Now you can see the day to day activity at Melrose Plantation. How? Follow us at MELROSEPLANTATION on Instagram.
Inside Watermill’s Hellish Heaven-Themed Benefit
By Phillip B. CrooK
NEW YORK-Growing up in a Waco, Texas, during the 1940s, avant-gardist Robert Wilson—a pillar of the experimental art world and founder of the Watermill Center—had never met an artist. “When I was 12 years old, I met Clementine Hunter and bought a painting of hers,” Wilson said. “Her work has always inspired me. For our 20th anniversary gala I thought to honor her.”
In celebration of the Watermill Center summer benefit’s two decades of history on Saturday night, Wilson staged an homage to Hunter, bringing to life the self-taught African American folk artist’s body of work—but in a very Watermill way.
True to his word (“We always try to do what no one else is doing.”), Wilson transformed a Hunter canvas of red and white angels flying over a field of green into this year’s theme: “Devil’s Heaven.” “For me, ‘Devil’s Heaven’ is about two worlds being one,” Wilson said. “Heaven and hell exist together.”
Major figures from entertainment (Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, Winona Ryder), fashion (Bill Cunningham, Nicole Miller, Rick Owens), and art (Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramovic, Kyle DeWoody) indulged together in Watermill’s devilish paradise among some 1,200 cocktail guests, 700 of whom stayed for the seated dinner. Actor Alan Cumming manned the spotlight as M.C., although Lady Gaga controlled the buzz with her surprise attendance, bleached eyebrows, and $80,000 acquisition of two works by Dieter Meier and Abramovic. Swiss auctioneer Simon de Pury hosted the pre-dance-party live auction, which helped to raise $1.85 million for the center’s ongoing residency and education programs.
Setting a heavenly scene, the white dinner tent and tables created a canvas for streaks of colorful cloth runners, each dotted with miniature reproductions of Hunter canvases. A four-sided installation at the center of the tent recreated certain works, including “Cotton Pickin’” and “Arc en Ciel”—Angels and Rainbow, adorned with 3-D elements like arms and wings.
For dinner, Canard served a “devil’s garden” salad made, fittingly, with baby heads of lettuce, followed by a roasted hen stuffed with summer fruits and brioche. Bacardi, Mouton Rothschild, and Peroni provided the bar.
Outside the tent, a fiendish spectacle ran wild. Arriving guests were greeted by Trina Merry’s installation of two performers perched on a pedestal, their naked bodies painted green and flowering with magnolia branches. That proved to be only the first of many nude works by Merry, including an enchanted forest of performers painted to look like bark and pressing their nymph-like flesh against trees. Merry’s “Objectified” conversely presented painted bodies as man-made items, like chairs, lamps, and ironing boards. Then there was Lisa Lozano’s “Funérailles de Miel,” in which patrons were encouraged to spoon honey out of a box where a female performer lay nude, half-submerged in sticky sweetness.
At the center of it all was a recreation of Hunter’s African House, a wide-roofed structure on the Louisiana plantation where Hunter worked, which featured prominently in her autobiographical art. “She is someone who never learned to read or write, but she has documented life through pictures,” Wilson said. “Many of my early works were silent and told stories through pictures, so I feel close to Clementine Hunter’s work.”
Looking back on 20 years of Watermill’s annual Hamptons fund-raiser, Wilson judged Saturday evening’s success by the swell in attendance since 1994. “At the first benefit, Donna Karan chaired; we had 120 people,” he said. “This past Saturday we had 1,200.” One of those people, asked in passing how this year’s benefit compared to the year prior, put it more succinctly: “Well, it isn’t raining.” – See more at: http://www.bizbash.com/inside-watermills-hellish-heaven-themed-benefit/chicago/story/26762#sthash.s8GTkAkU.4tEsvYZ0.dpuf
Looking for Clementine Hunter’s Louisiana
by Jennifer Moses
The New York Times
Some three hours’ drive from Baton Rouge, in the northwest corner of Louisiana, lies the curving Cane River, and along it, fields planted with cotton, soy, corn and pecans, worked today by machinery. But when Clementine Hunter, arguably the state’s most beloved artist, was born on Hidden Hill Plantation in the 1880s, slavery was an institution of living memory, and most African-Americans, including Clementine and her family, worked as field hands. In the artist’s case, she picked cotton on Hidden Hill (which has been renamed Little Eva Plantation) and then, when her family moved, at Melrose Plantation. It was there that, in her 50s, Clementine Hunter picked up a paintbrush and embarked on what became a remarkable career.
