Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Conservative Tastes in the Greek Art World

The Economist's recent special report on the art market affirmed my suspicions about the international market of Greek art (see, "Suspended Animation," Nov. 28, 2009). I have, on occasion, blogged on the sale of Greek art and noted that, although seemingly international, Greek art circulates primarily in Greek hands. Essay "A Whole New World," focuses on the effects of globalization in contemporary art and comments on the success of Bonhams and Sotheby's in capturing the demand for Greek works. I quote the entire paragraph:

"The Greek shipowners who fled political turmoil at home for the calm squares of London in the 1960s had the money to compete for Greek art. They had conservative tastes, seeking out paintings of the Acropolis and large seascapes. The London auction houses were happy to supply what they wanted, and the sales of Greek art from the 19th and 20th centuries at Sotheby's and Bonhams have been highly successful." (p. 15)

The conservative tastes expressed in the international market of Greek art is hence a rigged game, expressing the tastes of a particular class with international distinctions. Whether the taste of Greek shipowners matches the taste of the ordinary Greek remains an open question. In contrast to this older generation of artistic commerce (and I don't mean old in age alone), globalization has brought about new artistic players. Most prominent among them is Dakis Joannou, the Cypriot industrialist, whose Deste museum (in Nea Ionia, Athens) has received international acclaim. "I am not interested in power but engagement. I like to put the work in dialogue with other art, to give it the opportunity to speak, to see whether it can stand on its own feet," explains Joannou to the Economist (p. 9). Joannou started collecting in 1985 with Jeff Koons' Equilibrium. I was intrigued with the repetition of the term "engagement" also in Koons assessment of his own productions. Also quoted in the Economist, Koons states "It's not a critique but an acceptance of our own cultural history. I guess the people who are involved with my work feel physically and intellectually engaged." (p. 11). I suspect that "engagement" is the new code word to distinguish a type of art making and collecting that is differentiated from the market. During the 1990s, as we all know, the art market was inflated by collectors who bought as an economic gamble rather than as a personal love for the objects.

Finally, to situate Greece in the contemporary international market, we must highlight the opening of a Gagosian branch, in Athens on September 15. Adding to three galleries in New York, one in Beverly Hills, one in Rome, two in London and an office in Hong Gong, Larry Gagosian has expanded his international venues to Athens. Gagosian in Athens opened with an exhibition of Cy Twombly. The Athens Biennial, whose theme this last summer was "Heaven," has received little attention in contrast to the Istanbul Biennial, which is becoming almost as important as the biennials at Venice and Sao Paulo.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Athens Building Database

Sometime over 10 years ago, I started a little photographic project that I never completed: to document all the 1930s buildings in Athens. I was inspired by the methodologies I had learned in documenting vernacular architecture at the Morea Project and wanted to apply it on the modern apartment buildings of the interwar period. My 1930s Polykatoikies Project was a great excuse to walk every street of Athens and take photographs. A couple of books on 1930s apartment buildings have come out since then, and the Benaki has established a great architectural archive. Things are looking a little better for modern architectural studies. The field is still dominated by the super-scholars of the Polytechneion (Manolis Korres for ancient, Charalambos Bouras for medieval, Dimitris Philippides for modern), but a new generation seems to be emerging as well.

Athens is full of modern architectural jewels like the 1932 Blue Apartment Building at Exarcheia (published by Maro Kardamitse-Adame, 2006). Some have been studied thoroughly on a one-to-one case and the general historical narrative has been well established. What is still missing, nevertheless, is a systematic documentation of what is on the ground that might include lesser and greater buildings. The online database Contemporary Monuments Database is a good start. The project is directed by Leonidas Kallivretakis of the National Research Center. The database includes 267 buildings and is searchable by construction dates (1467-2003). The general website, Archaeology of the City of Athens, also includes 12 papers by experts on each period. The only annoying thing about the site is its ominous musical introduction.

The recent controversy over the houses on 17 and 19 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street have highlighted the preservation threats of modern Greek architecture. The destruction of the older housing stock during the 1960s is now lamentable. "Here is Athens ... the City before," a documentary from 1980, makes the case most poetically. It features a very nice text by painter Yannis Tsarouchis. The documentary begins with works by Spyros Vasileiou. If you remember from my last posting, Vasileiou is the painter of Patesion Street that Sotheby's just sold for $330,000. The video is available on the Archaeology of the City of Athens website and it's worth the 20 minutes. The documentary itself seems like a relic of the late 1970s. Its images of Athens are already historical.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Patesion Street Art

I'm partial to Patesion Street in Athens, a grand boulevard designed in the 1920s as the city expanded northward. Believe it or not, Athens was called the Paris of the south in the 1930s thanks to such urban features. Reading George Seferis' or other 1930s intellectuals, one becomes quickly convinced that 1930s Athens was quite spectacular. For more information on the city's urbanism, see Manos Bires' Αι Αθήναι από του 190υ εις τον 20ον αιώνα (Athens, 1966). Most people tend to obsess over Athens' 19th-century neoclassical grandeur, its first major rebuilding after independence (1860s-70s especially). The early modernist grandeur, the boulevards, the Bauhaus housing stock get a much shorter schrift. Sadly, the period of Athens' greatest demographic expansion (the 1960s) had no urban vision whatsoever; many historians blame the junta for this. The 1960s city has so engulfed the fabric of Patesion Street that one finds it difficult to imagine that the street would have ever been the subject of poetry and painting.

Sotheby's modern Greek art sale in November included some impressive works. One was "Patesion Street" (above) by Spyros Vasileiou, which sold for $330,000. Vasileiou's early work rarely comes up for sale, so this example was particularly desirable. Vasileiou is a fascinating figure, a painter of the "Thirties Generation" (representing Greece in the 1934 Venice Biennale) but also the first Greek Pop Artist. In 1955 he came to the U.S. and painted the interior of Saint Constantine's in Detroit. He is also the only artist from the Greek Thirties Generation that had his work exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum (in 1960). In 1984, Vasileiou's studio was converted into a house museum, located in Plaka (5a Webster Street). The building itself is a noteworthy specimen of Greek modernism, designed by Patroklos Karantinos in 1957. Vasileiou taught theater design (and designed sets for the 1962 movie Electra)

As has been typical in the last few years, Greek neoclassical works bring the highest price. This year's Sotheby's sale was no different. Nikolaos Gyzis' "The Fortune Teller" (left) sold for $530,ooo. What is amazing about this topseller, however, is that it was only recently discovered in an American collection.

All things considered, the Sotheby's sale totaled $ 6.5 million. Of the 173 works put up for sale, 106 were sold. Six months ago, the Bonham's modern Greek sale was equally successful. See my thoughts on that event here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

London Calling

It seems only yesterday that the landmark LP London Calling by the Clash turned 25, an event celebrated by a re-release of the album with new video and footage. On December 13, London Calling is turning 30 this time. And at the ripe age of 30, the Clash turns archaeological. The anniversary will be marked by the auctioning of the Clash's original art work, the classic album cover with Paul Simonon smashing his Fender Precision bass on stage at the New York Palladium. There's lots to say about Simonon's instruments, including a Rickenbacker given to him by Patti Smith, but basically the white Fender Precision was iconic. The 1979 image contains its own archaeology, namely, The Who smashing their instruments in the 1965 performance of My Generation at the Beat Club, as well as, Sid Vicious hitting an audience member with his own Fender Precision bass. The bass that Simonon smashed in the photo had been newly bought in 1979. Simonon regretted destroying this instrument because it proved to be one of his best sounding ones. The very bass has become a relic and it now resides at the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. You can read the entire history of Simonon's 11 basses (scroll down to Paul Simonon Bass Story 1976-2008 here ).

At any rate, Bonhams auction house is selling the original London Calling art work by Ray Lowry valued at $100,000 (Sale 16905 Lot 26), and two autographed photos valued at $500 and $300 (Sale 16905, Lot 293 & 294). Ray Lowry, unfortunately, passed away in 2008. After the dissolution of the Clash, by the way, Paul Simonon has turned to a career in painting.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It Happened in Athens

An interesting exhibit just opened in Athens called "It Happened in Athens," (Συνέβη στην Αθήνα), at the "Melina" Cultural Center (Irakleidon 66 & Thessalonikis, Theseion). The exhibit features over 170 paintings representing daily life in Athens and its monuments. It was curated by Iris Kritikou and includes works by Giannis Moralis, Nikos Angelidis, Yannis Psychopaidis, Yannoulis Chalepas, Panagiotis Tetsis and Maria Philopoulou (left). The title of the exhibit refers to the 1962 comedy, It Happened in Athens, directed by Andrew Marton and starring Jayne Mansfield . The movie was produced by 20th Century Fox when Spyros Skouras was its executive. It's about Spyros Louis, the 1896 Cretan Marathon Olympic winner. The movie is not particularly good, but its soundtrack composed by Manos Hadjidakis has endured longer. I suspect, it is the Hadjidakis song that the curators had in mind, rather than the corny Hollywood version of 1896 Athens (see clip here). The exhibit will last for one month (December 1-23, 2009) and I regret that I won't see it. But I hope that the catalog (published by Mikre Arktos) will make its way into American libraries.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lancaster: Poetic Archaeology

Ben Leech, has outdone his own artistic discipline with "Subterranean Recovery Crew" posted on Old Weird Lancaster (Nov. 17, 2009) and shown above. Since this summer, Ben has been choosing a building in Lancaster, Pa. and drawing it. The series is called "Building of the Week" and is a regular feature of the Lancaster Building Conservancy blog. In addition to the drawing, each building is thoroughly researched and photographed. So far, the series includes Strawberry Hill Grocery, Groff Funeral Home (one of my favorites), Kepper's Confectionary Building, 302-306 West Vine Street, Fleet Wing, Ashley and Bailey Silk Mill, and the Mayer Farmstead. For those who do not know of Ben, he is a practicing Historic Preservationist that came to Lancaster from Chicago only a few years ago. He is best known in the Lancaster community for two blogs, The Lancaster Building Conservancy and Old Weird Lancaster.

