The new 40,000-square-foot National Hellenic Museum is in Chicago's Greektown at 333 S. Halstead St. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Chicago’s new museum tells story of Greek America

The new 40,000-square-foot National Hellenic Museum is in Chicago's Greektown at 333 S. Halstead St. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The new 40,000-square-foot National Hellenic Museum is in Chicago’s Greektown at 333 S. Halstead St. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

CHICAGO (AP) – Dolls a Greek woman made during World War II. Ice cream bowls and wooden spoons from a 1940s Greek candy store. Thousands of record albums filled with Greek music.

These items and many other beloved objects and family heirlooms have found their way from around the country to the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, which has a new place to store and exhibit them all, in a four-story 40,000-square-foot environmentally friendly building of limestone and glass that opened in early December.

The $20-million project in the city’s Greektown neighborhood, which includes temporary and permanent exhibition space, classrooms, oral history archives, a library and roof patio overlooking downtown, replaces the museum’s previous space a few blocks away on one floor of a four-story building.

“This museum became by default the repository for artifacts from the Greek American experience because there was no other place people felt secure donating their items,” said Stephanie Vlahakis, the museum’s executive director.

Outside the museum, the street bustles with diners at Greek restaurants like The Parthenon, Athena or Santorini. A group of men speak Greek during an animated game of backgammon at the Panhellenic Pastry Shop with mounds of powdered sugar almond cookies and baklava piled in the glass cases behind the counter.

“We are telling the story of Greek America,” Vlahakis said. “We just start from the beginning, from ancient times and bring it to the modern times.”

The museum is a work in progress, with a skeleton version of the permanent exhibit on the second floor. Curators have scribbled design concepts in colored marker on the walls, like “absolutely want mosaic work” or “look into etching on glass?” The hope is to raise enough money to fill the displays out in a year.

But there is still plenty to see: shelves filled with items from a Greek family in New York, a wall of black and white pictures that chronicles the story of Greek immigrants in America and an area to learn the Greek alphabet. Visitors can watch a short introductory video narrated by, who else, George Stephanopoulos.

Museum curator Bethany Fleming hopes to travel to Greece and make casts of columns, gates and parts of temples to bring back to Chicago.

Downstairs the temporary exhibit space is home to “Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece,” an exhibit on loan from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan until August. It’s a child’s view of the daily life of ancient Greece and its legends and heroes, like Aristotle, Odysseus and Cyclops.

“What we want to do with all our exhibits is create a place where all generations of visitors can connect,” Fleming said.

There’s a kid-sized recreated Greek temple, and children can dress up in togas in front of a mirror or crawl into a jungle-gym Trojan horse. Interspersed are nearly three dozen Greek artifacts, including coins, pottery and figurines. One Macedonian drachma coin dates to 336-323 B.C. and is about the size of a dime.

The museum building itself is inspired by nature, containing elements of earth, air, fire and water. Inside a large, sky-lit stairway leads visitors from east to west, symbolizing the travel of Greek immigrants from Europe to America. Everything, Vlahakis says, was done deliberately to parallel the Greek American experience.

“So much of our world is inspired by the ancient,” she said.

___

If You Go…

NATIONAL HELLENIC MUSEUM: 333 S. Halsted St., Chicago; http://www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org or 312-655-1234. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays); Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults, $10; seniors and students, $8; children 3-12, $7.

GETTING THERE: The museum is within walking distance of the Chicago Transit Authority’s No. 8 bus and Blue Line’s UIC-Halsted stop in the West Loop neighborhood. Street parking and pay parking are available.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

AP-WF-12-28-11 0437GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The new 40,000-square-foot National Hellenic Museum is in Chicago's Greektown at 333 S. Halstead St. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The new 40,000-square-foot National Hellenic Museum is in Chicago’s Greektown at 333 S. Halstead St. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

James Rizzi in a 2008 photograph by Peter Schmeizel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

In Memoriam: James Rizzi, American pop artist, 61

James Rizzi in a 2008 photograph by Peter Schmeizel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

James Rizzi in a 2008 photograph by Peter Schmeizel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

NEW YORK (AP) – James Rizzi applied his playful, cartoon-like art style to unusual projects worldwide, from Volkswagen Beetles and Japanese train ads to cow sculptures in New York and the front page of a German newspaper.

