April 2014 Issue
April 2014 Digest
Columbus Museum of Art celebrates the art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries, Vikings invade Ashville and musician Eric Carmen talks about his new career-spanning retrospective.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Montmartre region of Paris was a hotbed of creativity as bohemian artists challenged and rebelled against the formal artistic standards of the time. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and other artists experimented with new visions of society and freedom as they created art for the Parisian working class.
“Because of their sort of newfound freedom, the Post-Impressionists were able to use a multiplicity of artistic styles and subject matter,” explains Dominique Vasseur, chief curator and European curator for the Columbus Museum of Art. “Many of them worked in what we would call the commercial art field early in their careers, making posters or book covers or working with various cabarets on designing costumes or designing sets.”
With Toulouse-Lautrec as its poster boy, the Columbus Museum of Art is celebrating this time of flourishing creativity and offering a glimpse of what everyday life was like in Paris with the exhibition “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880–1910,” which runs through May 18.
The exhibit aims to transport viewers to the cabaret theaters, extravagant circuses and intimate cafes that were staples of Parisian everyday life. More than 170 works by 90 artists are featured in the exhibit, including paintings, cabaret shadow puppets, illustrated theater programs and book and sheet music covers.
“We often focus very heavily on painting, and we tend to forget that many of these artists were starting out their careers working with popular media that was engaged with the popular culture of the time,” Vasseur says. “And the popular bohemian culture was really this modern culture — the spirit of freedom — this looking toward the working or middle-class Parisian.”
In addition to the exhibit, the museum is hosting a variety of events related to the subjects of the artwork, including an April 2 presentation on dance.
“We hope people will get to know Toulouse-Lautrec better,” Vasseur says. “I think everybody knows his name, but I’m amazed how many people don’t know much about his life.” — Kelsey Smith
For more information about the exhibit and special events, visit columbusmuseum.org.
Ashville’s annual Viking Festival offers a look at how the famous seafarers influenced world culture while providing a hearty dose of family fun.
There really isn’t very much plundering going on at Ashville’s annual Viking Festival April 26 and 27, but you can expect to see a whole lot of hammer-swinging, flag-flying and shield-bearing. Located about 20 miles south of Columbus, the annual festival draws about 4,000 spectators each year and is considered what organizers call a “re-enactors timeline event.” That means you’re likely to see Civil War soldiers, Holy Roman Empire imperial guards and an American frontiersman or two in the crowd. But make no mistake, the day belongs to Thor. — Jill Sell
: Festival founders Ed and Nancy Vallette call themselves “Vikings by choice.” “The Vikings were the candle in the Dark Ages that ignited a way out,” explains Ed Vallette. “They cross-pollinated cultures in Scandinavia, Russia, North America, Iceland, Greenland and the Middle East with new ideas they shared because they sailed everywhere.” Education is important to the festival promoters. Jousters, for example just don’t jab each other but have an encampment where families can learn what daily life was like centuries ago.
Air of Authenticity:
Re-enactors strive for accuracy in garb, reproduction weapons, tools, tents and everyday activities. Of course, there are limitations. “I’m not going to eat off a Styrofoam plate, but I don’t want to get pewter poisoning either,” says Roger Bechtel, a German mercenary Landsknecht re-enactor who oversees all the re-enactor groups at the festival. “So I have to find or make something that looks suitable.” Vendors are also historically accurate. That means you’ll find handcrafted pottery rather than plastic souvenirs. Look for real gold and silver jewelry, wooden mugs and traditional cookies sold by the Sons of Norway fraternal organization.
Vikings in Training:
The family-friendly festival (there’s not a drop of mead in sight) offers ancient games, music, storytellers, magicians and a fun class that provides kids the opportunity to learn how to make a Viking Shield Wall. “Viking culture is much more than just looting churches, and that’s what we want people to know,” explains Vallette. “But I won’t say your kid won’t want a wooden sword after coming to the festival.”
The festival runs 10 a.m.– 5 p.m., April 26–27 at Ashville Village Park, 200 Walnut St., Ashville 43103. Admission is free, but a donation for the local food pantry is suggested. For more information, visit ashvillevikingfest.com or call 740/983-9390.
Fascinating Objects from our Past
Early 20th Century bottle whimsey
Labeled Charles C. Hoke, Center, Ohio, 1904
When Charles Hoke spent countless hours creating this impressive example of bottle whimsey in the early years of the 20th century, he could never have expected how many people would find joy in it or how long it would survive. A challenging hobby, bottle whimsey is most commonly seen as the familiar ship-in-a-bottle, but there are varied examples, which are highly collectible and often passed on as family heirlooms. This complex piece — labeled with the words “C.C. Hoke’s Museum of Artistic Wonders” and “Charles Hoke, Center, Ohio, 1904” — includes a schoolhouse, a farmhouse and a figure on a swing, all built on different layers. There’s no record of a C.C. Hoke Museum of Artistic Wonders, but a genealogical search uncovered a Charles C. Hoke born in Ohio in 1889. Most likely the bottle’s creator, Hoke went on to become a homebuilder and would have been just 15 years old when he completed this piece. A wonderful legacy from a simpler time, the bottle was once part of Merritt’s Museum of Childhood in Douglassville, Pa., and may have traded hands several times. — Amelia Jeffers
Sold at Auction: $3,615
Amelia Jeffers is owner of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers in Delaware.
We talk to Billboard-topping musician and Ohioan Eric Carmen about his new career-spanning retrospective.
Sitting in his living room during a power outage last November, Eric Carmen found himself somewhere he had rarely been for the past 15 years — at his piano. “I sat down and stuck around for a while, and pretty soon I had something,” says the 64-year-old Carmen of his new song, “Brand New Year,” a sweeping ballad with lush harmonies. “It fell out of my head very organically. It’s unlike any other of my songs.” The song is included on the newly released The Essential Eric Carmen, a two-CD career retrospective spanning Carmen’s time with Cyrus Erie to the Raspberries to his solo hits such as “All By Myself” and “Hungry Eyes.” We talked with the Lyndhurst native and current Gates Mills resident about getting back in the studio, the music business and his future plans. — Barry Goodrich
You’ve praised the work of engineer Mark Wilder, who remastered the songs on this collection. What was it like being in the studio with him?
A: There’s a lot you can do with a great pair of ears in the studio. Mark had a template in his head of what I was looking for. He knows where to add and subtract [sound] frequencies. When I put this CD in my car stereo and heard “My Girl” the hair on my arms stood up. It sounded full and rich and big — the way I heard it in my head in 1975. Of all the collections of my songs, this is the one I would buy.
What are your thoughts on how the music business has changed since your days with the Raspberries?
A: This is such an odd time in the music industry. Pandora played “All By Myself” 979,000 times over a six-month period. That was worth $39. If an artist sells 10,000 or 20,000 records today, that’s considered a success. The worst selling Raspberries album sold about 175,000 copies.
Any plans for more new music and live shows?
A: I’ve definitely been fooling around on the piano more. Playing live would be great, but there is a lot involved with that. When you’re touring, the two hours on stage are the best part of the day. The other 22 hours are not so fun.