When Ben published the drawing above he entered a new realm: archaeology and archaeological poetics. "Subterranean Recovery Crew" contains 12 drawings of objects that Ben found in his back yard while gardening. The piece takes its name from the hotwheel in fig. 11 that reads "Subterranean Recovery Crew." The drawing was posted just as Ben was storing his garden tools at the end of a productive Fall. I love this drawing, it's loaded with associations. First, it is technically immaculate. It uses all the 19th-century conventions of archaeological illustration (orthographic representation, line-weights, stippling). The style itself hence introduces an element of nostalgia, a common trope in archaeological representation, but the irony here is that the artifacts come from the capitalist present. Discarded in Ben's backyard by the previous occupants, even the "present" of our lives has aged and deteriorated. For instance, G.I. Joe has onions growing out of him (after all, even our current war in Iraq is 6 years old). Although brought together by the chance of archaeological discovery, the 12 objects have a provocative narrative quality. They come out of a dream, a Surrealist assemblage, or a Situationist drift. I honestly, cannot stop from looking at the illustration. Every time, I think I've seen it enough, I click on it again and come up with additional poetic scenarios. I thank Ben for letting me reproduce his drawing here.

At the same time, Ben's drawing is more than poetry, it evokes the scientific discipline of Garbology, created in 1973 by William Rathje at the University of Arizona. Rubbish: The Archaeology of Garbage (1992) by Williams Rathje and Cullen Murphy is one of the most important American archaeological publications (in my opinion). Excavating our own everyday lives has been beautifully explored in the collection of essay Archaeologies of the Recent Past, ed. Victor Buchli and Gavin Lucas (2001). I am particularly susceptible to Ben's drawing because I have been thinking about urban archaeology in Lancaster more broadly. The most recent noteworthy excavation at Lancaster was at the Stevens and Smith House, where a station in the underground railroad was discovered. The project was directed by James A. Delle (Kutztown University) and Mary Ann Levine (Franklin & Marshall College). I would love to see a more permanent F&M excavation at Lancaster and I'm exploring some possibilities.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hawass, the Greatful Dead, Beyonce

In a recent biographical article on Zahi Hawass, we learn that the most powerful man in Egyptian archaeology attended a Grateful Dead concert at the pyramids during the mid-1970s, see Ian Parker, "The Pharaoh," The New Yorker (Nov. 16, 2009), p. 52ff. A couple of months ago, I posted on the Pink Floyd concert in Pompeii (1971), pondering the connections between rock and archaeology. Parker's reference to Hawass' pyramids concert attendance made a nice match to the photo on the left, from a few days ago, when Hawass guided Beyonce at Giza. Beyonce's "I Am..." tour has raised some controversy in the Islamic world, see Art Daily (Nov. 10, 2009). Although I used this news story as a conversation piece in my Islamic class, I will make no comments on the irony of this picture (the Egyptian cowboy archaeologist and the scarfed sex idol). Hawass spent a few years in Philadelphia as a grad student at Penn. His appreciation of American pop culture is not surprising, nor are his own super-star ambitions.

I will simply take a moment to remember the Grateful Dead concert, which took place in September 1978. The performance at the Giza Light and Sound theater was followed by three shows in Cairo. Interestingly enough, highlights of this Egyptian tour were released a year ago, see David Fricke, "The Dead Rock the Pyramids," Rolling Stone (Oct. 16, 2008). The CD title, "Rocking the Cradle/Egypt 1978," presumably refers to Egypt as the cradle of civilization. I am not a fan of the Grateful Dead, but I appreciate the inclusion of oud player Hamza El Din in their line up. El Din had appeared in the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, and in the 1980s/90s he taught ethnomusicology in various American universities. The 1978 Grateful Dead concert must be added to the saga of rock archaeology.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Churches of Lancaster Postcard

What better way to start an emotional relationship with a city than to start collecting its paraphernalia. I must confess that I have started to collect postcards that feature Lancaster's noteworthy architecture. Considering Lancaster County's tradition as a tourist destination, there is no shortage of postcards. You can imagine how thrilled I was to stumble on "the Churches of Lancaster" on eBay, this being the subject of a class I'm teaching next semester. Naturally, I bid on it and it arrived (above). I am not sure of the postcard's date, I would guess 1950s from the graphics. It proudly shows Lancaster's touristic identity vis-a-vis its historic churches. Considering that Lancaster has 122 churches, knowing which buildings the city promoted as its premier heritage is noteworthy. The churches are the First Methodist Church, St. Paul's Reformed Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Saint John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Trinity Lutheran Church.

The postcard will make a perfect conversation piece for the first meeting of my ART271 class, "Lancaster: Architecture of Faith." Pre-registration has just finished at Franklin & Marshall, and I am thrilled to see that the class is registered to full capacity. As I expected, it is a lot more popular than my Medieval Art and Architecture survey.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Airport Chapels on Flickr

Last week, I received some feedback on my last Airport Chapels postings. Blogger Little Ethiopia(n) and Esquire were recently traveling through Washington, D.C. and they spotted the chapel in Dulles Airport. I thank them for sending me the image on the left. This is a fabulous logo with the dome representing holy space and the airplane making a subtle nod to the cross, but not claiming Christian domination. On the subject of crosses, I hope you are following the controversy over the cross at the Mojave National Preserve, see NPR coverage here.

I also want to thank Julia for informing me of a new Airport Chapels Flickr site with 13 contributors and some 186 images. I especially like the group's write up, which I'll quote below:

"Anyone who's spent enough time in enough different airports has discovered that many have small spaces set aside to pray, worship, meditate, reflect, or just find some peace and quiet in. They are often hidden away in lonely corners of the airport, and are often the only place one can escape the incessant noise of a large, busy airport. They may be called chapels, capillas, masjids, mashallah, synagogues, temples, prayer rooms, or meditation rooms. Some are specific to a particular religion or sect, many are not.

All are welcome and encouraged to join this group, the devout, the skeptical, the questing, believers of all kinds, and atheists. But please respect each others' beliefs, whether you share them or not.

Please post your photos of airport prayer rooms and of people praying at airports here! If you can be specific in the captions or comments of your photo about the location of the prayer room, that will help others find one the next time they're traveling. Another source of information is the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains which has a searchable database of airport prayer rooms. Unfortunately, s far it doesn't have nearly as much information on airport prayer rooms in Muslim-majority countries as in Christian ones. Perhaps we can help them expand their horizons!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

West Philadelphia: Transfiguration

The wrecking ball has met the Church of the Transfiguration, on 56th and Cedar Sts. in West Philadelphia. Built in 1905, the church has been vacant for almost a decade. See the Philadelphia Church Project blog (here) for the sad images of demolition. The interior furnishings of the church were stripped last month and can be found at Provenance, the architectural salvage store on 1610 Fairmount Ave. This Catholic church, convent, school and complex was sold by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Boy's Latin, a charter school that opened in 2007. The school is an interesting, albeit controversial, experiment, see St. John Bard-Smith, "Latin Lovers," Philadelphia Weekly (June 11, 2008). The school will presumably expand in the plot that housed the Transfiguration.

Many thanks to the Necessity of Ruins for recording the processes of Philadelphia's own ruination. I was also deeply saddened to see the wrecking ball meet another West Philadelphia monument, the Drexel Shaft on 30th Street. The demolition took place on Sunday (Nov. 16); for more information, see, Eulogy for a Shaft and Drexel Shaft Implosion (Necessity of Ruins, Nov. 12 & 16). The smoke stack was designed for the 30th Street Station Steam Heating Plane by the office of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in 1929. This Chicago firm was the successor of Daniel Burnham's office and their ambitious urbanism is legendary. Their plans for Philadelphia's 30th Street resembled the Terminal Tower project in Cleveland. Unexpectedly, the Great Depression kept the full urban scheme from materializing. The smoke stack was an orphan, a monument to a lost moment. The boiler was last used in 1964 and, I agree with The Necessity of Ruins, it was an icon of West Philadelphia. Crossing the Schuylkill River or entering the city by train was always marked by this vertical monument rising over its cubic base.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

House Preservation: Greece

Houses are a difficult building type to preserve. They are typically not unique, not monumental, and victim of continuous alteration, repair, and changing ownership. Houses gain notoriety when someone of importance lived in them. Think of all the "George Washington slept here" houses in the U.S. This is the case with three houses in Greece that have received the recent attention of preservationists, the houses of Paulos Melas, Menelaos Lountemis, and Demetris Ronteris.

