Photo Friday: The Rocket Takes Off (and Says Goodbye)

James Scripps Booth showing off the JB Rocket prototype in Indianapolis, the conclusion of a test-drive from Detroit to Indiana, 1913. Cranbrook Archives.

James Scripps Booth showing off the JB Rocket prototype in Marion, Indiana, at the conclusion of a test-drive from Detroit to Indiana, 1913. Cranbrook Archives.

Today’s Photo Friday comes courtesy of A Driving Force: Cranbrook and the Car. The exhibition, organized by the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and hosted at Cranbrook Art Museum, features objects, renderings, and historic photographs that connect the Cranbrook community with Detroit’s long and venerable history of car production. And of course we also brought in actual 1914 car, because how could we not? Anyone who reads this blog regularly already knows quite a bit about the exhibition, so we won’t go on. If you haven’t had a chance to see the show, though, be sure to stop by Cranbrook Art Museum on Saturday or Sunday before the whole thing comes down once and for all!

Shoshana Resnikoff, Collections Fellows

Fashioning Architecture

In 1931, attendees at the Beaux-Arts Ball in New York came dressed to impress. An annual party thrown by the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, the ball featured a different theme each year. 1931’s theme of “Fete Moderne — a Fantasie [sic] in Flame and Silver” was inspired by the New York skyline and the iconic skyscrapers that had recently come to define it. Fully committing to the theme, many guests came dressed as famous New York buildings. In this photo William Van Alen holds center court as the Chrysler Building (of which he was the architect) while other personified buildings crowd around him.

William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, with other masquerading architects around him. On the far right is Joseph Freelander as the Museum of the City of New York.  Source: NY Times/untappedcities.com.

William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, with other masquerading architects around him. On the far right is Joseph Freelander as the Museum of the City of New York. Source: NY Times/untappedcities.com.

 

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Photo Friday: Cage at Cranbrook

Limited edition postcard featuring CAA student Jim Poole wearing a Cage Bag as a mask on Cranbrook's campus, 1974. Courtesy Stephen Milanowski.

Limited edition postcard featuring CAA student Jim Poole wearing a Cage Bag as a mask on Cranbrook’s campus, 1974. Courtesy Stephen Milanowski.

In 1974, artist-composer John Cage traveled to Cranbrook for the opening of the museum exhibition Music-Mushrooms-Manuscripts. His visit prompted an incredible spate of creative production among CAA students, including this postcard. Part of a limited edition set created as part of Cage’s visit, the card features CAA student Jim Poole wearing a “Cage Bag” as a mask. The Cage bags (paper bags featuring silk-screened images of John Cage’s face) were made to be used in a performance of Cage’s compositions held on campus.

If this all seems confusing, don’t worry – you can get some clarity on this amazing, confusing, and exciting time period by visiting Cranbrook Art Museum on Sunday, March 23. Shelley Selim, the 2013-2015 Jeanne and Ralph Graham Fellow, will be lecturing on John Cage’s visit to Cranbrook as well as discussing Mushroom Book and Sounds of Venice, two Cage works currently on display in the Cranbrook Art Museum exhibition My Brain Is in My Inkstand: Drawing as Thinking and Process. The lecture starts at 4 pm, and immediately following will be a performance of Sounds of Venice by Detroit musician and composer Joel Peterson (check out his amazing gallery/restaurant/performance space Trinosophes, across from Eastern Market). For more information, check out Cranbrook Art Museum’s website. You can also read more about the Cage visit in Shelley’s amazing blog entry, hosted hereon our sister blog Cranbrook Sightings. And if you haven’t yet seen My Brain Is in My Inkstand, be sure to catch it soon–the exhibition closes on March 30!

Dear Diary: Women in Their Own Words

“When women tell their life stories in their own words, a distinct enthusiasm, engagement and affirmation emerges . . . these are the stories in which women are the central actors, even if their stories are camouflaged by modesty and disclaimers.” So writes Judy Nolte Lensink in Perspectives on Women’s Archives. One of the most common ways in which women tell their life stories is through their personal diaries. The stories can range from day-to-day events, personal reflections, or comments about the world at large. Nearly every archive has diaries in its collection, and ours is no exception. Below are a few examples of the range of journals found in the Cranbrook Archives.

Harriet Messinger Scripps, circa 1872. Cranbrook Archives.

Harriet Messinger Scripps, circa 1872. Cranbrook Archives.

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Photo Friday: Wartime Conservation, Kingswood-Style

Kingswood students Blenda Isbey, Irene Bard, and Nollie Campbell collect waste fat after their Home Economics class at Kingswood School, 1944. Harvey Croze, Cranbrook Archives.

During World War II, students at the Cranbrook and Kingswood Schools became increasingly involved in homefront activities. Here, Kingswood students Blenda Isbey, Irene Bard, and Nollie Campbell collect waste fat after they’ve finished their Home Economics class. Fat could be used to make soap, in great demand because of wartime rations, but was also consolidated for use in explosives.

Poster advocating the re-use of waste fats in explosives. Henry Koerner, Printed by the Office of War Information, 1943. National Archives.

Poster advocating the re-use of waste fats in explosives. Henry Koerner, Printed by the Office of War Information, 1943. National Archives.

Shoshana Resnikoff, Collections Fellow

Illuminating Lives: Documenting Women in the Cranbrook Archives

In the publication Perspectives on Women’s Archives, recently released by The Society of American Archivists , editors Tanya Zanish-Belcher and Anke Voss begin their introduction with the following : “the history of women’s archives and the collecting of women’s records reflect the larger cultural and societal developments occurring in American history over the past few centuries.” This poses the question—how do we at Cranbrook document the lives of the women who worked and studied here? What can we do to actively collect the papers and records that will illuminate the lives of these women? How have their experiences contributed to our community and to the world at large?

Currently, the Cranbrook Archives has a small percentage of collections donated by women or their families that speak to these issues, including the collections of Cranbrook artists and the papers of former CEC president Lillian Bauder. However, the bulk of women’s history can be found in our institutional records. I would like to spotlight three unsung women in this blog: Helen McIlroy, Pearl Peterson, and Marjorie Bingham.

Helen McIlroy at her desk at Cranbrook House, 1950. Cranbrook Archives.

Helen McIlroy at her desk at Cranbrook House, 1950. Cranbrook Archives.

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Photo Friday: Alexandrine Behind the Wheel

Alexandrine McEwen in her Scripps-Booth, 1916.  Cranbrook Archives.

Alexandrine McEwen in front of Cranbrook House in her Scripps-Booth, 1916. Cranbrook Archives.

As the organization that is currently hosting the exhibition A Driving Force: Cranbrook and the Carit would make sense that we at the Center were drawn to this photo for its representation of a 1916 Scripps-Booth, the car designed by James Scripps Booth and produced by his automotive company. Instead, though, the woman behind the wheel is the real star of the image. Alexandrine McEwen and her sister, Katherine, were co-founders of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (DSAC) and friends of George Booth. Alexandrine was a bookplate artist, painted miniatures, and also authored many of the early plays for the DSAC. After living for decades in Detroit, she and Katherine relocated to Dragoon, Arizona where they ran a dude ranch.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist, and Shoshana Resnikoff, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

 

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