Archive for the ‘JP’s Dedham’ category

A Bunny Tale Part 2

August 13, 2012

Here is the inspiration for Catherine Gruetzke-Blais’s design for her “Regal Rabbit.”

His name is Trooper and he is 4 months old. The Blais family had been looking for a Dalmatian puppy for several months at the time Catherine first heard about the Dedham Public Art Project, and you could say she was “seeing spots.”

The following photos show the transformation from plain white rabbit to Regal Rabbit.  Thanks to Catherine and her daughter Isabelle for the photos.

1.Patching and priming

2. Applying the base coat

3. Stippling for texture. If you look at the rabbit up close, the two-tone base gives it the appearance of marble.

4. Tracing a spot with a stencil made from a rubber shelf liner (top), collaging a paper spot onto the surface (bottom)

5. A few spots appear (top), more spots and some details (bottom)

6. Painting the details.

7. The eyes are made of glass tiles, set in like a mosaic.

8. DONE! Now he will answer Ernie Boch Jr’s invitation to “Come on down!”, and have a clear-coat applied by the Norwood auto dealership.

 

August 8, 2012


Regal Rabbit is installed at the East Dedham shopping plaza on the corner of High and Bussey Streets, not far from Pottery Lane where the original Dedham Pottery was made. He is sponsored by Delapa Properties. He’ll be there for a while crouching in the garden; go visit him and all of the other bunnies around town. They have certainly added a lot of color, creativity and history to our lives as we drive around doing our everyday chores and routines.

Thanks to Dedham Shines for sponsoring this project, to all the artists who participated, and a special thank yu to Catherine Gruetzke-Blais for letting me tag along on her creative journey.

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A Bunny Tale

August 5, 2012

Dedham has been overrun with bunnies over the past few months; giant, multicolored, whimsical fiberglass bunnies peacefully crouching in parks, on sidewalks and by roadsides around town.  The bunnies are part of the Dedham Public Art Project,  sponsored by the non-profit organization Dedham Shines, whose mission is to promote “a vibrant community through programs that cultivate civic engagement and support for art, education, and culture.”  The bunny form is modeled after the familiar “crouching rabbit” figure featured on  Dedham Pottery original and reproduction pieces.

Fifteen artists in all were selected by jury to paint the bunnies, which will be auctioned off with proceeds going to Dedham Shines in support of the arts in town.  As of today, almost all of the bunnies have been installed  all across town. This is the tale of one of those bunnies, “Regal Rabbit,” designed and painted by Catherine Gruetzke-Blais of Framingham.

For more information about the Dedham Public Art Project,  and to see photos of all the bunnies that have been placed so far, click on the link to the Dedham Shines website at right.

June 25, 2012        The bunny who will become known as “Regal Rabbit” sits in the garage of Dedham Shines Co-President Jennifer Barsamian after traveling from Chicago where he was custom-designed and manufactured by Cowpainters, an art studio that specializes in producing fiberglass forms for public art displays.

Artist Catherine Gruetzke-Blais and Dedham Shines Co-President Monika Wilkinson lift the bunny (he’s actually  hollow and not too heavy) and head for Catherine’s mini-van.

With the bunny safely tucked in, Catherine gets ready for the ride home to Framingham, where her artistic vision will transform this plain white rabbit into something magical.

Next: The artist at work

I was a teenage beer can collector…Part 1

February 3, 2012

Thirty-five years ago today I became a minor celebrity when this article appeared in The Patriot Ledger:


The high school senior stylin’ in his Wrangler Wranch outfit (20% employee discount, who wouldn’t?)

I had been collecting for two years, after my good friend Jim Horrigan introduced me to the hobby and gave me quite a few cans to start me off. Everyone in high school seemed to know us as “The Beer Can Collectors,” and friends and relatives would bring back empties from all over the country for us. We’d often go “dumping” around town; looking for cans in various teenage drinking spots around Dedham. One memorable cache of Narragansett cans from 1964 was found in the woods along the bottom of Sprague Street in the Manor. Another good spot to look was on Rte 135 at Wilson’s Mountain.

The newspaper article came about as a result of an exhibition of my collection in the Dedham Public Library. I’m still a little amazed that my teenaged self had the audicity to suggest displaying the cans, and even more amazed that library officials agreed to do it!


JP’s beer cans on display at the main branch of the Dedham Public Library in 1977

My “museum” was located in the basement of my parents’ house on Tower St., stacked up on two metal bookcases. I kept the stacks in alphabetical order, and whenever I got a new can I would try to insert it into the stack without having to take the whole thing down. This almost always resulted in an avalanche of several hundred metal cans crashing down on me followed by startled shouts from upstarirs.


The stack in the cellar

I would have to say that the most common question I’ve been asked at each of my Dedham High reunions has been “Do you still have your beer cans?” I’ll tell you all about that, and more, in:
I WAS A TEENAGE BEER CAN COLLECTOR- PART TWO!

My Kingdom for a Horse

December 7, 2011

Last night at the 201st Annual Meeting of The Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves, I ended my term as president. It was a rather uneventful year, which is a good thing because it means that no horses were stolen on my watch. What follows is my farewell address, given to the 180 men and 5 women in attendance:


The president delivering his farewell remarks © Damianos Photography

Whenever I mention to people that I am a member of this esteemed organization, the first words out of their mouths are almost always “Are there even any horses in Dedham?” So I explain to them that about a hundred years ago the society shifted its focus from the apprehension of horse thieves to the consumption of a roast beef dinner and enjoyment of a clever entertainment at its annual meeting, although in the hundred years previous to that horse pilferers were pursued vigorously , not just in Dedham but in Norfolk County and beyond, besides which, the important fact is that this organization which is a remnant from our pre-law enforcement past has remained in existence for over two centuries and isn’t that an incredible achievement to which they respond. “Yeah, but are there even any horses in Dedham?” And thus my quest began.

