“Art helps you put your guard down. Artists are amazing warriors, says Kate Shin, owner of Waterfall Mansion and Gallery, in a video about Makoto Fujimura, an artist and an evangelical Christian who has a studio in Princeton. “The Holy Spirit was speaking through this painting.”
I was alerted to his work — why had I not heard of it before? — by an article in Pasadena Now that previewed a talk by Fujimura in a church setting. It had special meaning because June is when the Christian Church celebrates the Holy Spirit with Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday. It’s exciting to me that a Japanese artist links the message of Christ to a many-layered art form, Nihonga.
Nihonga involves pulverizing minerals to turn them into pigments, used in many layers, each taking a long time to dry. It is a slow process, and a spiritual one. In this inspiring video, Fujimura says: “All of us are pulverized in some way as we are made beautiful…in experiences that challenge us. Beauty through brokenness that is captured in the surface of Nihonga.
Fujimura’s book, Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, issues “a call to cultural stewardship, in which we become generative and feed our culture’s soul with beauty, creativity, and generosity.” In 2017 he illustrated the Four Holy Gospels, honoring the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. Follow him on Facebook here. Read excerpts from his book Silence and Beauty here.
David Brooks, in a New York Times column, compares Nihonga to Kairos time, qualitative rather than quantitative. “When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time — slowly, serenely but thickly.” Slow and serene? That’s not how I am, it’s how I yearn to be.
Beyond the beer bracelets and the colorful jackets, the organizers of Princeton Alumni Reunions have included some displays and events that explain the history of white supremacy — the political, economic, and cultural system that manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.
On view today at the Frist Campus Center is the photographic story of James Johnson. This is a somewhat positive story about a formerly enslaved man who worked at the university, in various capacities including as an entrepreneur selling snacks, from 1843 to 1902. A Princeton woman paid to keep from having him returned to his former owner. (He repaid the debt).
Until 5 p.m. today, on the south lawn of East Pyne Hall, experience a solitary confinement cell in an exhibit organized by the New Jim Crow of Trenton and Princeton. This exhibit, also, has a positive spin. It is co-sponsored by the Class of 1994 and the admirable Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI). PTI offers a panel on Friday, May 31, at 2:30 p.m. in the Andlinger Center.
In the Art Museum, now and until July 7, resonate with the problems of immigrants at the border in an exhibit: Miracles at the Border,
You may have noticed odd stones in the sidewalk on campus. They are part of the (In)Visible Princeton Walking Tours, five self-guided tours on your cell phone covering the experience of minorities (African-Americans, Women, and Asian-Americans) as well as standard Tiger traditions. Download and take any tour anytime.
Back by popular demand are the “performance theater” Race and Protest tours. When I took one last year there was some confusion, among those who signed up, about the format. The theater artists tell location-based stories. If you read this TODAY, May 31, meet at the Art Museum for an hour-long tour at 10:30 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. It’s well worth going. Or read about my experience here.
And – if you are a townie – join Not in Our Town Princeton at the Princeton Public Library on Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m. for Continuing Conversations on Racism. At these monthly sessions you can learn about – through discussion with others — what white supremacy really means.
While on duty to give tours of the Tiffany window at Princeton United Methodist Church, I encountered a visitor who wanted to take an historical tour, shorter than the ones offered by the Historical Society of Princeton.
Princeton Tour Company is your answer, I said, but you will still have to hoof it.
Vainly I looked in online files to find one of my 20 minute driving tours, titled “Gossips’ Guide to Princeton,” but I did find this “Einstein Tour,” written in 2005. It’s longer than 20 minutes if you get out at each stop. I’ve updated it a little. It begins:
Einstein has always been Princeton’s most sought-after celebrity. Visitors from Europe who are visibly unimpressed by “old” buildings like Nassau Hall, and those from other continents who turn a deaf ear to stories of the town’s role in the Revolutionary War – they all know about Albert Einstein and are eager to view any signs of the great man’s legacy.
The newest addition to the Einstein tour might be the sculpture that intends to represent Einstein’s brain, pictured in this article on the Arts Council of Princeton website.
My current delight is the children’s musical directed (and co-authored) by Tom Shelton and “preached” to Princeton United Methodist Church on February 24. The musical theme is God will be there for you,” and to hear it from these young voices is very meaningful to me.
A couple of these children have significant talent, and all of them are expertly trained by a real expert. They are a joy to see and hear. Here is a picture album for “Lost Then Found” by Camilla Pruitt and Tom Shelton.
Here is the video from when the children reprised the musical on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Bristol Chapel on the Westminster Choir College campus.
Then they take it to Stonebridge at Montgomery on Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30. Anyone is welcome to come to either. Like a groupie, I’ll be there both times!