His creations included images for German postage stamps and a tourist guide to New York published this year. He was the official artist for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and soccer World Cup games in France.

“With his art, what you see is what you get,” said Alexander Lieventhal, an executive at Art 28 GmbH & Co. in Stuttgart, Germany, which manages and sells Rizzi’s work. “Any child can look at it and understand what he’s trying to convey: a celebration of life.”

Rizzi, a native of Brooklyn, died Monday at his New York studio at age 61. He had a heart condition, Lieventhal said.

Rizzi studied art at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where his groundbreaking techniques began with three-dimensional constructions that evolved from a youthful failure.

For his classes in painting, printmaking and sculpturing, he had to hand in work for grades in all three subjects. But Rizzi had time to complete only one: a twice-printed etching, with parts of one cut out and mounted on top of the other using wire.

Lieventhal described it as a “combination of print and sculpture that produces the 3D effect.”

Rizzi stuck with the novelty, nurturing it when he returned to New York, where he made a name as a street artist with a mural.

In 1976, he participated in the exhibition “Thirty Years of American Printmarking” at the Brooklyn Museum. Four years later, he designed the cover for the first album of a new wave band called the Tom Tom Club.

Rizzi ventured into surprising aesthetic areas.

In New York, he created a limited-edition of the MetroCard subway fare-paying system for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His designs also appeared in “CowParade,” an exhibit of fiberglass sculptures displayed in New York public spaces.

Rizzi enjoyed some of his biggest successes in Germany and Asia.

There, he designed the ring coat for boxer Henry Maske, china for the Rosenthal company, the front page of a newspaper in Hamburg and some vehicular art—a toy-size fire engine and three versions of the 1999 Volkswagen “New Beetle.”

In 1996, Lufthansa airlines commissioned him to decorate a jet with stars, birds and travelers.

A school in Duisburg is named for Rizzi; in 2001 came the opening of his office building in Braunschweig, dubbed the “Happy Rizzi House.” Last year, an oval stained-glass ceiling the “Rizzi Dome” was unveiled at one of Europe’s biggest shopping malls, in Oberhausen.

He created ads for the Japanese Railway, and when he boarded planes in Germany, “the flight attendants asked for his autograph.”

Rizzi was divorced and had no children. Survivors include his mother, a brother and a sister.

___

Online: www.james-rizzi.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-12-28-11 1847GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


James Rizzi in a 2008 photograph by Peter Schmeizel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

James Rizzi in a 2008 photograph by Peter Schmeizel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Cheetah, Tarzan's chimp, 'autographed' this photograph, which also pictures Johnny Wiessmuller and Maureen O'Hara. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Signature House.

Cheetah the chimp from 1930s Tarzan films dies at age 80

Cheetah, Tarzan's chimp, 'autographed' this photograph, which also pictures Johnny Wiessmuller and Maureen O'Hara. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Signature House.

Cheetah, Tarzan’s chimp, ‘autographed’ this photograph, which also pictures Johnny Wiessmuller and Maureen O’Hara. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Signature House.

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) –A Florida animal sanctuary says Cheetah the chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the 1930s has died at age 80.

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced that Cheetah died Dec. 24 of kidney failure.

Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb on Wednesday told The Tampa Tribune newspaper that Cheetah was outgoing, loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh. She says he seemed to be tuned into human feelings.

Based on the works of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Tarzan stories, which have spawned scores of books and films over the years, chronicle the adventures of a man who was raised by apes in Africa.

