Cahoon Museum of American Art

photo © 1996 Paul Murphy, Hyannis, MA

Cotuit, MA



Wall Flowers: Sailor's Valentines by Sandi Blanda


The Cahoon Museum of American Art will present the special exhibit "Wall Flowers: Sailor's Valentines by Sandi Blanda" from May 30 through July 8, 2000. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 2.

The show will feature 25 stunning sailor's valentines by Sandi Blanda, who lives in Great Neck, N.Y. Growing up on Long Island, she enjoyed combing the beaches in search of perfect seashells. Twenty-five years later, when a friend brought a sailor's valentine back from a trip to Nantucket, Blanda immediately knew she wanted to make them. (left: Sandi Blanda, Beyond the Sea, © Sandi Blanda)

Housed in handsome octagonal boxes made of mahogany and cherry, each valentine contains a mosaic composed of hundreds of shells. Most of the pieces express Blanda's love of flowers and seasonal changes, with free-standing "blossoms" set off against geometric designs. "Early Spring" creates the illusion of a basket overflowing with flowers. However, a layout of Versace fashions in Vogue inspired "Thunderbolt," a bold valentine featuring orange-colored scallop shells from New Zealand. Some of the smaller valentines highlight such finds as fossilized white coral, striped olive cowries, tiny black snails from the Philippines and freshwater pearls.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Sandi Blanda will give gallery talks at 11 a.m. June 16 and 11 a.m. July 7.

Although the belief persists that sailor's valentines were originally crafted by whalers for their sweethearts during sea voyages, experts have long endorsed another scenario. In fact, sailors in the 1800s probably purchased the valentines during stopovers in Barbados, where the island natives made them as souvenirs using colorful Caribbean shells. (left: Sandi Blanda, Thunderbolt, © Sandi Blanda)

A show of sailor's valentines is a natural for the Cahoon Museum because folk artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon, for whom the museum is named, frequently collaborated with the late Bernard Woodman, a sailor's valentine artist who lived in Marstons Mills. A selection of Woodman's valentines will be on view at the museum during Blanda's show.

rev. 3/22/06

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/28/11

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