You could take this as another example of how the whimsical statues of Seward Johnson can amuse passersby all over the world.
The work of the 88-year-old sculptor, J&J heir, and founder of Grounds for Sculpture is scattered all over Princeton. At Princeton hospital, the figures of the caregiver tending the little old lady always give me a start, no matter how many times I’ve encountered them.
In 1983, using a Princeton police officer as a model, Johnson fashioned a statue of a nearly six-foot cop writing a parking ticket. Titled “Time’s Up,” it is one of seven castings, and it was installed at a Dallas shopping center, Central Market, by Lincoln Property Company.
How cute, you might say, especially since another whimsical touch, the eggplant, is nearby.
But since social justice is one of my concerns, I think there could be another motive. If you were an undocumented person — down there in Texas country — how would you react?
Is this just an update of Confederate statues meant to intimidate?
Thanks to Brendan Meyer for the light-hearted reporting, and the amusing details are here. The paranoid insinuations are mine.
(Aside to Princeton residents, don’t worry about current cops issuing parking tickets until after Christmas or even January. According to my ‘reliable sources,’ because of the confusing new system,’ the meter cops are issuing only warnings. But don’t tell the tourists — we need the revenue.)
Since I learned that the design for Princeton United Methodist Church, built in 1909, has its roots in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement, I have been trying to learn more about it, And my friend, Mary Pat Robertson, enlivens my research by posting Instagram pictures from England.
Now I find that Barack Obama’s portrait artist, Kehinda Wiley, is also influenced by William Morris, as described here by critic Monica Bowen, courtesy Nancy Marshall’s post on the Arts and Crafts Movement Facebook page.
Wiley came to the streets of Saint Louis and Ferguson and painted 11 original portraits of people that he met. From the website of the Saint Louis Art Museum: Kehinde Wiley creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American subjects in poses that recall grand traditions of European and American portraiture. His models—real people dressed in their own clothing—assume poses adapted from historic paintings. Wiley’s portraits often feature ornate and decorative backgrounds, elements of which surround and sometimes weave around his subjects. His works address the politics of race and power in art, drawing attention to the pervasive lack of representation of people of color in the art world. The exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum continues through February 19, 2018 and admission is free.
Conversing with a reference librarian at the Princeton Public Library, I learned that visitors sometimes ask: “What can I do in an hour before I leave for the airport?”
With my Gossip’s Guide hat on – I suggest:
In 20 minutes, more or less
The Quick Paul Robeson Tour: Check out the Robeson bust by Antonio Salemme in the Princeton Room on the second floor of the library. Walk past the Arts Council of Princeton’s Robeson bust (this site formerly belonged to the Colored YMCA) to the Paul Robeson house and Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, where his father preached. (Both visible only from the outside).
the Norman Rockwell “Yankee Doodle” painting at the Nassau Inn Tap Room (reminding the patron that it is NOT a colonial era building!). Check out the alumni headshots. If you have time, a free place to sit is the upstairs lounge, by the fireplace.
Princeton Cemetery. Available at the entrance is a new brochure.
Tiger Walk: Stroll from the tiger in Palmer Square and the tigers at the entrance to Nassau Hall. Keep going and you will find more.
The Comparative Architecture Tour: Enjoy the interior of the Princeton Public Library, a Taj Mahal of libraries, designed by the Hillier firm. Diagonally across, the work of postmodern architect Michael Graves. Contemplate the differences. Then check out the interior of the Arts Council and the current exhibit.
Dohm Alley: a startling array of thoughts and objects in a small narrow space. Plus, there’s a water feature good for contemplating, and it’s right down the street from the town’s college bookstore (never miss a chance to enjoy a college bookstore.)
In 30-40 minutes
A quick Einstein tour — the Einstein museum in the back of Landau’s plus the Einstein bust at the corner of 206 and Nassau Street, great photo op. (The house is too far to walk in a hurry, but I tell people to drive and park on Edgehill.)
Morven, now made relevant by truthful and inclusive exhibits that tell the stories of female occupants and slaves.
Prospect Gardens, always attractive in any season.
Cotsen Children’s Library inside Firestone Library
Princeton University Chapel, always open and it has a brochure about the windows
Tiffany Window Tour at Princeton United Methodist Church on Fridays and Sundays noon-2.
Quick sculpture tour 1: Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei and Picassso’s Head of a Woman, down by the former Dinky Station.
Quick sculpture tour 2: The Plaza in front of the chapel: statue of John Witherspoon, Song of the Vowels by Lipschitz, and (just inside the University Library, and open to the public) Noguchi’s White Sun. Throw in Oval with Points if you are walking that way.
