Monthly Archives: October 2017

Commemorating Women’s Suffrage: The New-York Historical Society’s Battle for the Ballot

The Battle for the Ballot, Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

This year, NYSCA honors the New York State Women’s Suffrage Centennial. Through our Regional Economic Development Council Program, we have provided FY2017 grants to organizations that are commemorating the occasion through their programs. In addition, on this blog, we will regularly pay tribute to grantees who honor the Centennial and showcase the impact of women in New York State arts and culture.

We spoke with Mia Nagawiecki, Vice President for Education at the New-York Historical Society about the exhibition The Battle for the Ballot: The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York​, which is on view on Governors Island through October 15. Supported by REDC funding, this teen-curated exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New York State. Visitors learn how the women’s suffrage movement developed from the monumental Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 to the parades, protests, and coalition-building that won women the vote in 1917 and continues to influence political organizing today. NYSCA also supports the New-York Historical Society through our Museum Program.

Entrance to The Battle for the Ballot, Governor’s Island, Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society has demonstrated a strong commitment to women’s roles in history this year, with the opening of the Center for Women’s History in the spring and now the Battle for the Ballot. What inspired the creation of this exhibition?

We believe history learning happens most powerfully when people see themselves reflected in the past. Women are, and have always been, half the population of our nation, but traditional histories dedicate far less than half their attention to the perspectives, experiences, and contributions of women and girls. Our new Center for Women’s History, which inspired this exhibition, works to help everyone appreciate that women’s history is American history.

So, we have had the importance of women’s history on the front of our minds, and 2017 is the centennial of New York State women gaining the right to vote. This exhibition highlights New York’s role in women gaining suffrage, at both the state and national level, through the actions of the suffragists who worked to achieve the vote. We hope it contributes to making history feel more personal and relevant to New Yorkers, and to all visitors.  We are grateful to the New York State Council on the Arts for their generous support of this project and for shining a light on the history of women’s suffrage in New York to commemorate the centennial.

This show provides a remarkable opportunity for young curators to get involved with the museum. Why it was important to have this exhibition teen-curated?

Our teen curators brought a fresh perspective to the topic and really wanted to challenge the version of history that makes its way into the textbooks and, therefore, the national memory.

They came into the project with a great interest in presenting traditionally under-represented peoples and stories: the experiences of African Americans, Chinese-Americans, the working-class, the poor, socialists, etc.; and the numerous, complex barriers to women getting the vote.

They were especially interested in learning the various reasons people were for and against women having the right to vote and making connections to issues that exist today. We found it particularly compelling how much the teens were interested in the more radical activists as well as exploring the anti-suffrage arguments of the period. This was completely guided by their interest and was something we hadn’t anticipated, and it added a lot to the exhibition.

The Battle for the Ballot on Governor’s Island, curated by teens. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.

Are there any lesser-known suffragettes or unusual artifacts we should be on the lookout for?

Dr. Mabel Lee is probably the most “unknown” figure in the show. She was a leader based within New York’s Chinatown who advanced the conversation of suffrage within the Chinese and Chinese-American communities.  Some other figures who are lesser-known today but were quite prominent during their time are Victoria Woodhull, Rose Schneiderman, Clara Lemlich, Leda Richberg-Hornsby, and Ida Blair.

In 1916, Leda Richberg-Hornsby piloted a biplane called the Suff Bird, accompanied by Ida Blair. They planned to “bomb” President Woodrow Wilson with pro-suffrage leaflets as he sailed his yacht down the Hudson River, en route to the illumination of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, near-gale force winds forced them to crash land in a swamp on Staten Island before they were able to carry out their feat. Their commitment to the cause is remarkable, and there were many other women who were just as passionate, even if they couldn’t pilot planes. Richberg-Hornsby was the first female pilot to graduate from the Wright Flying School in Dayton. The exhibition features a photograph of these brave New York suffragists and tells their story.

Teens created a chalkboard to prompt discussion related to The Battle for the Ballot, Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society

 How have the Teen Leaders and visitors responded to the exhibition and its resonance today?