Cheetah was the comic relief in the Tarzan films that starred American Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. Cobb says Cheetah came to the sanctuary from Weissmuller’s estate sometime around 1960.

Cobb says Cheetah wasn’t a troublemaker. Still, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest says that when the chimp didn’t like what was going on, he would throw feces.

___

Online:

http://suncoastprimate.homestead.com/

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-12-28-11 1424GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Cheetah, Tarzan's chimp, 'autographed' this photograph, which also pictures Johnny Wiessmuller and Maureen O'Hara. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Signature House.

Cheetah, Tarzan’s chimp, ‘autographed’ this photograph, which also pictures Johnny Wiessmuller and Maureen O’Hara. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Signature House.

The Monkey sprinkler brought $9,000 at a recent auction. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Vintage lawn sprinklers are collectible garden art

The Monkey sprinkler brought $9,000 at a recent auction. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The Monkey sprinkler brought $9,000 at a recent auction. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

PHILADELPHIA (ACNI) – A mass-manufactured symbol of suburban living, the lawn and garden sprinkler has moved from the tool shed to the collectors cabinet. Like many other products of late 19th and early 20th century industrial design, the well-turned sprinkler is now appreciated as a piece of sculptural and cultural beauty.

Andy Durham, of Annandale, Va., has a collection of more than 80 sprinklers, mostly steel and iron watering implements made from the late 1800s to the 1950s. The joys of collecting were instilled in Durham as a boy, when he’d visit his grandfather, a collector of holly trees, fluorescent minerals, and books on Quaker history.

Durham’s first obsession was horticultural books. Then, about 15 years ago, he picked up a metal sprinkler for $5 at a garage sale, and used it to keep his lawn green. “It dawned on me one day that this is an antique,” and he began searching a new marketplace called eBay for other early sprinklers, a logical collecting progression for Durham, a landscape architect.

He learned that sprinklers were an offshoot of the first pressurized water and fire-suppression systems invented in the 1870s. They were initially used in buildings and utilized public water systems and individual water tanks. They moved out to agricultural use, and then to the growing landscape and public park movements. As the front lawn and home garden became an important component of the middle-class suburbs, the sprinkler industry saturated the market.

In the early 1880s, Durham explained, the designs were practical, intended to do a job on a farm or lawn. “There was a burst of creativity in the first decades of the 1900s. There were many manufacturers involved, and that allowed for expression of styles and shapes.”

Durham appreciates a wide range of sprinklers stylistically, he said, but is most interested in the heavy, detailed metal pieces, some of which boast beautiful scrolls and lion claw feet. One of his favorites was made by the White Showers Company of Detroit. It has a brass piston and carefully crafted cast iron parts. White Showers went into operation before the Great Depression, made a limited number of sprinklers, and went out of business after the market crash.

The 1940s saw the introduction of Bakelite, the early plastic, in sprinkler design. Exciting space age designs were launched in the 1950s. But the manufacturers incorporated aluminum and cheaper plastics, as the well-crafted metal sprinklers became too expensive to produce and ship.

Durham said collectors can find smaller examples for as little as $20, and “nicer ones in the hundreds of dollars.” Finding sprinklers at garage sales, flea markets or even antique shops has become a challenge, “but if you click on eBay you can still find dozens,” he said.

Durham’s collection includes examples of how sprinklers were portrayed in advertising, from postcards used by traveling salesmen, to full-size pages in 1940s Life magazines, capitalizing on the mail-order trend.

One of the popular collecting categories is figural sprinklers. The Firestone Rubber Company featured a line of upright, silk-screened figures on sheet metal that included the Sambo character, a clown and monkey, explained Durham.

A highly sought figural sprinkler is the Cowboy, a 30-inch-high figure whose lasso spins around and drops down as he waters the lawn. There were fewer than 100 made, Durham said, and may sell for as much as $4,000 now.