This tour works if a Princeton native can direct the visitor. Later I may have time to add the links. What would YOU recommend?
Welcome to the 54th reunion for Princeton’s Class of ’64! Not the “regular” class. Instead, we’re convening at the reunion for a special summer program for disadvantaged high school kids from the city. Its most well-known graduate – Harlan Bruce Joseph. Like most at the beginning of this tour, I had no idea who he was or what his fate would be.
Today (5-31-18) Kyle Berlin (Valedictorian for the class of 2018) and Milan Eldridge (Class of 2020) led three dozen people – townies and alumni — in a performance walk “Walking Histories: Race and Protest at Princeton and in Trenton,” one of five different tours offered by the Trenton Project. At this writing, three performances remain, all starting at Princeton University Art Museum. If you read this in time they are – all different —
Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. Performed by Berlin and Eldridge, written by Berlin and Anna Kimmel.
Friday, June 1 at 11 a.m. Written and performed by Ben Bollinger: “Whites turn around to see a Negro dressed in Ivy clothes and carrying a bag marked “Princeton.”
Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m. Written and performed by Maria Jerez: A life of Javier Johnson White.”
If not catch the Picturing Protest exhibition at the Art Museum, on view for the next five months. Or on first Mondays at 7 pm at Princeton Public Library, come to Not in Our Town Princeton’s Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. On June 4, you will hear and discuss how racial literacy is taught at Princeton High School.
Alison Isenberg and Aaron Landsman supervised this project; Landsman coached the students in the dramaturgy of how to tell this story like a play. The first stop: Spelman Apartments, named after Laura Spelman Rockefeller, a philanthropist and abolitionist whose dollars funded the first trial of the summer program for high schoolers said to have had “little hope for college.”
Next stop: the Lewis Center, near where Joseph would have arrived on the Dinky train, from Trenton. Contrast: the Lewis Center cost $180 million. Trenton is trying to build an arts center with $80,000. (Rich Rein quotes Berlin in his cover story in U.S. 1 this week, and here is the Berlin oped complete.
Continuing the ironic comparisons, Berlin stops at Whitman College (actually named after Meg but, for this tour, credited to poet Walt), and we learn that it cost $136 million to build, almost six times more than the city of Trenton’s annual budget. It was designed in ‘fake Gothic,” says Berlin, appropriate, he says, since eBay dotes on nostalgia.
At the next stop we learn, for this tour, that the building labeled Wilson College should really be named after Preston Wilcox, a social scientist and human rights activist who advocated for black history studies.
We leave the summer of 1964 and move to the spring of 1968 and the unrest after the King assassination. At this point Joseph is a sophomore at Lincoln University preparing to go to seminary. The police shot Joseph as a looter but all those who knew him deny that he would have done that. He was the only person who died in those riots. We hear from the eulogy by beloved pastor G. Carter Woodson: “We are responsible for the conditions that allow riots to take place.”
The boys of that 1964 summer were turned away from a Princeton barbershop. They wrote a letter to Town Topics in protest.
In their class they debated about that summer’s police brutality in Harlem. .
We share Joseph’s letter about his aspirations to be a minister. The letter was printed on cards, and we passed them around, reading it sentence by sentence: “I have the foundation and tools to be an effective minister, and I strive to help those who are discriminated against…Keep on trying. In every group there will be some listening to what you are saying.”
Was Harlan Bruce Joseph a looter? Or a dreamer? We are asked to imagine that his statue has been erected “over there.”
Oceans, rivers, fish and whales — see them pictured on buttons at the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS) Show and Competition, set for Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Button collectors will also enter competitions featuring baskets and buttons made from celluloid and black glass.
The show will be held at the Union Fire Company fire hall, 1396 River Road (Route 29), Titusville, NJ 08560, and there is plenty of free parking. Admission is $2 for adults, free for juniors to age 17.
This show and sale of collectible clothes buttons attracts antique enthusiasts, quilters, crafters, re-enactors, and those seeking special buttons to wear. The day’s activities include a button raffle and a forum on how to put together a winning entry for the state competitions.
Members of the NJSBS share an interest in studying, collecting, and preserving clothing buttons, both old and new. The NJSBS was founded in 1941, at a time when a nationwide interest in button collecting was surging. Many authors of classic books on button collecting come from New Jersey.
The Union Fire Company & Rescue Squad building is located at the intersection of Route 29 and Park Lake Avenue in Titusville, opposite the Delaware River and D&R Canal State Park (with easy access to the canal park), a half mile north of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township, and some five miles south of Lambertville and New Hope, PA. Contact 732-356-4132. email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://newjerseystatebuttonsociety.org.