I’d long been enthralled by Hunter’s work, with its exuberance, astonishing palette and immediacy. While her work now hangs coast-to-coast, including in museums, galleries and private collections in New York, Dallas and Chicago, a good bit of it landed in her home state. But despite having lived in Baton Rouge for 13 years, I’d never actually visited the landscape that inspired it. Earlier this year, after having seen “Zinnias: the Life of Clementine Hunter,” a new opera presented by Robert Wilson, at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where I live now, I decided the time had come.
Which is how I found myself in Baton Rouge on a spring morning, with the intention of seeing her work and experiencing the rhythms of rural Louisiana as the artist knew it. So I pointed my car northwest for a roughly 150-mile drive past bayous and swamps, petrochemical plants and fast-food joints, flower-dotted sunlit green fields and fields planted with pecan trees and soy. It was April, and all of Louisiana, it seemed, was in bright bloom.
Expecting my destination to be grand, I drove right past the handsome but by no means gawk-worthy “big house ” at Melrose Plantation, which is now a National Historic Landmark and part of the greater Cane River National Heritage Area. It was founded in the 1780s by a freed slave, Marie Therese, but by the time Clementine Hunter, in her midteens, and her family moved there, the plantation, much expanded, also served as an artists’ colony.
The idea — dreamed up by Cammie Henry, the wife of the owner, Joseph Henry — was that painters and writers, each assigned a separate room, would create works of art surrounded by the labor-intensive cultivation of cotton and pecans. So long as the guests were productive, they could stay as long as they liked.
Source: The New York Times.
APHN Announces the Fall Tour of Homes Lineup
-Adam T. Foreman, Natchitoches LA
Natchitoches, Louisiana’s 59th annual Tour of Homes on October 11,12,13, 2013 promises to be the most exciting showcase of private historic homes and plantations in years. The event is hosted by the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches and includes a Candlelight Tour (Oct 11), Town Tour (Oct 12), and Cane River Country Tour (Oct 12,13), all
providing visitors with a chance to be guided through the most elegant historic homes in Louisiana’s Oldest Settlement. Download Tour of Homes brochure.
On Friday, October 11, visitors will be able to tour 3 outstanding private homes. The Candlelight Tour (7-9:30pm) will include McClung-Debileux Home, Prudhomme-Roquier House (1782), and the Tudor Revival Cunningham Cottage (1928). Wine and cheese will be served at Lemee House on Jefferson Street where visitors will enjoy the gorgeous gardens and live music. The Service League of Natchitoches will also be hosting its Fifth Annual Tasting Fair at the Prudhomme-Roquier House featuring recipes in their Steel Magnolias in the Kitchen cookbook.
Saturday visitors will be treated to a remarkable group of historic homes. Maison Louisiane is one of the best examples of Queen Anne style architecture in Natchitoches and the Winbarg Cottage(1924) is a recently restored Mediterranean style. The Ferrer-Westrop Cottage is a structure adopted from 1840s creole architecture. Keegan House makes its return to the tour as an 1850 colonial revival. Tours run from 9am-4:00pm.
Both Saturday and Sunday visitors will be able to take the Cane River Country tour to visit the beautiful Cane River plantations of Melrose, Cherokee, and Oakland. Magnolia Plantation quarters, though not on tour, will also be open to the public. While on Cane River, visit the St. Augustine Catholic Church fair. Tour tickets can be purchased from APHN or through the Natchitoches Visitor Center (1-800-259-1714) or at the office located at 780 Front Street ste. 100.
