• July 2015

The Business of History

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn,” said Benjamin Franklin, whose undeniable genius, ingenuity, and wisdom helped shape the nation we live in today.

This month, we say cheers to the courage and determination of all of America’s Founding Fathers and Mothers, whom we also have the privilege of honoring and promoting through David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation — an organization for which Inkandescent Public Relations has been the executive producer since 2013.

Dedicated to restoring enthusiasm in American history, the Grateful American™ Foundation uses multimedia tools — including an online magazine, a TV channel featuring videos for kids and adults, a monthly radio program, and books — to shine a spotlight on the nation’s top presidential and historic homes, whose programs and tours aim to raise the nation’s history IQ.

“The Grateful American™ Foundation is the hub in the middle of the wheel of the nation’s top organizations that celebrate American history,” says Smith, an author and publisher based in Washington, DC. Since July 4, 2014, Smith has taken his audience inside such national treasures as George Washington’s Mount Vernon and President Lincoln’s Cottage, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the New-York Historical Society, and dozens more.

The inspiration for the title of the Grateful American™ Foundation came from his father, Robert H. Smith. “He always referred to himself that way, and I admired that. The DC community and this country have been good to my family, and he never forgot it. I haven’t either. This is my way of giving back.”

As our way of giving back, we celebrate the Independence Day issue of Be Inkandescent magazine with a Q&A with one of the great American sculptors of our age — Ivan Schwartz of StudioEIS. The artworks that he and his family create grace the grounds of nearly every presidential and historic home in the country.

From the statue of Honest Abe and his horse, Old Bob, standing proud at President Lincoln’s Cottage in DC (shown here), to the much-touched bronze of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and the iconic statue of George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, Schwartz and his team are prolific and talented. It was a pleasure for David Bruce Smith and me to interview him last month at his studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Scroll down for our Q&A, and click Play to watch our video below.

Also in this issue:

  • Historian Dr. Allida Black shares Eleanor Roosevelt’s belief that “Tomorrow Is Now” by allowing us to run the essay she wrote for the introduction of Roosevelt’s book — a page-turner that is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1962. Don’t miss their Leadership lessons.
  • George Washington University professor Dr. Faye Moskowitz shares her take on Cokie Roberts’ new book, Capital Dames.
  • We introduce you to Nick Bunker, winner of the 2015 Washington Book Prize for his original take on the Boston Tea Party in the new tome, Empire on the Edge.

  • And our newest columnist, Chef Ann Butler, offers four recipes to cook up with your kids on July 4 — including two tasty creations courtesy of the James Beard Foundation’s Better Burger Project, as well as a side of easy-to-make sweet potato fries, and a beautiful Fruity American Flag. Find out how Chef Ann teaches kids to cook — so they will be well-fed, heart-smart, and healthy for life.

In celebration of all of our gifts and freedoms as Americans, the editorial staff at Be Inkandescent magazine leaves you with this parting thought from Thomas Jefferson, who said: No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will.

Happy Birthday, America! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine • Founder, Inkandescent Public Relations

Ivan Schwartz Is Sculpting History

JULY 2015: THE FACE OF AMERICA

For years, sculptor Ivan Schwartz and his team have been carving 3-D replicas of the nation’s most famous figures. Now, we shine a light on the man who brings the legends to life.

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher, Be Inkandescent and
David Bruce Smith, Founder Grateful American™ Foundation

American sculptor Ivan Schwartz is a painter and inventor who has always been interested in what lies in his peripheral vision. That perspective is incredibly clear when you’re here in his fantastic Brooklyn studio, StudioEIS.

The initials reflect the fact that StudioEIS is a family affair (the E is for Ivan’s brother, Elliot Schwartz (pictured above, left). They also work with their sister, Debra Schwartz, whom they credit with keeping the studio running smoothly.

Last month, we toured StudioEIS and talked with the sculptor about his past and what he envisions for his future. Scroll down for our interview.

And click here to watch the video of our day at StudioEIS.


David Bruce Smith: Tell us what you mean when you refer to looking at the world from a peripheral point of view.

Ivan Schwartz: We try to differentiate between what is real and what people hold in their imagination. For example, if we were commissioned to do a sculpture of George Washington, there is a huge difference between what has been written about Washington — extensive descriptions of his personality, how he smiled a lot and had a great sense of humor, and even liked to dance — and the images we see of him. So the question we ask ourselves is how can we find the real person that is not the construct of those painters, sculptors, and photographers. And that’s what I consider to be peripheral vision: It exists, but you have to mine it.

Hope Katz Gibbs: What made you decide to become a sculptor?

Ivan Schwartz: I think a lot of artists become artists because they were influenced by others. In my case, it was a high school art teacher. He knew I had no interest in all the regular studies that would have pointed me in the direction of a premed degree. Also, I think artists are speculators, and risk takers. They want to challenge themselves with ideas and the possibility of creating something that never existed before. The confluence of those two things shaped me.

David Bruce Smith: The result has been a very diverse portfolio, including sculptures of icons ranging from James and Dolley Madison to Andy Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show” and Samantha Stephens from “Bewitched.” How did you make the shift from one genre to another?