Balkan War hero Paulos Melas lived at Tatoi 50, Kephissia, during the last few years of his life till 1904. As an abandoned structure, the house has received gratuitous vandalism by all kinds of people emotionally invested with Melas from militant right-wingers to militant left-wingers. The house is currently owned by Melas' grand-daughter. On Sept. 16, the Council of Newer Monuments placed it in the national registry. The Ministry of Public Works also began its restoration. The structure is a small suburban one-story house built in 1895. See report by Giota Sykka, "Σχέδιο σωτηρίας της οικίας Παύλου Μελά," Kathimerini (Nov. 11, 2009).

Greek author Menelaos Lountemis was born in Asia Minor but spent his teenage years (1923-1932) in Exaplatanos, Pella. His house (top) was declared a national monument in 1985 and Melina Merkouri guaranteed the funds for its restoration. Nothing happened in the last 24 years and last February Lountemis' daugther initiated a call to action through Facebook to save the house from collapse. Over 1,000 Facebook supporters seem to have pressured the government into action. Last week, the deputy minister of Interior announced plans to restore the house. For a full report, see, "Αποκατάσταση της οικίας του Μενέλαου Λουντέμη," Kathimerini (Nov. 12, 2009).

The third house to be saved this Fall is the house of theater director Demetris Ronteris in Glyfada. I haven't been able to find further details about this project. I don't know much about Ronteris. He studied (among other things) art history in Austria and became a student of Max Reinhardt in Berlin. In 1932, he returned to Greece and directed in the National Royal Theater. His house in Glyfada hosted a saloon of luminaries, including Elia Kazan and John Steinbeck. Ronteris died in 1982 and his house has been under threat since then. In 2007, it almost went into auction.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Lancaster Vibe

I don't know what it is, but Lancaster has a distinctive vibe. Although I still feel like an outsider looking into the city from a great distance, new information and exciting events trickle to me every week. Lancaster's vibe is hip and it travels well on the internet. I feel progressively rooted into Lancaster's virtual community just as this very community appears aggressively connected to the textures of daily life rather than the zapping of virtual space. I'll give some examples. My colleague Linda Aleci has invited me to a city walk organized through Facebook. It's called the Lancaster Photo Walk. A number of people (who presumably don't know each other) will meet on the corner of Market and Queen Sts. at noon on Monday, Nov. 30. We will all wonder through downtown taking photos and collectively discover the rich architectural heritage in an impromptu kind of way.

On the night before, Sun., Nov. 29, 6-10pm, the Creative Works of Lancaster and the Lancaster Building Conservancy will be hosting their first movie night entitled "Love, War, and Architecture." I haven't seen any of the featured films and look forward to attending. The films are as follows:

1. Lost Buildings
A collaboration between Ira Glass (This American Life) and master illustrator Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth), this short animated documentary tells a heartbreaking story of beautiful buildings, the people who love them, and the people who tear them down. (2003, 22 minutes)

2 Little Castles
An irreverent history of Formstone, the fake stone veneer we love to hate. Shot in and around Baltimore, the birthplace and undisputed Formstone capital of the world, this short film includes a hilarious cameo by John Waters. (1998, 30 minutes)

3. Los Angeles Plays Itself
A critically-acclaimed portrait of Los Angeles as depicted (and distorted) by Hollywood's mythologizing lens. (2003, 160 minutes)

At this event, Ben Leach will conclude his Lancaster Kodachrome Campaign. A bunch of folks have gotten the last surviving samples of Kodachrome film, which the Eastman Company stopped producing this year. We're all using this suddenly archival medium for the last Kodachrome impressions of the urban fabric. Ben will collect all of our rolls and send them for batch processing. My roll is actually in the mail. My friend Matt Milliner spotted an old roll at a camera store in Cyprus. For those interested in the Kodachrome legacy, Ben recommends this video.

My introduction to the Lancaster vibe is also flavored by David Schuyler's A City Transformed: Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1940-1980 (University Park, 2002), which I have just began. The book is a MUST for unpacking Lancaster. Schuyler is a colleague at Franklin & Marshall, professor of American Studies. In addition to being an incredible scholar, Schuyler is exemplary in involving undergraduate students in his research and co-authoring books and articles. Schuyler reassured me that he became a Lancaster expert only after arriving at F&M. His book rose out of his teaching, which is just an amazing pedagogical notion and something that F&M seems to do quite well. So, I can't wait to work with my first Hackman Scholar.

Lancaster's postwar urban renewal is a typical story of the American city. The wholesale demolition of the blighted inner city took place in the 1950s. City Transformed tells an incredible story. Suburbanization, federal funds managed by city official, modernist architecture, and race politics transformed an attractive Victorian city into a fragmented faceless place. Lancaster's low urban density did not warrant the same kind of revival that other downtown experienced in the 1990s (e.g. Philadelphia). The city, thus, remains as a laboratory caught in various historical moments. The Lancaster vibe measures its pulse. I'm really glad to be here and virtually surrounded by a crowd I haven't even yet met.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Islamic Art and Pennsylvania

During my interview at Franklin and Marshall College, I showed material from my excavations of an Arab/Norman house in western Sicily, including an almost complete Green-and-Brown plate. Having spent a few minutes in F&M's Phillips Museum before my research talk, I came across this Pennsylvania Dutch plate from 1816 (left), which I photographed and inserted into my presentation as a distant cousin to medieval Mediterranean ceramics. Early American pottery belongs to medieval ceramic traditions, indirectly influenced by the pottery of Islam and Byzantium. Clearly, I was stretching myself to make my research relevant further closer to home.

Now that I am actually teaching a class on Islamic Art and Architecture at F&M, I had a chance to research the local traditions and substantiate my claims. I am also thrilled to see that I was right and my intuition was not too far off. The medieval Mediterranean ABSOLUTELY influenced Pennsylvania Dutch ceramics. The plate at the Phillips belongs to a type known as Tulip Ware. An article from New England Magazine (March, 1895) explains this fascinating transmission of Islamic notions in the New World.

"This was a favorite flower with the old German-Americans, not only on account of its beauty and characteristic form, and the ease with which its simple outline could be represented in slip-painting, but because of the associations surrounding it. The tulip, a native of the shore of the Mediterranean, in the Levant, or the region to the east of Italy, extending into Turkey and Persia, is said to have been brought from Constantinople to Augsburg by Konrad von Gesner, a noted botanist and zoologist of Switzerland, in the year 1559, where it soon came into a popular favor. In the 17th century the cultivation of this plant developed in Holland to such an extent that it became one of the most remarkable horticultural manias in the world's history, and fabulous prices were frequently paid for the new and rare varieties. The Tulpenwuth, or 'tulip madness,' extended into Germany and continued to rage for many years. The German potters of the 18th century, particularly throughout the Rhenish Palatinate, used the tulip extensively as decorative subject on their slip-ornamented earthenware ... It is remarkable that the Persian name of the tulip, dulband, should have retained through nearly three and a half centuries, and that the plant should be known to the Pennsylvania Germans to-day as the Dullaban."

The passage from 1895 is quoted in Edwin Atlee Barber, Tulip Ware of the Pennsylvania German Potters (Philadelphia, 2003), pp. 82-83. Tulip Ware pottery is also discussed in John Sweetman's classic study, The Oriental Obsession: Islamic Inspiration in British and American Art and Architecture 1500-1920 (Cambridge, 1988), p. 213.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Philadelphia Greeks and their Black Priest

While researching the architectural history of Greek American churches in Philadelphia, I came upon Raphael Morgan, a fascinating individual. Reverend Morgan became the first African American Orthodox priest. He was born in Jamaica in the 1860s or 1870s, was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1895, converted to Orthodoxy in 1907 and was ordained. I will not recount Morgan's life story here, but simply refer you to his Wikipedia biography and a lecture by Matthew Namee (also available on podcast).

What is amazing to me is that Fr. Raphael was an integral part of the Greek community between 1907 and 1916. His religious sponsor for ordination was Fr. Demetrios Petrides, whom I mentioned in yesterday's posting on the Greek churches of Lancaster. Fr. Raphael's home was the Church of the Annunciation, the first Greek-Orthodox parish in Philadelphia. Originally an Episcopalian church (All Saints), the building was bought by the Greeks in 1908 and was converted into the Annunciation. It was torn down in the 1960s, after the congregation migrated outwardly to the suburbs of Upper Darby and Elkins Park. The current Orthodox Cathedral in Philadelphia, Saint George, was established five years after Fr. Raphael's last known reference. Saint George moved into a premiere Episcopalian church, Saint Andrews (designed by John Haviland in 1822). The building still serves the community, see “From Greek Revival to Greek America: Archaeology and Transformation in Saint George Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia,” New Griffon 10 (2008), pp. 28-36.

