Art in Nature: Silvere Boureau

silvere cosmo

Silvere Boureau melds reality with the magical, capturing the tinest shadow on this cosmo in a sunny field.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

It never hurts to be reminded of the beauty of nature that surrounds us. From pocket parks to land preserves, we have ample opportunity to be outdoors. Occasionally, however, we need prompting to see the natural world’s wonder and healing power. Few do that as well as Yardley artist Silvere Boureau.

Walking Five Mile Woods, hiking Baldpate Mountain, canoeing the Pine Barrens or combing the sands of Island Beach State Park, you are apt to find Boureau. Either with sketchbook in hand or seated at his French easel, he seizes the splendor before him.

We’ve all read the studies correlating the power of nature to soothe, not necessarily to cure, but definitely to heal. His landscapes and studies encapsulate that power. Boureau even adopts pharmaceutical lingo when referring to his favorite outdoor spots.

“Tohickon Creek above Point Pleasant,” he adds. “A good dose of nature.”

Yet even the earth’s glory can be deadly, which inspired Dangerous Blossoms, an exhibition of works at D&R Greenway Land Trust through July 19. Boureau has three pieces in the show. One is a study of deadly nightshade, also known as bella dona for its ability to dilate the pupils, making women more beautiful, and ill.

“I wouldn’t advise you try that,” Boureau jokes. “It could be deadly.”

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

He also painted foxglove, that tall, regal flower that gave us digitalis, a name of both the plant and heart medication derived from it.

Boureau’s porcelain vines piece in the show has sold to an anonymous buyer. The highly invasive plant has berries that birds love. Its deadly traits are limited to the native species it can choke out.

silvere porcelain vine

An anonymous buyer bought the original oil painting of this deliciously detailed porcelain vine.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

“I just can’t get rid of them,” Boureau says of the vine growing in his own yard. “But they are amazingly beautiful.”

If you get a chance to take in Deadly Blossoms, don’t forget to enjoy some time in the 17, 200 acres preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust. Take a hike, volunteer to help build a trail, or stop by their Native Plant Nursery for indigenous flora to plant in your own garden.

silvere studio

Boureau in his Lower Makefield home studio.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Out among the beautiful old-growth forests and along many a trail you may run across an artist sketching or painting en plein air. Perhaps even Boureau.

“I take any occasion to be out in wilderness and nature.”

— Jodi Thompson

Langhorne Players to Present The Kingfisher

I have a particular affinity for Langhorne Players. Not only have I rarely been disappointed with time spent in their theater, but their dedication to the creative community of Bucks County speaks to my sensibilities.

Langhorne Players is in no way insular. They aren’t a pack of exclusionary “cool kids,” not an Abercrombie & Fitch among them. Each production welcomes a new artist or artisan to show in their lobby. And each new production is open to new actors, crew and directors.

zeff at mirror

Sheldon Zeff on directing: “It’s about the story, so put up or shut up. I’m putting every effort into directing.”
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Newtown’s Sheldon Zeff will direct the company’s The Kingfisher, which opens May 31. It’s Zeff’s first association with Langhorne Players, but certainly not his first play.

“I was a professional actor in a past life,” Zeff says.

The Glassboro State College theater grad (he refuses to refer to his alma mater as Rowan University) even met his wife during a production of Fiddler on the Roof at (now defunct) Riverfront Dinner Theater, where she played Golda and he was “generic Jew number 3.”

In fact, much of his acting career has been associated with the well loved musical; he’s been in about 10 productions. Kingfisher is quite a different story.

“People don’t know this show,” Zeff says. Langhorne Players is known for selecting new or unusual works. They don’t produce the community theater canon.

The British comedy features three actors of a “certain age,” Scott Fishman, Gail Foulke, and Elliot Simmons. Zeff describes the three as very talented, with a wealth of experience. “They make my job very easy.”

Zeff feels playwright William Douglas-Home had friend and actor Rex Harrison in mind for the lead, a well heeled 70-year-old considering marriage to a newly widowed ex-flame, much to the chagrin of his long-time butler, who “has basically been his ‘wife’ for 13 years.”

zeff laughing

Zeff bears a striking resemblance to actor Mandy Patinkin, with whom he shares the role of Tevye in “Fiddler,” as well as a middle name.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Zeff says the repartee resembles a verbal boxing match, quick and sharp, amongst people of means. “They don’t want for anything, except love, companionship and romance,” Zeff adds.

As is the goal of all Langhorne Players productions, Zeff wants to provoke conversation. “There are so many things [theater-goers] will relate to: What is your perception of love? What happens when you lose it? Gain it back again?”

He wants theater goers most of all to know “it’s going to be a fun night at the theater. But I want them to talk about it.”

— Jodi Thompson

I Love a Parade

The haze was a result of special effects on a passing float. The weather wasn't at all steamy last year, and promises to be just as glorious this year.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The haze was a result of special effects on a passing float. The weather wasn’t at all steamy last year, and promises to be just as glorious this year.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Each year the tiny town of New Hope celebrates with a parade. People and vendors line the route. Those marching are a crazy-fun mix of liberal religious groups showing support and proud folks showing, sometimes, much more.

