Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating Three Years Of The Abraham Lincoln Blog

Today is the third anniversary of The Abraham Lincoln Blog. I began writing about Lincoln on October 31, 2007 not knowing if anyone would ever find this site. Additionally, I had no idea if people would actually enjoy the blog or find it useful should they even stumble upon it. Above all I wanted people to take it seriously as an important source of information about the 16th President of The United States.

Sure enough, people found the blog. Sometime this week, the site will achieve it's 200,000th page view or "hit," which is amazing to me. I had no idea it would receive that much attention. I am grateful for that single measure of success. Since it's inception three years ago the blog has received an average of just over 180 views per day. The average has been nearly 200 hits per day over the past 18 months, so more people are finding it.

Through this blog I've made some wonderful friends, meeting people who share my fascination with Lincoln or my love of American history in general. That's the most thrilling part of this effort I've put in, meeting some great people.

It still remains to be seen just how seriously the blog is taken by the community of Lincoln fans. I'd like to hear from more readers. And I would love to be asked to speak in public about Lincoln. Not because of money or attention, but because I have a passion for Lincoln's story and would love to share it with more people.

Thank you for dropping by, no matter if you're a long-term reader of The Abraham Lincoln Blog, or if you're here for the first time. It's because of you that I keep this blog going.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Library Of Congress "Gateway To Knowledge" Traveling Exhibit

The Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C. has recently taken to the road across the United States with a special rolling exhibit called "Gateway To Knowledge." Via this exhibition, the LOC has been bringing facsimiles of many of its top treasures and information about the millions of resources in its unparalleled collections to the heartland of America. This exhibit travels inside a specially equipped 18-wheel truck as it visits small towns.

Founded in 1800, the LOC is the nation's oldest cultural institution (yes, older than the Smithsonian). It houses rare books and maps, even rarer documents pertaining to American and world history, the earliest motion pictures, and priceless photographs.

The LOC also holds incredible items associated with Abraham Lincoln. It holds the original Bible used by Lincoln during his first inaugural on March 4, 1861 (and later used by President Obama). It also contains in its collection the contents of Lincoln's pockets the night of his assassination on April 14, 1865. The hoods that the Lincoln conspirators wore while in prison and on trial are also in the LOC collection. Of course, the Library of Congress has been staging the truly magnificent "With Malice Toward None" Lincoln Bicentennial exhibition, currently entering its final week in Atlanta, Georgia.

The "Gateway to Knowledge" exhibit tells the story of the LOC and features high quality facsimile reproductions of some of its unique treasures. It relates how former president Thomas Jefferson "rescued" the Library when it was burned in the War of 1812 by the British, losing it's valuable collection of books. Jefferson sold his own extensive collection to the LOC, thus permitting it to once more serve as a repository for information for everyone.

Visitors to this exhibit can see reproductions of a 1455 Gutenberg Bible; a 1507 map which is the first known to contain the word "America"; the rough draft of the Declaration Of Independence; videos of the earliest movies; and copies of the original artwork for the first Spider-Man comic book. The originals to these items are held by the LOC in its collection.

The exhibit pulled into Oberlin, Ohio a few weeks ago for a two day visit on the grounds of the liberal arts school Oberlin College. It was there where I went to see it for myself.

Here are some photos from my visit:




I wrote above that the "Gateway To Knowledge" exhibit travels on an 18-wheel truck. Once the truck is parked, the sides of the trailer expand to more than twice it's original width, thus permitting a much larger space for the displays. Quite remarkable. Below is a photo which shows the trailer in its expanded state.


This LOC exhibit is driven around the country by two young docents who are quite knowledgeable about the Library and the exhibit. The husband and wife team of Josh and Abigail Van Gelder are on the road approximately 300 days annually as they tour our nation bringing special exhibits to the masses. I've been fortunate enough to meet them via blogging and am now honored to have them as my friends.

Abigail writes a guest blog for the Library as she and Josh travel through the heart of America. Here's a link to her article about the visit to Oberlin, Ohio. She also blogs about their lives on the road on another blog which you can find here.

"Gateway To Knowledge" is currently in Iowa and will next head to Minnesota. The schedule is maintained on the LOC website. Over the next year, it will make approximately 60 stops in the mid-west and southern U.S.

It's a fascinating exhibit. If it comes to a town near you, drop by for a visit. Admission is free. And if you do, please tell Abigail and Josh that I said hello!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Abraham Lincoln Portrait Series

Most works of art depicting Abraham Lincoln are realistic, whether the medium is paint, ink, or sculpture.  This was of course especially true with works done during his lifetime or in the immediate years after his death.  Now one can see the occasional abstract piece, the most famous of which is Salvador Dali's painting which only at a distance of 20 meters becomes a portrait of Lincoln.

I was contacted yesterday by a current "abstract" artist named Lola Dupre' who hails from Glasgow, Scotland, asking me if I would consider featuring her series of Lincoln original portraits here on the blog.  After a look at her work and her description of the pieces, I have decided I will do so.  Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way for featuring her works. 

Ms. Dupre' works mainly with paper and scissors, according to her website.  She takes images of the famous, including Lincoln, then distorts them in unique and unusual ways.  As she told me in her email, she enjoys working with images of the famous, who are already known to us and who have achieved some measure of fame.

Before you see her images below, please know that she in no way intends disrespect to Abraham Lincoln.  In fact, I made sure of that before I consented to feature her works in this forum.  She told me that the "abstractions in the features are in themselves meaningless. It is when associated with the emotional in the viewer, that interesting interpretations may be made."  After all, isn't that what "art" is all about?  Some people love works by Picasso, while others adore Gauguin.  Art does affect our emotions and means different things to different people.  Here is the first work of Lincoln from Ms. Dupre':

I admit that when I first saw the above image, I didn't much like it.  But when I re-read her descriptions of her art, and especially how the abstractions can mean different things to different people, I began to understand.  For example, this is a distortion of the famous portrait of Lincoln taken November 8, 1863.  That image is my personal favorite.  It shows his determination, his resolve, and strength.  It also is one of the first portraits which shows how the war was wearing him down. 

Artist Dupre's abstraction (and the others which follow below) speak to me about the numerous "directions" in which Lincoln was being pulled while president.  Abolitionists were angry that slavery had yet to be ended.  He had political rivals within his own party, and of course in his own cabinet.  The war weighed heavily on him.  His wife was most likely bi-polar.  He had lost two children by the time this portrait was taken.  He had yet to find a general who would consistently fight the enemy and fight it well.  Lincoln had so many issues affecting him, that he at times surely felt how these portraits by Ms. Dupre' depict him.

This final portrait in Ms. Dupre's series of five on Lincoln is my favorite one.  To me it appears that poor Mr. Lincoln's head has been placed in a vise.  He must have felt like it at times, if not all the time.

Unfortunately, none of these originals by Lola Dupre' are available as they have each been sold.  Perhaps I and the readers of The Abraham Lincoln Blog can encourage her to create more.  Please check her website for other unique and interesting pieces.  Please do NOT grab her images from the website without her express permission.  I had her permission to share these images in this post.  Respect her work and copyright.  And please do NOT grab these images from this blog, either. 

 
History Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory