Longwood and Humphry Marshall – March 2, 2017

Art, history and horticulture had a great night together at the CCHS.  Matthew Ross, Continuing Education Coordinator at Longwood Gardens put together a program that included my speaking about Humphry Marshall and his history of plant exploration, and lectures from two amazing adventurer’s in the world of modern plant explorations – Peter Zale, Curator at Longwood Gardens and David Culp, famed horticulturist and author of The Layered Garden. David and Peter’s passion for plants was such an inspiration for everyone lucky enough to hear them and Matthew Ross has my gratitude for immediately seeing how the legacy of our past (in this case art, horticulture and science) can inform our present and our future.

Peter, David, Adrian and Matthew

Opening Night – November 2016

On November 4, 2016 the Humphry Marshall show had an amazing opening night with incredible crowds and a few celebrity appearances:

Benjamin Franklin showed up with a few friends:


And a few more amazing people:











The night closed with a few speeches, great food, and of course, spending time with the exhibit:


Showtime – The Visionary World of Humphry Marshall is open!

Well, the blogging had to stop as the deadline for the show grew near, and now, exactly one month after opening night, we are back!  I will be posting some great images of the show and opening night, but for now I thought I would start with a few images of the week before the opening.

So, does this look like a man under pressure?

Two Adrians

Two Adrians



How about this guy?




The staff and volunteers at the CCHS were an absolute pleasure to work with.

a_martinez_installation_humphry_marshall_1 a_martinez_installation_humphry_marshall_3 a_martinez_installation_humphry_marshall_4 a_martinez_installation_humphry_marshall_5


And just to remind everyone, the show is now open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the Chester County Historical Society, located at 225 N. High Street in West Chester, PA.


More About Ann Arbor


There was an incredible sense of history in the huge stack of letters and documents of the Humphry Marshall family in Ann Arbor. We went through all of the items to see if they had particularly interesting bits of information on them or were from notable individuals. A large amount of Humphry’s recorded letters are business focused, there was a great stack of letters involving people from all around the world asking him for plants and offering compensation. What was surprising to me was that almost none of Humphry and Moses’ letters were personal. It was generally all news, politics, and business. In letters they revealed very little of their personal thoughts and feelings, and it would be easier to speculate about their characters if they were less formal. Though I wouldn’t necessarily call their tendency to use a Latinate, King James Version of English a problem with our research, the handwriting was definitely a problem.

People in the 18th century had different ideas about spelling and grammar and this combined with their version of cursive script can be difficult to decipher. Scanning a letter for potential relevance required intense and ultimately, exhausting concentration. This difficulty was compounded by the massive pile of materials we had to go through. Still, it’s hard to criticize their generally high level of beautiful penmanship, regardless of how indecipherable.  It’s thought provoking that I might be one of the last generations to actually learn how to write cursive in schools. Marginal as my training was, I can only imagine scholars of the future will need to learn it as a foreign language.  The Clements Library has particular protocols for sharing images of their collections publicly, so I can’t show those pictures but reproduced here are some typical examples from the CCHS collection.

Plants Wanted

Botanical Notes


Michigan Research Adventures

The blog hasn’t updated in a while (sorry about that) but it was for a good reason. The whole Martinez clan was on a trip to University of Michigan Ann Arbor’s Clements Library! Why Michigan you may ask? Well, the answer is pretty straight forward; the Clements Library has one of the largest collections of original Marshall family papers. The letters are particularly focused around Humphry, Moses, and to a lesser extent Moses’ son who is also named Moses Marshall (to avoid confusion we refer to him as Moses Jr. even though it seems no one called him that). We had a great time spending days in the library and nerding out over two hundred year old documents. The material was spread out over 4 boxes, so we each took a box and wrote down notes and took pictures, occasionally swapping them around between ourselves. Though it was hard and exhausting work, it was a great bit of family bonding time to do it together. Next time I’ll share some of the actual results and process of our reasearch, but for now here are some pictures of the Martinez family having some photo ops in and around the Clements Library!


Fundraising Payoff


Sebastian here, we had a great fundraising event at Skip and Glenda Brion’s house, Dad made a gallery on Facebook with some choice pictures and comments that you can find here. For my part I’m going to talk a little bit about my experience of the event, as a follow up to this post I did while we were still in the planning phases. All of that combined fundraising and planning experience came together beautifully, and the set up right before the party was smooth. Part of me was expecting a panicked last minute gathering of items and set up of goods (which certainly would have happened if I was in charge of organizing) but instead everyone showed up with the right stuff, on time, and set it out with minimal issues. I can say with confidence that the team of Glenda and Skip Brion, Marcie and Rob Fenza, Val and Craig Jester, Darcie and Larry Goldberg, the Martinez family, and CCHS worked like a well-oiled machine!

