06 August 2016

Olive Thomas Restored

As many of you know, a long-time goal of mine has been to see Olive Thomas' mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx restored. For almost 100 years, Olive's final resting place has sat untouched while nature has taken its course. Until now.

Last year, under the guidance of resident craftsman Rob Cappiello, a group of interns participated in a stone conservation program established in connection with the World Monuments Fund and the International Masonry Institute, working on the restoration of a series of small mausoleums at Woodlawn. One of those was Olive's. Yesterday, I went up to Woodlawn and met with Cappiello and Woodlawn's membership manager, Anastasija Ocheretina, to talk about the work that was done and to see the results in person. As you can tell from the photos below, they made a world of difference.

 The photo on the left is from a few years ago. The photo on the right was taken yesterday. Photos by Michele.

Before and after photos. Photos by Michele.

The mausoleum looks bright and clean, its details emerging like the rings above the columns, which you can now see are composed of flowers (tulips, perhaps?). They also removed the hideous wasp nest that was at the top of the door (thank you for that). Cappiello and his crew's first job was removing all of the biogrowth before dealing with the black carbon staining. "We started with the least aggressive method, just scrub brushes with water and light detergent then gradually moved up to a product called Restoration Cleaner—it’s a mild, vinegar type acid, which got rid of most of the carbon staining," he said. They also repaired all of the mortar joints to protect the mausoleum from water damage.

The mausoleum was picked for the project because of the type of dirt on it, the configuration of the mortar joints, and the stone that was used for its construction. "It's a very hard stone so you can’t do much damage," said Cappiello "It was a simple monument for them [the interns] to work on. Now they’re getting more fancy, working on curved cornices and such."

Working on the mausoleum had an effect on at least one of the workers. "We worked on so many buildings in the city, like the Waldorf Astoria, that all have a story that we never really get to know. We just go there and do the work," said Cappiello "Over here, when Susan [Susan Olsen, the director of Historical Services at Woodlawn] started telling me about Olive, I went online and couldn’t stop reading about her. She got me; I’m a fan."

Even with all of Cappiello and his crew's hard work, there's still more that needs to be done like the door, which needs to be refinished and protected and the glass cleaned. Some plans are being hatched to see the second phase of restoration completed. To keep up-to-date on the progress, follow me on Twitter at @madcapheiress25 where I will tweet any new developments and Instagram at @madcapheiress25 for photos. 

30 April 2016

Where Did She Go?

Wondering where I've gone? 

I'm still here, busier than ever before (or at least that's how it feels). I haven't forgotten this blog or you dear readers but my schedule is not what it once was. Unfortunately, until I can find some time to sit down and write the posts here will be few. So until I can share more tales with you, please follow me on Instagram or Twitter to see what I'm up to. 

17 March 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Glencar Lake. Photo from here.

As I've done in the past, I'm celebrating the holiday on the blog by sharing a poem by my favourite Irish poet (my favourite poet really), W.B.Yeats. So Happy St. Patrick's Day and bain taitneamh as!

I Am of Ireland
'I AM of Ireland,
And the Holy Land of Ireland,
And time runs on,' cried she.
'Come out of charity,
Come dance with me in Ireland.'

One man, one man alone
In that outlandish gear,
One solitary man
Of all that rambled there
Had turned his stately head.
'That is a long way off,
And time runs on,' he said,
'And the night grows rough.'

'I am of Ireland,
And the Holy Land of Ireland,
And time runs on,' cried she.
“Come out of charity
And dance with me in Ireland.'

'The fiddlers are all thumbs,
Or the fiddle-string accursed,
The drums and the kettledrums
And the trumpets all are burst,
And the trombone,' cried he,
'The trumpet and trombone,'
And cocked a malicious eye,
'But time runs on, runs on.'

'I am of Ireland,
And the Holy Land of Ireland,
And time runs on,’ cried she.
'Come out of charity
And dance with me in Ireland.'

