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Out of the Debris, a Stone Goddess

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Author Topic: Out of the Debris, a Stone Goddess  (Read 240 times)
Kara Sundstrom
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« on: March 03, 2013, 01:59:03 am »

Out of the Debris, a Stone Goddess
Published: February 28, 2013

A stone goddess slumbered unseen for decades below a Brooklyn overpass. Last summer, it surfaced during archaeological digs, and now scholars are puzzling over it.

 An armless **** about three feet tall, the sculpture has thick, curly hair. It was found along Dock Street, near Front Street, once a hub for spice warehouses, so it has been named Ginger. Two Trees Management Company is building a mixed-use tower at the site.

“Ginger is a total surprise,” said Cece Saunders, an archaeologist who is the president of Historical Perspectives Inc., a cultural-resources consulting company that uncovered the 400-pound carving.

It was trapped in mid-20th-century demolition debris, leftovers from previous waves of construction there. Excavating equipment accidentally damaged the face and body before anyone noticed the statue. The digs also turned up more expected artifacts, like 18th-century foundation stones and pottery shards.

Those who have seen Ginger have suggested that she may have originally served as a garden ornament, ship ballast or brothel advertisement. Perhaps a subsequent owner dumped her after a significant other took offense at her buxom nakedness.

The sculptor probably had no formal training, but was definitely skilled.

“The chisel marks seem quite refined,” Carl F. Hammer, a Chicago dealer in outsider art, said in an e-mail after analyzing photos of Ginger.

The neighborhood, after all, has long attracted creative types. “There’s been an artistic presence on that street going back to Francis Guy,” a landscape painter who settled nearby in the 1810s, said Nicholas Evans-Cato, an artist who often depicts Brooklyn scenery.

This spring scientists will analyze flecks of blue-green paint in Ginger’s hair, to see if the ingredients reveal anything about the artwork’s age and maker. While the mysteries linger, Two Trees keeps it on view in an office hallway.

“Everybody kind of lights up when they see her,” said Hale Everets, a development manager at the company.


Harry C. Sigman gave a recent tour of a Manhattan museum filled with his own former possessions. Mr. Sigman, a Los Angeles lawyer, has donated more than 100 Austrian and German objects from the early 1900s to the museum, Neue Galerie New York.

Docents in training followed him around the Neue’s display cases as he explained the relationships between patrons like the Grand Duke of Hesse and innovative manufacturers and artisans like the Wiener Werkstätte collaborative and the Kayserzinn metalwork factory. During decades of collecting, he said, he trolled auctions and galleries in Europe and the United States and carried purchases home in his own luggage.

His favorite forms are restrained and disciplined. “I was really very happy when I got this knife and fork,” he said, pointing to silver cutlery with teardrop handles by the Belgian designer Henry van de Velde.

The donated collection ranges “from the humblest, most modest to the most elegant,” said Renée Price, the museum’s director. The docents filed past a van de Velde tin for dietary supplements; ceramic vessels for salt and eggs by the German designer Richard Riemerschmid; and a pewter candlestick by Joseph Maria Olbrich.

Mr. Sigman still owns scores of early-1900s objects, including a chunk of a Paris Métro station and inlaid furniture by the French designers Louis Majorelle and Émile Gallé. He plans to donate them to other institutions. Without the German and Austrian contingent at his home now, he said, “I can’t say it feels empty, but it sure feels denuded.”

In a March 6 design auction, Sotheby’s in New York is offering versions of the Neue gifts: a pair of Olbrich candlesticks and a Wiener Werkstätte vase with brass grid filigree have estimates of up to $8,000 each.
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Kara Sundstrom
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 02:00:15 am »

Cece Saunders, Historical Perspectives

A 400-pound stone sculpture that surfaced during archaeological digs in Brooklyn last summer will be analyzed to determine its age and maker.    
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 02:01:04 am by Kara Sundstrom » Report Spam   Logged
Kara Sundstrom
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 02:01:53 am »


During early marches for women’s voting rights, activists calmly handed out pro-suffrage sashes and buttons while male onlookers screamed abuse and sometimes dressed sarcastically in drag.

The souvenir propaganda was immediately deemed worth preserving.

“The suffragists themselves, many of them were really, really excited about memorabilia and collected it,” Kenneth Florey, the author of a book due this spring, “Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study” (McFarland & Company), said in a phone interview.

As part of the March 3 centennial celebrations of the Woman Suffrage Parade in Washington, protesters’ newspapers, banners, badges, photos and clothing are on view at the Newseum, the National Press Club (with loans from the National Women’s History Museum), the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, long owned by the National Woman’s Party.

The 1913 marchers ended up swarmed by jeering men, and dozens of women were injured and hospitalized. In an evocative 1913 letter displayed at the National Museum of American History, Florence Hedges, a protester, recalled that the suffragists “could feel the hot breath of the people — often whiskey-laden — in their faces.”

Collectors now vie for mementos of the women’s ambition and the discrimination against them. Medals that British activists received after hunger strikes in prison can cost tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

In the past few months, batches of 19th-century suffragist correspondence have sold for up to $9,000 each in auctions at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. The writers were Antoinette Brown Blackwell, the first female ordained minister in America, and her sister-in-law Elizabeth Blackwell, the country’s first female medical school graduate.

Sarah Baldwin, the owner of the E. Wharton & Company book and memorabilia gallery in Crozet, Va., said suffrage letters can provide glimpses into the mindsets of activists. Her gallery once sold a note from the labor leader Samuel Gompers marveling at his friend Susan B. Anthony’s unfazed reactions to men’s insults.

“She steeled herself not to mind, not to answer back,” Ms. Baldwin said.

One of the field’s largest collections belongs to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust. It has acquired stockings with pro-suffrage mottos, among other oddities, and cartoons of hags labeled “suffragettes.” The term, although widely used, is considered condescending and derogatory among cognoscenti.

“That’s just a raw nerve in our family,” said Coline Jenkins, a Stanton descendant who is a founder of the trust.

A case full of women’s suffrage artifacts is now on long-term view in the “Activist New York“ exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Restoration plans are under way for a Gothic Revival mausoleum at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx that was built for the movement’s huge benefactor, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont.
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