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Lady Hats at the Mansion

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“Lady Hats at the Mansion” is a suggestive title, yes? Is it a metaphor? A play on words? Well, apologies for being so literal, but in this case, we’re referring to actual lady hats. As soon as we learned about this bizarre collection, we raced over to the Mansion on Forsyth. Nothing gets our blood pumping like dainty hats for lady-folk!

The “Kessler Collection Celebrating a Century of Hats” is a permanent exhibition found within the stately halls of the Mansion on Forsyth Park. Even if you’re not into hats, you should still step inside this red-brick, Victorian Romanesque mansion, which is among the most beautiful buildings in the city. Today it operates as a hotel, and the lobby is a study in elegance. The Mansion is also home to 700 Drayton, a popular restaurant on the ground floor.

But we were here for the lady hats. We’ve always been drawn to oddball exhibitions, and have visited museums dedicated to witchcraft, brothels, parasites and private parts, so this collection was right up our alley.

A few glass cases in a first-floor hallway of the Mansion contain dozens of bonnets and fedoras dating back to the 1860s. Some of them are pretty, while others are just insane. And whether or not it was intentionally designed this way, you can position yourself so that your reflection appears to be wearing the hats. Have I always wondered what I’d look like in a sassy silk bonnet? Well, not really. But it turns out I look like a cross-dressing psychopath.

Even if you’re not an aficionado of antiquated fashion, the Mansion’s Lady Hat collection is a sight which is fun, free and bizarre… and somehow feels right at home in Savannah.

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The Mansion on Forsyth – Website

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April 5, 2016 at 9:52 am Comments (0)

The Beach Institute

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Opened in 1856, the Massie School may have been the city’s first public school, but many of Savannah’s aspiring students would have to wait eleven more years for the founding of the Beach Institute: Savannah’s first school specifically for black children. Today, the school has moved into a more modern facility, and the old house has evolved into a cultural center and gallery.

Savannah Beach Institute

When the Beach Institute opened in 1867, it was staffed primarily by white women who had come down from the North. It was a private institution at the time, funded primarily through the beneficence of Alfred Ely Beach, the editor of Scientific American. A few years later, it became a public school, under the control of the Savannah Board of Education.

The Institute closed in 1919, but the house remained standing in its downtown location on Price Street, where it now operates as a cultural center dedicated to promoting and preserving the city’s black heritage. With exhibits on three floors, some of which are temporary, it’s a great place to take a break from the city’s heat and see both great artwork, and the interior of a classic Savannah house.

For us, the best collection inside the Beach Institute features the work of Ulysses Davis, a Savannah barber who taught himself wood-carving, and created new pieces when he didn’t have any customers. His work displays a crazy sort of imagination, with bizarre, fantastical creatures, and ideas that might have come straight out of a dreams. The highlight is a collection of presidential busts, from George Washington to George Bush III, re-imagined with black facial characteristics. Unknown throughout his life, Ulysses achieved a certain measure of fame after death, and his work has been featured in major venues, including Washington DC’s Corcoran Gallery of Art.

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March 28, 2016 at 9:39 am Comments (0)

SCAD – The Savannah College of Art and Design

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Before moving to Savannah, we didn’t know much about the city. And although we weren’t expecting to find a Victorian-era scenario, with Southern belles strolling the streets and coquettishly dropping their handkerchiefs to attract the attention of menfolk, we also weren’t prepared to find the streets dominated by pink-haired girls and hipsters with ironic mustaches. In other words: we had no idea about the existence of SCAD.

I love ART

SCAD was only established in 1978, so it’s a relatively new entity in Savannah. But it has made its presence felt. The college has been instrumental in the purchase and restoration of innumerable buildings, doing more than its share to help re-beautify the city. With a sky-high tuition, and enrollment of over 10,000, SCAD is using its deep pockets for good rather than evil.

The college turns out some great talent, too, as a peek in at the SCAD Shop on Bull Street will confirm, where there is a wealth of innovative artwork. The shop could almost be a museum; we think it’s better than the Jepson Center, for example. And in 2011, the SCAD Museum of Art opened on Turner Boulevard. This museum has won a number of awards for both its architecture and exhibitions, and provides a place for students to study the work of accomplished artists.

SCAD boasts a strong foreign population, with students from over 100 countries, and has branches in France and Hong Kong. It’s hard not to appreciate the influence that this influx of artistic, mostly rich youth has had on Savannah. It’s become a city with cool restaurants, a hopping nightlife and a hip, urban vibe, in a historic and largely conservative region.

