It’s Time for the Mummers!

2016 is screaming to a close.  Who knows what the New Year will bring?  One good thing it will bring is the Mummer’s Parade.  I’ve written about the Philadelphia Mummers and their fascinating history and traditions in past years but I’m always learning something new.  I saw the badges and ribbons pictured here at an exhibit at Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park.  

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At first, I thought the badges and ribbons were awards of some kind.  In fact, they were Mummer identification worn on parade day.   “New Years Association” is just another term for Mummers club.  

Mumming  is an ancient European  tradition.  The first modern Mummers Parade took place in Philadelphia on New Years 1876.   The first “official parade” was in 1901.   

To see pictures from the 1906 Mummers parade, press here.

Cross-dressing was a Winter Solstice and Carnival tradition that transitioned into the Mummers Parade without any political hysteria.  It was considered good fun.  And still is, as the picture below will attest.  That is my husband gamely posing with some happy Mummers.

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To read about cross-dressing and the Mummers Parade, press here .

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For the 2016 Parade lineup and route map, press here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Time in Fairmount Park

It’s holiday time and if you are trolling the Internet, it is probably to do last minute shopping or find recipes.  If you want to take a break, I invite you to have a look at some pictures I took on a tour of three of the Fairmont Park Mansions.

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Lemon Hill Mansion

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Woodford Mansion

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A couple of years ago,  Liberty Place hosted a delightful holiday exhibit of the Fairmount Park Mansions interpreted in gingerbread.  If you would like to read about the exhibit, click here.  And if you want to compare the gingerbread mansions with the real mansions, click on the links below.

Strawberry Mansion in Gingerbread

Lemon Hill in Gingerbread

Woodford Mansion in Gingerbread

Learn more about the Fairmont Park Mansions here.

Thank you to  the East Passyunk Community Recreation Center  and Councilperson Mark Squilla for organizing and sponsoring the tour.

 

 

 

A Melange of Topics Including Melange!

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I needed cinnamon.  My favorite spice store, The Spice Corner,  had closed.   I didn’t feel like running up to Reading Terminal and pre packaged spices from the grocery store were out of the question.  That left Melange, a tea and spice store at 11th and Pine Streets in Philadelphia.  Melange has been open for a couple of years but I had never shopped there before I stepped in that November afternoon.  When I asked if they carried cinnamon, proprietor Boris Ginsburgs  steered me to a shelf that held Saigon cinnamon, Sri Lankan cinnamon and Indonesian cinnamon.

“Could you explain the difference between the three of them?”

Boris launched into an explanation that was concise, lucid, and which branded him as a tea and spice nerd. Maven would be a better description.  I ended up buying small onamounts of all three varieties intending to try them in different dishes.    And I will go back to Melange when I need more spices because they have such a big, reasonably priced assortment.

Boris Ginsburgs knows his tea and spices.  Just read through the Melange web site if you want a tea and spice education.  Better yet, go to Melange and buy some new spices to try.

 

 

In other news,  I raised a little money for the Fleisher Art Memorial  by running a make and take bracelet table at their annual Holiday Craft Fair.   I also contributed a piece to Fleisher’s semi-annual fundraiser, Dear Fleisher, 4 x 6  inches of  Art.

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   More than 300 artists contributed work to the fundraiser.   All the work  is  priced at $50.00 and  the artists remain anonymous until the work is  sold. The polymer  piece I donated  went home with a buyer.

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Where Satellite Dishes Go to Die

 

Rembrandt Huis

Rembrandt bought a house on Jodenbreestraat  in Amsterdam in 1639 and lived there until he went bankrupt in 1656 and lost everything.  There is a debate over whether Rembrandt’s  lavish taste caused his financial problems or whether he was a victim of  a shift in the art market.

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Rembrandt made his fortune as a portrait painter (and-this was a surprise to me-an art dealer!)  Prior to Rembrandt’s time, only the nobility could afford to sit for portraits. But social, technological and economic changes changed that.  By the early the 17th century,  the social fabric that had carried Europe through the last 1000 years was starting to fray at the edges. Holland was a Protestant country where to profit by one’s hard work was considered a virtue. Amsterdam was a commercial town with a wealthy merchant class. Then as now, the existence of a group of people with disposable income  was  good for business and a boon for artists.  Rembrandt did so well that he was able to buy his  grand house  on Jodenbreestraatin.   The house  is still there  and it’s open to the public

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Rembrandt Huis was a must-see for me because I have always loved his work. Rembrandt’s paintings make an impression on the viewer  because they do more than reproduce people and scenes in pictures: the tell stories. When you look at one of his Biblical paintings, or example,  you think about the people in it and what they must be doing and thinking. They look like they are engaged in something  rather assuming poses for a painting. Their engagement, in turn, engages us because on a fundamental level, we humans are story telling beings.

Rembrandt is also known as the master of light and his skills were unmatched.  He could make the paint look like lace, gold, sunlight, or gossamer layered fabric. He did not use gold paint, but he could paint gold so convincingly that it is hard to believe he did not use gold in his paint.

Rembrandt  was an art dealer as well as an artist, and sold the work of other artists that he displayed in   a showroom in the main room of his house.

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He also ran an art school on the top floor of his  house and taught several students at a time.

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Rembrandt  had a well-stocked room full of costumes and props that he used in his paintings. Some say that he was more of a shopaholic, buying anything that caught his fancy.  His profligate collecting  did not do his pocketbook any good and when he was forced to declare bankruptcy, all his belongings and his house  were sold at auction to cover his debts.

I learned about how Rembrandt’s paints were mixed  when I went to the Rembrandt Huis this past summer.  I made a short film in which a docent explains how it was done.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to visit Rembrandt Huis if you are ever in Amsterdam.

 

 

 

Handmade for the Holidays

This is where I’ll be this Saturday.  Come on over, make a bracelet or buy a gift from one of the vendors, and support this wonderful community  art center.

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