Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ancient African Coins & Australia

Ancient African coins that could change history of Australia

By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN
Kilwa -- full name Kilwa Kisiwani -- is a former city-state that rose to become one of the most dominant trading centers on the coast of East Africa in the 13th and 14th century. Kilwa -- full name Kilwa Kisiwani -- is a former city-state that rose to become one of the most dominant trading centers on the coast of East Africa in the 13th and 14th century.
The standing ruins of Kilwa
  • African coins dating back to 1100s found in remote part of Australia
  • Coins were minted in powerful African city state of Kilwa, in modern-day Tanzania
  • Australian professor leading an expedition to discover how they got there
(CNN) -- Can a handful of ancient copper coins from a once-opulent but now abandoned corner of East Africa change what we know about Australian history? A team of researchers is on a mission to find out. With its glittering wealth, busy harbor and coral stone buildings, the island of Kilwa rose to become the premier commercial post of coastal East Africa around the 1300s, controlling much of the Indian Ocean trade with the continent's hinterland.

Situated in present-day southern Tanzania, during its heyday Kilwa hosted traders from as far away as China, who would exchange gold, ivory and iron from southern Africa's interior for Arabian pottery and Indian textiles as well as perfumes, porcelains and spices from the Far East.
But the Kilwa sultanate's heyday came to a crashing end in the early 1500s with the arrival of the Portuguese who sacked the city in their bid to dominate the trade routes between eastern Africa and India.

From then on, Kilwa never managed to recover its greatness. With its trading network gradually eclipsing, the once flourishing city started to decline in importance. It was eventually deserted in the 19th century, its crumbling, UNESCO-protected ruins offering today a glimpse of its glorious past.
But interest in this nearly forgotten East African city has resurfaced lately thanks to the mystery surrounding a remarkable discovery thousands of miles away, in a long-abandoned, remote chain of small islands near Australia's Northern Territory.

Astonishing discovery
Back in 1944, an Australian soldier named Maurie Isenberg was assigned to one of the uninhabited but strategically positioned Wessel Islands to man a radar station. One day, whilst fishing on the beach during his spare time, he discovered nine coins buried in the sand. Isenberg stored them in a tin until 1979, when he wondered if they might be worth something and sent them to be identified.
Four of the coins were found to belong to the Dutch East Company, with one of them being from the late 17th century.
But the rest of them were identified as originating from Kilwa, believed to date back to the 1100s. The sultanate started minting its own currency in the 11th century.

A Kilwa coin.

"It's a very fascinating discovery," says Ian McIntosh, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropologist.
"Kilwa coins have only ever been found outside of the Kilwa region on two occasions," he explains.
"A single coin was found in the ruins of great Zimbabwe and one coin was found in the Arabian Peninsula, in what is now Oman, but nowhere else. And yet, here is this handful of them in northern Australia, this is the astonishing thing."

Re-write history?
According to history textbooks, Aboriginal explorers arrived in Australia from Asia at least 60,000 years ago. The first European widely known to have set foot on the continent was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606, more than 160 years before captain James Cook arrived at Australia's south-eastern coast to claim the territory for the British empire.
So how did the five coins from distant Kilwa wind up in the isolated Wessel Islands? Was a shipwreck involved? Could it be that the Portuguese, who had looted Kilwa in 1505, reached the Australian shores with coins from East Africa in their possession? Or was it that Kilwan sailors, renowned as expert navigators all across the sea route between China and Africa, were hired by traders from the Far East to navigate their dhows?
"If we find something then we'll prepare for a more detailed and focused exploration in specific areas."Ian McIntosh, professor
These are the kind of questions that McIntosh now hopes to answer as he bids to unravel the mystery of how the coins, which are currently stored in Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, were found in this part of the world.
"We have five separate hypotheses we're looking to test about how these coins got there, each one quite different from the other," says McIntosh. On July 15, he will lead an eight-member team of archaeologists, historians and scientists to the area where Isenberg discovered the coins.

"This is an initial survey; if we find something then we'll prepare for a more detailed and focused exploration in specific areas," says the Australian professor. "We are interested in a more accurate portrayal of Australian history that is currently allowed in textbooks."
                                          Ian McIntosh pointing to the general area where the coins were found.

The team will embark on its quest for answers equipped with a nearly 70-year-old map on which Isenberg had marked with an X the spot where he found the coins.
McIntosh, who was sent the map before Isenberg's death in 1991, says he first tried to mount an expedition to the Wessel Islands in the early 1990s but at the time he'd failed to gather funding.
"In 1992 there was a very limited interest for such a venture," he says. "But we maintained an interest in the Kilwa connection because it was such a famous place in its day -- from the 1100s to the 1300s it was the most prominent port in the entire east African coast, bigger than Mombasa, Zanzibar and Mogadishu."
"If you bought these coins in a shop in Kilwa, you could probably get them for a few dollars," says McIntosh. "But in northern Australia, these are priceless in terms of their historical value."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Is It Real Art or Artifice--and Why You Should Care.Learn Before You Buy a Forgery!