10 March 2016

IT Girls, Flappers, Jazz Babies, and Vamps

Clara Bow in It (1927)

Tomorrow begins Film Forum's two-week series "IT Girls, Flappers, Jazz Babies, and Vamps" or as I call it, my big birthday present. Yes, there will be 31 films shown featuring  some of the loveliest and greatest of the silver screen starting with Kay Francis and Miriam Hopkins in Ernst Lubitsch's witty Trouble in Paradise (1932) and ending with Clara Bow in Dorothy Arzner's delightful Get Your Man (1927). In between there's Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Anna May Wong, Colleen Moore, and more. I am trying to limit myself to only seeing films that I haven't seen on the big screen before but that rule might just get broken (I'll report back on which screenings I attend). So thank you Bruce Goldstein and Film Forum for scheduling this series during my birthday month. And if anyone is looking for me during the next few weeks, you'll know where to find me.

For more information about the series, visit Film Forum.

09 March 2016

The Scream

"The Scream" Edvard Munch (1895)

“Munch and Expressionism,” the latest exhibit at the Neue Galerie, explores how the Norwegian Evard Munch influenced his German and Austrian contemporaries and German Expressionism. Included in the show are more than 80 paintings and works on paper by Munch and other artists like Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Egon Schiele. This mix allows viewers to see shared themes of mortality, alienation, and anxiety and for Munch’s work to stand out. It's also refreshing to see a woman artist, Gabriele Munter, included; her painting “The Blue Gable” (1911) was one of my favourites in the show.

An exhibit of Munch wouldn’t be complete without his most famous work, The Scream, an iconic symbol of modern angst. Here the painting gets its own room, dark and cozy. Munch created four versions of “The Scream” yet the one on display, the 1895 version done in pastels, may be the most interesting. It’s the only one to have remained out of a museum and in private hands. It’s also the one that includes a poem painted on the frame by the artist that describes the origin of the work:

“I was walking along the road with two Friends / the Sun was setting – The Sky turned a bloody red / And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood / Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black / Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire / My Friends walked on – I remained behind / – shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature – EM.”

 “The Scream” has been reproduced so many times that it’s become kitsch yet it’s striking to see in person, brighter than any postcard or poster. The strong strokes of colour have a feeling of urgency, as if the artist dashed off the work in a hurry. The oppressive orange sky, the seemingly endless bridge above the swirling blue water below, and the alien-like features of the figure in the forefront grab your attention, leaving you with a sense of unease.

“Munch and Expressionism” is at the Neue Galerie until June 13, 2016.

03 March 2016


Today is Jean Harlow's birthday. Born in Kansas City, Missouri on March 3, 1911, she was the original blonde bombshell. Gorgeous, smart, and funny, she starred in a series of wonderful films in the 1930s before dying all too soon at the age of 26. I've written before about my love for Harlow who is one of my favourite stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The scene of her sitting in bed eating chocolates and reading magazines in Dinner at Eight is a situation I am always aspiring to be in, and I only wish I could deliver a putdown like she could ("Ya big ape"). So Happy Birthday, Harlow!

02 March 2016


Tonight I attended an after hours event at the Whitney Museum. While I did check out the new exhibits, I probably enjoyed the gallery with selections from the Whitney’s permanent collection the most. In one section among works by Edward Hopper, Man Ray, and Joseph Cornell is the painting “Cocktail” by Gerald Murphy (1927).

During the 1920s, Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy lived a charmed life on the French Riviera. Cultured and stylish, they swam, sunbathed, danced, and dined with their circle of friends who included the likes of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Picasso. It was also the decade that saw an artistic outpouring from Gerald who produced 14 paintings in the Cubist-style, which were well received. Tragedy struck the Murphys in 1929 when their son, Patrick, became ill with tuberculosis; Patrick and his brother, Baoth, would both die a few years later. Gerald never painted again.

Today, only eight of his paintings are known to still exist including “Cocktail.” It is a perfect painting for the Jazz Age. Titled after what one drank in a speakeasy, it features a martini glass and cocktail shaker along with a corkscrew and an all-important lemon for a twist. There’s also a large box of cigars. Devoted to his family, Gerald included five cigars to represent him and his family members. The collection of items, lined up in an orderly fashion, is modern and sophisticated, just like its painter. 


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