Figural sprinklers are the focus of John and Nancy Smith, of Barnesville, Md., whose more extensive collections include banks and doorstops. “We love figural cast iron,” explained John, “and lawn sprinklers really lent themselves to figural designs.”

But not very many were made in cast iron. The Smiths count 18 different figural sprinklers in that medium. “And searching for those with great original paint was a challenge. They were used, so they had a tendency to rust,” John Smith said.

The Smiths began collecting cast iron sprinklers in 1971, and made their first purchase – a wood mallard – for $35. Today, that duck can bring up to $2,000. One of the most graceful sprinklers, the Mermaid, has gone from $200 in the 1970s to $8,000 now.

“What happened,” John Smith explained, “is that they have a folky look, so folk art dealers are buying them. They are commanding a great deal of money these days. The Monkey sprinkler sold at auction recently for $9,000. A folk art collector bought that one.”

The cast iron figurals were mainly produced in the 1920s and 30s, Smith said, by some of the same foundries that made the doorstops he and his wife collect. “The 20s and 30s were tough times, and they created the sprinklers to make some extra money.”

The early cast iron sprinkler companies included the English manufacturer Nuydea, National Foundry of Massachusetts, and Grey Iron of Mount Joy, Pa. Nuydea produced the Frog on Globe, as well as sprinklers with ducks and cardinals in the 1920s. Other companies made turtle and alligator models and a two-faced man.

“Bradley and Hubbard, one of the ‘Cadillac’ casting companies, made tremendous forms on sprinklers, including a wood duck and mallard,” Smith said.

While Andy Durham can find his objects of desire online, the Smiths hunt for figural sprinklers at antique shows and auctions and through dealers of figural cast iron. “But in the condition we like, they are getting very difficult to find. They’re starting to get rare.”

Visit John and Nancy Smith’s website to view their collections and sale items at www.castirononline.com.

#   #   #

Copyright 2011 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Monkey sprinkler brought $9,000 at a recent auction. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The Monkey sprinkler brought $9,000 at a recent auction. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The Mermaid is a sprinkler with style and grace. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The Mermaid is a sprinkler with style and grace. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Bradley and Hubbard, one of the premier metal casting companies, produced this Mallard sprinkler. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Bradley and Hubbard, one of the premier metal casting companies, produced this Mallard sprinkler. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The sitting frog was made by Bradley and Hubbard. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The sitting frog was made by Bradley and Hubbard. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

One of the early sprinkler manufacturers was Nuydea, which produced the Wood Duck. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

One of the early sprinkler manufacturers was Nuydea, which produced the Wood Duck. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Nuydea also made the colorful Frog on Globe. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Nuydea also made the colorful Frog on Globe. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The charming Cardinal on Branch was designed by an unknown manufacturer. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

The charming Cardinal on Branch was designed by an unknown manufacturer. Photo provided by John and Nancy Smith.

Firestone and other companies produced a series of figural, sheet metal sprinklers. Photo provided by Andy Durham.

Firestone and other companies produced a series of figural, sheet metal sprinklers. Photo provided by Andy Durham.

The Space Age influenced the style of sprinklers made in the 1950s. Photo provided by Andy Durham.

The Space Age influenced the style of sprinklers made in the 1950s. Photo provided by Andy Durham.

The pyramid of Caius Cestius is on a thoroughfare in the south side of old Rome. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

When in Rome, Japanese man inspired to restore pyramid

The pyramid of Caius Cestius is on a thoroughfare in the south side of old Rome. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The pyramid of Caius Cestius is on a thoroughfare in the south side of old Rome. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

ROME (AFP) – A Japanese businessman has agreed to invest around one $1.3 million to restore a 2,000-year-old Roman pyramid in the Italian capital, La Repubblica daily reported on Thursday.

Yuzo Yagi, a fashion business owner from Osaka, is due to sign the agreement later this month. The pyramid was built in A.D. 13 as a tomb for Roman magistrate Gaius Cestius. Work is set to start in April, officials said.