"The real Picasso"
“If the counterfeit were a good one, I should be delighted. I’d sit down straight away and sign it.” Picasso

Picasso had a light-heated view toward forgeries. However, given the billions of dollars invested in the art market today, we cannot afford to be so cavalier. As more art works flood the markets and demand for art at a level high, there is an accompanying increase in forgeries. To make art buyers feel more comfortable, however, they should be reminded that there have been art forgeries as long as there has been art. Ancient art collectors and new collectors both have been victimized. But a potential buyer should--and can--be prepared.

This blog is not the place for a scholarly thesis on the complete history of forgeries, but if the reader is so inclined, he or she can research the subject using many useful books available and information on the web. A good starting point is below for those who want to learn more about the history of art forgery: http://www.mystudios.com/gallery/forgery/history/index.html.much

"The Fake Picasso"
To be honest (to make a bad pun), everyone who is serious about starting a collection of art even if they are starting with only one piece, should study this subject as the art world today is like the wild west, a 24 hour carnival or even a gigantic used car showroom. The Latin phrase "caveat emptor", or buyer beware, has never seemed more apropos than now.

Especially vulnerable--and tempting-- to unscrupulous sellers are works by Miro, Chagall, Degas and Picasso. Salesmen count on the fact that these artists created pieces that are easy to understand and instantly recognizable I cannot tell you how many thousands of signed Miro prints I have seen at art sales, auctions and exhibits since commencing my studies in Art History in New York. However, any artist whose works have monetary value can and will be forged. Even Vermeer is unscathed after some false attributions and even forgeries were discovered.

                         Laughing Girl once attributed to Vermeer is now thought to be by a notorious forger

As you stroll through an auction preview or a gallery, be prepared and do your homework and research beforehand. To have a work of art authenticated by an art expert after you have already bought it is very expensive. The best thing to do is to study those artists whose works you would like to buy--before you buy them. If you plan on spending more than $100.00, be extra diligent with your purchase.

Go to museums, look through art books, talk to dealers who have been in the business a long time and learn enough to trust your instincts. If a Picasso 'edition' ceramic plate looks very new and has stamps on the bottom without a signature by the artist, I would leave this item on the shelf and not bring it home. A Degas print made after the death of Degas is a dead giveaway that the print is a forgery. Beware also of falsified certifications, documents, or provenances. Unfortunately, those who sell art created by the most popular artists are more likely to be dealing in fakes. Know your artist by studying their work and know your dealer.

Better yet, find a local art walk in your town or a neighborhood art gallery showing modern, local work and explore those.  Meet artists in your community and have them invite you to their studio.The more you learn about art, the more you will leave your comfort zone. Those artists whose works are mass produced will lose their appeal to you. Eventually you will avoid the art "Art R Us" places and will happily buy work by a talented newcomer who had a recent photography show in your library. Art is a lot like wine: the more you experience it,  the more you learn.

There has been a huge surge in forgeries recently, even at prestigious auction houses and famous museums An educated curator or art historian is not perfect and can be fooled too. Traveling art shows 'curated' by various art galleries and companies can be especially noxious. Often claiming to show works by such and such artists, they may exhibit either forgeries or multiple editions, or both. These shows mislead the public and continue the cycle of forged artworks.

Smaller museums and art venues should be especially cautious when utilizing the services of one of these traveling art companies. It would be better to use very well known names such as the Smithsonian or Library of Congress if a location is unable to put an art show together on its own The Smithsonian, for example, has many very interesting traveling shows that would appeal to lots of museum goers--and they are very affordable. Other trusted sources are universities who have prepared exhibits ready to show featuring various genres appealing to different audiences. Also, a museum director could look to her own community and put put a call for art and for exhibit proposals in the local paper and some willing citizens could turn up and create a simple, one-of-a kind show that would be quite successful.

Forger in China at work creating a fake Van Gogh

For all those who love art, just keep up the romance, but don't be fooled. There are too many gigolos out there who want to make a fast profit and are ethically dishonest. Don't be left at the altar holding your Degas sculpture having just learned the ballerina was a mirage and that she already cashed your check!

Real Art with Artist Toby Krein explaining her painting to a viewer

For the next installment of this blog on the subject of forgeries, 
I will explore some actual case studies of art forgers who were put into jail, including a close friend of mine.

Nancy Vicknair is an Art Historian with degrees from NYU and Columbia with the highest honors. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and loves to do research. Vicknair has been a self-employed publicist for Bay Area artists and galleries for ten years and has worked on more than 1,000 art events in Northern California. She is also a consultant specializing in event planning, art gallery design,medieval art, Carolingian coinage and art by her ancestors:H.A.White and Edwin White. Currently, she has commenced a fictional novel based on the adolescent years of her cousins Aaron and Matthias Ogden and their best friend Aaron Burr during their early days in New Jersey leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Contact Nancy for more information at nancydesk{{at}}yahoo.com.

