Wednesday, June 29, 2011



"Historic Walnford" Acrylic on Canvas



By Bob Gilbert

If you would like to visit a picturesque setting and learn about local history, consider a trip to Historic Walnford, a 36-acre site in Upper Freehold, NJ that is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Walnford is the estate of a Philadelphia Quaker named Richard Waln, who purchased the property in 1772 and moved there with his family in 1773. The site includes Waln’s elegant home, a grist mill, a corn crib, and other buildings. The Waln family occupied the property for two-hundred years, and it was ultimately donated to the Monmouth County Park System in 1985.
Walnford offers an interesting view of life during the colonial period and beyond as you walk the grounds, see the buildings, and enjoy a guided tour of the house, all at no charge. Here are some points of interest that we enjoyed:
The carriage house built in 1879 was their version of our modern day garage. It housed the family’s carriages and carriage horses. A buggy and a sleigh (used for travel in the snow) were on display. We learned that when the sleigh was used, it was so silent as it moved through the snow that "sleigh bells" were sounded to alert people that it was coming.
The ice house (which pre-dates refrigerators) stored large blocks of ice cut from the frozen creek in the winter for use in the warmer months. The structure was strategically located slightly below ground (where it is cooler) and was vented on the roof to allow the warmer air to escape (warm air rises).
The main house is 5000 square feet, which is more than twice the size of most of the homes in our development, and has ten foot ceilings. (Luckily, they did not have to worry about changing light bulbs or smoke detector batteries.) The house is modest on the outside because the owner was a Quaker, but beautiful inside. The kitchen has a brick oven, which would have made great pizza (except for the fact that pizza had not yet been invented). And can you guess why the closets in the house had no hanging rods? Hangers had not yet been invented either. (They used hooks.) Most rooms had fireplaces, as central heating was not an option.
The grist mill was powered by water diverted from the creek. The best feature of the mill was the cat (later identified to us as "Captain") who resides there. When we entered, we heard a loud "meow" and then sighted Captain prancing down the steps from the upper level to greet us. We patted him and he accompanied us during the rest of our tour.
One interesting piece of history about Richard Waln – he opposed independence from England and was arrested and exiled to Staten Island for refusing to join the independence movement. There is on display at Walnford a letter that Waln’s twelve year old son wrote to Waln during this exile, in which the son tells the father in great detail how he is trying to fill in as the man of the house in the father’s absence. 

If anybody is interested in visiting Walnford, it is located on 62 Walnford Road, Upper Freehold, NJ, telephone 609-259-6275. It is approximately a thirty minute ride. Our GPS took us down Route 130 to Robbinsville and then on very scenic roads to the site. While I can’t guarantee that Captain the cat will give you the royal treatment like he did for us, I think that if you enjoy picturesque historical places, you will have a good time. 

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I am including a photo of Captain and a copy of an acrylic painting by my wife, Linda of the grist mill and the main house.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I am showcasing artist Lauren Curtis who  previously had work posted on PaintingsbyLinda.blogspot before. Lauren's previous blog posting was in relation to her successful show at the Gourgaud Gallery. She won first prize in a recent Art Show in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Read lauren's explanation and enjoy the wonderful photograph!

                                         BARCELONA CHURCH photo by Lauren Curtis

This piece was in the Gourgaud show too!
About the photo; I shot it in the Barcelona Cathedral in 2010...I took it while kneeling on the floor and looking up towards the gorgeous vaulted ceilings surrounded by ornate chandeliers.  I really liked the play of light in the darkened church and the elaborate brick work in the arched architecture.  The photo was enlarged to 8x10 and framed in black to 11x14 and won the "Excellence Award" (1st prize for photography) at this year's East Brunswick Juried Art Fest.  Signed prints are available so to purchase people can contact me at (Paypal accepted). (commercial & fine art) (fine art, photography, art updates) (cards, T-shirts, photography, illustration)  (my Blog!) (Facebook Fan Page)

Friday, June 10, 2011


As a diversion from the ordinary, I had to post this document written by my husband Bob Gilbert.
This document was written for the community newspaper at Cranbury Crossing in Monroe Township.
It inspired me to do this little drawing after laughing for almost 20 minutes after reading the contents, and laughing while creating the drawing. So, read, enjoy and laugh, at the same time getting some incite to CLOWNING AROUND!

By Bob Gilbert
Recently, my wife Linda cracked a few hilarious jokes over dinner.  I told her that she was a great comedienne and jokingly asked her if this was a natural talent or whether she had developed it by attending clown school.  We had some laughs about it and then I started to wonder whether there is such a thing as “clown school” and whether people still work as clowns today. 
Before I share with you the answers to these probing questions, let’s get the obvious joke out of the way – that if you look up “clown” in the dictionary, my picture is there.  Very funny, score one for you. 
Now, let’s get down to business:
First, the mere definition of a professional clown makes me laugh - “a comic character known by distinctive makeup and costume, ludicrous antics, and buffoonery whose purpose is to induce hearty laughter”.  Sounds like some people I have known over the years!
Professional clowns work in various settings including at children’s birthday parties, storytelling sessions, adult events, and what is described as the major league of clowning – the circus. 
Apparently, becoming a professional clown involves a lot more than putting a lampshade on your head and cracking a few jokes.  First, you need the right personality – you must love to make people laugh.  Assuming you have that, you must develop the clown’s character, including makeup, costume, and the character’s personality, as well as associated skills such as magic, balloon animals, face painting, and comic routines.  A name must be chosen, which may be related to the character’s profession, such as Dr. Fumbles, Nurse Jones, or Professor Dum Dum. 
And if that’s not enough, a clown must become adept at the use of props such as a rubber chicken, a Harpo horn, a honking nose, and juggling balls.
And don’t forget the oversized shoes.  You can either buy them from a specialty shop or make them yourself by purchasing size 18 Converse sneakers and then gluing your own shoes inside of them.
There are different ways to become a professional clown.  You can spend time with a clown in your area and learn the ropes; attend clown workshops and conferences run by local clown clubs; or attend one of the many “clown schools” throughout the United States.  The New York Goofs Clown School offers intensive two-week courses taught by experts.
So the answer is yes, there is such a thing as a clown school.  But beyond that, there was also a clown college!  It operated from 1968 – 1997 and was called the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Clown College.  Its purpose was to supply clowns to work in the circus, and it produced over 1,000 trained clowns.
There have been many popular clowns in the United States.  Emmett Kelly was famous for his character, “Weary Willie”.  “Bozo the Clown” was created in 1948 and was played by many actors over the years.  “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger Happy Clown” was developed in the early 1960s for McDonalds’ TV commercials and was originally played by news personality Willard Scott.
I think that I really started something with this clown business - Linda wants to know when we are enrolling in clown school.  I don’t know if I am ready for that, but I do see one big advantage for the two of us if we were to graduate from clown school – when people say that “Bob and Linda are two clowns”, rather than getting offended, I could accurately say, “that’s true, and thank you for recognizing our professional accomplishments!”