Early Bird Ticket Prices: (Prices good through October 11)
Individual Tour is $25
Two Tour Pack is $38
Three Tour Pack is $48 (per person)
Last Minute Shopper Prices: (October 11-14)
Individual Tour is $25
Two Tour Pack is $40
Three Tour Pack is $50 (per person)
Special Group Rates are Avaliable. Contact APHN Headquaters for more information
Come enjoy a Girls Getaway – Steel Magnolias Style June 7-9, 2013, in beautiful Natchitoches Louisiana.
Three days of fun-filled events will make memories for a lifetime with your closest girlfriends or family members. Registration entitles GIRLS to discounts and events, a portion of the proceeds from Girls Getaway will go to the Children’s Heart Foundation. For information on Accommodations Click here and for our Schedule of Events click here.
Melrose is featured as a stop on the Girls Getaway “Steel Magnolia Style”. Join us at Melrose Plantation on Friday Night from 4-6pm for a special Clementine Hunter exhibit with a wine and cheese reception and tour of Melrose. $15.00/per person. Private Event that is limited to participants of the Girls Getaway (must wear for admission scarf)
Contact Lanie at 318-652-7078 should you have any questions.
or visit http://www.natchitocheshdba.org for more information
This event is hosted by the Natchitoches Historic District Business Association. Information: http://www.natchitocheshdba.org/
Melrose is in the process of updating, improving, and developing exhibit spaces throughout the house museum and historic site.
Melrose staff began work on the morning of January 21 by removing each book from the library and sorting it according to its age and if it was owned by the Henry family.Significant damaged books were also sorted out for proper storage.
While sorting through the books, we found this neat library stamp. I do not know the origins or the story behind this stamp however we found quite a few books that had. If you happen to know the story on this sort of stamp, please let us know!
By the end of day 1 the library was empty and installation of the new lighting began. The site caretaker installed florescent inside the book cases to provide off-set room lighting and drawing the visitor’s attention to the books on display. The top shelf in each section was trimmed down about 2 inches to allow more light to flow into the book case. Each shelf was then vacuumed, cleaned, and touch up paint was added where necessary.
Books were vacuumed and carefully placed back on display; additional collection items and furniture were moved back into the room. The next step to finish the project is to install the necessary conservation tools to further protect the collection of books at Melrose.After 4 days of exhibit work, the library was reopend and the first group to see the work completed was students from Mansfield High School. Their teacher commented “It didn’t look this good last year!”We are excited to be able to provide visitors with a new experience in the Library exhibit and hope to continue improving and meeting our visitor’s expectations each day. Plus, creating new exhibits…is just fun!
This project is supported by a gift from The Rapides Foundation
Fall Tour: A Vital Economic Asset
(Presented by: Schulz, B., Yandell, K., Springer, M., Walen, D., James, K., Walker, J., and Smith, J.)
Graduate students from Northwestern State University completed an economic impact study for the APHN Fall Tour of Homes. Here are the results: They may shock you!
The purpose of the Economic Impact Study is to assess the financial impact of the tour and project the amount of ‘new money’ created in the community of Natchitoches, Louisiana. If there are a large number of attendees who travel more than 30 miles to partake in the 58th Annual Fall Pilgrimage Tour of homes, then a positive economic impact will be estimated for the city and surrounding communities. The 2012 Fall Tour brought an estimated $509,000 in economic impact to the community.
93 surveys were collected at random. Questions included the participant identifying where they live, how many are traveling in their group, how long they were staying in town, and estimated spending on food, drinks, souvenirs, lodging, and gas.
Using the average ticket price of $37.66; approximately 536 tickets were purchased for the Tour of Homes.
“New Money” is defined as money introduced into the community that would not be available to the area (over 30 miles). $27,278 of new money was spent (ticket sale not included). In other words, each visitor who came to Natchitoches only for Tour of Homes spent $357.82. The total money (people coming just for Fall Tour and people who would be in Natchitoches anyway) was $27,820.
The impact multiplier for Natchitoches is 2.8 which makes the economic impact of Fall Tour of Homes approximately $509,037.73.
This study has several limitations including the fact that ticket sales are roughly estimated and the data from participants is self-reported. But these numbers are shocking. Fall Tour has an enormous impact on the local economy with 57% spent on food and lodging; hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants benefit most from the event.
