Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend John Brewster Jr.

John Brewster Jr. Was born on 30 May or 31 May, 1766 in Hampton, Connecticut, USA and died in 1854. John was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter who produced many charming portraits of well-off New England families, especially their children. John lived much of the latter half of his life in Buxton, Maine, USA, recording the faces of much of Maine’s elite society of his time.

According to the website of the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, “John was not an artist who incidentally was Deaf but rather a Deaf artist, one in a long tradition that owes many of its features and achievements to the fact that Deaf people are, as scholars have noted, visual people.”

John’s father, Dr. John Brewster Sr., and his stepmother, Ruth Avery Brewster, c. 1795–1800 Little is known about John’s childhood or youth. John was the 3rd child born in Hampton, Connecticut, to Dr. John and Mary (Durkee) Brewster. John’s mother died when he was 17. John’s father remarried Ruth Avery of Brooklyn, Connecticut, and they went on to have four more children.

John Brewster Sr., a doctor and descendant of William Brewster, the Pilgrim leader, was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly and also active in the local church.

Unidentified Boy with Book (1810) by John Brewster, Jr. (from the collection of the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut) One of the younger John’s “more touching and polished full-length portraits” is of his father and stepmother, according to Ben Genocchio, who wrote a review of an exhibition of John’s portraits in the New York Times. They are shown at home in conventional poses and wearing refined but not opulent dress in a modestly furnished room. John’s mother sits behind her husband, reading while he is writing. “She stares directly at the viewer, though softly, even submissively, while her husband stares off into the distance as if locked in some deep thought.”

As a deaf from birth, and growing up in a time when no standardised sign language for the deaf existed, the young John probably interacted with few people outside of the circle of his family and friends, with whom he would have learned to communicate. A kindly minister taught him to paint, and by the 1790s he was traveling through Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and eastern New York State, taking advantage of his family connections to offer his services to the wealthy merchant class.

John’s younger brother, Dr. Royal Brewster, moved to Buxton, Maine in late 1795. The artist either moved up with him or followed shortly afterward and painted likenesses in and around Portland in between trips back to Connecticut.

James Prince and Son, William Henry (1801) by John Brewster, Jr. Prince was a wealthy merchant from Newburyport, a shipping center in Massachusetts. The painter included numerous expensive luxuries to show Prince as wealthy and a gentleman: Curtains and a fine floor indicated wealth; the bookcase with books and the desk suggest learning. The boy is symbolised as entering world of adults by his holding a letter. (from the collection of the Historical Society of Old Newbury) John probably communicated with others using pantomime and a small amount of writing. In this way, despite his deafness, John managed the business of arranging poses along with negotiating prices and artistic ideas with his sitters. As an itinerant portraitist working in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the United States, he would travel great distances, often staying in unfamiliar places for months at a time.

John’s deafness may have given John some advantages in portrait painting, according to the Florence Griswold Museum exhibit web page: “Unable to hear and speak, John focused his energy and ability to capture minute differences in facial expression. John also greatly emphasised the gaze of his sitters, as eye contact was such a critical part of communication among the Deaf. Scientific studies have proven that since Deaf people rely on visual cues for communication [they] can differentiate subtle differences in facial expressions much better than hearing people.”

John’s early, large portraits show the influence of the work of Ralph Earl (1751–1801), another itinerant painter. Paintings by the 2 artists (especially in John’s early work) show similar scale, costumes, composition and settings, Paul D’Ambrosio has pointed out in a catalog (2005) for a traveling exhibition of John’s work, “A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr.”

Ralph was influenced by the 18th century English “Grand Manner” style of painting, with its dramatic, grand, very rhetorical style (exemplified in many portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Ralph and John refashioned the style, changing it from lofty and grand to more humble and casual settings.

Mother with Son (Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Son, George, of Danbury, Connecticut), 1799 In the early 19th century, John habitually painted half-length portraits which saved him labor, saved his patrons money and “were better suited to his limited abilities,” according to Genocchio. Some of the paintings are almost identical, down to the same clothes and furniture, with only the heads setting them apart.

In 1805 his brother, Dr. Royal Brewster, finished construction of his Federal style house in Buxton, and John Brewster moved in. For the rest of his life, he lived in the home with his brother’s family.

By about 1805, John had his own style of portraying children in full length, with skimpy garments or nightclothes, soft, downy hair and big, cute eyes for a sweet, appealing affect but, the perspective problems remained, with the figures seeming out of scale with their environment.

At about this time the artist also began to sign and date his paintings more frequently. John also moved away from the large-format Grand Manner-influenced style and turned to smaller, more intimate portraits in which he focused more attention on the faces of his subjects.

In the years just before 1817, John traveled farther for clients as his career flourished.

