Tag Archives: figureheads

Lady Of Salem – 2018 (Salem, MA)

Dates Of Event: June 1-3 (during Salem Arts Festival)

Location: Throughout Downtown Salem

Parking: Street parking, which is limited during festivals, costs .75 an hour (4 hour limit) and there are several parking lots and garages.  You can find more information about parking in Salem here.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: A collection of figureheads displayed throughout downtown Salem

Tip(s): While most of the figureheads are located on Essex St, follow the red historical tour line throughout the city to find the remaining figureheads

Related Post: Lady Of Salem – 2016 (Salem, MA)

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In observation of the Salem Arts Festival, the Salem Historical Society decided to send out the ladies of Salem.

The Ladies Of Salem are a collection of figureheads constructed by a variety of artists.

While these figures have been displayed before (see related post above), when I did photograph these figureheads in the past there weren’t as many on display as theere were this past weekend. Some of them were missing (they had been destroyed or stolen off their mounted displays) and  others looked a little roughed up.  Besides I was in Salem to photograph the Arts Festivals (posts on this event soon).  So, I thought I would photograph all of the figureheads in their current state.  And, much to my delight, they all looked as though they may have been touched up a bit and the were all actually there.  Since they were posted rather high on lamp posts, a ladder or cherry picker would have came in handy.  But it was still fun photographing all of the figureheads.  Plus, it gave me a chance to photograph some dogs along the way.

There appeared to be a few figureheads on display that either were not posted or I may have missed in my earlier visit in 2016.  The tricky thing about looking for these figureheads is there wasn’t a map or website with the locations of the figureheads’ locations.  This made it more difficult but also more fun.

The one tip I was given by the helpful workers at the tourism office is to follow the red line which represents the Salem Heritage Trail and includes many of the famous historical haunts in Salem.  The trail is only about a mile or so and there are lots of fun and interesting things to see along the trail.

More than half of the 21 Ladies of Salem are displayed along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall. The other figureheads may be found on Derby and Washington streets, as well as one that is posted at Old Town Hall.

The figureheads are put on display from time to time, especially for different events such as the arts festival or the maritime arts festival.

The artists were given a blank canvas on a 33-inch-tall-by-14-inch-wide and 14-inch-deep figurehead molded of a hard yet lightweight fibrous material. Before the mounting board is attached, the figureheads weigh only 7 pounds.

I wanted to take closeups of the figureheads’ faces to show off the details of them.  I also like to think of them as being in deep thought, gazing off to the sea or some other distant place.

Most of the figureheads are dressed or painted to represent the sponsors of the figurehead.  For instance, the figurehead that is sponsored by Essex’s N.Y. Pizza & Deli in the Salem Museum Place Mall (aka Witch City Mall), has a crown and “I Love Pizza” t-shirt on.  You may also notice stickers of bees on the signs of the figureheads.  The bees are part of the “bee proud” awareness promotion for pride month.

Figureheads on ships were said to have strong magical or religious significance.  As you may notice from the photos below, women were largely used as the shapes of the figureheads.  They were supposed to be used to appeal to the ocean gods and spirits and cause these spirits and gods to be stricken by their beauty, enabling the ships to proceed without any interference from these potential evil doers.

The Phoenicians are said to have been the first people to use figureheads, from around 2500 to 539 BC, when they adorned the prows of their oared galleys with wooden carvings that depicted animals, birds, dieties, and serpents.

The Egyptians and Chinese instituted the practice of painting eyes, known as Oculi, on the bows of their vessels, so that they may find their way across the oceans.

Catholic countries, such as Spain, used religious figureheads, such as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, in the hopes that these figureheads would bring them safety and fortune in their voyages.

However, the “golden age” of figureheads is said to be between 1790 to about 1825.  During this time frame many warships and merchant ships built in North America and England were decorated with these artful figureheads.

But, the figureheads I found were built much more recently.

The first figurehead I spotted is by the artist Shalimar.

This figurehead was made by the artist Demetrius Lacroix.

This figurehead, which I did not include in my earlier post about the Lady Of Salem figureheads, was sculpted by Alicia Irick Cohen.  The figurehead does have some obvious wear and tear, unfortunately.

