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A remarkable group of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century birth records has survived. Attributed to the “New Jersey Artist,” the twenty records were created for fourteen prosperous families of English descent living in Burlington County, New Jersey. Beginning in 1677, Burlington County was settled by members of the Society of Friends. In 1745 they comprised 50 percent of the county’s population––more than in any other county in the state.1 Of the families whose birth records are attributed to the artist, eight were members of the Society of Friends, four families show no evidence of ever being Friends,2 and it is unclear if the remaining two families were members of the Society, since only one member of each couple was raised as a Friend.3 The birth records show a beautiful and colorful world, full of fantasy and leisure, far from the stereotypical image of Friends dressed in somber colors toiling on their farms, as shown in such paintings as The Residence of David Twining by the painter and Society of Friends minister, Edward Hicks (1780–1849).

Published in Articles
Monday, 05 November 2012 10:33

Sandy Spares Atlantic City’s Public Art Project

While many feared the worst for Atlantic City while Hurricane Sandy battered New Jersey, the east coast’s gambling mecca made it out relatively unscathed. Even Atlantic City’s $13 million public art project, “Artlantic,” was spared. Scheduled to open this Friday, the project hopes to inject some culture into the city, which is mainly associated with waterfront casinos and its famed Boardwalk.

“Artlantic: wonder” is the first phase of the five-year project that was designed by freelance curator, Lance Fung. Dominated by two large outdoor spaces, the form for “Artlantic” drew inspiration from the city itself and the legendary roller coasters on Steel Pier. Sheltered from the storm by 22,000 sod staples, “Artlantic” survived the relentless wind and water summoned by Sandy.    

While installations by artists such as Kiki Smith and Robert Barry will appear in these outdoor spaces, another site will be unveiled on Friday. Stretching 8,500-square-feet, this site will include a wooden-walled stage created by the artist John Roloff. When not being used for performances, the stage will be a stand-alone abstract artwork.

The Atlantic City Alliance, a marketing agency, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, are splitting the cost of “Artlantic” and have received funds from local businesses. The project organizers are using private land that is on loan for “Artlantic” meaning the land can be developed by the owners at any time. Hopefully the project will fulfill its five-year run, adding a new facet to an already iconic city.

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Among the earliest pictorial needlework from New Jersey is a group of six created in 1804 by girls who all lived in Burlington County: Ann Stockton (1793–1828) and Sarah Gaskill (1793–1875) were from Upper Springfield; Nancy Platt (1792–?) and Ann Folwell (1791–1850) were from Mansfield, next to Upper Springfield; Mary Antrim (1795–1884) was from Burlington City, and Mary Bowker (1795–1872) was from Northampton (now Mount Holly). Five of the six girls were members of the Society of Friends, who operated some of the few schools offering education for girls (both Friends and non-Friends) in New Jersey at the time.
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