There have been many great conversations in which people in the gallery are drawing parallels to various issues that are a part of the political discourse today, such as voter disenfranchisement, institutional racism, the challenges in creating inclusive grassroots movements, workers’ rights, and more.

The teens included a chalk board wall in the exhibition design, where visitors can respond to prompts that change from week-to-week, giving  visitors a voice in the space. One prompt that sticks out was “What is feminism to you?” The teens chose this knowing that the term has come to mean many things, both positive and negative, and the responses from visitors reflected that.

This exhibit exemplifies the strength and perseverance it requires to make a change for what is right. How do you want this exhibition to inspire young people – and audiences overall – today?

We hope this exhibition shows New Yorkers and Americans of all ages that it takes a lot of people working together to make change possible, and that it does not happen overnight.

Our narrative begins in 1848 with the Declaration of Sentiments, the document that came out of Seneca Falls, the first women’s rights convention in the United States. Only one of the signers would live to see universal suffrage become a reality in the United States 72 years later (though she was confined to her bed on Election Day and unable to cast a ballot). The ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 was the result of generations of activism, which culminated in traditionally disparate groups, such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Grange, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, working together to realize a larger goal.

It is crucial for all of us, as citizens, to be open to having conversations across divides, to work toward a goal that might not have immediate return, and to be dedicated to shaping our democracy into whatever each of us thinks a “more perfect Union” is.

NYSCA hosts guest speakers Fred Dixon, Emily Rafferty and Cristyne Nicholas

Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company, Emily Rafferty, Chairman, NYC & Company, Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair, New York State Council on the Arts, Cristyne Nicholas, Chair, New York State Tourism Advisory Council

On October 4, 2017, NYSCA hosted a Council Meeting in which we reviewed a portion of FY2018 applications and welcomed three exceptional guest speakers, Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company, Emily Rafferty, Chairman, NYC & Company, and Cristyne Nicholas, Chair, New York State Tourism Advisory Council, who shared valuable insights into the vital role of the arts and culture in New York State tourism.

We are immensely grateful to our speakers and our Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel for an inspiring discussion and look forward to continuing to share news of New York’s cultural tourism highlights here on the NYSCA Network.

NYSCA Today: FY18 Grant Review, Grantee Fall Events

On October 3, 2017, the New York State Council on the Arts meets to review the recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018 grants from their Performing, Literary & Visual Arts Committee, and Multi-disciplinary Arts Committee; these two Committees will make recommendations in eleven program areas. To highlight the importance of the panel and committee review process, NYSCA Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein- Spielvogel noted:  “In 2017, more than 1,900 grants went to 1,200 organizations directly, and another 1,300 were reached through regrants for a total of 2,500 organizations in all 62 state counties. NYSCA is proud that our support enables citizens throughout New York State to access significant cultural programs, representing diverse fields and media, and presented in extraordinary locale.. . . .We urge all New Yorkers, residents, visitors, tourists, and travelers to visit new venues, and explore and enjoy the rich and ever-changing diversity of the arts across New York State.” To provide a window into the diversity of the arts in our state, a small sample of upcoming events – supported by NYSCA’s Fiscal Year 2017 funding,  – appear below, along with links.

We at NYSCA urge all of you to enjoy the fruits of these fine efforts during the beautiful fall season throughout our state.

 

Adirondack Mountain Music & Dance

Camp Sagamore

October 3rd-6th

Great Camp Sagamore, a National Historic Landmark, operates as a unique setting for artist residencies, conferences, performances, and traditional recreational activities. This showcase of authentic folk dancing, singing, and song writing will be led by John Kirk, Trish Miller, Dan Berggren, and the legendary Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith. With the partnership of Road Scholar, an educational travel organization, this series of programming curates historical experiences for everyone in the family.

Events take place from October 3 at 4 p.m. to October 6 at 10 a.m., Sagamore Rd., Raquette Lake, http://greatcampsagamore.org/eventscalendar/2017/10/3/adirondack-mountain-music-dance-workshop-1

 

American Panorama: The Hudson River School

Arnot Art Museum

Through November 16th

Opened in 1913, the Artnot Art Gallery, a restored Greek-Revival home built in 1833, has acquired an impressive portfolio of American art. The museum’s mission is to actively integrate community and educational programming into exhibitions, and to support the development of a regional arts network in the Southern Tier. This comprehensive exhibit of the legendary artists of the Hudson River Valley showcases the distinct heritage of 19th century New York artists, in the beautiful and historic Arnot Gallery.