The Greek American community of Philadelphia felt so close to this African American priest, that it sought him as assistant pastor if he failed to establish a black Orthodox parish. In the 1970s, historian Paul Manolis conducted oral history interviews and recorded stories from the Greeks of the Annunciation who fondly remembered Fr. Raphael as children. Fr. Raphael was married, divorced, became a monk and may have founded a monastic order of black Orthodox Christians. Along with a group of Jamaicans in Philadelphia, he published a letter complaining about black nationalist Marcus Garvey. Historians lose his whereabouts in 1916. One of the elderly Philadelphia Greeks interviewed in the 1970s, remembers that he sailed off to Jerusalem and never returned.

The story of the first African-American Orthodox priest is truly amazing. The Greek American community needs to remember this interracial chapter of its history. Fr. Raphael's role in the life of Philadelphia is especially pertinent as the Greek Orthodox parish welcomes a growing Ethiopian community. Although congenial in their interactions, my sense is that the Greek parishioners have never truly embraced their African brethren the way that their ancestors embraced their black priest. Some of the most prominent African American Orthodox intellectuals today include Albert Raboteau, professor of religion at Princeton University, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Mount Menoikeion Seminar in 2005. Although I am not an expert in theological matters (and defer to Vasilis Marinis and Matthew Milliner on most issues), there seems to be some traction between historical Orthodoxy and African Christianity, rediscovered by African American intellectuals like Fr. Raphael Morgan and Professor Raboteau. The African American tradition in the Orthodox church is obviously an exception to the rule. Consider Raboteau's colleague at Princeton, Cornell West, who has most eloquently addressed Constantinian Christianity in his Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism (2004). For West and other liberal intellectuals, Orthodoxy's historical connections with empire (Byzantium) and state (modern nationalism) is a major turn-off. But for other intellectuals that have arrived to Orthodoxy through Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, the Orthodox tradition is softer and philosophically fundamental.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Layers of Architecture: The Greek Church(es) of Lancaster

The rain finally stopped, and I took advantage of the sunshine by exploring some of the churches and cultural institutions of Lancaster. I visited a dozen of the major historical monuments in the downtown area, but also had informational meetings at the Lancaster County Historical Society and the Lancaster County Historic Preservation Trust. Both of these institutions will become important once the students of my Lancaster seminar start doing original research.

While at the Lancaster Historical Society, which is an amazing public resource for professional and non-professional historians, I browsed through the Society's journal and discovered a special issue devoted to the Greek-American community. The archaeology of Greek immigration has become one of my special interests developing out of my article for Timothy E. Gregory's Festschrift and the New Griffon 10 (2008). Just two weekends ago, I was fortunate to take part in a round table discussion at the Modern Greek Studies Association conference in Vancouver. "Notes from the Field: Working in/on the Hellenic Diaspora" was organized by Gregory Jusdanis and included presentations by Anna Karpathakis ("Learning Greek America as a Native Outsider"), Martha Klironomos ("The Relevance of Greek American Studies to Broader Academic Inquiry") and myself ("The Archaeology of Immigration: Material Culture and the Greek Diaspora").

I have also began a conversation with Vasilis Marinis on documenting the early churches of the Greek diaspora. Marinis studies liturgies and inter-denominational connections (hence perfectly positioned at the Yale Divinity School). My article on the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia explored issues of symbolic appropriation, namely the transformation of an Episcopalian space into a Greek-Orthodox liturgical space in 1921. Marinis' research reminds us of the unique ecumenical proximity between the Episcopalian (Anglican) and Orthodox faiths in the early 20th century. Although the two churches have clearly diverged intellectually, there was once serious talk over ecclesiastical union. It's such ideas that I brought along with me to the Lancaster County Historical Society.

Nikitas J. Zervanos, "The Early Greek Settlers of Lancaster County, 1896-1922 and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church," Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 110:3/4 (Fall/Winter 2008-2009), pp. 94-200, is a great piece of historical research and the fundamental study of the Greek community in Lancaster. It also provides some interesting information about the congregation's urban belonging. At around 1918, the Greek-American bishop Alexandros permitted Episcopal clergy to minister Greeks in Lancaster. The Greeks lacked their own priest and depended on the occasional visit by Reverend Petrides from the Annunciation in Philadelphia. Without a congregation, the Lancaster Greeks worshiped in St. John's Episcopal Church (321 W. Chestnut St.). The arrangement between the Episcopal clergy and the Greek community was an ecumenical gesture sanctioned by Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople and Bishop Alexandros, who were trying to establish a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America (ultimately founded in 1922). Obviously, the conservative elements of the Greek Orthodox Church, especially back in Greece, were not supportive.

After the early stint of borrowing space from St. John's Episcopal Church, the Greek community raised the funds to buy its own building. In 1916, St. Paul's Methodist Church (picture above by Zervanos) relocated (from 215 S. Queen St. to 10 W. Farnum St.). The Methodists upgraded from a modest brick building (1861) to a grand new structure (1916) across the street and sold the old building to the First Pentecostal Church. In turn, the Pentecostals upgraded six years later and moved to the former Reformed Episcopal Church (150 Locust St.). In 1922 the old building was sold to the Greeks, who rededicated as the Annunciation. Having inhabited an Episcopalian space without their own priest, the Greeks of Lancaster proudly converted a Methodist structure (temporarily used as Pentecostal) for their own needs. The building served as the heart of the Greek community until 1960, when the Greeks acquired new property and built an authentic Orthodox space. The new Annunciation (64 Hershey Ave.) continues to serve the Greeks of Lancaster today. The old Annunciation (St. Paul's, etc.) was sold to African-American newcomers. It served as Glad Tidings Temple, Assembly of God (1960-1972), Water Street Mission's Grace Chapel (1972-1981), and Brightside Baptist Church (1981-present). From its construction in 1861 until today, the Methodist St. Paul has served no less than six different communities.

Such complicated building genealogies are typical to American parishes, whose populations rapidly change under socio-economic pressures. Capitalist cycles of boom-and-bust cause geographical movement. Different denominations, ethnicities, races and classes play an urban dance of property and power. The immigrant's dislocation from Greece to America (the grand narrative) was effectively mitigated by a series of architectural adjustments (the micro narrative). The archaeologist of Greek-America can fill the gaps left by the grand transnational narrative. The immigrant's true story is dramatized in shifting spatial shells. Squatting in an Episcopal church is liturgically interesting. Equally interesting is transforming a Methodist hand-me-down into an Orthodox new home and finally passing it on to the next under-class. Surely, the 1960 Annunciation will be subjected to future pressures of space, time and human geography.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lancaster: The Architecture of Faith

Dr. Kostis Kourelis
Preliminary Syllabus

Franklin & Marshall College, Art and Art History Department, ART 271, Spring 2009

Lancaster is a veritable museum of architectural history. Using the city as a living laboratory, we will investigate its religious buildings, churches, mosques, and temples. We will focus on the buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when places of worship received lavish attention and artistic investment. We will explore how American communities imported old architectural models (Roman, Greek, Romanesque, Byzantine, Islamic) to create new social identities. Places of worship linked the past with the present and anchored demographic groups to an urban fabric that never ceased to change. Studying individual buildings will reveal the history of the American city, its social classes, ethnicities, and religious differences. The class is a workshop. Students will conduct original research, collaborate in a shared final project, and learn the methods of architectural history.

The seminar will run like a communal workshop. Although each student will have his/her individual assignment, we will create a collective body of knowledge and will teach each other through our processes. Although no previous knowledge is assumed, we will build on each student’s previous experiences and strengths.

Produce architectural documentation (drawings, photos, narratives) · Learn how a building’s fabric can be used as historical evidence · Understand architecture’s visual vocabulary across time · Explore urban identity, community, religion, ethnicity and politics · Learn how to conduct archival research and oral histories · Present architectural research through polished prose

During the first week of the seminar, we will explore the different chapters of architectural history, and how they have created a cumulative vocabulary that was fully understood by Lancaster’s citizens. We will understand the significance of style as marker of identity. After a survey of ancient and medieval architectural developments, we will see how historical precedents inform modern cultural practices. We will focus on 19th- and early-20th-century sensibilities regarding the value of imitating historical styles.

Anthropologists define religion as the net accumulation of social practices and rituals. We will investigate the ways by which social activities organize space, produce hierarchical experiences and commemorate sacred time. At some level, the architecture of faith is nothing more than the monumental expression of religious ritual. We will investigate various religious practices and how they gave birth to architectural spaces.

America’s religious landscape is extremely complex. Not only does the United States contain a multiplicity of religious communities, but its own history experienced intense change and development with religion at the center. In order to understand the architecture of faith, we must understand denominational history and the competition among faiths in the American public sphere. Guest lecture: Professor Eric T. Baldwin, Department of Religious Studies

Different religions cohabited the American city creating an urban tapestry of monumental expressions. Churches, temples and mosques became focal points around which ethnic communities coalesced during the growth of the American industrial city. Religious buildings defined the social identity of a certain neighborhood and its dominant belief system. It is impossible to understand America’s religious buildings without understanding the social and economic context in which they played their role.