Ivan Schwartz: We are able to make the transition, I think, because we started the business years ago making portraits. The first set was for the Richard Nixon Library, which was creating a portrait gallery of world leaders. We worked on Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, and Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, which was cool because all of these peoples were enemies during the Cold War. Those who did work in public spaces took note, and we started getting hired by entertainment venues, architects, and designers whose work is not limited to the literal or allegorical.

Don’t stop now! Click here to read more of the Q&A on the Grateful American™ Foundation website. To improve your History IQ, click here for tips from David Bruce Smith.

How Much US History Do Americans Actually Know? Less Than You Think. The Smithsonian asks David Bruce Smith how we can fix this problem

How much do you know about American history?

A 2008 study by the Intercollegiate
Studies Institute,
which surveyed more than 2,500 Americans, found that only half of US adults could name the country’s three branches of government.

The 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP) report
found that only 18 percent of 8th graders were proficient or above in US history, and only 23 percent were proficient in civics.

American author and editor David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, talked with reporter Saba Naseem at Smithsonian magazine recently about his foundation’s efforts to restore a passion for history in kids and adults. Scroll down for excerpts of their interview.


Smithsonian: How did you develop a passion for American History?

David Bruce Smith: I was born loving history. When I was a little boy, my grandfather said I should read biographies — especially about great people like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. He believed that knowledge would flow into my young mind and pool into a reservoir of wisdom that I would be able to tap in the future. It was good advice. My mother was also a bibliophile. She kept me supplied with books about everyone from Madame Curie and Winston Churchill to Catherine the Great and Joseph Lister.

Smithsonian: You started the Grateful American™ Foundation in 2014 and the Grateful American™ Book Prize in 2015. What was your inspiration for these, and what do you hope to achieve through the projects?

David Bruce Smith: The Grateful American™ Book Prize for authors of kid-friendly books based on factual events and people in American history was created partially because I was becoming more aware of the multigenerational historical illiteracy in our country. The prize, and our Grateful American™ Foundation, also honors my father, Robert H. Smith, who often referred to himself as a “grateful American.” We are a fortunate family, and because of that, he felt very strongly about giving back. During the last 20 years of his life, he devoted himself to education, and nothing excited him more than to see a child excited about learning — particularly history.

Hopefully, the prize and the Foundation will move kids — and adults — to become more enthusiastic about history via videos, games, and interactive activities.

Smithsonian: What can schools and parents do to foster interest in history for their kids? What are some innovative techniques you suggest?

David Bruce Smith: The onus of making an appreciable shift is — unfortunately — on the teachers, because often, parents have as little historical literacy as their kids. Most importantly: The teacher has to be interesting and imaginative, and he or she should have an educational credential. Class materials should be fun and exciting; all history is, after all, storytelling. Primary and secondary sources should also be included; they would give immediacy to whatever is being studied. And, because funds are scarce almost everywhere, why haven’t more businesses pitched in with resources? The students are their future employees. Better to have an informed workplace than not.

Smithsonian: Do you see this lack of interest in history among kids as a problem in just the United States, or is it a problem worldwide?

David Bruce Smith: I don’t know if history malaise is a worldwide problem. Though it is a prickly issue, it is solvable. It might take 25 years to fix, but slow progress is better than none.

Smithsonian: What books do you recommend for teachers to help kids learn about American history?

David Bruce Smith: Here are some books I recommend:

  • Esther Forbes’ “Johnny Tremain” (Revolutionary War)
  • Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” (Civil War)
  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” (World War ll)
  • Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” (Civil War)
  • Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” (Civil War)
  • Leon Uris’ “Exodus” (World War ll)
  • Irving Stone’s “Those Who Love” (Abigail and John Adams)
  • “Love is Eternal” (Mary Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln)
  • “The President’s Lady” (Rachel and Andrew Jackson)

Smithsonian:: What period of American history is most intriguing to you?

David Bruce Smith: My favorite period is the Civil War. A troubled time, but also a “Second” Declaration of Independence. I believe it was the formal beginning of civil rights, and for the disenfranchised, the eventual Emancipation Proclamation was the first concrete document to push for freedom and equal protection under the laws of the Constitution. Out of all the bad, some good has come — so far it’s been a 150-year search of questioning, questioning, questioning, and trying for the most part to make a better country — even if the way forward has been more of a zigzag than a straight line.

Click here to learn more about David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation.

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You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.”

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What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

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In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

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If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

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Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”

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Letting go of expectations is a ticket to peace. It allows us to ride over every crisis—small or large—like a beach ball on water.”

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An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.“


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Remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you’re stumped, because sometimes you really can’t be expected to handle everything alone.”

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Your own words are the bricks and mortar
of the dreams you want to realize.
 The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”

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The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”

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Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

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Never cut what you can untie.”

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Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”

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There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

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If it really was a no-brainer to make it on your own in business there’d be millions of no-brained, harebrained individuals quitting their day jobs.”

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Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

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The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”

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The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”

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The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

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You may ask me for anything you like except time.”

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I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

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Don’t follow your dreams. Chase them.”

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The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

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It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

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You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

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Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

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History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”

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You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing.”

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The journey is the reward.”

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Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

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As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

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No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”

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Some things are destined to be—it just takes us a couple of tries
to get there.”

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Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”

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‎That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

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Confidence is the most important thing you can teach someone… if you can teach them confidence, you don’t have to teach them anything else.”

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A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

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Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

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Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”

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