Sketch by my ancestor, Edwin White,
for his painting "Mayflower Compact"


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Doug Ebert: Trials & Tribulations, CD Release Concert in Oakand on July 6th

Doug Ebert: Trials & Tribulations, CD Release Concert
Saturday July 6, 2013  8 - 10pm

Musically Minded Academy
5776 Broadway,
Oakland, Ca. 94618

General Adv. $15/ Door $18 
Seniors/Students/Disabled Adv. $12/ Door $15
Link to purchase:  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5624033636
All Ages
For more information contact-Joey Brite at 510-459-6072

Jazz bassist and composer Doug Ebert is pleased to announce the release of his third

and most inspired album to date.  Written during his wife’s successful battle against
leukemia, “Trials & Tribulations” tells the musical story of despair and triumph; facing
adversity with strength and courage and coming out on top.  This upbeat and lively
session is performed by a talented Bay Area lineup of guitarist Terrence Brewer, pianist
Tim Campbell and drummer Rob Rhodes.  This concert will be the debut performance
 of the new album.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Favorite Places in Contra Costa County Photo Exhibition

Favorite Places Photo Exhibition

Four Local artists exhibit photographs of favorite places in Contra Costa County
·        Jeff Brooks-Manas
·        Terin Christensen
·        Tim Taylor
·        Kristiina Teerikorpi

This community spirited exhibit is curated by Ginny Mangrum. 

The City of Walnut Creek, in conjunction with the Walnut Creek Downtown Library presents annual exhibitions in the Library Community Art Gallery. This program is part of the Arts, Recreation and Community Services Department, administered by Bedford Gallery under the direction of the Walnut Creek Arts Commission. 

Walnut Creek Library
1644 N. Broadway
Walnut Creek, CA, 94596
Open for viewing--Mon-Thur 10-8pm, Fri-Sat 10-6pm, Sun Closed


Please do not call the library for information about the exhibit.
Only call them for general directions and library inquiries.

Blog Site:  http://photocallforart.blogspot.com/
Please drop by our blog site created to provide updates and information about the project

Artist Bios-

Tim Taylor was born in Oakland, and the family moved to Contra Costa County in 1956 currently lives in Pleasant Hill.  Tim’s current digital photographic process practices evolved from several decades of black and white wet darkroom. He comes from a more formal educational background in the arts. 
       “I had always taken a variety of art classes throughout my life, my 
first photo class was during a summer school session 
when I was in second grade. I studied architecture in high school, 
and during my first year of college at Diablo Valley College,I 
decided to take a semester off from path and by coincidence, 
enrolled in a photography class.For a variety of reasons, I never
 looked back. However, to this day, my architecture studies are a
 huge part of how I use the frame of a camera, and many 
other elements of my artwork and design. I continued on to San Francisco 
State University for both my BA and MA. I had the incredible opportunity
 to study with some luminaries in the photographic community, as 
well as with some other students that have become forces in their own right.”  

 His featured photographs are of beautiful movements of horses entitled “Large Animals”.

Terin Christensen is a native Californian who currently resides in Danville.  She is a relative newcomer to the photographic processes and enjoys using her digital camera to photograph places contained within extensive landscapes of Contra Costa County. For this exhibit, Terin chose to photograph private spaces within her own yard and views from a friend’s property that is extensive and open.  She wanted to project images that spoke to the beauty of the out of doors yet isolate small private moments and places within them.  Her digital prints are in black and white, and she chose to use the light jet printing process.  

Kristiina Teerikorpi, a resident of Moraga, CA is a student of traditional black and white darkroom film and printing process and is studying at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.  She has been an avid photographer taking on many different applications of alternative photo printing and processes.   She loves to photograph and has been shooting and printing with a voracious appetite since 2010 when I first met her as a student in one of the photography classes I taught at the college.  Kristiina, in this exhibit presents a beautifully printed photo essay about a winery in our area.  They are silver gel prints made from black and white film.  

Jeff Brooks-Manas, a 17 year resident of Contra Costa County is a dedicated photographer I met at a MeetUP photo shoot I arranged last year when we started this project.  He stands out as a very skilled photographer who creates moods as in paintings with the way he balances his color.  He says “I love shooting landscapes. There are so many beautiful subjects, and they’re so accessible. We are fortunate to have so much park land – City, Regional and State – so close to us. I enjoy sharing my corner of the world, through social media. I have also had some of my work printed on local agency calendars, and in print ads. All of the photos I have in the show are of places that are within 15 minutes of home, and I visit them frequently. Beauty is everywhere, as long as you are open to see it. You can also see something unique in a scene that you have been by several times. It’s all about slowing down, and being present.”