The Little Elephant

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February 2017, temporary location

This cast stone elephant is charming, isn’t it?  It is one of two that are part of the Hertzberg Circus Collection.  For many years it and its companion stood in front of the former San Antonio Public Library at 210 W. Market Street.  Everytime I walked by the building it never failed to make me smile!

The little elephants have a long story that, thankfully, has a happy ending for them. Harry Hertzberg was a local attorney and avid circusana collector who left his extensive collection to the City of San Antonio when he passed away in 1940.  The collection was then housed in the former San Antonio Public Library building and the first elephant was installed at the front; the city continued to add to the collection doubling its original size.

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Five elephants were cast by local artist Julian Sandoval.  A fellow circus collector commissioned one for Mr. Hertzberg as a gift; it was displayed on Mr. Hertzberg’s lawn until his death. The second elephant was donated to the collection when its owner passed away in 1989.  It was installed opposite the original elephant in front of the old library.

By 2001 the circus collection contained 40,000 items and the cost of maintaining the museum was prohibitive. Per the terms of Mr. Hertzberg’s will the collection then passed to the Witte Museum. One elephant was installed in front of the museum and named “Cinnamon Candy”. Countless children (including my oldest grandchild) posed for pictures with this little elephant.

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Cinnamon Candy in her new location, 2017

A re-painting of the elephant was sponsored by the Bolner family, owners of Bolner’s Fiesta Spices in 2006; conservation work has also been done to preserve the elephant. When the Witte underwent a major renovation the elephant was moved to the side of the museum, close to the temporary entrance.  When the renovations were finished the little stone elephant was moved to its new location in front of the B. Naylor Morton Research Center. I’m not sure where the other elephant is – time for a trip to the museum!

 

Gross Domestic Product

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Ann Agee,Gross Domestic Product, 2010, porcelain and steel armature

My love of Blue Willow pottery drew my eyes to this piece immediately.  While the blue and white designs on porcelain attracted me it was the images on each plate that kept me staring.

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Domestic scenes fill the porcelain plates – scenes of kitchen tables, living room couches and chairs, empty dining rooms, and dishes drying on a rack  as seen above. The shapes and designs are captivating. Simple everyday scenes captured, frozen in time.

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The artist’s contemporary settings reference Northern sixteenth-century genre paintings and the household tableaus and goods (including Delftware) they captured.  Agee takes these stylistic ideas and reimagines them in clay and glaze as a reflection on domesticity, feminism, and artistic medium. (from the McNay Art Museum, Impressions, January/April 2017)

Made of what?

If you read  my Doorway Into the Past blog then you know about the McNay Museum of Art that I featured there.  Marion Koogler McNay bequeathed her Spanish Colonial-Revival home and surrounding 23 acres to be preserved as a museum of modern art.  Her collection of 700 pieces of European and Southwestern art pieces formed the core of the museum when it opened in 1954. Today the museum curates almost 20,000 pieces of art.

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A current exhibit titled “The Extraordinary Ordinary: Three Installations” has three artists using “the stuff of ordinary life to create extraordinary environments”.  While all 3 were interesting my 12-year old companion and I found artist Tom Burckhardt’s creation to hold us captive for quite a while.  He created an artist’s studio from corrugated cardboard, black paint, wood and hot glue and looked over nothing.

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We carefully went over every detail commenting over and over, “look at that” or “how on earth did he make that” as well as “I wonder how many times he had to re-do that”!

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There were brushes and various types of paint all with meticulously painted labels. The small stove held a pot and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup stored on a shelf above. A phonograph on the shelf was ready to play a tune and there were reference books on the table.

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The window, sink, overhead pipes all look real, don’t they?  Such creativity – who would have thought of this!

And, I have to add that I was just as thrilled when we entered a room and there on the wall was one of Monet’s studies of Water Lilies! I wanted to just bring it home with me, but perhaps buying a copy would be a little more prudent!

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