Tuesdays-Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., 235 Lake St., Elmira, admission $7, $5 seniors and college students, free for children 18 and under, https://www.arnotartmuseum.org/exhibitionseason

 

Born in 1685: GF Handel, JS Bach, D. Scarlatti

Long Island Baroque Ensemble Series

October 21st-22nd

The Long Island Baroque Ensemble, founded in 1972, features a repertoire of rarely heard and unpublished works along with period favorites. The ensemble duplicates the sounds and ambience of times gone by with concerts of early music performed on replicas of period instruments, in historic churches in Suffolk County. Join the group as they kick off their season with a selection of pieces from the leading composers of the Baroque period.

October 21, 7:30 p.m., St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 30 Brooksite Drive, Smithtown, October 22, 3 p.m., Christ Church, 61 East Main St., Oyster Bay, $30, $15 students, free for children 10 and under, http://www.libaroque.org/

 

The Battle for the Ballot

New York Historical Society

On View through October 15th.

The New York Historical Society’s teen-curated exhibition Battle for the Ballot marks the centennial of women gaining the right to vote in New York State. On view on Governor’s Island until October 15th, the exhibition traces the evolution of the women’s suffrage movement from the landmark Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 to the protests, parades, and solidarity that coalesced in 1917. The show’s collection contains historical photographs and artifacts that have been thoughtfully and expertly presented and explained.

Saturdays and Sundays, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., free admission, https://govisland.com/exhibitions/the-battle-for-the-ballot-the-centennial-of-womens-suffrage-in-new-york

 

Freedom Wall

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Currently on view

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, one of the oldest public art institutions in the United States, has partnered with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor to break ground on a grassroots community art initiative. Nearly thirty subjects, including Shirley Chisholm, Malcolm X, and W.E.B. DuBois are depicted by artists John Baker, Julia Bottoms-Douglas, Chuck Tingley and Edreys Wajed.

On view at Michigan Ave. and East Ferry St., Buffalo, https://www.albrightknox.org/community/ak-public-art

 

Smart People

Geva Theatre Center

Playing October 5th-October 22nd

The Geva Theatre Center in Rochester is one of the best-attended regional theatres in the state. Their commitment to unique, community-oriented, and quality theater programming make them both a destination and an institution within the region. Their current production, written by Lydia Diamond and produced by the Kitchen Theatre Company of Ithaca, is a wry and incisive play that manages to address topical and sensitive cultural issues with a sense of humor. Smart People’s run begins October 5th, and will be in production until October 22nd.

Tuesdays through Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., 75 Woodbury Blvd., Rochester, $30-$35, https://www.gevatheatre.org/event/smart-people/

 

Wright at 150 Lecture Series

Darwin Martin House

Lectures are scheduled through October 13th

The Martin House in Buffalo was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his close friend and patron Darwin Martin. It exists today as a museum and complex to showcase the famous architect’s work and provide scholars with the opportunity and materials to study his legacy. The lecture series features six visiting curators from the retrospective exhibit at MoMA, with the final lecture on October 13th.

Lectures at 7 p.m. October 6 and 13, tours scheduled Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, lectures $25-$100, admission $19-37, with discounts for seniors, students and members,  http://www.darwinmartinhouse.org/adult-programs.cfm

 

Catskill Jazz Factory

Bard College: The Richard B. Fisher Center

Performance on October 7th

The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry, demonstrates Bard’s commitment to performing arts as an educational and cultural necessity. This institution helps to attract leading artists from around the world to the Hudson Valley region, and provides the space and resources for students and artists alike to develop their skills and creativity. This fall, the Fisher Center will have the opportunity to host jazz titan Fred Hersch and his protégé Sullivan Fortner on Saturday, October 7th for a double piano concert featuring compositions by Hersch, Cole Porter, Thelonious Monk, and more.

7:30 p.m., Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, $25-50, http://fishercenter.bard.edu/catskilljazzfactory/