“His dream is to leave a mark in our country. Last year, he visited the pyramid and was struck by how remarkable it was,” Rita Paris, who manages the monument on behalf of the state, was quoted as saying.

Yagi’s only request is for a plaque with his name on it near the monument.

The project will include the use of probes to determine whether there are any secret chambers built into the 118-foot-high pyramid after recent ultrasonic testing found some gaps in the structure.

Like the Colosseum, which is also preparing for a major restoration project next year, the pyramid is at the center of a busy road junction.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The pyramid of Caius Cestius is on a thoroughfare in the south side of old Rome. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The pyramid of Caius Cestius is on a thoroughfare in the south side of old Rome. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Queen brand hand-pump vacuum cleaner dates to 1911. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and David Iver Auctions.

Don Aslett’s Museum of Clean ready to shine

The Queen brand hand-pump vacuum cleaner dates to 1911. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and David Iver Auctions.

The Queen brand hand-pump vacuum cleaner dates to 1911. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and David Iver Auctions.

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) – Don Aslett may be more than a half century into his fight against dirt and clutter, but he still can’t take a stroll without bending to pick up litter from the sidewalk.

As a child, he can remember cringing at the site of spilled coffee grounds and in high school, finding it strange the other boys didn’t like to clean their rooms. Even now at the age of 76, his battle against grit and grime has yet to relent.

Those who may not understand his devotion, he reasons, have likely never felt the satisfaction of making a toilet bowl shine.

“I’ll tell you, clean is a hard sell,” said Aslett, who has written 37 books on the topic and founded a janitorial business with branches in most states and Canada.

While mothers may threaten their kids with having to clean their rooms as punishment, Aslett knew he was different from an early age.

“I love to clean,” he said with a shrug.

And now, he has a six-floor shrine dedicated to his craft – the Museum of Clean – that recently opened to the public in southeastern Idaho.

Among the exhibits: A horse-drawn vacuum dating back to 1902; a collection of several hundred pre-electric vacuum cleaners; a Civil War-era operating table; a 1,600-year-old bronze pick that was used to clean teeth, and an antique Amish foot bath.

If visitors grow weary while touring the building with its estimated 6,000 historical cleaning devices, they can take a seat on chairs fashioned out of garbage bins, a claw foot bathtub and a washing machine from 1945.

There’s also an 88-seat theater, an art gallery, and a gift shop with cleaning kits for kids priced at $9.95 and plush toys in the shape of germs. Aslett’s most prized possession—a 2,000-year-old terra-cotta water vessel used by the Romans to wash up—is not quite ready for display and kept locked in a filing cabinet.

The idea for the project came several years ago, when Aslett came upon an old pre-electric sweeper vacuum at a Detroit museum.

“I thought, well there’s horse museums, cow museums, train museums, plane museums. Why not a clean museum?” Aslett said.

He started his collection with an old pump vacuum he purchased for about $250 and tracked down more items at antique stores, while others were donated. He soon had enough for a display at his office in downtown Pocatello.

“I found out something interesting, people are into cars and food and sports,” Aslett said. “Cleaning is way down on the list. But if you took something as dull as cleaning and made it humorous, then cleaning goes to the top.”

Aslett started public speaking and writing cleaning handbooks with titles such as: Is there Life after Housework? and Clutter’s Last Stand. His personal monikers have included the Dean of Clean, the Sultan of Shine and, who could ever forget, Don Juan of the John.

He was featured in People Magazine. He’s also been on Oprah. At one point, he started carrying a fiberglass toilet as a suitcase because he felt that was the symbol of his trade. He also enjoyed the suspense of his fellow travelers as they waited by the baggage carousel to see who would claim it.

As his cleaning business thrived, so did the cleaning tool collection. Things got serious when he found a Boston collector with 230 pre-electric vacuums he was willing to sell for $300,000.