Maps will be our first source material. We will trace the development of Lancaster through a series of cartographic sources. Focusing our attention on the year 1914, we will then map all the religious buildings within the city limits. This chronological snapshot will give us a clear view of the numbers, types, and varieties of buildings. Class meets at Franklin and Marshall Library, Archives and Special Collections.

In order to understand a historical community and its buildings, we must learn how to analyze its historical documents. Archives are collections of historical material that have been deposited for safekeeping. Archives contain letters, publications, photographs, genealogies and all kinds of narratives. This week, we learn how to use those documents to place a historical building in its appropriate chronological setting. Class meets in Lancaster County’s Historical Society

The special (sacred) nature of religious architecture has guaranteed its preservation. In many cases, the community that built a certain building continues to inhabit it and worship in it. Thus, there is an organic connection between generations whose histories are not always written down on paper. Tapping oral histories is an invaluable skill in accumulating local knowledge. This week, we will learn how to conduct interviews and understand their value as repositories of information.

Buildings undergo change from the moment of their construction. Deciphering the concept of relative chronology in buildings requires an archaeological reading of their fabric. Some buildings simply deteriorate with time. Others are changed by their occupants through renovation, extension, addition, or partial demolition. A building is, thus, the sum of its chronological phases. Understanding its biography involves the careful sorting out of its parts in space and time. Guest Lecture: Benjamin Leech, Lancaster Building Conservancy

The objective of this class is not only to understand Lancaster’s architecture of faith but also to produce a record of it. Buildings are recorded by a standard set of drawing types—plans, sections and elevations. During this part of the course, we will learn how to produce documentary drawings that will sufficiently describe the structure in the case that the building at some point disappears. Documenting the walls of a historical structure is a central component to its preservation. We will also consider the standards of Historic Preservation. Field Trip: University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives, Philadelphia.

Buildings are not made up entirely of walls and humans occupants. Religious buildings especially become containers or repositories of other art forms that are occasionally far more valuable than the shell that contains them. Vestments, ritual vessels, sacred books, crosses, icons, frescoes, paintings, mosaics, stained glass windows, statues, furniture, fabrics and lights are typical objects found in religious spaces. In this last lecture class, we will learn how to document and interpret those treasures that make the space of religious architecture extraordinary.

Student presentation of final projects. Discussion. On-site visits and walking tours.

Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture (Oxford, 2008)
Lewis, Michael J. The Gothic Revival (New York, 2002)
Schuyler, David. A City Transformed: Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1940-1980 (University Park, 2002)

Each student will complete a semester-long research project involving one building. Half of the class grade will depend on the final project that will be formally presented to the class. All final work should be of professional quality and will be made available to the public through Scholar’s Square, F&M’s digital research archive. The other half of the class grade will be based weekly exercises based on specific projects and readings. Unexcused late assignments will automatically drop down by a half-grade per day (e.g. a B grade will go to a B- if it is turned in 1 day late). Attendance is mandatory and class participation is required. If unable to attend class for medical reasons, you must inform me by email BEFORE class time and provide adequate documentation. All other absences will require previous authorization. Absolutely no cell phones, computers or other electronic distractions are permitted in class. All readings must be completed BEFORE their assigned date. Although no formal arrangements have been yet made, the students are encouraged to collaborate with two other classes offered this semester by Professor David Schuyler (American Studies) and Professor Eric T. Baldwin (Religious Studies).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Churches of Lancaster: Phone Book

I spent most of my day preparing for a seminar I will be teaching next semester, Lancaster: The Architecture of Faith. Among other things, my objective is to construct a complete picture of extant architectural evidence. One of the first exercises that the students will do is to complete a GIS database of all the religious communities practicing today and sort through the architectural spaces in which they worship. Then, we will move backwards in time, consulting Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, archival documents, photos, and genealogies from the Lancaster County Historical Society, the Franklin and Marshall Archive, and the Historic Preservation Trust. On the left, you see a 1925 Gothic Revival building we will study, the Otterbein United Methodist Church on Clay & Queen Streets.

So, where will we start? In order to take stock of the archaeological present, I compiled a list of all the religious structures listed in the telephone book (Lancaster County, Verizon Yellow Pages, 2008-2009), which will form the first assignment. In summary, there are 1 mosque, 3 synagogues, and 166 churches listed under Lancaster. There is also a Baha'i place of worship but not listed. The closest Buddhist temple is in Columbia, and the closest Hindu temple is in New Cumberland. Churches make the greatest sample, although most telephone entries do not correspond with a noteworthy piece of architecture. The phone book lists 38 different church categories: African Methodist Episcopal, Apostolic, Assembly Of God, Baptist, Baptist-Independent, Bible, Brethren, Campus Ministries, Catholic, Catholic-Charitable & Service Organizations, Catholic-Educational Institutions, Christian, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Christian Science, Church Of Christ, Church Of God, Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Episcopal, Evangelical, Foursquare, Independent, Jehovah’s Witness, Lutheran, Mennonite, Metaphysical & New Age, Methodist, Multicultural & Multilingual, Nazarene, Nondenominational & Interdenominational, Orthodox-Greek, Eastern & Russian, Other Christian, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Religious Society Of Friends (Quakers), Seventh Day Adventist, Unitarian, United Church Of Christ, and Wesleyan.

The complete list of places of worship in Lancaster adds up to 170. For the first assignment, each student will be assigned 10 of the following listings and must conduct an architectural inspection. Here is the raw data, alphabetically organized, with street address and telephone number (are code 717). "XXX" indicates no address given.