Gardens, Modeling, and Driftwood

With the canvas building rolling along smoothly I’m very close to having new surfaces to paint on. However, that’s only the first part of the raw materials needed to make some new paintings. The other important part is pictures of my models! To that end my son and I spent a day last week with David Culp and Michael Alderfer at their wonderful garden, and I took a number of pictures. I dressed them up in some period clothing, generously donated by Downingtown Quaker Meeting. Over the course of the day I took pictures for several potential paintings, the most unusual set of pictures was of the Marshalls conferring with a young William Darlington over a native trillium.



From left to right is Michael as Moses, Sebastian as Darlington, and David as Humphry. You might notice that Sebastian is wearing a rather strange outfit, we didn’t have any 19th century costumes on hand, so I had to improvise. He’s wearing  a normal suit and shirt with popped collars and a bunched up tie, to emulate the fashion of Darlington’s time. Darlington (who you can read about here) was a man of the 19th century, and they had a very different sense of fashion compared to the 18th century the Marshalls belonged to. As you can see in this actual portrait of Darlington high collars were in and wigs were out. I’ll have to add in the vest myself, and I’ll probably end up taking David and Michael’s hats off while lengthening their hair. After all, what would a painting be without a little improvisation?



Constructing Paintings

Before I talked about my love of building and the wood I bought for the purpose of making new painting structures, now we are actually doing something with it! It can be a good deal of work, but I enjoy it. There is quite a lot of cutting measuring and gluing that has to happen.


Sebastian Measures the Boards

Here you can see us preparing all of the wood that we bought so it can be the right size for the paintings.


Adrian Cuts the Boards

The next stage that had to happen very quickly was gluing the braces on to the luan board. Wood glue is extremely sturdy, and once it dries it is the main binding element for the paintings, in the meantime we used staples and weights to get everything into place.

Ready to be Glued

Ready to be Glued

I stand triumphantly over our pile of successful construction.

Weights for Drying Glue

Weights for Drying Glue

The last step before stretching the canvas is to screw in some braces. This keeps the wood from warping too much or shifting out of positions, even if it is the glue doing most of the work.

Drilling Braces

Drilling Braces

Pictures, Words, Communication, Reach

Lunch at Green Street

Elle Steinman, Malcolm Johnstone, Adrian, Sebastian


Malcolm, Elle, Sebastian and I were discussing this very blog (among other things) over lunch last Monday and getting a feel for collecting the widest possible audience for my show. Malcolm Johnstone (Executive Director of West Chester BID) summed up our delightful working lunch conversation with the word “reach”.

Concepts like publicity, marketing, public relations, spin were invented and exploited as business jargon for selling the industrial revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. Beyond that it blossomed into the quintessential American art form starting with abstract expressionism after WWII up to the master Andy Warhol and Pop Art in the sixties. But that’s not what Malcolm meant by “reach” and I realized for the first time that communication is not just something that happens at a particular moment, in a particular conversation, to have a particular effect – but an accumulation of experiences over time.

This realization is encapsulated by the internet, and I was just beginning to understand. This is going to be fun, interesting and (most extraordinarily to me) my work and my agenda is adapting before my very eyes! The internet is a new world to BE in so we are BECOMING something new. My lifelong study of art and art history (sometimes very old art and art history) has always nourished my work. In the last few years so have some artist friends who also share this fascination of being and becoming with me; artists like the photographer Jim Lawson and the painters David Oleski and Jasmine Alleger. People reach out to me and I reach out to them. It’s what art is all about. It’s what life is all about.

I step in the studio each morning reaching out to Humphry Marshall and after two centuries he’s reaching towards me. It’s not just space – its time. On November 8th 2016 at the Chester County Historical Society Humphry and I will reveal our collaboration with each other and our collaboration with the world. Malcolm will be there, and Elle and Oleski, Jasmine, and so many others.

Fundraising Planning


Leah, David, Sebastian, Glenda, Lauren

Sebastian here, my family, David Reinfeld, and Lauren Hoyer had an excellent meeting with Glenda Brion at her home. We all met together to plan a future fundraising event that Glenda and her husband Skip are graciously hosting at their beautiful home. Above you can see all of us working out the details of the event over lunch. The meeting was very productive and I learned quite a lot from the combined fundraising and organization experience of Lauren, David, and Glenda. The Brion and Martinez families have been friends for many years, so it was great for me to be able to work with Glenda and see her in action. I’ve talked before on the blog about the opportunities for meeting new people a show like Martinez presents Marshall creates, but I hadn’t considered I would see new sides of existing friends!


Here you can see Glenda and my Dad standing in front of “The Roosters” the first of my Dad’s paintings that the Brions fell in love with. After undertaking the considerable work of planning for the future, it was good to reminisce a little about the past.