Francis O. Watts with Bird (1805) by John Brewster, Jr. (from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York) Typical of  John Brewster’s portraits is “Francis O. Watts with Bird” (1805), showing “an innocent looking boy with manly features” wearing a nightslip and holding a bird on his finger and with a string. The surrounding landscape is “strangely low and wildly out of scale—the young boy towers over trees and dwarfs distant mountains. John looks like a giant,” Genocchio has written. Or he looks as if the viewer must be lying down, looking up at the child from the ground. John always struggled with the relationship of his figures to the background.

A more positive view of the portrait comes from the Web page about the 2006 exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum website: “Brewster’s serene and ethereal portrait of Francis O. Watts is one of his most compelling portraits of a child. In this work—particularly Francis’ white dress and the peaceful landscape he inhabits—modern viewers often feel a palpable sense of the silence that was John’s world.

“The bird on the string symbolises mortality because only after the child’s death could the bird go free, just like the child’s soul. Infant mortality was high during John’s time and artists employed this image often in association with children.”

Moses Quinby (c. 1810–1815). Moses was a successful lawyer from Stroudwater, Maine. Moses was probably painted when John was traveling in Maine. From 1817 to 1820, John interrupted his career to learn sign language, a newly developed help for the deaf, at the Connecticut Asylum in Hartford, now known as the American School for the Deaf.

John, at the age of 51, was by far the oldest in a class of 7 students, the average age of which was 19. It was the 1st class that attended the school and witnessed the birth of American Sign Language (ASL).

When John returned to Buxton and to his portraits, “he seems to have taken more care when painting the faces of his subjects,” Genocchio wrote,” resulting in portraits that show an increased sensitivity to the characters of his subjects.”

After the 1830s, little is known of John Snr’s work or of John Jnr.’s Work.

Reverend Daniel Marrett (1831). An example of  John portraits from his late career, many of which show great depth and strength of characterisation. Reverend Daniel Marrett’s furrowed brow and chisled features convey the seriousness of his convictions. The paper he holds quotes Amos 4:12, “Prepare to meet thy God.” (from the collection of Historic New England/SPNEA) John “created hauntingly beautiful images of American life during the formative period of the nation,” according to a page at the Fenimore Art Museum website devoted to a 2005–2006 exhibition of the artist’s work. “Working in a style that emphasised simpler settings [than the “Grand Manner” style], along with broad, flat areas of colour, and soft, expressive facial features, John achieved a directness and intensity of vision rarely equaled.”

The Fenimore website also says, “His extant portraits show his ability to produce delicate and sensitive likenesses in full-size or miniature, and in oil on canvas or ivory. John was especially successful in capturing childhood innocence in his signature full-length likenesses of young children.

The website says Brewster left “an invaluable record of his era and a priceless artistic legacy.”

According to the anonymous writer of the Florence Griswold Museum’s web page about the same exhibit, “Brewster’s deafness may also have shaped his mature portrait style, which centers on his emphasis on the face of his sitters, particularly the gaze. He managed to achieve a penetrating grasp of personality in likenesses that engage the viewer directly. Brewster combined a muted palette that highlights flesh tones with excellent draftsmanship to draw attention to the eyes of his sitters. The importance of direct eye contact to a deaf person cannot be overstated.”[2]

The same writer also says, “Brewster was one of the greatest folk painters in American history as one of the key figures in the Connecticut style of American Folk Portraiture. In addition, Brewster’s paintings serve as a key part of Maine history. Brewster was the most prolific painter of the Maine elite, documenting through the portraits details of the life of Maine’s federal elite.”

Genocchio, reviewing the exhibit for the New York Times, took a dimmer view, noting John’s difficulty with painting backgrounds but admiring his “sweetly appealing” paintings of children.

Some individual works

Unidentified Woman in a Landscape (c. 1805) (from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York)Boy with Book (1810); unidentified subject (Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, collection)

Francis O. Watts with Bird (1805) (Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, collection)

Dr. John Brewster and Ruth Avery Brewster (c. 1795–1800) (Old Sturbridge Village collection)

Mother with Son (Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Son, George) (1799) (Palmer Museum of Art of the Pennsylvania State University collection)

James Prince and Son, William Henry (1801) (Historical Society of Old Newbury collection)

Woman in a Landscape (unidentified subject ) (c. 1805) (Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, collection)

Moses Quinby (c. 1810–1815) (Bowdoin College Museum of Art collection)

Reverend Daniel Marrett, 1831 (Historic New England/SPNEA collection)

Exhibits

“A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr.,” Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, April 1 to December 31, 2005;

Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, June 3 through September 10, 2006

(Florence Griswold Museum exhibition sponsored in connection with The American School for the Deaf). The show, with some augmentation, was at the American Folk Art Museum, New York City, from October 2006 to January 7, 2007.

