Month: April 2009

Yesterday’s AJC featured an article on the slavery mural that’s prominently featured at the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Slavery Mural at the Georgia Department of Agriculture

The mural is part of a visual timeline that commemorates the history of agriculture in Georgia.  Many have questioned the appropriateness of this particular image, completed in 1956.

The article is well-worth your time, but I’ll go ahead and give you the central question — if the history is painful, should it be treated differently than the history that’s not as painful?

My answer is: of course, dummies!*  This argument is all about context.  If you’re going to, say, the new Illinois Holocaust Museum or the pending Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, you know what you’re getting into.

If you’re looking to talk to someone about peanuts (or whatever a visitor might do at the Department of Agriculture), an image of slavery might (understandably) be jarring.

This problem would be easily solved with a respectful, permanent, and visible explanation on display nearby instead of a photocopied handout.

In a parallel vein, if our museum didn’t explain anything about the phrase “tar baby,” folks might also infer that the term “reinforces an image of blacks’ subservience to white people.”  But when our storytellers explain that the tar baby stories descend from the African “sticky hair” stories via enslaved Africans, it presents a totally different perspective.

Thanks for the link, jamieg.  And photograph courtesy of Kimberly Smith for the AJC.

* I am, of course, referring to the royal “dummies.”

Did you know the Wren’s Nest is hosting a concert this Friday?

You didn’t?  Well, surprise!  We are.  It’s the kick-off concert for the West End Tour of Homes, and will feature “great” Maria Howell.

I’m pretty sure the website means to say “the great” Maria Howell, since she is anything but large, but maybe it’s in the awesome sense, which would be legit.  I digress.

If you’re interested in spending a lovely evening in the Wren’s Nest amphitheater, you can buy tickets for a mere $25.  Plus, you get to bring your own dinner, which means macaroni covered in cheese dip for me!  Check out last year’s fun here — sadly, no cheese dip photos included.

And while the concert will be a delight and at the Wren’s Nest, don’t forget the Tour of Homes itself!

The West End is a historic district, after all, and many of the homes have been painstakingly maintained and restored. Reminds me of another house I know, in fact.  Here’s the AJC’s slide show for last year’s tour.

Hope to see you there — don’t forget your candleabra!

IFACS has finished cleaning and restoring the interior of the Wren’s Nest.  The house looks, feels, and smells delicious.

Mary Cleans a portrait of Joel Chandler Harris

Check out our Facebook album, filled with before and after photos.  Don’t worry – you do not need to have a Facebook account to look at them.  But if you do have a Facebook account, ask yourself: are you a fan of the Wren’s Nest?

IFACS ended up completing more work than they said they would.  It’s too much to chronicle in just one picture album, so I’ve included their report on works completed (.pdf).

I’m pretty thrilled.  The Wren’s Nest received over 600 hours of conservation work at a great value — IFACS did this project at cost.

On Friday Creative Loafing published a blog post about the commission of a new mural to be painted in the West End, just a few blocks from here.

The mural is slated to be the very first of what will hopefully be many public art projects incorporated into the Beltline.

The intersection, sort of, of Lawton and White Streets

As you may recall, the Beltline broke ground first in the West End.  A lovely bike path has been installed, complete with a new park and the beginnings of an arboretum.  Right now, the trees are a little weenie.  It’s not their fault.

As projects like the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Porgram have long proven, murals can be a great way to give folks ownership of public space and connect individuals with their communities .  Plus, they’re pretty.

When Lain and I went on the Beltline tour a few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk of art being incorporated into the project.  And now it’s starting!  So close to us, no less.

Good work, Beltline.  I still like you so much.

We’re just about finished painting the Wren’s Nest.  The painters are detailing the porch and should be done within a day or two.

The Wren's Nest with a fresh coat of paint

The monsoon season that Atlanta has seen this spring slowed our roll a little.

Like the yellow, the trim color is a little bit different than before —

The trim on the Wren's Nest is a little less red.

Some of the color difference is due to weathering, but some of it is also due to our historical paint analysis, completed after the house was last painted.

The paint job has made a tremendous difference.  Here’s what one back corner used to look like —

The back of the Wren's Nest before painting

And here’s the same area now —

The back of the Wren's Nest after painting

If you’re using your eyes, you might notice that we now have copper drain pipes.  If you’re using your brains, you might wonder if this is a risky proposition.

I’m here to tell you — it is!  Depending on the price of copper, theft can be a serious issue.

Before, we’d had a mix of copper and galvanized piping.  We decided to install the copper pipes after much deliberation.

If the copper gets stolen, it’ll be my fault.  We’ll replace ’em with galvanized metal, and chalk it up to stupidity, idealism, or mismanagement.  All of the above is another option, but it’s one that I’m more comfortable with than not trying at all.

Here are some rather leading questions you may have —

  1. Say, isn’t copper historically accurate?
  2. I could understand installing copper in a swanky neighborhood like Buckhead, but in West End?
  3. Isn’t this proposition a little bit like the moral dilemma Alexander Hamilton faced when dueling with Aaron Burr?

And here are my answers —

  1. You betcha.
  2. I don’t think that criminals discriminate; we probably shouldn’t either.
  3. Maybe a little bit, yes.*  At least at the 1:40 mark.

Anyway, copper?  What copper?  Nothing to see here.  Just new paint.

The back of the Wren's Nest

* The Wren’s Nest does not condone binge drinking, not even for the sake of history or telling a good story.  Well, maybe this one time.

William Morris — artist, designer, preservationist, and man with an extensive Wikipedia page — designed Brer Rabbit Wallpaper.  The staff of the Wren’s Nest just discovered this fact.

William Morris Brer Rabbit Wallpaper

Apparently, we have been under a rock for quite some time.

Morris released the design in mid-1882, 18 months after Joel Chandler Harris released Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings in the United States.

It’s amazing how quickly the Brer Rabbit stories skipped across the pond.  Not only did Morris have time to come up with this design in less than two years, but also Rudyard Kipling (b. 1865) memorized the stories in school around the same time.

You can still order the wallpaper (or drapes!) in different colors.  Run, don’t walk, to the Morris and Co. website to grab a sample.

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