May 24, 2022

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Receives Restoration Award

 

L-R: Steve Stokes, owner, Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company; Scott Harris, Executive Director, UMW Museums; Tim Winther, owner, Dominion Traditional Building Group (with daughter Lillian); Hunter Shackleford (UMW ’20), Lawrence King (UMW ’20), and Sam Biggers (UMW ’16), all of Dominion Traditional Building Group.

L-R: Steve Stokes, owner, Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company; Scott Harris, Executive Director, UMW Museums; Tim Winther, owner, Dominion Traditional Building Group (with daughter Lillian); Hunter Shackleford (UMW ’20), Lawrence King (UMW ’20), and Sam Biggers (UMW ’16), all of Dominion Traditional Building Group.

At its annual meeting on March 27, 2022, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. presented the E. Boyd Graves Preservation Award to Gari Melchers Home and Studio for restoration of the ca. 1850 Horseshoe Staircase at Belmont. The museum shared the award with project Dominion Traditional Building Group of Marshall, Virginia and Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company of Keswick, Virginia. The award publicly recognizes notable preservation achievements made by groups or individuals during the previous year that contributed to the protection, understanding, appreciation, and revitalization of the Fredericksburg region’s history and historic resources. Originally known as the Preservation Achievement Award, the name was changed in 1988 to honor the late E. Boyd Graves, a founding member of HFFI, for his many years of service to local preservation and the instrumental role he played in the protection, restoration, and adaptive reuse of some of Fredericksburg’s most recognizable historic landmarks.

The Horseshoe Staircase at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

The Horseshoe Staircase at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

The Horseshoe Staircase is believed to date to ca. 1850, when Belmont’s owner, Joseph B. Ficklen, expanded the house. While the iron railing was likely fabricated in Philadelphia or another Pennsylvania community, initial construction of the stone steps almost certainly involved the Ficklens’ enslaved workforce. The staircase was included in the inaugural list of Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in 2011. Nearly 30 individual and organizational donors funded the $100,000 restoration project. Stokes of England completed conservation of the iron railing in March 2021, and Dominion Traditional Building Group undertook disassembly, repair, and reinstallation of the stone staircase from August to October 2021. Completion of the stonework, delayed by the onset of winter, is anticipated in April 2022, with a public unveiling to be announced.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio to Host Spring Symposium, April 2

The grounds at Gari Melchers Home & Studio, which are overseen by Garden Manager Jody Wilken.

The grounds at Gari Melchers Home & Studio, which are overseen by Garden Manager Jody Wilken.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host its Spring Symposium event, “Made for the Shade,” on April 2.

Bryce Lane will give two talks, “Heads Up: The Importance of Light in Plant Growth” and “Shade Tolerant Plants That Add Color and Texture.” The public is invited to learn how to measure light outside and how to choose plants suited to different intensities. Lane, who lives in North Carolina, hosted an award-winning TV show “In the Garden with Bryce Lane” for 11 years.

Jenny Rose Carey, senior director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm, will give a talk on “Designing Glorious Shade Gardens.” Carey will share time-tested techniques to turn shady yards into cool, inviting retreats. She will sell copies of her book “Glorious Shade.”

Geoff Rinehart’s presentation, “Shade Tolerant Lawn Options,” will share the best techniques and management practices for a shady lawn, current information on lawn seed choices for shade, and “lawn-like” plants that are good choices for a shady lawn.

Doors open at 8:30 a.m., talks begin at 9 a.m., and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $65–$75. The price includes parking, light breakfast, morning break coffee, buffet lunch and an afternoon snack.

To register and pay, go to mgacra.org/2022-symposium. The schedule and speaker information are on the registration form. Contact Laura Westermeier at Laura.Westermeier@gmail.com for more information.

Wilken Receives Southern Garden History Society Young Professional Grant

The gardens at Gari Melchers Home & Studio, which are overseen by Garden Manager Jody Wilken.

The gardens at Gari Melchers Home & Studio, which are overseen by Garden Manager Jody Wilken.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Garden Manager Jody Wilken is the recipient of the Southern Garden History Society Young Professional Grant and will be attending the annual meeting at Mount Vernon. The event spans 3 days and is from April 22-24. All her expenses including hotel and meals will be covered by a very generous stipend from SGHS.

Belmont to Host Home for the Holidays

Belmont, the historic home of artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, will celebrate the season, with decorations on view through Jan. 2, 2022. In the 1920s, the Melchers took great delight in festively decorating their elegant country house during the holidays.

Although Gari Melchers divided his time between his commercial headquarters in New York City and his Virginia retreat, neighbors could always count on finding him at home during the yuletide season. He was sure to have dragged friends and family from the city to an old-fashioned Christmas feast, with fresh turkey raised at Belmont and Maryland crab soup specified by his Baltimore-born wife.