The Saco Museum in Saco, Maine, is believed to hold the largest collection of John Brewster, Jr., paintings, including the only known full-length (74 5/8 inches long) adult portraits, Colonel Thomas Cutts and Mrs. Thomas Cutts.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Gaston Caperton

William Gaston Caperton III was born on 21 February, 1940 in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia.

Gaston was twice elected as governor of the U.S. state of West Virginia and served from 1989 until 1997. Gaston is currently the president of the College Board, which administers the nationally-recognized SAT and AP tests. Gaston is a member of the Democratic Party.

Gaston attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon.

After graduation he returned to Charleston to manage a family-owned insurance firm. Gaston’s soon became its principal owner and, under his watch, it became the tenth largest privately owned insurance brokerage firm in the nation. Gaston Caperton also owned a bank and mortgage banking firm. Gaston Caperton was elected governor in his first attempt to seek public office in 1988.

In the 1988 gubernatorial election, Gaston, initially considered a long-shot for his party’s nomination, defeated the Republican Party incumbent, Arch A. Moore, Jr. In the 1992 election, Gaston was challenged by Charlotte Pritt in the Democratic primary. Gaston won the primary and the general election, defeating the Republican candidate, West Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Cleve Benedict, and Pritt, running as a write-in candidate. Gaston was constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term in 1996.

During his first term as the state’s 31st governor, Gaston supported the passages of ethics, road-building, and education bills. Gaston raised taxes in an effort to improve West Virginia’s finances, thereby reducing debts exceeding $500 million and creating a $100 million surplus. Due to the reforms, Financial World magazine called the state the most improved in the nation. Critics accused Gaston of failing to keep a campaign promise not to raise taxes, but defenders claimed that the previous governor had misstated the condition of the state’s finances and failed to disclose the need for tax increases.

Publicly, Governor Gaston Caperton emphasized that education was his first priority. Gaston Caperton supported a school-building program that led to $800 million in investments for 58 new schools and 780 school renovations, directly benefiting two-thirds of West Virginia’s public school students. After a brief strike by the state’s public educators, Gaston raised teacher’s salaries from 49th to 31st in the nation and trained more than 19,000 educators through a statewide Center for Professional Development with the goal of putting technology to its best use in West Virginia’s classrooms. Gaston encouraged the use of computers and technology in West Virginia public schools, resulting in the West Virginia Basic Skills Computer Program, which began with kindergarten and extended through 6th grade. Gaston’s common refrain for “computers in every classroom” since has been expanded to include grades 7-12. In 1996, West Virginia’s advances in education technology gained national recognition when Gaston received the Computerworld Smithsonian Award. Award sponsors called Gaston a “visionary” who “fundamentally changed the education system in America” by using technological innovations. Information about Gaston and his work is included in the Smithsonian’s Permanent Research Collection. In January 1997, the magazine Education Week, conducted a study of the nation’s education system and held out West Virginia for the state’s use of technology in education.

As Governor, Gaston focused his efforts on economic development, modern roads and infrastructure, prisons and jails, a clean environment, health care, and government management. West Virginia’s economy improved during his eight-year tenure. Unemployment dropped from 9.8% to 6.2%, the result of creating approximately 86,000 new jobs.

Near the end of his second term, Gaston was the 1996 chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, served on the National Governor’s Association executive committee, and was a member of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on U.S. Trade. Gaston was chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Southern Regional Education Board, and the Southern Growth Policy Board. Gaston has received numerous state and national awards and special recognition, including 6 honorary doctoral degrees.

Another product of Gaston’s tenure is the Tamarack, the Best of West Virginia. The facility is a museum, art gallery, and collection of studios for visiting artists that showcases products of West Virginia and organizes the state’s “cottage industry.” Tamarack is the center of an integrated distribution and marketing network for products by more than 1,200 West Virginia artists. The Rosen Group, publisher of Niche magazine, named Gaston the 1997 Humanitarian of the Year for creating a progressive market for the state’s cottage industry.

After completing his second term, the former governor taught at Harvard University in the spring of 1997 as a fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics. He founded and now runs the Institute on Education and Government at Columbia University.

Gaston became President and CEO of the College Board on 1 July, 1999. The New York City based College Board is a nonprofit membership association of more than 4,200 schools, colleges and other educational institutions throughout America. Its mission, as expressed by Governor Caperton, is to prepare, inspire and connect students to college success, with a focus on excellence and equity. The College Board is best known for its SAT College admissions exam and for its Advanced Placement Program, which offers high school students access to quality, college-level course work. Since taking the helm of the College Board, Governor Caperton has sought to enhance the standing and expand the reach of these two programs and to launch a series of initiatives. As a result of one of these initiatives, AP courses became more availabile to inner city and rural students.

Gaston Caperton appears concerned about unequal educational opportunity, and he led an effort to encourage students at middle schools to go to college, particularly the least advantaged. Gaston efforts prompted USA Today to label him an “education crusader”. The publication also named him one of the most influential people in America in its feature, “People to Watch: 2001.”