I know there used to be horses in Dedham; I’ve seen them myself. The last time I remember seeing a horse that wasn’t part of a parade was at the Animal Rescue League on Pine Street. I know that the original purpose of that facility when it was founded was to rescue worn out and abused horses and give them a peaceful last few days here on earth. When the end was near, the horse would quietly walk into an inviting stall filled with hay, which was actually electrified and called “The Blessed House of Release.” In the 1980’s the Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation program was reestablished at Pine Ridge and that’s where I saw a horse happily cantering just a few years ago. But alas, due to construction at the site, all the horses have been moved to their Brewster facility.

The other time I recall seeing horses in town was right in my own neighborhood of Tower Street, between Paul Park and the Capen School. At at the end of my street there lived two horses, Big John and Jodie. Jodie was a Shetland pony, and Big John was a …big horse. I’d often see them being ridden and every so often being chased by their owners down my street. But that was over 30 years ago.

Then I thought of The Dedham Country and Polo Club on Westfield Street. I know that it was founded in 1910 and that polo was once played along the banks of the Charles at Samuel Warren’s estate called Karlstein. A quick look at their website however showed me that the main interests at the club these days are weddings and golf, and the only place you’ll see a horse is on their logo.

While I was on the internet I googled “horses in Dedham” and hit pay dirt. I should have started here to begin with. I found an ad for a horse for sale in Dedham! A five year old dark bay mare clean limbed and straight moving, great jumper, and only £1600! When I refined my search to Dedham, Massachusetts, USA…nothing.

I thought I should ask former president and friend Frank Walley. Like me, Frank is the great grandson of a blacksmith. The family business is now insurance, and when I talked to Frank he told me that while he has insured many a Mustang and Bronco over the years, they were not of the Equine variety.

So now I’m starting to get frustrated. I can’t believe that there is not a single solitary horse to be found in the hometown of the woman who grew up to star on TV as the wife of a man who owned a talking horse! I’m talking (of course, of course) of Connie Hines (DHS 1948) who played Carol Post on the old Mr. Ed show back in the sixties.

I have to admit that I was aware all along where I could easily find an answer to the question “Are there even any horses in Dedham?” We all know that in order to keep a horse, donkey mule, pony, llama, bovine, goat, sheep, alpaca or other large animal, here to known as “large animals,” one must provide an acre of land for the first animal, 2/3 of an acre for each subsequent animal, furnish an MMP (Manure Management Plan and), locate the facility for housing the animal 100 feet from any wetland or well, public or private, and obtain a permit from the town’s Board of Health. One phone call to town hall could end this quest, and with trepidation I made that call. And was told that at present there are no permits on file for permission to stable a horse in town. Lots of chickens, no horses.

But I have not given up. During my quest I came upon a story from a few years ago about a couple who had been harboring a paint mare named Fancy in a garage on Congress Place off of Bussey Street. The neighbors were upset because the horse was there without a permit and they did not want a “large animal” living in their quiet suburban neighborhood. Eventually Fancy found a temporary home in Westwood, but the story gives me hope. If there could be one illegal horse hidden in town, there could be two, a dozen, even hundreds hiding out in garages, garden sheds and in-law apartments. We just can’t be sure. So the next time someone asks me “Are there even any horses in Dedham, I will reply, there just might be, and if there are, they can rest assured knowing that I and the rest of the members of SIDFAHT are ever vigilant.

Dedham’s 375th a Success!

September 16, 2011


© Damianos Photography
Thanks to everyone who stopped by my booth or rode around in a trolley with me last Saturday. The event was a smashing success; congratulations and thanks to everyone on the committee who worked so hard to put it all together.

There are plenty of new Shiretown tales coming this fall, with an emphasis in October on the mysterious, the scandalous, and the just plain weird!

An old Dedham barn…

August 23, 2011

These three shots were taken in 1981 for a photography class I was taking at Bridgewater State College. At the time I took the photos, the brick building that stands on top of the hill was the S.M.A. Fathers’ Queen of Apostle Seminary. The barn once stood on the George Nickerson estate on Common St., on property now owned by Northeastern University. Nickerson was the brother of Albert Nickerson, who built the castle at his “Riverdale” estate, which has been home to Noble and Greenough since 1922.
The barn, which was red, stood behind the seminary. There was also a run-down log cabin in the woods of the Wilson Mountain Reservation.


The grainy quality of this picture was not my attempt at being artsy. The negatives were stored in my basement for years, and this one got stuck to its glassine envelope.


This is the artsy picture. Kind of Stephen King like…

I’m a Ramblin’ Guy

April 28, 2011

This Sunday will be my second James Joyce Ramble Road Race in old Shiretown. Oh, I won’t be running; my running days ended when I was struggling up a hill in a corporate “Fun Run'” in Boston and got passed by a guy dressed as a bag of Smart Food.

I will be pitching my tent on the lawn of the Endicott Estate and peddling my wares- copies of Dedham: Historic and Heroic Tales from Shiretown as well as some attractive Dedham notecards. So come on by and say “hi,” get your Mother’s Day shopping done, and find out about my latest book project!

Here’s a link to the Ramble website: www.ramble.org