“After I got that collection, I found out that I needed a lot more room,” Aslett said. “I thought, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to leave a real legacy.”

Over the years, as the museum missed several expected starts, but Aslett stood firm in his belief: “When you hear Pocatello, you’re going to think clean.”

He was quick to dismiss a website survey this year that ranked Pocatello among the dirtiest cities in the United States based on online sales of cleaning products.

“That’s like saying Pocatello has the most ugly women in the world because we buy the least makeup,” he said

The museum, which took six years to assemble at a cost of about $6 million, marked its grand opening last month. Tickets cost $5 per person or $15 for a family.

Inside, the history of clean begins to the right, with a giant model of Noah’s Ark, a reference to the worldwide cleaning of biblical proportions. To the left are interactive exhibits aimed at teaching kids how to properly make their bed, clean their room, sweep and recycle.

During a recent tour, Aslett stopped to clean a window display inside a children’s play area. His squeegee glided across glass in a quick flurry of sweeping strokes, like an artist painting a canvas.

“That’s how the professionals do it,” Aslett said, leaning back to admire his work.

He would know.

Aslett first marketed himself as professional cleaner when he was 19 and attending Idaho State University in the 1950s. He charged $1.25 an hour and recalls his first job cleaning around a furnace took him 56 minutes. He was paid $1.18, an amount of money he keeps framed on his office wall.

“I thought, it’s going to be a tough road after this,” Aslett said.

But by the time he graduated, Aslett had launched a construction, facility services and janitorial company that employed about 500 and had branches in three states. Varsity Contractors now boasts annual sales of $100 million.

The cleanliness concept was ingrained into him from the time he was a child, growing up poor in the tiny south-central town of Dietrich, where the family grew beans, potatoes and wheat. His mother taught him that clean was something to be desired.

“She said: ‘The reason I married your dad is because he was always clean, he always washed his hands, he always had clean clothes,’” Aslett said.

He and his wife, Barbara, now split their time between their Idaho ranch and their home in Hawaii. He may be a millionaire, but he also embodies the decluttered lifestyle he preaches. He has two pairs of shoes, three suits and the last time he brought a new pair of Levis jeans, they cost $3.25.

“When you’re a cleaner, you look at things a little differently,” Aslett said. “You look at the stuff you have to clean up, the unnecessary bottles and the unnecessary towels, and the garbage … ” he said, his voice trailing off as the list went on.

Online:

Don Aslett’s Museum of Clean: http://www.museumofclean.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-12-27-11 1906GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Queen brand hand-pump vacuum cleaner dates to 1911. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and David Iver Auctions.

The Queen brand hand-pump vacuum cleaner dates to 1911. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and David Iver Auctions.

 

 

Elvis Presley's 'Loving You' album. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Lesle Hindman Auctioneers.

Fire destoys home in upstate N.Y., spares Elvis museum

Elvis Presley's 'Loving You' album. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Lesle Hindman Auctioneers.

Elvis Presley’s ‘Loving You’ album. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Lesle Hindman Auctioneers.

DE PEYSTER, N.Y. (AP) – A northern New York couple has lost their home to a fire, but their massive collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia remains intact.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Robert and Shirley Gagnon’s home in the St. Lawrence County town of De Peyster was destroyed by a fire last Friday night.

Robert Gagnon, a 70-year-old woodworker, managed to prevent the flames from spreading to the couple’s Memories of Elvis museum next door by using a hose to keep the building doused with water.

No one was injured.

The newspaper reports that the couple’s 15-year-old museum contains 50,000 Elvis mementos that fill a five-room modular home with posters, magazines, dolls and other items.

Located at the end of a dead-end rural road, the museum gets only a few dozen visitors a year.

___

Information from: Watertown Daily Times, http://www.watertowndailytimes.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-12-28-11 1208GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Elvis Presley's 'Loving You' album. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Lesle Hindman Auctioneers.

