Friday, May 7, 2010

Field Notes From Philadelphia

This week was marked by another curatorial "field trip" - this time to Philadelphia.  

First, I visited the Spruce Street home of Margy Meyerson, former UB First Lady and resident of the Martin House in the late 60s.  In the course of showing me around her stately brownstone (c. 1870) and equally impressive art collection, Mrs. Meyerson pointed out a number of brass light fixtures originally from the Martin House, which now grace her study and stairway.  These were given to the Meyersons by Darwin R. Martin, and now add an early modern accent to their aesthetically-rich decor.  An example of this fixture is already in the Martin House collection; it too was deposited there by the Meyersons.  An interesting story accompanies the installation of these fixtures in the Meyersons' Philadelphia home:  they had secured the services of a friend - one Louis Kahn - to remodel a section of the house.  Kahn produced plans for a light-filled breakfast room at the juncture between the main house and service wing, but the Meyersons' request for a new lighting design for the adjoining dining room remained unresolved.  Eventually, Mrs. Meyerson said, they grew tired of waiting for Kahn to produce designs for new light fixtures, and installed the Martin House fixtures instead.  Eventually, "Lou" came around, saw the Wrightian hardware in place, and declared that they "looked OK" - perhaps relieved that he was off the hook for that remaining detail.

Above:  The Meyersons' Kahn-designed breakfast room.

Below:  one of the Wright-designed light fixtures.

My next stop was the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to survey the pier cluster casement panel in their collection.  This fine example of Martin House art glass was acquired relatively early in the course of the "art glass diaspora:"  in 1968, from the show and sale of pieces at the Richard Feigen Gallery, New York.  I'm happy to report that the panel is very well preserved, with bright brass caming that suggests that it might have been conserved at some point.  

Following a ceremonial ascent up the "Rocky steps" at the Museum's main approach, I downed a few raw eggs to fortify myself for the long trip back to Buffalo.  

Hey - who says a curator's job isn't physically demanding? 


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