More recently, Governor Caperton led a successful campaign to revise the SAT when the College Board’s trustees requested changes to the test. The College Board introduced a set of changes to the SAT that include a writing test, more critical reading, and advanced math. The goal of the new SAT I is to more closely reflect the course work of the nation’s high school students while maintaining what they describe as the test’s level of rigor and excellence. The new SAT I was administered for the first time in March 2005.

Gaston Caperton was embarrassed when his first wife, Ella Dee Caperton (born Ella Kessel, Miss West Virginia 1964) divorced him during his first term, and unsuccessfully ran in the election for state treasurer. With Dee he had 2 boys, William Gaston Caperton, IV, (“Gat”) and John Caperton. Both sons are married and living with their own families (“Gat” in West Virginia and John in California).

Gaston’s second wife was the Musical Director Conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Rachael Worby. Gaston is currently married to his third wife Idit Harel Caperton, an Israeli, MIT PhD, an education technology expert, a mother of 3, and the Founder and CEO of MaMaMedia.

Gaston and Idit Caperton live and work in New York City.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend John Haigh

John George Haigh was born on 24 July, 1909 and died on 10 August, 1949 John Haigh nicknamed the “Acid Bath Murderer”, was an English serial killer during the 1940s.

John was convicted of the murders of 6 people, although he claimed to have killed a total of 9, dissolving their bodies in sulphuric acid before forging papers in order to sell their possessions and collect substantial sums of money. John acted under the mistaken belief that police needed a body before they could bring a charge of murder. John was convicted through forensic evidence and executed. John George Haigh may have suffered from OCD.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr was born on 3 November, 1952. Roseanne Barr is an Emmy Award-winning American comedian, actress and writer. Roseanne became famous in the early 1980s with her stand-up comedy routine, receiving critical acclaim for her unglamorized portrayal of the typical American working-class housewife. In her routine she coined the now well-known phrase, “domestic goddess,” to refer to a homemaker or housewife. The success of her act led to her own series on ABC, called Roseanne. The show ran from 1988 to 1997, and co-starred Emmy winners Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman.

Roseanne herself also won an Emmy for her part in the show. For the final season Roseanne earned $650,000 an episode. In 1997, after the end of her sitcom’s run, she portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West in a production of The Wizard of Oz at Madison Square Garden.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend John Melendez

John Melendez was born on 4 October, 1965. Commonly known as “Stuttering John” and “Hero of the Stupid”, a Puerto Rican – American television/radio personality. On Stern’s show,  John conducted outrageous street interviews, premised on the idea that celebrities would not want to look bad by refusing an interview from a stutterer. John sported long hair and metal t-shirts and would often confront celebrities with puerile questions about their private lives. John’s interviews were characterized by punchline-free “joke” questions, such as asking Melanie Griffith “how her father, Andy, was.” John also appeared at press conferences and asked off-the-wall questions to Gennifer Flowers, Ringo Starr, and the Dalai Lama. John asked the Dalai Lama, if anyone ever greeted him with “Hello Dolly!”, in a joking reference to the play and movie; the Dalai Lama’s translator whispered the translation to the Dalai Lama and a delayed chuckle came from the Dalai Lama. It seemed like he got the joke. He also provided comic interest with his misadventures, poor grammar and sloppy pronunciation. John also suffers from OCD.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend John List

John List was born on 17 September, 1925 and died on 21 March, 2008. John was an American convicted mass murderer. On 9 November, 1971, John murdered his mother, wife and three children in Westfield, New Jersey, and then disappeared. John had planned everything so meticulously that nearly a month passed before anyone noticed that anything was amiss. A fugitive from justice for nearly 18 years, he was finally apprehended on 1 June, 1989 while living under the pseudonym Robert Peter “Bob” Clark, after the story of his murders was broadcast on America’s Most Wanted.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend John Horner

John “Jack” R. Horner was born on 15 June, 1946. John is an American paleontologist who discovered and named the Maiasaura, providing the first clear evidence that some dinosaurs cared for their young. John is one of the most well known paleontologists in the United States. In addition to his many paleontological discoveries, John served as the technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films. John discovered the first dinosaur eggs in the Western Hemisphere, the first evidence of dinosaur colonial nesting, the first evidence of parental care among dinosaurs, and the first dinosaur embryos. John Horner is the Montana State University Regents’ Professor of Paleontology, but his dyslexia precluded a college degree, which was not diagnosed until he was an adult and had not graduated from college. While working at Princeton he found a diagnostic center, and his dyslexia was formally diagnosed. “I wasn’t diagnosed until well after I had reached adulthood, had struggled through school being considered lazy, dumb, and perhaps even retarded, and had flunked out of college seven times.”

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