Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fashion in Unexpected Places

A few weeks ago I was at a concert at an old church in Seattle. They had rented a small organ from St. James (Catholic cathedral up the hill) for some pieces that needed more of a small continuo sound rather than the big pipe organ. At the intermission my Dad, ever the organ nerd, went up to check it out. He came back excitedly saying that I had to see something. I expected that I was going to have to muster up some enthusiasm for the keyboard or the style of pipes, but instead this is what he was pointing to:

In case you can't read it, the little plaque says:

In Memory Of
Dedicated Advent I 1986

John follows me everywhere!!

Hay Girl Hay

Since JDB passed away in 1980, this would probably have been purchased with money he left to St. James after his death. (As opposed to the green carpet he bought for the church while he was still around to enjoy it.) I always find it meaningful to discover some new, tangible mark left by someone from the past.  John left money for St. James to use for the arts, and 30 years later it is still being used and enjoyed by the people of Seattle.

Speaking of lasting marks left by people of the past, I had the joy this week of visiting the Leary Mansion again, aka the HQ for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. It was with a group of other registrars and collections managers and we got a full tour.

No one seemed to be in that day so the archivist took us everywhere, even the Bishop's office.


But the best part was the fireplace in the bedroom of the original owner, Mrs. Leary. 

What have we here?

I thought it was sort of funny that in this pseudo-classical scene of nymphs and cherubs, this lady was wearing a 1920s bathing suit. But then the archivist explained that she was originally painted naked and that at some point someone decided she needed to be covered up. And apparently it wasn't the church people who did it! It happened before the church bought the building, so either Mrs. Leary didn't like people leering at it, or it was the Red Cross workers who used the house during WWII.

Also, this time I snapped a picture of one of those Ted Rand bishop paintings:

Ted Rand who also created images like this: 

So there it is. John Doyle Bishop sneaking into 21st century choir concerts, vintage bathings suits making appearances in pastoral fire places, and fashion illustration entwined with church portraiture. Wherever you are, fashion will find you. 

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