Elvis Presley’s ‘Loving You’ album. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Lesle Hindman Auctioneers.

 

A view from Amanda Burnham's 'Walkshed' installation, currently at the Beckler Family Members' Gallery, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy of DCCA.

3-D street scene on display at Delaware museum

A view from Amanda Burnham's 'Walkshed' installation, currently at the Beckler Family Members' Gallery, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy of DCCA.

A view from Amanda Burnham’s ‘Walkshed’ installation, currently at the Beckler Family Members’ Gallery, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy of DCCA.

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – An artist has created a 3-D street scene where stoops and street signs pop into space and buildings peel from the wall, and it’s all on display at a Delaware museum.

Baltimore artist Amanda Burnham’s work, called “Walkshed,” is meant to evoke what it’s like to walk through a city at night. The News Journal reports that Burnham makes use of her knowledge of the city and the small-scale drawings she’s sketched on street corners and in her car.

The work is on display through Feb. 16, 2012 at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts.

The exhibit is one of a series that will be displayed at the museum in the weeks ahead. The theme is “Super Structures: City, Building, Interior and Object.”

#   #   #

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


A view from Amanda Burnham's 'Walkshed' installation, currently at the Beckler Family Members' Gallery, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy of DCCA.

A view from Amanda Burnham’s ‘Walkshed’ installation, currently at the Beckler Family Members’ Gallery, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Image courtesy of DCCA.

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Aug. 2006 photo by Angelo Celedon a k a Lito Sheppard, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

France pledges $6.5M to preserve Auschwitz site

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Aug. 2006 photo by Angelo Celedon a k a Lito Sheppard, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Aug. 2006 photo by Angelo Celedon a k a Lito Sheppard, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish officials say France has pledged euro5 million ($6.5 million) to help preserve the site of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz, which badly needs repairs.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum said Tuesday that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon pledged the money to a “Perpetual Fund” that is to pay for preserving the barracks, gas chambers and belongings of the more than 1 million victims of the camp.

France’s contribution will be made available between 2012 and 2017 and it raises the funds available to euro 97 million ($127 million). Some euro 23 million ($30 million) is still being sought.

Previously, the governments of Germany, Austria, Israel, the United States and Poland have contributed money to the fund.

#   #   #

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Aug. 2006 photo by Angelo Celedon a k a Lito Sheppard, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Aug. 2006 photo by Angelo Celedon a k a Lito Sheppard, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Jerry Garcia playing his guitar 'Tiger' at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. 1987 image by Mark L. Knowles, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation license.

Indiana exhibit features pieces of rock ‘n’ roll history

Jerry Garcia playing his guitar 'Tiger' at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. 1987 image by Mark L. Knowles, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation license.

Jerry Garcia playing his guitar ‘Tiger’ at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. 1987 image by Mark L. Knowles, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation license.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay became the envy of Deadheads everywhere when he bought Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger” guitar in 2002.

But upon getting the $850,000 instrument home and trying to play it, Irsay wondered if the venerable leader of the iconic rock band the Grateful Dead was sending him a disapproving message from the grave.

“I plugged in my amp cord, had my pick, turned on the amp, and nothing,” Irsay remembers.

“I was like, ‘What is going on here? Is the ghost of Garcia jinxing this? At this moment is he saying, ‘No, you are not worthy to play my guitar’?”

Not so much.

After making a few calls, Irsay learned that the electric guitar needed a 9-volt battery he hadn’t installed. Once it went in, the instrument worked just fine.

“But, for that moment, I was alone and I was really perplexed, you know, at what, exactly, was going on,” said Irsay, who is worth $1.4 billion and ranks No. 312 on Forbes’ list of the 400 Richest Americans.

The custom-made guitar — said to be the last one played by Garcia before he died in 1995 — will be on display at the Indiana State Museum soon as part of the exhibit “Chaos is a Friend of Mine: Cultural Icons From the Jim Irsay Collection,” which runs Jan. 27 through May 6.