A float in the 2012 parade that played a loop of Donna Summer songs to honor her recent passing.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

A float in the 2012 parade that played a loop of Donna Summer songs to honor her recent passing.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

These photos were taken by K. Bailey Fucanan at last year’s parade.

The parade enjoys a festive air. Not all are gay, but all are happy. Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The parade enjoys a festive air. Not all are gay, but all are happy.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

New Hope Celebrates Pride Parade 2013 takes place Saturday, May 18 at noon.
Plenty of references to popular films and Broadway favorites.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Plenty of references to popular films and Broadway favorites.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

tee

The t-shirt I wore in last year’s parade. Alas, although members of my congregation will once again march this year, I am not able to join them this time around. There’s always next year.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

— Jodi Thompson

Labyrinth Found – Do You Know Where?

labyrinth in grass

Do you know where in Bucks County this labyrinth is?

There’s a labyrinth in there. It’s hard to find, but look down or seek the sign. It’s along the path, set in stone, an excellent walking meditation when you’re all alone.
The grass is nearly hiding the stones of this labyrinth. More use may help the stones stay visible.

The grass is nearly hiding the stones of this labyrinth. More use may help the stones stay visible.


labyrinth along road

For some 5,000 years, walking a labyrinth has been used to quiet the mind, meditate or pray. Doing so may help you gain insight, reduce stress or help recover balance in life. You can find them in churches and cathedrals, schools, medical centers, prisons, retreat centers, back yards and public parks. If you know which 33-acre county park boasts this labyrinth, say so in the comments.

— Jodi Thompson

Michener: Here 25 Years, When Did You Last Visit

MichenerfrontToday I heard a familiar clop-clop coming down Hillcrest Avenue that has always brought me to my front door just in time to see Sam Snipes (a Bucks County treasure in his own right) riding his horse and buggy home from Summerseat (an often overlooked Bucks County treasure). It reminds me just how interesting it is to live in Bucks County.

We tend to forget what is right outside our front doors. One of those treasures is Doylestown’s James A. Michener Art Museum, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. If you haven’t visited lately, you’re missing out on the riches.

visitors at museum

Visitors at the James A. Michener Art Museum during Tribute Day, May 8, 2013.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

After the abandoned prison was torn down, the county leased the land and remaining century-old Bucks County prison walls and warden’s house on North Pine Street to house a museum. Doylestown treasure, native and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist James A. Michener was a founder and namesake of the art museum that opened in 1988.

Michener Director and CEO Lisa Tremper Hanover says the museum rose “from a lonely little prison building to a vibrant art institution.”

Michener’s life and the museum share, if not a common story, then a recognizable outline. The art museum is housed within the once restrictive walls of a jail, constrained, at least physically, by its footprint.

Michener experienced what could have been a limiting beginning. According to his New York Times obituary, he was a foundling, raised by an impoverished Quaker widow who took in orphans and washing. Some children may have been restrained by such an upbringing. Instead, Michener traveled extensively from age 14, graduated from Swarthmore on scholarship, and found employment in a New York publishing house.

While fellow Bucks County Friend Sam Snipes choose to uphold his religious beliefs and serve his country in a non-military role stateside during World War II and in Germany post-war, Michener waived his Quaker principles and enlisted in the Navy. It was during this time that he wrote stories that would become his Tales of the South Pacific.

Michener went on to great success as an author and novelist, writing Hawaii, The Source, Texas and Alaska. He was also renowned for his art collection and philanthropy.

kids and docent

Some of the 101 schoolchildren who visited on Tribute Day discuss art with a Michener docent.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

According to his NYT’s obit, he was humbled by his success, still “haunted by his years of poverty.” He told NYT’s Caryn James: “They have a deeper impact on someone like me than people realize. It makes you more dour, more tightly ingrained. It inhibits you. . . . I live as if I had stayed on my job and retired on a small pension and some savings and security.”

His eponymous museum may be forever impeded by its footprint, but not its potential.

“If we were to grow (physically), what would we do?” Hanover asks. “Would we break through the prison wall? That’s an artifact for me. Would we dig down or go up like a skyscraper? I don’t know.

“We’ve been growing 25 years and now it’s time to look inward, take stock and grow our offerings.”

But first, some sprucing up. The overgrown landscaping at the entrance has been redone. The lobby has been painted warm colors. The Nakashima Studio (yet another Bucks County treasure) has restored the wood furniture pieces in the Nakashima Reading Room.

Michener Director and CEO Linda Tremper Hanover shows off the museum's new logo. Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Michener Director and CEO Linda Tremper Hanover shows off the museum’s new logo.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

A new logo helps differentiate the Michener from its neighboring Mercer Museum (treasure!). Hanover tells how the old logo often got the art museum mixed up with the “tool museum” across the street.

“The Mercer is a great colleague to us,” she adds.

top25computer

I choose a few of my picks for Top 25 at the computer kiosk in the museum lobby.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The public is invited to participate in the silver anniversary celebration by voting for 25 out of 125 new works of art to be added to the collection in honor of the Michener’s 25th anniversary.