What we discovered during this project is that primarily “new money” is generated. This is money that would not have been spent in Natchitoches without Fall Tour of Homes. We have a “tangible opportunity to increase the local economy,” and APHN is proud to have such an impact on the vitality of the community.
Lafayette Woman Arrested for Arson in Natchitoches Sep 24, 2012, by katc
NATCHITOCHES, LA.- State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning released information today relating to an arrest made in an arson fire which occurred on June 19, 2012, at the Levy-East Bed & Breakfast, 358 Jefferson St. in Natchitoches, LA.
Investigators determined the fire, which caused damage in excess of one-half million dollars to the unoccupied building, was intentionally set. A multi-agency investigation involving the Louisiana State Police, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the State Fire Marshal’s Office ensued.
During the three month long investigation, investigators learned that 55-year-old Nancy L. Rogers of Lafayette, was seen at the home hours before the fire was set. Based on evidence and information collected, investigators were able to obtain a search warrant for Rogers’ home in Lafayette. As a result of the evidence gathered during the investigation, a warrant for Rogers’ arrest was secured.
Today, investigators arrested Rogers at her home in Lafayette without incident. She was booked into the Lafayette Parish Jail for one count of simple arson. She is being held with no bond.
Ongoing Conservation: An organization recovering from a 2008 fire
Since the 2008 Bayou Folk Museum fire in Cloutierville, seventeen books remained frozen at Melrose Plantation. Freezing artifacts is a common method of emergency response and disaster recovery for Historic Sites. Freezing can stabilize documents indefinitely. In the case of the Bayou Folk Museum, freezing was intended to be a temporary solution until a conservation plan could be developed and administered.
Since 2008, Northwestern State University has been forced by state budget cuts to trim down their degree offerings. One such program to be cut was the Heritage Resources undergraduate and graduate programs. Students and faculty of the program were going to administer the conservation plan and use the project as a student field study. As the program was dismantled, so was the hope of a quick response to the frozen books.
The books remained frozen until 2012 when Adam Foreman, Executive Director, identified the project as a critical priority. During the week of August 11, the books were removed from the freezer and the project of air-drying them was started. Fans loaned from APHN volunteers and a dehumidifier loaned from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training were used along with a generous donation of newsprint from the Natchitoches Times. Foreman describes the project, “when we first took the books out, the smell of smoke was so overwhelming, as if the fire was yesterday.”
No one on staff had experience with this sort of conservation treatment so it took a week to plan this project. “We only had one shot to do it correctly,” said Foreman, “the staff and volunteers associated with this project were eager to learn and help and that made all the difference.” The project went smoothly with no complications and the books took four days to thoroughly dry.
After four years of being frozen in time, the books remain stable and have been placed in permanent collections storage at Melrose Plantation. Though not much was salvaged from the interior of the Bayou Folk Museum, they are a symbol of a community and an organization continuing to heal after the loss of such a beautiful historic site like the Alexis Cloutier house.
Melrose Plantation and the Bayou Folk Museum are owned by the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches.
The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches is partnering with the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation during a state wide preservation survey. Preservation groups across the state are searching for ways to adapt and remain relevant while providing the best services to their respective communities. The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation will be hosting a series of focus group sessions to learn how to better serve communities in Louisiana.
“The preservation focus series is a fantastic idea and the perfect way to reach community partners across the state. We are proud to be involved in such a game changing program.” – Adam T. Foreman, APHN Executive Director
How can you help? Tell us your needs! While the mission of the Louisiana Trust is state wide advocacy; it is important to adapt to the communities we serve. Do you think that the historic tax credits are too difficult to understand or may not cover as much as they should? How exactly does heritage tourism impact communities? What grants are available for historic home owner restoration projects? Is there a way to make historic windows energy efficient? What resources does Louisiana offer to preservationist? How can we protect historic structures from fire?
All of these are such great questions that help preservation organizations including APHN and LTHP understand the preservation needs of our state. Comment on this thread with your questions for the series. The series will focus on everything from ‘brick and mortar’ preservation, tourism in Louisiana, and preservation minded legislation.
Tell the Louisiana Trust and the Association the preservation needs of your local community. Comment Below!