This figurehead was created by the YMCA/Girls Today Program.

The artist for this figurehead is Amberlynn Narvie.

Niko Papadimitriou is the artist for this figurehead.

This figurehead was created by Vonn Bittercup.

The artist for this figurehead is John Devine.

Kenneth Glover is the artist for this figurehead.

This blue faced beauty was created by Mr. Bleckley’s 5th grade student artists

Dori Phillips painted this figurehead.

This colorfully painted figurehead was made by Cynthia Mikula Smiszek.

Karen Lamesa and Tina Armstrong painted this figurehead.

Jeanne Pare-Kapnis painted this figurehead.

Sheila Billings made this figurehead.

The figurehead below was crafted by Jeanne Pare

The next figurehead was painted by Jill Pabich.

This figurehead was painted by Kerry May Killam.

Jeanne Pare-Kapnis painted this figurine that was located on Derby St.

Mary-Ellen Smiley painted this figurehead which was located in the Old Town Hall near the Essex Pedestrian Walkway.

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I could not locate a sign with the name of the artist for this figurehead.  Unlike most of the other figureheads, this one was located in a store on  Essex St (Witch Tee;s)

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Although not part of the Lady Of Salem display, there are additional figureheads in the Peabody Essex Museum, also on Essex St.  You would have to pay an entrance fee to the museum to view them.  But I have a photos of them below from my visit October 8 of last year.

Besides being the weekend of the arts festival, the weather was perfect for visitors and their dogs.  There were lots of dogs enjoying the figureheads and the festival.  Below are a few of the cute four legged visitors I met during my visit.

Brody is an adorable 10 year old mixed breed dog.

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Don’t blink or you might miss Wink, a 13 year old Pomeranian and Brody’s sibling.

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Aster, who is as handsome as the flower he is named after, is a Border Collie and Australian mix.

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Luna is a 3 year old Chihuahua.  He has very cute features.

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I love Lance’s fur and and sweet nature.  Lance is a 9 year old Standard Poodle.

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Who doesn’t love Golden Retrievers?  Not anyone I would want to know.  Bowen, named after a wharf in Newport, Rhode Island, is a 3 month old Golden Retriever.

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I am not sure how long the Ladies will be on display, although they may have all been taken down after the arts festival which ended Sunday (June 3).  I am pretty sure you may see them again during the summer, specifically during the 30th Annual Salem Maritime Arts Festival August 4th and 5th of this year.  It’s a pretty good bet you may see me there!

Also, keep an eye out for my photographs from the 10th Annual Salem Arts Festival from the first weekend of June which I will be posting in parts since there was so much to show you all!


Mystic Seaport – Part I (Mystic, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: September 2, 2017

Location: 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT

Hours: Open daily, 9:00 – 5:00 (hours may vary depending on the season)

Cost:

Adult – $28.95
Senior (ages 65+) – $26.95
Youth (ages 4-14) – $18.95
Children (3 and younger) – Free

Parking: there is a free parking lot across the street from the Seaport Museum.  There is also additional parking across the street from the parking lot for overflow

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, but not all of the buildings are accessible to the handicapped.  Approximately one-third of our buildings have wheelchair-accessible entrances; interior access varies. The village’s unpaved roads are generally firm and stable suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. All roads are basically level with a few slight inclines located near the Children’s Museum, Treworgy Planetarium and Membership Building.  (see link below for more info)

Mystic Seaport Accessibility Guide

Dog Friendly: Yes, but they are not allowed in the buildings

Website: Mystic Seaport

Highlights: living museum with character actors, boats, replicas of historic homes, figureheads, lighthouse replica, play area for children

Tips:

  • For an after museum viewing treat, Mystik Village, an open area shopping mall is a mere.9 miles away on Coogan Blvd
  • the museum’s main parking lot can fill up quickly if you don’t get there early.  Additional parking can be found in the lots off Rossie St on the other side of the main parking lot

 

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Once a major seaport, Mystic Seaport no longer functions as the busy hub of commerce and fishing or transportation.  But, they have preserved some of the historical atmosphere while still incorporating modern technology.

Since Mystic Seaport is such a big attraction, I am posting my blog posts in three or possibly four installments.  My first installment deals with the Viking ship display which was being featured at the museum as well as the figureheads, decorations and other sculptures at the museum.