Abbeyville Road Christian Church, 551 Abbeyville Rd, Lanc, 393-8821
Alpha & Omega Fellowship Church of the Brethren, 708 Wabank St, Lancaster, 295-3169
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 64 Hershey Av, Lancaster, 394-1735
Assembly of Christian , 220 W King St, Lancaster City, 295-7539
Assembly Pentecostal Church Of Jesus Christ, 327 E King St, Lancaster, 295-7025
Bethany Presbyterian Church, 25 N West End Av, Lancaster, 393-2690
Bethel A M E Church, 450 E Strawberry St, Lancaster, 393-3580
Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, 333 Delp Rd, Lancaster, 569-5869
Breakout Ministries, 2423 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, 656-8366
Brethren In Christ Church-Lancaster,1865 Fruitville Pke, Lancaster, 569-5011
Brethren In Christ Church-Manor, 530 Central Manor Rd, Lancaster, 285-3138
Brethren In Christ Church, 1860 Harrington Pike, Lancaster, 569-6074
Bright Side Baptist Church, 515 Hershey Ave, Lancaster City, 295-9431
Calvary Baptist Church, 530 Milton Rd, Lancaster City, 299-6027
Calvary Chapel, 2215 Millstream Rd, Lancaster, 291-9711
Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Rd, Lanc, 560-2341
Calvary Guest Room, 502 Elizabeth Dr, Lancaster, 393-8742
Celebrate Life Christian Church, 2501-B Oregon Pke, Lancaster, 581-1204
Central Baptist Church, 213 W King St, Lancaster, 393-4112
Christ Lutheran Church, 407 Lafayette St, Lancaster, 299-5639
Christ The King Community Church, 2449 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 397-7557
Christ United Methodist Church, 953 E Walnut St, Lancaster, 397-0541
Christadelphian Ecclesia, 60 Buch Av, Lancaster, 569-7236
Christian & Missionary Alliance Church, 210 Pitney Rd, Lanc, 397-1121
Christian Association Vision For Today, 324 E King St, Lancaster, 392-1282
Church Of God, 25 N Lime St, Lancaster, 295-9944
Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints Lancaster, 1200 E King St, 295-1157
Church of Jesus Christ Of, 540 1-2 Green St, Lancaster, 509-6967
Church of the Apostle UCC, 1850 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 392-5718
Church Of The Father Son & Holy Ghost, 535 1/2 Howard Av, Lanc, 393-0562
Community Fellowship Church, 200 Bethel Dr, Lancaster, 299-6505
Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, 328 W Orange St, Lancaster, 392-7567
Community United Methodist Church, 130 Tennyson Dr, Lancaster City, 393-9182
Conestoga Drive Mennonite Church, N Conestoga Dr, Lancaster, 397-1812
Conestoga Valley Church of Christ, 2045 Horseshoe Rd, Lancaster, 393-4281
Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, 75 E James St, Lancaster City, 397-5575
Covenant United Methodist Church, 110 N Mulberry, Lancaster, 393-1561
Crossroads Mennonite Church, 420 S Christian St, Lancaster, 392-3713
Crossroads Wesleyan Church, 2323 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 295-4820
Crossroads Wesleyan Church, 2323 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 295-4820
Crown of Life Fellowship, XXX, Lanc, 293-8872
Degel Israel Congregration, 1120 Columbia Ave, Lancaster, 397-0183
Dial-A-Prayer, 29 E Walnut St, Lancaster, 393-5691
Door Christian Fellowship, 2160 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, 394-7977
East Chestnut Mennonite Church, 432 E Chestnut St, Lancaster, 392-3092
Ebenezer Baptist Church, 148 Locust St, Lancaster City, 392-4292
Eckankar Pennsylvania Satsang Society Center, 845 Columbia Av, Lancaster City, 394-9877
El Redentor United Methodist Church, 548 S Ann St, Lancaster, 394-1168
Emmanuel Lutheran Preschool, 540 W Walnut St, Lancaster, 397-6195
Faith Bible Fellowship Church, 151 Donerville Rd, Lancaster, 285-1900
Faith Calvary Church, 1501 Millersville Pk, Lanc, 291-9765
Faith Evangelical Congregational Church, 2124 Old Philadelphia Pke, Lancaster, 393-5345
Faith Tabernacle Church Of God In Christ, 665 S Ann St, Lancaster, 392-7062
Faith Tabernacle Church, 238 Lancaster Av, Lancaster, 392-3580
Faith United Church of Christ, 1204 Walbank Rd, Lancaster, 393-3431
Family History Center, 1200 E King St, Lancaster, 295-1719
First Baptist Church, N Duke & Frederick Sts, Lanc 392-8818
First Church Of Christ Scientist, 200 W Lemon St, Lanc, 394-3352
First Church of God, 344 W Chestnut St, Lancaster, 392-3181
First Deaf Mennonite Church, 2270 Old Philadelphia Pk, Lanc, 392-6698
First Presbyterian Church, 140 E Orange St, Lancaster, 394-6854
First Reformed Church-United Church Of Christ, 40 E Orange St, Lancaster, 397-5149
First Spanish Apostolic Church, 440 Chester St, Lancaster, 392-1451
First Spanish Assembly Of God, 626 S Duke St, Lancaster, 299-6717
First United Methodist Church, Duke & Walnut Sts, Lanc, 394-7231
Foursquare Gospel Church, 128 N Mulberry St, Lancaster, 397-1341
Friends Meeting Quaker, 110 Tulane Terr, Lancaster, 392-2762
Garber Jay C Rev, 2275 New Danville Pk, Lancaster, 872-6298
Ginger Stephen L Rev, 343 Sprecher Rd, Lancaster, 872-8994
Glad Tidings Temple, 41 Caroline St, Lancaster, 397-5661
Grace Brethren Church Of Greater Lancaster, 911 Rohrestwn Rd, Lancaster, 397-9991
Grace Church at Willow Valley, 300 Willow Valley Sq, Lancaster, 464-2782
Grace Evangelical Congregational Church, 415 S Shippen St, Lancaster, 393-0458
Grace Lutheran Church, 517 N Queen St, Lanc, 397-2748
Grace United Church of Christ, 1947 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, 397-1012
Hamilton Park United Church of Christ, 1210 Maple Av, Lancaster, 397-9791
Harvest Bible Church, 162 School House Rd, Lancaster, 397-4371
Harvest Presbyterian Church, 48 South Conestoga Dr, Lanc, 464-8755
Heart To Heart Ministry, 433 Chester St, Lancaster, 672-0360
Hempfield Methodist Church, 3050 Marietta Ave, Lancaster, 285-5156
Highland Presbyterian Church, 1801 Oregon Pke, Lancaster, 569-2651
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 3131 Columbia Ave, Lancaster, 394-6771
House of Bread Life Changing Ministries, 844 E Chestnut St, Lancaster, 295-7426
Iglesia Cristiana Carismatica Maranatha, 735 S Queen St, Lancaster City, 299-9219
Iglesia De Dios Pent Church, 102 S Prince St, Lancaster, 295-2435
In The Light Ministries, 415 S Shippen St, Lancaster, 293-9287
In The Light of Ministries-Children Ministry, 415 Shippen St, Lanc, 509-0177
Islamic Center of Lancaster, 739 W Vine St Lancaster, 391-6211
James Street Mennonite Church, 323 W James St, Lancaster, 397-6707
Jehovah’s Witness Lancaster PA East Congregation, 850 Hershey Ave, Lancaster, 392-4601
La Luz Del Mundo, 522 S Lime St, Lancaster, 397-6775
Lancaster Independent Baptist Church, 204 Butler Ave, Lancaster, 394-8500
Lancaster Metaphysical Chapel, 610 2nd St, Lanc, 399-4733
Lancaster Metaphysical Chapel, 610 2nd St, Lanc, 399-4733
Lancaster Mikvah, 1120 Columbia Av, Lancaster Twp, 293-0996
Lancaster Moravian Church, 1460 Eden Rd, Lancaster, 397-9722
Lancaster Seventh Day Adventist Church, 48 Conestoga Dr, Lanc, 394-4495
Lancaster Vineyard Church, XXX, Lancaster, 314-4720
Landis Valley Mennonite Church, 2420 Kissel Hill Rd, Lancaster, 569-6051
Laurel Street Mennonite Church, 301 Laurel St, Lancaster, 392-7527
Living Faith Church Of God, 2184 Old Philadelphia Pke, Lancaster, 290-7130
Living Hope Community Church, 2823 Columbia Av, Lanc 394-1500
Living Waters United Methodist Church, 209 Willow Valley Sq, Lancaster, 464-1062
Lord’s House of Prayer, 133 E Vine St, Lancaster, 396-0772
Lumina, 133 Pearl St, Lancaster, 394-8412
Lyndon Mennonite Church, 1930 Lyndon Av, Lancaster, 392-4412
Mellinger Mennonite Church, 1916 Lincoln Highway E, Lanc, 397-9360
Mennonite Spanish Church, 645 Harrison St, Lancaster, 393-4312
Mill Creek Bible, 270 Strasburg Pike, Lancaster, 391-7001
Millersville Bible Church, 1940 New Danville Pike, Lanc, 291-6471
New Danville Mennonite Church, 103 Marticville Rd, Lancaster, 872-8111
New Hope Bible Fellowship Church, Lanc, 397-2005
New Life Assembly of God, 1991 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, 394-4015
Newsong Fellowship Church, 609 Prospect, Lancaster, 393-9600
Oromo Evangelical Church, XXX, Lancaster, 393-8842
Otterbein United Methodist Church, 20 E Clay St, Lanc, 394-3755
Pearl Street United Methodist Church, 133 Pearl, Lanc, 393-8892
Pentecostal Missionary Church Inc, 537 Church St, Lancaster City, 481-2949
Pequea Brethren In Christ Church, 40 Church Rd, Lanc, 872-5679
Presbytery Of Donegal The, 1861 Charter Ln, Lancaster, 392-4035
Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana De Lancaster, 14 E Farnum St, Lancaster City, 207-0425
Ray’s Temple Church, S Ann & E End Av, Lancaster, 394-9163
Redeemer Lutheran Church, 500 Pearl St, Lancaster City, 394-0651
Rohrestown Mennonite Church, 601 Rohrestown Rd, Lancaster, 394-0203
Ross Street United Methodist Church, 312 E Ross St, Lancaster, 392-0179
Rossmere Mennonite Church, 741 Janet Av, Lancaster, 397-7854
Sacred Heart Church, 558 W Walnut St, Lancaster, 394-0757
Saint John Lutheran Church, Lancaster, 394-2881
Saint Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church, 700 Pleasure Rd, Lancaster, 394-9607
Saint Paul’s COGIC Church, 215 S Queen St, Lancaster, 394-7428
Salem UCC of Hellers, 2555 Horseshoe Rd, Lancaster, 656-9249
Salem United Church Of Christ Roherstown, 2312 Marietta Ave, Lancaster, 397-0141
Saltus Valier Rev, 18 E Farnum St, Lancaster City, 399-3430
Salvation Army, 131 S Queen St, Lancaster, 397-7565
SJB Parish Center, 123 Locust St, Lancaster, 283-0287
Souls For The Kingdom Fellowship, 1800 Lincoln Highway E, Lanc, 295-4512
St Andrew United Church of Christ, 701 N Lime St, Lancaster, 394-3311
St Anne’s Church, 929 N Duke St, Lancaster, 392-2225
St Anthony of Padua Church, 501 E Orange St, Lancaster, 394-0669
St Edwards Episcopal Church, 2453 Harrisburg Pk, Lancaster, 898-6276
St James Episcopal Church, 119 N Duke St, Lancaster, 397-4858
St John Neumann Catholic Church, 601 East Delp Rd, Lanc, 569-8531
St John The Baptist Church, 425 S Duke St, Lancaster, 392-4118
St John’s Episcopal Church, 321 W Chestnut St, Lancaster, 299-1188
St Joseph Health Ministries, 2135 Noll Dr, Lancaster, 397-7625
St Joseph’s Church, 440 St Joseph St, Lancaster, 397-6921
St Leo the Great Church, 2427 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 394-1742
St Luke’s United Church Of Christ, 719 Marietta Av, Lancaster, 392-7021
St Mary’s Church, 119 S Prince St, Lancaster, 392-2578
St Paul’s United Methodist Church, 10 W Farnum St, Lancaster, 393-3035
St Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10 Delp Rd, Lanc, 569-9211
St Peter’s United Church Of Christ, 816 Buchanan Av, Lancaster, 397-8912
St Philip The Apostle Church Preschool, 2111 Millersville Pke, Lancaster, 842-2007
St Philip The Apostle Church Rectory, 2111 Millersville Pke, Lancaster, 872-2166
St Thomas Episcopal Church, 301 St Thomas Rd, Lancaster, 569-3241
Temple Beth El, 1836 Rotherstown Rd, Lancaster, 581-7891
The Universal Church, 343 N Charlotte St, Lancaster City, 299-1345
Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church, 322 Hershey Av, Lancaster City, 394-7913
Trinity Lutheran Church, 31 S Duke St, Lanc, 397-2734
Trinity Lutheran Church, 31 S Duke St, Lanc, 397-2734
Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster, 538 W Chestnut, Lancaster, 393-1733
United Pentecostal Church, 747 Centerville Rd, Lancaster, 892-7373
Victory Church, 1827 Freedom Rd, Lancaster, 239-5077
Victory Church, 1827 Freedom Rd, Lancaster, 239-5077
Vineyards Heritage Center, 2050 Columbia Av, Lanc, 394-9236
Walton Robert E, 741 Lafayette St, Lancaster City, 390-0310
West End Mennonite Fellowship, 20 N Charlotte St, Lancaster, 399-9120
Westgate Baptist Church, 2235 Old Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, 394-1071
Westminster Presbyterian Church, XXX, 569-2151
Wheatland Presbyterian Church, 1125 Columbia Ave, Lanc, 392-5909
Witmer Heights Mennonite Church, 2270 Old Philadelphia Pk, Lanc, 392-6698