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January 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm Comments (3)

The Lady Chablis at Club One

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Alright, we did it. We went to Club One, to watch the Lady Chablis do her thing. The show was too expensive and the lip-syncing performers were of varying quality. But the Lady was fabulous.

Lady Chablis

The Lady Chablis was the highlight of Club One’s two-hour long Drag Queen Spectacular. She waltzed onto the stage after five other performers had tried to entertain the crowd. As a measure of quality, consider one of the night’s early acts, a lithe black queen with an outrageous afro and a dress made of sparkling silver sequins, who didn’t even know the lyrics to the song she was lip-syncing. And that song was Aretha Franklin’s Think, which everyone knows the words to!

But then again, drag shows aren’t about serious artists interpreting great works of art. They’re about fun and drinking and outrageous lady-boy fashion. And with that as the criteria, our night at Club One was a rousing success. As the final act, the Lady Chablis didn’t disappoint. She looks as great as she did in the movies, slender and elegant, and her sassy, dirty banter was both hilarious and mildly shocking. She’s a true character and a natural-born entertainer. Don’t pass up the chance to see her in action.

The Lady Chablis – Website
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January 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm Comments (19)

Eggs N Tricities – Bluffton, SC

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Oyster Eggs

Our unofficial guide during our day trip to Bluffton, South Carolina was Nancy, who owns and operates a store of miscellany named Eggs N Tricities. This shop is packed to the gills with weird, random stuff, and even if you’re not in the market for curios, it’s great fun to poke around.

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Nancy Bluffton SC
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Birds on Sticks
Dog Bottle Head
Fancy Lady
Fuzzy Lamp
Golden Boy
Little Glass Dude
Little Treasures
Old Meets New
Peace Coins
Penguin Shaker
Sad Cock
Shadow Cut Face
Shell Collection
Workshop
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A look inside her house:

Home Store
African Shell
Alligator Teeth
Angel Hugh
Awesome Bird Lamp
Awesome Christmas Tree
Awesome Snake Skin
Bathroom Angel
Caged Memories
Chrystal Clear
Collector
Dead Bunny
Dice Collection
Feather Vase
Knife Collection
Living Bird Nest
Needle Pillow Angel
One Happy Dog
Passing the World
Random Good Stuff
Religious Bite
Screaming Flowers
Sea Shell Tree
Sexual Plant
Silent Moment
Skunk Hair
Spool Collection
Stranded
Tennis Ball Religion
The Nard Dog
Wooden Shield
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January 17, 2011 at 10:12 am Comments (4)

Drayton Glassworks

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Biking home with a fresh loaf of bread from the Back in the Day Bakery, we passed a tiny shop in which someone was at work blowing glass. Curiosity stoked, we returned to the Drayton Glassworks a couple days later to meet Jonathan Poirier, a Rhode Island native who spent years in Sweden learning the art of glass blowing.

Drayton Glass Works

While heating, blowing, spinning and shaping colored glass into the form of bottles, Jon told us about his life and the shop. He’s been in Savannah since 2001, building a reputation as one of the best glass blowers in the country. Despite industrialization having long-ago made glass-crafting largely obsolete, Jon has been able to find plenty of customers looking for unique, hand-made pieces.

I was amazed that he could continue to work, not missing a stride, while carrying on a conversation with us. This is clearly something he’s been doing for a long while, and he’s able to perform the spinning, shaping and blowing almost on automatic. To us, these tasks looked insanely complicated, and I almost had a heart attack a couple times as he swung around a nearly-completed vase, without paying any attention to it.

Drayton Glass Works

When we returned to Savannah five years later, we checked in on Jon and his business. Nothing had changed; Jon was still the same friendly, funny guy, and it was great to catch up. One new thing he’s added to Drayton Glassworks is the opportunity for people to participate in workshops and create their own piece of glass-blown art. Check out his Facebook page, if you’re interested.

And definitely make sure to stop by his shop, to check out the pieces he’s made, and perhaps have a chance to see how it’s done. It’s really more a workshop than a store, and he’s always busy creating something new.

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Drayton Glassworks – Facebook

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Jonathan Poirier

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November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm Comments (6)
Lady Hats at the Mansion "Lady Hats at the Mansion" is a suggestive title, yes? Is it a metaphor? A play on words? Well, apologies for being so literal, but in this case, we're referring to actual lady hats. As soon as we learned about this bizarre collection, we raced over to the Mansion on Forsyth. Nothing gets our blood pumping like dainty hats for lady-folk!
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