During my visit, there was a Viking ship docked at the museum.  Tours were being provided for a small charge.

By far, my favorite part of the museum is the figurehead museum.  The dimly lit room, which made photography challenging, in the Wendel Building added to the mystique of these treasured works of art.

This scroll billethead figurehead is the oldest one in the museum.  Many ships used these billetheads in lieu of figureheads because they were easier to carve and less expensive than the full sized figureheads.

There are several other figureheads in the museum which stood out to me.

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This scary cat timber was used while lifting the anchor and keep it away from the ship so it would not damage the vessel.

Most of the figureheads are of people, though.

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This figure titles Woman With A Comb.  Although it’s hard to tell when some of these figureheads were made, it appears this figurehead was made during the 1820’s.  This figurehead shows a hairstyle and clothing style that was popular during the 1820’s.  Unlike some of the figureheads you may have seen previously where the figurehead leans forward and under the bowspirit, this figurehead stands upright, which was common until the 1840’s when they changed to the design that leans forward.

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Woman With Roses has an interesting historical background.  This figureheads, which resembles a portrait more than an actual figurehead, was originally called Belva Lockwood when it first came to the seaport museum.  Belva Ann Bennet Lockwood, who this figurehead resembles, was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement during the late 1800’s.  She was nominated for President of the United States in 1884 and 1888.  Despite her historical significance and the likelihood that a ship would have been named after her, there are no records that show her name on any vessel.

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Donald McKay  is a figurehead made for the 1855 clipper ship Donald McKay.  Named and designed after the famous ship builder and designer Donald McKay, this figurehead was broken off its vessel and stood unprotected, outdoors in the Cape Verdes islands off the coast of Africa.  It was restored and repainted but it still shows the effects of being exposed to the conditions.  The first figurehead for the vessel was lost at sea and this figurehead which replaced the original one was believed to have been carved by the ship’s carpenter while the ship was out at sea.

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Seminole decorated the ship vessel of the same name for over 40 years.  The figurehead, which was built by Maxon Fish & Co in 1865  in Mystic, CT, is believed to have been carved by James N. Colby and James Campbell.  Colby and Campbell were prominent ship and sign carvers and decorators in the Mystic area from the 1850’s until 1877.  Seminolean offshoot of the Creek Confederation, means “separatist” or “runaway.”

Seminole carried cargo from New York to San Francisco and vice versa for over 20 years.  It was captained by another Mystic, CT, native Joseph Warren Holmes.  Holmes would go on to make 84 passes by Cape Horn, a record among captains at that time.  Eventually, the Seminole ended up in the  west coast lumber trade and was finally broken up at Port Adelaide, Australia, in 1904.  The figurehead was salvaged and, 50 years later, Mystic Seaport acquired it.

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Magdalena is the largest figure of the collection.  Magdalena once adorned the bow of the 421 feet long British Royal Mail steam packet Magdalena which launched in 1889 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Iolanda is considered the second figurehead for the steam yacht of the same name.  The industrialist Morton F. Plant of New York and Groton, Connecticut, had this figurehead adorned to his yacht when he made his 33,000 mile voyage to India, China, Japan and the Mediterranean.

After Plant, the figurehead had many more owners including a Russian Princess and the British Navy where she saw service in both World Wars.

The figured pictured above called Aleppo could not be identified since there are no records or photographs to match it to any vessel.  I find this makes the figureheads even more mysterious and interesting.

This figurehead once adorned the Rhine shipping vessel which was built in Scotland in 1886.  The harp and caduceus necklace are said to portray her as a classical figure rather than a portrait or national symbol.  It is typical of the British sail and steam vessels of the late 19th century.

The Rhine transported laborers from India and China, jute from Calcutta and lumber from Boston.  After being damaged by a fire after World War I, she was sold to a junk dealer for $925.  Shen then became a barge in New York.