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Museum of Innocence

I have this thing with Orhan Pamuk. The great majority of his writings, I'm thoroughly bored with. But every once in a while I'm completely mesmerized by his mastery. Recovering from a full-day of teaching, I browsed through Border's this afternoon and picked up a copy of Pamuk's freshly translated novel, The Museum of Innocence. Thanks to a backlog in New Yorker issues, I only read the September 7th issue last week. Pamuk's "Distant Relations" hence seemed even more current. Let me digress, for a moment, and complain about the New Yorker's recent habit of packaging novel excerpts as "short stories." Enough of that. Sure, they make good advertisement for upcoming novel releases, but they also defy the power of the short story as its own genre. At any rate, one could feel it in the air. The publishing industry was gearing up for a big Pamuk release. Only last week, the New Yorker fiction podcast hosted Orhan Pamuk. He read Vladimir Nabokov's "My Russian Education," published by the magazine in 1948, three years before it was included in Nabokov's memoir Speak Memory (1951). Indeed, Nabokov and Marcel Proust are good precedents for Pamuk.

With a medium cup of Seattle's Best coffee in hand, reclining on a soft brown leather arm chair at a suburban mall in Lancaster, Pa., I found myself getting lost in 1975 Istanbul, and in the bourgeoisie universe of Kemal. The purchase of a gift for his fiancee (a fake designer bag) leads Kemal to an affair with his distant relative Fusun and the disintegration of his life. Already in the first 50-some pages of the novel, Pamuk initiates a wonderful game. The book becomes an exploration of middle-class Istanbul through the objects that Kemal accumulates as testament to his reawakening. Consider the objects Kemal collects after making love to Fusun. "Having become an anthropologist of my own experience, I have no wish to disparage those obsessive souls who bring back crockery, artifacts, and utensils from distant lands and put them on display for us, the better to understand the lives of others and our own." He picks up a floral batiste handkerchief to illustrate the solicitude of Fusun's caress. A crystal inkwell and pen that Fusun toyed with becomes a relic of refinement and fragile tenderness between lovers. An oversize belt buckle illustrates Kemal's masculine arrogance. And this accumulation will build up into The Museum of Innocence.

I am stuck. I have fallen for Pamuk's tricks. Last time this happened, it was with his Black Book (1990). Galip finds out one day that his wife has disappeared. He spends the entire novel wandering through the streets of Istanbul in search of her. Suspecting that she may have left with her half-brother, the journalist Celal, who is also missing, he moves into his apartment. The novel is interspersed with reprints of Celal's articles that his newspaper, Milliyet, prints during his absence. The rhythm of editorial essay and urban wandering make The Black Book into one of the greatest city novels (certainly the best Istanbul novel). Although I've desperately tried to love Pamuk, he has not always served me well. I hated The New Life, got bored with My Name is Red, and didn't even try Snow. Istanbul: Memories of a City was OK but not great. My friend Jennie Uleman, who started visiting Turkey in 2005, got me turned on to Pamuk again after his brilliant Nobel Prize acceptance speech called "My Father's Suitcase" (2006). My spotty on-off relationship with Pamuk is back on. I'm loving The Museum of Innocence. Its particular focus on the vitality of objects, memories and experiences puts it in the same league as Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time, modernism's archaeological canon.

In writing The Museum of Innocence (Turkish original, 1999) Pamuk engaged with the real Istanbul, bought a three-story house, which he turned into a writing laboratory . Read more about the physical Museum of Innocence, here. The building renovation is complete and the museum has opened its doors. I'm dying of curiosity to both finish the novel and visit the "real" museum.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Relics, Warhol, and Greece's Metaphysical Confusion

The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is taking the word "icon" quite literally these days by hosting an Andy Warhol exhibition. Yes, that's right, an Andy Warhol exhibition called "Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image" curated by Paul Moorhouse (previously at the Tate, currently 20th-Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London). The connection between Byzantine icons and Warhol's Marilyn is well recognized and the first thing my students learn from Jansen's History of Art. Is the Byzantine Museum trying to be cool and even cash in some revenue? That would be a welcome direction, but a golden opportunity has been missed. Why not explore Warhol's actual biographical roots in Byzantine art, juxtaposing the Pop images with the icons that the young Warhola actually worshiped at Saint John Chrysostom's, the Ruthenian Catholic Church of Pittsburgh. That route, of course, would have to admit that Andy's church was Byzantine in style but Catholic in theology, which might scratch some Orthodox sores. The curators have not been daring in actually juxtaposing sacred art with Pop art, hence they have not crossed the line of critical contemplation.

I wouldn't mind the gratuitous bow to postmodern irony, if the Museum was not also hosting contradictory sentiments. How can you sponsor the ultimate apotheosis of relative value as well as the ultimate celebration of ethnic essentialism, the Museum's last visiting exhibition. "People and Icons: Refugee Relics" was on view this summer and featured works of art that were rescued from Asia Minor. The display of these relics affirms the nationalist role of the institution. The work of art is the portable testament of cultural autochthony. While Warhol celebrates semantic displacement and appropriation, refugee relics insist on grounding art with pathos, community and persecution. Coming back from the Modern Greek Studies Association conference at Vancouver, I have become keenly aware of Greece's cultural crisis. The nationalist myth is obviously not working and Greece is drowning without its crutch. The Warhol exhibit suggests metaphysical confusion, indeed.

I think it also needs to be said that Greece is obsessed with Warhol. There have been more Warhol exhibitions in Greece during the last two decades than any other artist (Greek and non-Greek alike). Thus, another Warhol exhibit is a cop-out. And ultimately, the exhibition was not designed by the museum. It was the work of two galleries, Haunch of Venison and Potnia Thiron. Warhol clearly sells in Greece. Why are Greeks obsessed with Andy yet so unwilling to embrace Andy's world (homosexuality, drugs, experimentation, fame, camp, drag-queens). At surface value, Warhol's art is very easy to "appreciate" and I think it's this ease that makes him so familiar to Greeks. I believe that Greeks are handicapped in visual literacy. Art appreciation is not taught at any level of primary or secondary education, and art history does not exist as a scholarly discipline at the university. All the cultural revenue placed on archaeology has robbed the people from fundamental education in art.

Andy Warhol remains the most sophisticated artist of the late 20th century. I hate to be a snob about such things, but I feel Warhol is lost to the innocent who don't understand the artistic context out of which his grew (the Post-Expressionist revolt, the gay aesthetics, the Greenberg-Rosenberg debates, etc.) Placing Warhol in the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens does not really help the Greeks to understand Warhol. Bring them some Pollock and de Kooning. Bring them some Stamos, some Kaldis, or some Baziotes (Warhol's Greek-American contemporaries). And then, perhaps, some fundamental education might take place. To bring the already fully enthroned king of Postmodernism to Greece one more time, moreover, reveals Greece's cultural subservience to New York, which for the time being is being packaged by London.

At the end of the day, however, I must admit how thrilled I was by the Byzantinizing font that advertises the show. I have been studying a bunch of pseudo-Byzantine 1930s scripts, invented by Anastasios Orlandos and others. This one here tops my list. I am particularly intrigued by certain effects, like the Russian (or episcopal) cross, by the primitive top-heavy "O" and, of course, by the Arts-and-Crafts "N" that has crept into the equation. The font is totally whacked from any serious consideration of typography, made more obvious by the lower line "the creation of image," taken out of a computer.

