Monday, May 6, 2024

HisTOURy Tours visits Mark Twain's "The Lobster Pot"

 

HisTOURy Tours visits Mark Twain’s “The Lobster Pot”

On Sunday May 5th HisTOURy Tours, a 501©3 nonprofit  which promotes the appreciation and preservation of historic buildings throughout the New England and New York, visited Mark Twain’s  The Lobster Pot”, in Redding, Connecticut.

 

                                               Mark Twain's “The Lobster Pot”

 

 

It was a cloudy drizzly day but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of over 30 history buffs who arrived by bus in front of The Lobster Pot Home and Studio/Gallery Barn.

 

 



 

 

The group first visited “The Lobster Pot” Studio Barn, where I gave them a brief history how Mark Twain purchased the original 1720 antique Saltbox on 248 acres in 1906, sight unseen, and built his last home, Stormfield on the Acreage. He loved his new home so very much that he decided to move out of his New York apartment and make Stormfield his permanent home.  Mark Twain died at Stormfield on April 21, 1910. 

 

 

                                                The Lobster Pot Studio Barn

 

I informed the group that for 39 years this magical enchanting property has been home to my husband and I along with many much loved cats and dogs.

 We took a tour of my Studio and I talked about what it was like to be a professional artist and portraitist.  The views from the Studio balcony of the topiary garden and flowering lilacs and azaleas added to the visual richness.

Next, we ambled along the garden path to the house, stopping to view the 80 foot sunken garden from Mark Twain’s original stone patio.

                   The Mark Twain Dining Room showing portraits of Isabel Lyon and Mark Twain

 

Gathered in the Mark Twain dining room I explained to the visitors that Mark Twain gave “The Lobster Pot” to Isabel Lyon, his secretary, social companion, household manager and at one time, Power of Attorney, as a gift for her dedication and hard work. He also gave her money to fix up the antique saltbox, which included creating the large stone patio and huge stone well which we call “Twain’s Folly”.

Everyone wanted to know why the property was called “The Lobster Pot”.

Mark Twain named the property “The Lobster Pot” because it was a destination for his Angelfish Club.  At “Stormfield” Twain gave fish names to the rooms: the kitchen was the Fish Market, the loggia was the Aquarium and his red billiard room was the Headquarters of the Angelfish Club. 

“The Lobster Pot” was a continuation of the aquatic theme and when visiting “Stormfield”, the Angelfish would walk across the open fields to “The Lobster Pot”.

The Angel Fish Club were mostly daughters of his high society friends and each one was given a small enamel angel fish pin from Bermuda.

The original “Lobster Pot” burned in 1953 and was rebuilt on the same foundation.

There were so much interest and so such to talk about, I believe the HisTOURy tour was a great success and maybe even some budding “Twainiacs” where created.

 

 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A Tribute to American Women Leaders



                            
Eleanor Roosevelt    oil on linen   20 x 16 *
  
                       

     "The future belongs  to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"     Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt: diplomat, humanitarian, activist and one of the most beloved and respected women of the 20th Century.



Women leaders need to be acknowledged! 

A revelation came to me while working in the Studio that women's leadership in American history needs to be  recognized and honored.

 I am inspired to begin a series of oil portraits of exceptional American women.

 These women were and are brave, determined, passionate and visionary...they are leaders!

 Women that come to mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amelia Earhart, Olivia de Havilland, Helen Coley Nauts, Sonia Sotomayor, Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison, Susan B. Anthony,  Nellie Bly, Clara Barton, Dolores Huerta and Oprah Winfrey to name a few.

For the honorary portraits I will carefully research these distinguished and exceptional women.
Each oil on linen portrait will be carefully composed considering significant details, color, composition and the most relevant time in their lives to be captured on canvas.


 In the past, I had the honor of being commissioned to paint Helen Coley Nauts, an advocate and visionary in the field of early Cancer Immunology and Gloria Steinem, a ground breaking woman's rights advocate, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, a major philanthropist and supporter of child welfare, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a champion of equal rights.