This ghost-like carving called White Lady is not a figurehead, despite its strikingly similarities to other figureheads.  One of the reasons the museum was able to determine it is more likely a decoration or sign are because the posture is too erect.  Figureheads were carved to fit the curving shape of the vessel’s bow.  Another reason this was not a figurehead is that her outstretched arm would have been particularly vulnerable to damage at sea.  Also, her elaborate scrollwork base is very unusual for a figurehead.  Lastly, there is no evidence of the wooden or iron fastenings that would typically have held the carving to a ship’s bow.  You know, the obvious reasons.

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Cover your eyes!  This unidentified figurehead which has been named Women With Goblet by the museum is said to have been the victim of well intentioned but overdone restoration.  The flowers around the bae were reconstructed and the outstretched right arm with the goblet is not original.  Typically, carvers made the arms close to the body because it reduced the possibility of  damage by the sea.

This figured, The Great Admiral, was craved in the honor of and dedicated to Admiral David G. Farragut.  Farragut was an Admiral in the United States Navy during the Civil War.  In 1869, a new clipper ship, The Great Admiral, was commissioned in his honor with this figured on the bow.

The figurehead was eventually salvaged after the ship was wrecked off the coast of Oregon in 1906 and it eventually made its way all the way to Mystic.

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Woman With Beads was carved in the classical British figurehead style.  It is said to represent one of Victorian England’s literary or historic characters.

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Abigail is believed to have been carved for the vessel of the same name which was named after the ship’s owner’s wide, Abigail Chandler.  The figurehead was found after the ship crashed along the coast of Massachusetts in 1817.

Great Republic once adorned the largest American ship of its day, if only for a few weeks.  This figurehead was once on Donald McKay’s clipper ship The Great Republic.  Built in 1853, the 335 feet long The Great Republic is the largest cargo ship ever built in the United States.

The eagle, which was carved by S.W. Gleason & Sons of Boston, was on the ship for a few weeks when the ship was damaged by a fire.  The eagle was then removed and kept by Captain Nathaniel Palmer of Stonington, CT.  Captain Palmer had the burned out hull of The Great Republic removed and built into a smaller ship.  A new bow carving was replaced on The Great Republic when it was repaired.

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This bust of a woman is believed to be from the mid 19th century.  Although it is not clear who the woman is portrayed in this bust, it is most likely a wife, girlfriend or relative of a captain or ship builder.

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The Gray Man is a bust of a man from around the 1830’s.  It really isn’t a bust.  It was originally a figurehead on a ship.  However, after it was removed from its original vessel, it was painted blue-gray and the base was altered which makes it look more like a marble statue than a figureheadIMG_0151

This carved gold leafed pine eagle pictured above is believed to be carved by William Rush but this claim  has yet to be verified.  IMG_0161

While this eagle with its arms extended may have been originally intended to be posted on the flat transom at the stern of the ship, it is also very similar to the décor on public buildings during the 1800’s.  It is something that looks familiar to me as I have noticed decorations and sculptures like this on or inside older  buildings while visiting the historic homes and area of New England.

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This carving of a mountain sunrise, Mt Washington Lunette once adorned the steamship The Mount Washington, a steamship on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  This fan-shaped panel, called a lunette, was located at the center of one of the boxes that covered the steamboat’s paddle wheels.  The half round paddle boxes served two purposes.  They helped to protect the wheels from damage while shielding passengers from the turning wheels as well as the water that was thrown up by their blades.

There are other statues and decorations scattered through out the living museum.

These sculptures above, I believe of a sea mammal, were located outside one of the buildings.

This horsehead, located outside one of the historical homes, may have been used to tie the reigns of your horse.

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This outdated statue was located outside a cigar and supply shop.  It is displayed, I am sure, simply to give an accurate display of what the shops at that time looked like.  The craftsmanship is impressive regardless.

The Carver’s Shop is one of the shops replicated to show how statues and other carvings were made and sold.  The carving in the last photo (bottom right) may look similar to the cat carving at the figurehead museum.

These are two other cute decorations I noticed at the museum during my visit.

There were several dogs at the museum.  Who knew dogs were so fond of the sea?

Since I am posting these blog posts as a series, I will post one set of photos for each dog or group of dogs I saw there.

I saw Brandi (On the left) and Colby (on the right) sitting by a bench with their guardian before I entered the museum.  They are both 6 year old Chihuahua and Japanese Chin mix breeds.