Thanks to Jon Seydl for keeping me up with what's happening in the art world by sending me relevant postings. Sometimes, those postings are earth-shattering, especially for Jon's museum, see here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Diplomat Interview

The Franklin and Marshall on-line magazine has been interviewing some of its new faculty. My turn came last week in an article entitled "Life among the Ruins." As far as I can remember, this is the first time I've had such a journalistic spotlight. Thank you Chris Karlesky, correspondent for The Diplomat.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Lancaster Building Conservancy

I haven't blogged about Lancaster yet because I haven't had a chance to plunge into the city's urban fabric. Lancaster has an astonishing collection of quality buildings, many of them well preserved. Gene Aleci, architect and preservasionist, explains it as the consequence of limited resources. I know this phenomenon from Charleston, South Carolina, where the situation is both older and more extreme. The Civil War put a damper on any future growth and nobody had the resources to rebuilt or alter the urban fabric. Charlestons was preserved by economic necessity. Lancaster boomed after the Civil War and declined in the mid-20th c. I'm in the process of organizing a class for next semester that will use Lancaster's beautiful ecclesiastical buildings as its subject matter. Lancaster: The Architecture of Faith will be a laboratory on methods -- documentation drawings, archival research, cartographic analysis, mapping, oral histories, HABS reports, etc. It will also give me a chance to apply what I know (medieval architecture) onto its American revival.

While getting to know Lancaster's resources, I was directed to a blog, the Lancaster Building Conservancy. It's a wonderful project, the brain child of preservetionist Ben Leech. I met Ben for lunch last week and got to know him a little. The Lancaster Building Conservancy and Ben's other blog Old Weird Lancaster constitute for me a new kind of historical activism or grass roots architectural history. Blogging and the web have provided a platform for exciting and innovative projects. In Ben's words, "The Lancaster Building Conservancy was founded as an online resource for those interested in the architectural perseverance of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We are not (yet) a membership organization, but rather a loose affiliation of “built environmentalists”– artists, photographers, architects, historians, preservationists, and citizen “buffs” of all stripes– whose appreciation for Lancaster’s built environment inspires us to document, explore, investigate, and celebrate the buildings and landscapes that surround us."

The LBC is also a Flickr communty, where anyone can share interesting images from the city (like the one posted above by Archivolt). But what I like best about the LBC is Ben's discipline in Building of the Week. Every week (or at least as frequently as work and life permits him) Ben produces a detailed drawing of a single building. Over lunch, Ben told me a little bit about his drawing process, which is pretty neat. Ben started sketching Lancaster scenes on manilla folders. Slowly this developed into a format. After completing the sketch, Ben cuts out the sky, providing excellent contrast and framing for the work. On this blog, I've occassionally been critical of photographic projects (like Flickr communities) because they lack documentational discipline. Ben's LBC is quite the opposite. The weekly drawing provides the foundation for a well-researched and articulate analysis. I hope Ben's images have a post-blog afterlife. I hope they turn into an exhibition or a book. As images, they play an interesting balancing act between web images and crafted artifacts. Finally, Ben is starting a new project, the Lancaster Kodachrome Campaign, read all about it here. I'm in Philadelphia this weekend, and I'll be hitting every camera shop for the last cache of historical film.

I thank Ben for openning a door for my own personal exploration of Lancaster. The Lancaster Building Conservancy is a noteworthy model, where blogging has broken out of its temporal looseness into a structure appropriate for the rigor historic preservation and architectural history.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Post-Byzantine Art in Athens

Today, the Byzantine Museum in Athens opened the doors to the reinstallation of its sizable collection of "Post-Byzantine" art. According to Kathimerini, the new installation includes 243 icons, 30 frescoes and 24 sculptures, material that had been out of view for the last 10 years. I wish I were in Athens to see the opening of these galleries in the basement of the glorious Villa Ilissia with its own interesting history. It is here that, in 1930, Aristotle Zachos designed four medieval rooms from disparate fragments. Scholars may be familiar with the collections of the Byzantine Museum in Athens through Myrtale Acheimastou-Potamianou's catalog, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art (Athens, 1985). Anastasia Lazaridou curated the new installations.

The one thing I regret is the unsatisfactory label "Post-Byzantine" that still holds currency. Post-Byzantine starts with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and typically ends arbitrarily at 1850. I like to joke that we continue to live in the Post-Byzantine period.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Greek Elections

Greece hit the polls today to chose from the usual ping-pong of New Democracy or PASOK. Ta Nea on-line used this photo as its headline "elections proceed without problems." The image is conceptually rich, like a Max Ernst surrealist bird-machine. The booths hang from the wall like wet coats, the curtain's blue wings take flight. The complimentary yellow bags under the curtain's skirt are urinary if not medical. The precarious metal frame is rooted by the black electrical wire. We enter through the right corner over a wash basin. The well dressed couple (high heels especially) sexualize the isolated relationship, even though we know they're just dressed in their Sunday best.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Palmyra Stefania Geraki

I do not usually blog about individuals, especially individuals that I have never met. But the drawings of Palmyra Stefania Geraki compel me to praise the talents of this young architect. Geraki is one of the graduate students in the Rome: Continuity and Change studio currently on display at Yale Architecture School. Her final project is a six-part drawing of EUR, the grounds of the Esposizione Universale Roma (1935-1942). Geraki's sketchbooks, also on display, are meticulously precise. She uses an extra fine ink pen to outline and shade. On occasion, Geraki applies a wash, giving volume to the architectural forms. A drawing of the basilica of Maxentius, a staircase from EUR in orange-gray wash, an analytique of Saint Peter's piazza are my favorites. They would make a lovely collection of published images, but sadly they will most likely disappear from public view after the dismantling of Rome: Continuity and Change. Through a rudimentary web search, I have deduced that Geraki is from Thessaloniki. The metaphysical character of her drawings show elements of a Greek sensibility and a kind of Rationalism shared by Greek and Italian modernism. I look forward to seeing this young architect's work after grad school.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yale: Drawing Rome

Back in the 1980s, it was not uncommon for archaeologists to rub shoulders with established architects at the American Academy in Rome, both groups intimately invested in the city's history. At the height of postmodernism (the exciting intellectual discourse rather than the empty stylistic catch-phrase), studying Rome was vital. Robert Venturi, Leon Krier, Colin Rowe, Michael Graves, and other architectural celebrities saw Rome as the premier laboratory by which the reigns of modernism could be challenged.

Since the 1980s, Rome seems to have lost its importance in architectural discourse. Whether due to intense formalism or deconstructivist iconoclasm, even the Rome Prize Fellows did not seem to appreciate the city's architectural past. Many could really have been anywhere. The Academy in Rome simply offered good real estate and prestige.

All these thoughts came to mind, by chance, when I discovered an exhibit at Yale's School of Architecture. Although not very well signed, "Rome: Continuity and Change" is a spectacular exhibit, and in my mind, much more important than The Green House at the official gallery of the school (see yesterday's posting). While looking through The Green House, my eye caught a black-and-white plan of Rome one level above (reminding me of the famous Nolli map). Navigating through the somewhat complicated Rudolph building (great in section but not so great in navigation), I found myself walking around the offices of the Art History department (Gwathmey addition) and around the offices of Architecture Department. Before I knew it, I was outside the offices of studio faculty like Peter Eisenman (who was, of course, not there). Up on the walls of this corridor, one can see the most intriguing drawings representing (in the true sense of the word) monuments of Rome. On two tables further down, one can also flip through the sketchbooks that produced the analytical drawings on the walls.

Rome: Continuity and Change, was a studio directed by Stephen Harby (Charles Moore, UCLA) and Alexander Purves (Davis Brody Associates). In May/June 2009, thirty Yale architecture students traveled to Rome to understand the city through intensive drawing. The results are wonderful, inspiring to both architectural historians and architects. I strongly recommend this to anyone traveling through New Haven this Fall. It's a shame the show was not advertised. It would have also been great if it could travel to other venues.

The Yale Alumni Magazine (July/August 2009) describes the studio as follows: "Thirty students midway through their training spent four weeks in Rome from May 12 to June 12 for the school's annual intensive workshop, 'Rome: Continuity and Change,' in which they studied examples from the entire history of architecture, from antiquity to the present. Archeologists and historians of Rome presented in-depth lectures and on-site guided tours. 'The seminar examines historical continuity and change as well as the ways in which and the reasons why some elements and approaches were maintained over time and others abandoned,' wrote Professor Emeritus Alexander Purves '58, '65MArch, in a summary of the workshop experience. Purves and lecturer Stephen Harby led the trip. The students' experience during the workshop has been described as 'draw, draw, draw,' as they focus on buildings, landscapes, and gardens, both within and outside the city. 'The course is guided by the conviction that an essential part of an architect's formation is the first-hand experience of a broad range of buildings and places of all periods and styles,' Purves wrote. But they also took time to enjoy lectures, concerts, and urban life in general in Rome."

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States