Art from the Heart

In February we are celebrating universal love and kindness at WMODA. Romantics everywhere celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14 with heartfelt gifts. February is also American Heart month when we are encouraged to live heart-healthy lives.

In American heart month we raise awareness of heart disease and how to prevent it. Appropriately, February is named for the Latin word februum which means purification. One of the most unusual objects at WMODA features a glass rendition of a human heart by Paul Stankard, the flameworking master. It is one of only two paperweights which Paul made in honor of his friend who died of a heart attack. This is truly art from the heart.

Be My Valentine
The feast of the martyred Christian Saint Valentine first became associated with romantic and courtly love in the 14th century. By the 18th century Valentine’s Day had evolved into an occasion when lovers expressed their love for each other with flowers and greeting cards. One of the most popular motifs for Valentine cards is Cupid, the classical god of desire and the personification of romantic love.

Cupid’s Arrow
Cupid was known as Eros in Greek mythology and he appeared originally in art as a slender winged youth. Later in Roman times, he is more often portrayed as a chubby boy with a bow and arrow. Anybody who is shot with Cupid’s golden arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. The barb on Cupid’s silver arrow has the power to induce hate in his victims. Allegedly, Cupid is winged because lovers are flighty and likely to change their mind and boyish because love is irrational.

The Love Vase
Cupid appears on one of the spectacular pieces in the WMODA collection. The Love Vase, which stands 30 inches tall, was made for the Chicago exhibition of 1893. The finial features Cupid with a lighted torch ‘casting his net and ensnaring the blinded inhabitants of the globe, upon which a map of the American continent is depicted in gold’. The painting of the vase was by Charles Labarre who worked for Doulton’s Burslem Pottery for less than a year. He was renowned for his painting of frolicsome putti and other classical figures in the style of Sevres, the French porcelain factory where he worked also.

Great Lovers
The love story of Cupid and Psyche has inspired porcelain artists for centuries and some beautiful examples can be seen in our Fantastique exhibit which explores the enchanted world of ceramic art. Many other famous love stories unfold at WMODA, including Cinderella and Prince Charming, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra and the love triangle of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Dating couples will have lots to talk about while exploring the social history of boy meets girl at nightclubs and cabarets.

Leap Day
Ladies, if your loved one doesn’t deliver on Valentine’s Day then take heart on February 29. In folk tradition, a woman can propose marriage on this extra day in a leap year. The custom has been attributed to various historical figures including Ireland’s St. Brigid, who is said to have complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitor to pop the question. The obliging saint gave women the leap day to propose. Apparently, if a man didn’t accept a leap year proposal it could cost him dearly. In some European countries, a reluctant spouse had to give the rejected woman a dozen pairs of gloves, supposedly to hide the lack of an engagement ring.

Sun & Earth
It takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours 48 minutes, and 45 seconds to circle once around the sun. However, the Gregorian calendar we rely on has only 365 days so if we didn’t add an extra day to our shortest month every four years, we would lose almost 6 hours every year. People born on leap day are often called leaplings or leapers and there are over 4 million people in the world born on February 29. So that they don’t miss out, their birthday celebrations are often moved to February 28 or March 1.

Leap into WMODA on February 29 to fall in love with the fired arts and celebrate universal love and kindness.


Venus & Cupid