 

Helen Coley Nauts                            Gloria Steinem                      Sonia Sotomayor
            Collection Cancer Research Institute     Collection Ms. Foundation      Collection Southern District Court N.Y.



                               
 
With the "Tribute to American Women Leaders" Project, I will begin a series of oil on linen  portraits which will range in size between 14 x 18 inches to 20 x 24 inches.

I will start this exciting project with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "R.B.G" Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a fierce and dedicated advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women's rights.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has shaped the course of our nations' history through her convictions and voice for dissent. In 1993 she was the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg  oil on linen  20 x 16

       
"I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability."    Ruth Bader Ginsburg
 
 

Moving forward with my project of portraits of American Women Leaders. 

Delores  Huerta, oil on linen 14 x 18

 

                                   

 Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights Leader

"Yes we can" are the most important words to Dolores Huerta.  Inspired by her mother to become a feminist and a force for social justice, Dolores has devoted her life for workers equality. She co-founded, with Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers Association (UFW).  She has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of farm workers thru organizing boycotts and legislation.


Susan B. Anthony, oil on linen,  18 x 16   




"Men their rights and nothing more; Women their rights and nothing less" Susan B. Anthony

 Susan B. Anthony, Americas greatest woman suffragist, was a pioneer crusader for woman's rights and social reform. The 19th Amendment to the constitution, granting the rights for women to vote, became a reality mainly due to her tireless  campaigning and efforts.


Rosa Parks, oil on linen,  18 x 14   


        "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything" Rosa Parks

 

 Rosa Parks is considered the "mother of the Civil Rights Movement".  Rosa Parks was an American civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a public bus precipitated the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Her actions, on the bus, became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement in the United States.

 

Olivia de Havilland, oil on linen 18 x 14

              "One must take what comes with laughter"   Olivia de Havilland

 

Olivia de Havilland, described as "Satin and Steel" was a  2 time Academy Award winner and the last major leading actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Olivia passed away in 2020 at 104 years old. But she was much more that a wonderful, beautiful and versatile actress...she was a fearless and tough. She took on the movie studios when they had complete control over their stars. Backed by the Screen Actors Guild, she took Warner Brothers to court in 1943 when they penalized her for turning down roles. The California Supreme Court ruled in her favor in what is now known as the De Havilland Law. All actors today are indebted to her efforts.


Harriet Tubman   oil on linen  21 x 17

            "Every great dream begins with a dreamer." Harriet Tubman

 

Harriet Tubman,  the "Moses of her people" was an escaped slave, who was courageous and committed to  helping other slaves regain their freedom as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. She was never caught and never lost any of her "passengers."  Harriet was also a Union spy, scout, nurse, abolitionist and early supporter of women's suffrage. I chose to portray Harriet as a younger  woman. People usually see an image of her as an old woman...she was only 5 feet tall, but, what that small mighty woman accomplished!

Clara Barton, oil on linen  20 x 16


 "I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay." Clara Barton


Clara Barton,  the "angel of the battlefield," was  the founder of the American Red Cross, teacher, nurse, abolitionist, founder of the National First Aid Association of America and an ardent supporter of women's suffrage.



 I will be adding more original oil portraits honoring American Women leaders in the near future.

 

 

 To learn more about Harriet Tubman and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page:

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/harriet-tubman-moses-of-her-people.html

 

 To learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page: 

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/eleanor-roosevelt-most-beloved-woman-of.html


 

To learn more about Clara Barton and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page:

   https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/honoring-with-portraiture-clara-barton.html

 

To see more of my portraiture and larger versions of these portraits please visit my website: www.susandurkee.com

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and learn more about these exceptional women leaders!









* Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt based on a reference photograph by Lotte Johanna Alexandra Jacobi circa 1944