The interior decorations were arranged by Belmont Assistant Director and Curator Joanna Catron using Mrs. Melchers’ journal entries and archival materials to inspire the look and warmth of the welcoming home. This year’s exterior decorations are provided by the Sunlight Garden Club.
“Home for the Holidays” is included with museum admission. GariMelchers.org

Melchers Paintings on Loan for Florida Exhibition

A selection of 18 paintings from the collection of Gari Melchers Home & Studio are on loan to the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables, Florida. The paintings are featured in the Lowe’s exhibition An American Master at Home and Abroad: Gari Melchers (1860-1932) on view from November 18, 2021- February 13, 2022. 

Jointly curated with the Lowe Museum of Art, this exhibition surveys more than a half-century of Melchers’ career with key examples of the painting styles he favored, including landscape, genre scenes and portraiture. 

Gari Melchers was exceptionally versatile in his subject matter, being associated with Dutch peasant life, portraiture, the mother and child theme, landscapes, the nude and still life, as well as mural painting. His stylistic approach was equally eclectic, assimilating many of the progressive tendencies circulating around 1900, from academic realism to naturalism, symbolism and impressionism, but always in the service of old-fashioned, time-honored themes. In this way, Melchers amalgamated the old and the new into something uniquely his own. 

www.GariMelchers.org 

Harris Interviewed on ‘Town Talk’ About UMW Museums

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

UMW Museums Executive Director Scott Harris recently went on “Town Talk with Ted Schubel” to provide an  update on happenings at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont and the James Monroe Museum. Listen here.

Harris Interviewed on Town Talk

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris discussed upcoming programs at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont and the James Monroe Museum downtown on Town Talk with Ted Schubel. Listen here.

Beauty in the Rough a New Display at Belmont

Study for The Nativity, wash drawing, by Gari Melchers

Study for The Nativity, wash drawing, by Gari Melchers

Fourteen preliminary sketches and studies executed by local painting legend, Gari Melchers, are on view at Belmont, the Gari Melchers Home and Studio until June 1, 2021.

The collection at Belmont is the largest Gari Melchers inventory of its kind, including hundreds of sketches and studies that document his personal creative methodology. When working out a conceptual plan, the artist considered one or more design elements at a time, such as composition, proportion, form, light, color and perspective. Many of his experimental drawings eventually found their culmination as easel paintings, and the comparison of preliminary to finished works gives one the sense of looking over the artist’s shoulder as he gains new insights, eliminates undesirable pictorial effects and discovers better solutions. What’s also apparent is that his sketches and studies can have so strong a visual appeal due to the spontaneity of the effort that many of his examples can stand alone as works of art.

Free Lance-Star’s Young Life Column Highlights Preschool Palette, UMW Theatre Virtual Performance

Preschool Palette offers classes both onsite at Gari Melchers Home and Studios and online.

Preschool Palette offers classes both onsite at Gari Melchers Home and Studios and online.

The “Young Life” column in The Free Lance-Star’s Weekender section recently highlighted “Preschool Palette,” a program for young visitors, aged 2-5, at Gari Melchers Home and Studio, which is being offered both on-site and online.

“I feel that art galleries are for people of all ages, and children shouldn’t be intimidated by them. Exploring art can inspire them to create something, too!” said Michelle Crow–Dolby, education and communications manager.

One of the most popular programs for children that was launched nearly 10 years ago is “Preschool Palette,” with sessions that include a story-reading, colorful garden stroll and a related art project.

“I realized that the children in that age bracket of 2 to 5 were underserved in the art world. This was one of the first regional art programs that targeted preschoolers,” said Crow–Dolby. Read more.

 

Bedtime Stories The column also recently highlighted UMW Theatre’s upcoming virtual children’s performance of ““Bedtime Stories (As Told By Our Dad) (Who Messed Them Up),” staged by the student-led Studio 115.

Playwright Ed Monk wrote “Bedtime Stories” when he had young children, and the script speaks to parents as much as the younger demographic. The show follows a father telling his kids bedtime stories, but he doesn’t quite remember the tales, and invents twists, turns and endings on the fly.

Junior theater majors Oscar Leon and Cate Puglia are co-directing the piece. And while they’d prefer to perform in person, the experience—like a bedtime story—has taught them valuable lessons. Read more.

University of Mary Washington Museums to Reopen March 15

Fredericksburg, VA: Two museums administered by the University of Mary Washington—Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum—will reopen to the public on Monday, March 15 after a three-month shutdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both museums will be open to general visitors only, with no public programs or facility rentals through the end of June, 2021. They will operate with physical and policy adaptations to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 as required under #ForwardUMW and Forward Virginia Phase 3. Measures include increased cleaning, provision of hand sanitizer stations for visitors, limitations in group size, and adjusted traffic flows. Visitors will be required to wear masks inside museum buildings and practice social distancing. Specific COVID-related details are noted on the museums’ websites.

“All of our staff members are eager to welcome visitors back to our museums,” observed Scott Harris, Executive Director of UMW Museums. “We significantly increased our online educational content during the pandemic, and will continue to provide these resources, but nothing equals the thrill and impact of visiting in person.”