September 21 and 22 will be the public celebration with an open house, activities, tours and performances.

And causing the biggest buzz is the upcoming From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly – Beyond the Icon, which opens October 28. Princess Grace’s son, Prince Albert II, will visit the exhibition at its only U.S. venue.

The Monaco prince will surely be impressed with what he sees at Michener. The permanent collection, with more than 2,700 works, includes pieces by Pennsylvania Impressionist and New Hope school artists such as Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber and Walter E. Schofield. The outdoor sculpture garden boasts bronze works by Barbara Lekberg, Allan Houser and more.

pavilion

The Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion is, according to Hanover, the largest free-standing glass cube in North America.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, a 2,500-square-foot, all-glass structure is an example of physical growth and a deepening of offering. It is available for private events and also hosts the museum’s popular Jazz Nights series.

Ongoing adult lecture series, workshops and children’s programs highlight the Michener’s connection with its community.

giftshop

I’m always pleased that Michener and Mercer are across the street from each other when I’m looking for a great gift. Both museums have intriguing offerings in their respective gift shops.
“Be sure to mention that we’re open seven days a week,” a volunteer in the Michener gift shop adds.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Go. Take family and friends visiting from out-of-town. Don’t neglect a treasure in your midst.

— Jodi Thompson

Artist Profile: Lexi Logan

Artist Lexi Logan would make Sheryl Sandberg proud: Logan leans in to her life with confidence. What may baffle the Facebook COO-cum-self-help author would be that there is nary a corporation in sight of the Buckingham farm where Logan works and lives.

logan painting on wood

Artist Lexi Logan with one of her works
on a George Nakashima wood piece.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Logan has not chosen to use her talents to rise to the top tiers of a firm, or to increase a stock price. She is, instead, leaning in to nourish the soul with art while nourishing her three children. All on a Bucks County farm that once grew food to nourish the body.

Logan, her husband, artist Andrew Logan, and their three young children live on what was once Stover’s Farm Market. The barns, silos and outbuildings that once housed livestock and farm machinery now harbor artists’ studios, where members of the Bucks County Art Barn paint, photograph, weld, sculpt, carve, design and more.

The New York University grad has adapted her art career to suit her life raising a daughter, age 7, and two sons, ages 10 and 5. She put herself on the “mommy track” of the art world, and perhaps unlike that of the corporate world, it works well for her.

“Being a mother and being an artist has been such a beautiful challenge,” Logan says. “Balancing being a mother and what it takes, that level of care” causes her to sometimes feel guilty while she’s in the studio. Yet she also has the pressure of helping to provide for her family. “It’s an expensive world with three children.”

Logan has had more than 10 years to perfect the struggle of “making a living versus making what you want,” which doesn’t only exist for parents. There was a time when her work was darker, “creepier.” Although people liked it, they perhaps didn’t want to live with it. Not simply motherhood, but also maturity helped her “rein it in.”

works

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The imagery in her vintage-inspired pieces began even before she had children. The figures evoke reading primers of decades past. This is not the Dick and Jane of oldsters’ childhood, but Dick and Jane with a secret.

Beyond the pinafores and Mary Janes, there is something slightly unsettling about an oversized little girl about to burn her finger on the Statue of Liberty’s torch. There is social commentary in a piece titled Arm Candy. The little boy passionately embraces a dog, while the girl aloofly walks by, holding a book under her arm.

Logan admits, “There’s a sadness to it. I’m not trying to make my work cute. I’m digging underneath this perfect shell, this symbol of perfection.”

It’s an excavation of nostalgia and all that it entails. Logan paints her images on worn wooden sleds and tagged wood pieces from George Nakashima‘s collection.

“It adds another layer to my pieces,” she says.

logan in barn

Now that photography no longer requires the perils of a child-unfriendly darkroom, it fits well into the mother of three’s lifestyle. Lexi Logan is creating a photography studio in her magnificent post-and-beam barn, which “offers clients this crazy, shabby chic, wonderfully rich backdrop.”
She does extensive portraiture work and is venturing into vintage portraits, which would include not only costumes and processes, but also such inspired endeavors as merging old family photos of grandparents with photos of grandchildren into one piece of work.
“It delves deeper into the child’s character and the family’s character” than traditional portraiture, she says.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

She scours flea markets and yard sales. “Old postcards, from 1932 or so, all tell a story and I continue the story with my little drawings.”

She enjoys reviving old pieces, bringing them to life and sending them out into the world on their own journey.

Logan paints on the postcards, even co-opts some of the imagery for other pieces, aligning the stars of a collective reminiscence to a time before age 7, before the age of self-consciousness. This magical time is “when we feel larger than life, bigger than the world, heading for adventure.”

“We’ve all had these memories,” she says. “It connects us all.”

— Jodi Thompson

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

oscar hammersteinThis sign commemorates the primary home of Oscar Hammerstein II from 1940 until his death in 1960. Do you know the name of the Bucks County borough where this sign sits? Kudos if you can name the street where this sign sits and/or the two musicals for which Hammerstein, along with Richard Rodgers, won the Pulitzer Prize.

— Jodi Thompson