Thursday, 13 June 2013

Ray of Light

Here in Canberra, I work directly across the road from the National Gallery of Australia. I get to keep up with all the latest blockbuster international art exhibitions that come to Australia. Right now we are enjoying a Turner exhibition from Britain's Tate Gallery.

Turner, Derwentwater, 1797 - 1801
Basically, Turner is famous for his interpretation of light, and his mastery of technique which reflects emotion through the use of light in the painting.

Throughout the centuries, artists have been playing with light using different media. And so it is time for us to return to Louis Comfort Tiffany and his use of light through glass.

Daffodils window 1916 at the Morse Museum
Every December the community of Winter Park hold a HUGE Christmas in the Park celebration. The street is closed to traffic, local stores and restaurants set up stalls. 

The chinky clinky pavers were all mine onto which I could scamper!
In the actual park at Winter Park, there is a Christmas concert. The students and artists from the Rollins College of Liberal Arts come with the Bach Festival Society, and the Brass Ensemble and play Bach Christmas music and other classics.

It was jammed packed with thousands of people - all with their folding chairs, their bubbly and little nibbly things
Scattered throughout the park, the Morse Museum displayed huge Tiffany window panels in free standing light boxes. These things were easily the size of a large door. These pieces only ever came out for this park celebration. They were kept in the archives and not on display in the museum.

Several were religious themes: such as this panel depicting the Genesis story of Hagar, as Hagar and Ishmael are banished into the desert and the angel of the Lord brings forth a fresh water spring.
Most though were simple beautiful floral based themes.

There are 11 of these panels, all of which are dedicated, one each, to the members of a select group of women. This group of wealthy New York ladies founded the Association for the Relief of Respectable, Aged Indigent Women in 1814.

The Association operated housing for genteel women, who had found themselves homeless, say through inheritances passing to male lines of the family or losing their husbands in the Revolution or the War of 1812.

Operating about 100 years before Zonta, these ladies were at least opening the door on 'women as philanthropists' and supporting fellow women in need. 

The ladies included Olivia Slocum Sage, who married to a robber baron and childless, inherited over $70 million in 1906 when Mr Sage died. Olivia donated $250,000 for the construction of a new wing and chapel at the residence. It was this chapel where these 11 panels were housed.

The clematis climbs the trellis, toward a white dove - the Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit.
Other members of the Association included Katherine Hinman Hamlin, who was wealthy enough to have had an obituary in The New York Times; and Ruth Seely Dunning, who was married to a prominent New York attorney. These ladies clearly had resources at their disposal. Though the background of most is unknown.

And the choir sang on

In 1974, the Chapel was threatened with demolition. The Association Board approached Hugh and Jeanette McKean, the founder of the Morse Museum in 1942 (it named after Jeanette's father, Charles Hosmer Morse) and offered the panels for safe keeping.

Julia Henop Memorial
Today, there is no Zonta in Winter Park. The closest thing is The Women's Club of Winter Park.  These ladies commenced in 1915, at the home of Jeannette McHugh's mother - Helen Morse. (It's a small world in Winter Park). Somewhat like a Zonta Club, they focus on local community service, student scholarships and a range of social activities, such as art, music, travel, and drama. Those ladies set up the Christmas tree for the concert.

The decorations were hand-drawn by local school kiddies.
This post reminds me of our Zonta emblem: the 'Z' like character in the emblem is the Sioux symbol for "ray of light", "sunshine", "flash of radiance" or "inspiration". The symbol alludes to each and all members of Zonta being radiant with Zonta's values and an inspiration to others.

You  might not be able to afford an honorary Tiffany glass window panel, but you can proudly display your own light through your actions.


At the end of evening, walking back to the car, I came across this:

Your USA Southern style kindie: mini southern mansion with mini portico and columns and all your little mini-me kiddies. of course ......

Remember: my offer still stands - I have arranged a free guided tour of the Morse Museum for Zontians who wish to join me in Orlando at Convention time. Details will come - eventually.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I would take you up on this if I was going! I have been to Florida so many times and didn't know about it. Next time.