The eclectic, 36-piece exhibit, which also includes letters from Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl jersey and Jack Kerouac’s roughly 120-foot manuscript “On the Road,” is part of Irsay’s stockpile of hundreds of items. He is showing it in Indianapolis next year as part of the Super Bowl XLVI celebration.

It’s a collection that is hard to categorize, even for Dale Ogden, the State Museum’s senior curator of cultural history.

“We had a real challenge trying to make something coherent,” Ogden said.

But when researchers found Bob Dylan’s “Chaos is a friend of mine” quote, it fit. After all, rock ‘n’ roll, football and politics are all chaotic, they thought.

“No matter what you applied it to, it seemed to work,” said Ogden.

To Irsay, though, the collection makes sense. The items tell the stories of cultural history. Pieces from the 1950s and ’60s, for example, were created as an American social revolution got rolling.

“Just being able to capture some pieces in the infancy of cultural change — that is significant to me,” said Irsay. “It’s not limited to any sort of genre.”

Although he started with baseball cards as a kid in the Chicago area, the crown jewels of Irsay’s collection have come since 2001, when he bought the Beat Generation manifesto “On The Road,” for which he reportedly paid $2.43 million.

The New York auction where he got the scroll (by bidding against American business magnate Ted Leonsis) was the first and last auction Irsay attended personally. Since then, he has sent representatives in his place.

“I was all fired up. . . . I was going to get the scroll unless Bill Gates was bidding, and he’s not as crazy as me,” said Irsay about that day at the auction.

When the State Museum exhibit opens soon, the scroll will be unrolled in a case to fit its 119-feet, 6-inch dimensions. It will be only the second time the entire scroll has been shown publicly. The first was in 2005 in Iowa.

Irsay loves sharing his pieces — a main reason for the exhibition, which will surely get a lot of visitors during Super Bowl week. And despite most people’s ideas about ownership of things and the sums Irsay pays to buy them, he thinks he’s more of a borrower than an owner.

“The illusion of ownership is dust to dust. I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul going to the cemetery,” he said. “So, I hold it very loosely.”

So much so, that he has a little daydream about what he might do with the scroll when he dies: “Sometimes I think, well, at my death, I’ll bury the scroll and have like a treasure map, and whoever can figure out the code, you know, could find it and keep it,” he said.

According to the caretakers of Irsay’s collections, he’s a good custodian of the pieces he buys.

Martin & Co. product specialist Chris McKinney, Indianapolis, maintains Irsay’s 100-piece guitar collection. Jim Canary, a conservator at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, takes care of the scroll.

“I think he’s very responsible. Why else would he have a conservator who is devoted to just the scroll?” said Canary, who also watches over the original manuscript for “Peter Pan,” scripts from the James Bond series and Sylvia Plath’s early archives at the Lilly Library in Bloomington.

Glenn Gass, an IU rock history professor, is encouraging people to see the exhibit. Gass, who taught Irsay’s daughters at IU, said the Colts owner dropped by his class unannounced one day, with George Harrison’s guitar in hand.

“It was one of the high points of my life,” said Gass. “I thought he was so gracious, not only with me, but also with my students, who were clustering around. He couldn’t have been more unassuming.”

Having such instruments in hand is an opportunity to touch history, Gass said.

“It’s like touching Beethoven’s tuning fork. It’s as close as you can get to touching genius that changed the world.”

The State Museum exhibit is a huge opportunity for the public, Gass said.

“(Seeing) the guitars alone is enough for me. Except for the Colts (losing), the stars are aligning just perfectly. Everybody is curious about Jim Irsay.”

___

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

#   #   #

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Jerry Garcia playing his guitar 'Tiger' at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. 1987 image by Mark L. Knowles, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation license.

Jerry Garcia playing his guitar ‘Tiger’ at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. 1987 image by Mark L. Knowles, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation license.