See you soon with the next installment from my visit here!

Below is a short video of the figureheads and the restoration of figureheads from Mystic Seaport’s website.

 


Lady Of Salem (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 29, 2016

Location: Essex St, Salem MA

Hours: Most are available daily 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: Parking is available at the New Liberty St and Congress St parking garages as well as additional lots in the city

Dog Friendly: Yes

Handicap Accessible:  Yes, most Lady Of Salem figureheads are handicap accessible.

Highlights: brilliant works of art displayed mostly along or near Essex St

Web Sites: Lady Of Salem Facebook Page

Lady Of Salem

Although Salem is known for the witch hysteria of 1692 and the commercialism that is largely based on this tragic part of their history, Salem has so much more.  It really is a shame that is what people focus on.  In fact with such programs as  Creative Salem and the Salem Beautification Committee – who created this art program, Salem has seen a resurgence of the arts and entertainment that has always been a part of the city.

One of the exhibits recently in Salem is the Lady Of Salem figureheads located throughout the city.  The nautical inspired art is meant to celebrate Salem’s rich maritime history.  These figureheads are meant to closely resemble the decorated ornaments that used to be attached the front of ships.

While some artists have created more than one figureheads, they were mostly created by different artists.

Unfortunately, not all of the figureheads are on Essex St (the last in the group of photos below is on Derby St and one is inside the Salem Old Town Hall) and some have been either vandalized or removed for some other reason.  Also, many of the figureheads almost seem hidden and very hard to find without the help of the map, and, even then, I still had a hard time finding them all.  Add in the massive crowds this weekend and it made it very difficult to find them all.  In fact, I only found about half of them.  It does seem like a fun activity to do with your family.

The Lady Of Salem art display began in June of 2013 and they are brought out periodically.  This past year it was on display frpm Juen until October.  The figureheads are beautifully crafted and, if you look at them closely enough, you can imagine seeing them on the front of a ship, bobbing up and down.

Salem is an old city and some of the streets are cobble stone or not in the best condition.  While Essex St is pedestrian friendly, some of the sidewalks in the city, such as Derby St where one of the figureheads is located, can be hard to navigaate.

Figureheads on ships have an interesting background.  Figureheads on ships were all different in design and name, but they do have many similarities, particularly in their significance.  Figureheads were said to embody the spirit of their ship.  They were believed to placate the gods of the sea and ensure a safe voyage.  Almost every prow had a carved figurehead on them.  The figureheads replaced heads of animals and, at times, people that used to be placed at the front of ships in the hopes of looking out ahead for the ship’ss safety.  Eventually, eyes were painted on the ships and then figureheads became the standard decorative piece.  It was the best choice by far.

The figureheads vary in some respects.  While they are all shapely females (it must be lonely off at sea), some are scarier than others while others seem more wholesome.  There’s even a KISS-like figurehead (you’ll get this when you see them below).  All of the figureheads were either sponsored by or loacted near local businesses which would explain why some figureheads have some unusual artwork on them, such as the phrase “I heart pizza.”  I am not sure sea-faring people of that day even knew pizza was a thing.

The figureheads are not scheduled to be on display any longer (although I haven’t been there to confirm this).  But, I am sure they will most likely be on display again in the future.  They were, for a limited time, on display in the Peabody Essex Museum in Sale, MA (also on Essex St).  The link at the top of the post has photos of all of the figureheads.

The figureheads below were all displayed on Essext St. during my visit.

Artist: Nick Papadimitriou.

Artist: Jean Pare

Artist: Alicia Irick Cohen

Artists: Mr. Bleckley’s 5th grade art students (Bates Elementary School, Salem MA)

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Artist: Vonne Bittercup

Artist: Shalimar

Artist: John Devine

Artist: Kenneth Glover

Artist: Dori Phillips

Artist: Maryellen Halliwell

Artist: YMCA/Girls Today Program

Artist: Cynthia Mikula Smiszek

Artists: Karen Lamesa and Tina Armstrong

Artist: Sheila Billings

Artist: Keri May Killam

Artist: Jill Pabich

Artist: Sheila Farrens Billings

Artist: Mary-Ellen Smiley

Artist: Jeanne Pare-Kapnis