NEWS: December 2011

Vol. 4, No. 12

In This Issue:

Banner Image: Silhouette depicting a game of chess between Athenaeum Librarian William McIlhenney Jr. and George Spackman, his fellow alumnus from the University of Pennsylvania.  Probably by Auguste Edouart, c.1840-1850.


Banner Image: Silhouette depicting a game of chess between Athenaeum Librarian William McIlhenney Jr. and George Spackman, his fellow alumnus from the University of Pennsylvania.  Probably by Auguste Edouart, c.1840-1850.


New Books for December

Athenaeum Bookshelf  12-2011

The Decorated Book Symposium and Exhibition

The Athenaeum presents a symposium and exhibition focusing on the creation of decorated book covers in the past and present. The symposium will feature talks by Richard Minsky, Barbara Adams Hebard, and J. Susan Isaacs, each undertaking a presentation regarding either the history of book design or the contemporary scene for book arts. In the Haas Gallery works produced in response to the Athenaeumís collections of decorated book covers by Margaret Armstrong, the Decorative Designers Studio, Alice Morse, Olive Lothrop Grover, and Frank Berkeley Smith are displayed. See the work of responding contemporary artists Libby Barrett/Jeff Raymond, Leslie Farber, Karen Hanmer, Marilyn MacGregor, John Magnan, Nancy Nitzberg, Claire Owen, Johanne Renbeck, and Lynn Skordal.

Symposium: December 2, 2011: Check in at 12:00 PM, Papers begin at 1:00PM

Registration is required. Free to Athenaeum members, students and non-profit staff; RSVP to Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688

Paid Registration and more information at

Exhibition: December 2, 2011-March 9, 2012

Opening reception: December 2, 5:00-7:00PM (First Friday)

Above: "Elephants Battle Aggressive Vegetation in Ancient Egypt" by Karen Hanmer.


Michael Kathrens Lecture

Originally published in 2002, American Splendor: The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer, is the first and only extensive study of this master creator of the American Great House. This revised edition features three new chapters and over 50 new color photographs, with an introduction by Athenaeum member Barbara Eberlein. Co-sponsored by the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 5:30 PM

Free for Athenaeum members. RSVP to Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or, All others $10 Register here.

Support the Athenaeum by using Goodshop

Next time you shop online, think GOODSHOP. Your purchase through Goodshop will result in a donation to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.  Goodshop is a website that connects you with online shopping sites and, in the process, donates a percentage of your purchase to your favorite cause. Hundreds of great stores, including Nordstrom, Gap, Best Buy, North Face & eBay have teamed up with GoodShop.




Artist Spotlight: Charles Cushing

Another in an ongoing series of profiles of artist customers of the Athenaeumís Regional Digital Imaging Center (RDIC)...

Lincoln Funeral Cortege by Charles CushingCharles Cushing has lived and worked in center city Philadelphia for over 30 years and is well-known locally primarily for his landscapes and city-scapes of Philadelphia and the surrounding region. He is a graduate of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1988) and over 500 of his original oil paintings are in public and private collections in the area including The Union League of Philadelphia, which purchased his painting Lincoln Funeral Cortege, South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 1865. He also painted a life-size copy of The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins, during the fund-raising campaign to keep that painting in Philadelphia, for which he received the Samuel G. Gross/Thomas Eakins Award for Outstanding Contribution from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  He is also familiar to many Philadelphians through his prints of iconic Philadelphia views, such as the Avenue of the Arts and Boathouse Row.


In addition to "plein-air" landscapes, Charles also works in the classic genres of portrait, still-life, and the human figure. Recent work includes a series of "capriccios" that combine "painterly realism" with imagination. These paintings, inspired by a genre of 17th-century Italian art that was a forerunner to Surrealism, juxtapose observed reality with memory and invention, using disparate objects and/or time periods in an attempt to evoke the strange logic of a dream. These "studio productions" are the fruit of years of representational painting and study of the old masters and other traditions of painting.

Pony Express by Charles CushingCharles says, "I discovered the Regional Digital Imaging Center a few years ago and it is unequaled in my experience for quality and level of service. Having my paintings scanned here provides me with a permanent high-resolution image of the work, suitable for printing as well as for website display and other forms of promotion. I highly recommend the services here for artists wanting to preserve a faithful record of their work."

Top: "Lincoln Funeral Cortege, South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 1865," (Oil on canvas).

Bottom: "Pony Express" (Oil on canvas).

Member Critics

Kenneth Slawenski, J. D. Salinger, A Life.  New York: Random House, 2010.


Jerry Salinger was born in New York in 1919, died in Cornish, NH, in 2010, married three times, had two children, wrote few novels but many short stories and was marvelously successful as a writer of fiction.  Basically he wrote about ordinary people in ordinary situations, displaying ordinary emotions, and expressing ordinary ideas.  By choice he was mostly self-educated, disdainful of pretense and elaborate displays of wealth or power.  He had no deep, enduring relationships; his friends generally were related to publishing, where he distinguished himself as extremely demanding of what he saw as his rights.  He was very hard-working in his professional life.  He did not do well in his marriages but seems to have enjoyed his children.  The characters in his fiction are a good though limited guide to his own character and personality.  He "put everything into his writing," and thrived in his twenties and thirties.  In his forties he began to decompensate physically and emotionally.  When he died at 91, he seems to have been a burned-out shell.


Submitted by Dr. Harold Rashkis.


Do you have a book that you loved (or hated), and would you be willing to share that opinion on the Athenaeum e-newsletter?  If so, please send your short essay to


Save the date:

December 2: The Decorated Book Symposium.


December 2: Opening reception for The Decorated Book: Continuing A Tradition exhibition, 5:00pm.


December 3: First Saturday, Athenaeum open, 11:00am-3:00pm.


December 7: Michael Kathrens, American Splendor, The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer, 5:30pm.


December 12: Mah Jong for beginners, 2:00pm.


See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.


The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 11:00AM to 3:00PM (excluding the summer months). The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information, or call 215-925-2688.


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