Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Provincetown, 1916

frame enlargement of an unknown woman painting, Oregon Historical Society/Eugene Stoeller Collection, Provincetown 1916

Provincetown, 1916 Film

A story in the New York Times about painter Charles Webster Hawthorne, his oldest living model and his art school barn, prompted us to contact the current owners of Hawthorne's barn, Joshua Prager and Ricky Opaterny, about Northeast Historic Film's film containing footage of Hawthorne teaching his art students. Prager and Opaterny have formed a nonprofit organization to support the preservation of the barn, which was built over 100 years ago and used for most of that time for painting classes. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today we talked about film preservation--as the moving image record of Hawthorne and other artists such as Hans Hoffman, of Provincetown's people and landscape, will be part of the story of the barn going forward.

In the New York Times story, Doris Bryant Makas, who was born in 1910, remembers going with her mother to sit for Charles Webster Hawthorne. Doris's daughter, Elaine, describes the painter's context:
Provincetown had a large Portuguese immigrant population back then, and Hawthorne mostly hired Portuguese models,” Elaine Makas recalled. “But it’s likely he knew my grandmother and her hardships at the time. She was desperate for money, and he would have known she was a tough, single mother and maybe that’s why he called it ‘Motherhood Triumphant.’
The film identifies an elderly man as "A type of Portuguese fisherman that is fast passing," a following scene, "Overhauling the nets," shows three men working on fish nets in town.

Martha McNamara, Ph.D., Wellesley College, director of the New England Arts and Architecture program, is responsible for lectures, workshops and symposia as well as teaching. She is an American Studies scholar with a regional specialty in the arts and architecture of New England, teaching a seminar this spring on that subject. She is interested in the 1916 Metro Pictures travelogue. In conversation with our CLIR visiting team, McNamara said,
It's this incredible clip of Provincetown at the turn of the century with great footage of the plein air arts school out on the Cape run by Charles Webster Hawthorne. The rest of the school is even more captivating to me and more helpful for my class this spring because it really gets at this question of how New England is represented. There is an aerial shot of Provincetown with schooners in the harbor, crooked narrow streets, these characters, old people in old clothing. It depicts New England as a bygone place. The idea of New England as a quaint place that time has forgotten is a generator of the tourism industry. This one clip brings it all together, the vision of New England as a backwater, the artist come up from New York runs a plein air school: the creation of the image and the image creators.

Monday, November 8, 2010

See Yourself as Others See You

A pictorial blog post today on landing back from the Association of Moving Image Archivists/IASA conference. Northeast Historic Film team members Joe Gardner (tech services) and Katrina Dixon (media cataloger) attended their first AMIA conference and played key roles in our hidden collections itinerant film presentation. Joe prepared and ran moving image clips. Katrina presented on her experience describing "See yourself" films. See previous blog post. Special thanks to Martin Johnson, NYU, for his comprehensive chronology with great examples.

Christa Williford, Program Officer at the Council on Library and Information Resources, attended the session. At least 50 people were in the room; many knew of itinerant film creators--and had pursued research on luminaries such as H. Lee Waters and Melton Barker.

Karan Sheldon, Martin Johnson, Christa Williford, Katrina Dixon.

Andy Uhrich, University of Indiana, loaned his laptop so we could play DVDs between showing slides.

from left: Dan Streible, Regina Longo, Liz Coffey, Caroline Frick Page, Melissa Dollman. Moving image preservation colleagues in the room.
Below, cover of the Spring 2010 issue of The Moving Image, journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, an itinerant-themed issue. Marsha Orgeron and Devin Orgeron, editors; Teri Tynes, managing editor (appreciate the cover, which we used in our presentation).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scholarly Engagement Site Visit

Kelly Miller (University of Virginia Harrison Institute) and Tim Stinson (North Carolina State University) spent the day on October 29 in a Scholarly Engagement Site Visit. They were investigating past and prospective interactions with our Moving Images of Work Life cataloging project and broader issues. Conversations with scholars included Martin Johnson, NYU Cinema Studies, Karen Alexander and Bill Leavenworth, University of New Hampshire fisheries historians, and Martha McNamara, Wellesley College Art and Architecture.

Katrina Dixon, media cataloger, here on the left next to Bill Leavenworth, Karen Wyatt, media cataloging assistant, and other Northeast Historic Film staff members participated in the morning discussion and facilities tour led by Gemma Perretta.

The chief topic was how our moving image materials are used and their value to researchers, teachers, public programmers, and the public. Alexander and Leavenworth have been working with primary source materials relating to 17th century fisheries and are moving into the modern period looking at documentation of coastal fisheries. The film record provides evidence relating to forage fish, clupeidae such as Atlantic herring.

Martin Johnson and Martha McNamara underlined their challenges in finding film for their work. "Moving images gave not been given the scholarly attention they deserve. This project will enable people like me to use them for teaching and other activities," said McNamara, who joined us on the phone from Wellesley College. Her spring seminar for art historians, "New England Arts and Architecture," will use our 1916 Provincetown travelogue. Besides the plein air painting class, the importance of the film is how New England is represented as a land time has forgotten, a backwater--to discuss in learning more about such image creation and the image creators.

Our thanks to Karen Alexander, Martin Johnson, Bill Leavenworth, and Martha McNamara for their knowledge, skills, imagination, energy, and time.