flying overhead. Although the temperature today was in the 20s and that IS cold! I'm lovin' it though after 30 plus years in Phoenix, Arizona when winter consisted of a few chilly days in January.

The Mispillion River - the river that runs through our town - in snow

The Riverwalk, and on the right, Angelucci's artists gallery

Bower's Beach is also the name of the little fishing village that is divided north to south by the Murderkill River so that the folks on one side of the river (little more than a stone's throw away) have to take a boat to get to the restaurant (JP's on the Wharf - great crabs!) on the other side -- or drive clear down to the highway and back - more than 10 miles! We like to go to JP's in the summer and sit out on the dock and watch the boats come in. It's closed all winter unfortunately.