Monday, October 10, 2016

The Last Night in New England

It has been a very eventful summer for me and incredibly enjoyable.   

I drove a short distance into Vermont to Woodford State Park, hoping to see some leaves changing color before I had to turn and run south.

Well, the setting was beautiful though the color was very minimal.

As I walked down to this lovely lake a couple joined me and we began to talk about life in an RV.  Their names were Patrick and Clara.

I am often asked if I don't get lonesome on the road and I have to admit that, sometimes I do.  There are things I have seen that I would love to share with others and that is definitely why I keep this blog.

This is one of those things I would like to share (with Patrick and Clara's permission).

When the three of us saw this idyllic lake Patrick said, "Boy, I would love to go swimming--but I didn't wear my swimsuit."

To which, I offered, "Well, if you want to go skinny-dipping I won't look."


His reply, "Oh, No! You can take my picture and put it in your blog!"  So here it is.

 And here they are.

So, do I miss company?  When I feel lonely I am sure to meet someone new, interesting, and sometimes just fun--or funny.

When I get back to Tucson I will start my quest to find a pet to join me and perhaps alleviate some of the aloneness.  But I sincerely value the memories of new friends and acquaintances and hope my travels will continue in the same serendipity way.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Norman Rockwell Museum

This is the very last museum of my summer tour.  I drove to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to specifically visit the home and museum of Norman Rockwell.

Stockbridge is the classic small American town.  The museum and the Rockwell studio are in a country setting that could only have inspired the famous illustrationist.

Rockwell is known for the magazine covers of the "Saturday Evening Post."

From Rockwell's first cover in 1916 to his final illustration for The Saturday Evening Post in 1963 the Post published 321 covers of original Rockwell Paintings.

This piece of artwork is at the entrance of the museum and it surprised me--it was so different from the Rockwell illustrations...

...Until I found this.  Peter Rockwell is a son of Norman Rockwell and accomplished in his own right.

Anyway, it is an interesting difference in father and son's approaches to art.

"Boy with Baby Carriage 1916
This was Rockwell's very first Saturday Evening Post cover, for which he was paid $75.

 "No Swimming", 1921

Upon the urging of a fellow illustrator and friend, Norman Rockwell walked into the Philadelphia headquarters of the Post in early 1916 with two paintings he hoped to have published on the cover of the most widely read publication in the U.S.  Editor George Horace Lorimer was so impressed that he immediately purchased the works.

"Boy and Girl gazing at Moon" 1926
(Puppy Love)

"Self Portrait"

As an illustrator, Rockwell struggled with deadlines his entire life.  "Meeting deadlines and thinking up ideas are the scourges of an illustrator's life," he said. 

"Boy in a Dining Car" 1946
Based on an incident experienced by Rockwell's young son, the boy in the picture is trying to calculate the waiter's tip.

"The Gossips"  

The models for these 'gossips' were all friends and neighbors.  Rockwell himself is in the last two frames.

"The Art Critic" 1955

In the corner of the above painting of the girl on the bus:

"to Walt Disney
one of the really great artists--from an admirer
Norman Rockwell"

The painting was a gift to Disney and returned to the museum after Walt Disney died.

I could not get over how many of the over 300 paintings or illustrations were familiar to me.

So many of them are part of the memories of growing up...

...for anyone more than 50 years old.

An especially for the townspeople of Stockbridge, Ma. these paintings are a chronicle of the residents, their families and their friends.

The paintings also chronicle our country's history...

"Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms" 1943

"Freedom of Worship"

During the height of WWII, Norman Rockwell painted four of the most powerful and enduring images in American history.  Like many artists and writers he supported the war effort by creating work inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's January 1941 State of the Union address outlining the four basic human liberties: Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

"Freedom from Want"

"Freedom from Fear"

"Freedom of Speech"

"New Kids in the Neighborhood" (1967) was the third of Rockwell's civil rights pictures for Look Magazine.    In his illustration of suburban integration in Chicago's Park Forest community, Rockwell was secure in expressing his philosophy of tolerance.

As a student in the south during the 50's I remember this magazine cover and the effect it had on me.  Thank you, Mr. Rockwell.  You said it so well.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1963)

(Items in Italics from materials posted at the Museum)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Springfield, Mass. Museums

Springfield, Massachusetts has an entire block in the downtown area devoted to museums--Natural History, Fine Arts, Oriental Arts, Modern Arts, and Dr. Seuss.  

Dr. Seuss was why I stopped here but I found a lot of other stuff to occupy my afternoon.

So, who is stalking whom?

 When I saw all these stuffed wild animals I had to find out how they got here. 
Were they trophies? Pets? 

"From the Zoo,"said the Docent.
"They all died of old age or illness"  Hmm, I hope I can believe him.

Maybe he was right.  He apologized for the condition of these two scraggily fellows.  He explained they were old and rather tattered when they died.  

The Docent's attitude about stuffing animals led me to thinking about our attitudes about our own demise.  What if the Egyptian culture for preserving the deceased had continued into today.   

 Hmm, 1000 years from now, I want to be glued up on a board and displayed in a museum next to King Tut.  (I'm wondering if I am beginning to lose it--perhaps I've been on the road too long.)

Time for some more traditional conservative culture....


From the Currier and Ives Collection:
George Washington (Date unknown) 
By the time the country celebrated the centennial of George Washington's birth in 1832, the man had become an important symbol of freedom, courage and the potential of a still young nation.  This print draws on a famous rendering by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) which was also used on the one dollar bill.  

From the Currier and Ives Collection:
Martha Washington, (Date unknown)

Martha maintained a cheerful disposition, fulfilling her expected duties as the First Lady.  (UGH!) She learned to read and write in an era when most women were not expected to do so.  She burned nearly all of her husband's correspondence before her death but one remaining letter from George to Martha indicates a happy and loving partnership.  In the letter he writes to Martha, "...more real happiness and felicity in one month with you at home, than I have the most recent prospect of reaping abroad."

The next stop was the Modern Art Museum...

Seventy Two Legs, 2010  by Thomas Shields

The Museum commissioned this artist to create this unique bench for the Contemporary Gallery.  The whimsical bench seats 8 to 10 people and it is the artist's hope that visitors will sit on the sculpture to contemplate the artwork.  (If 10 people sit on these chairs 1/2 of them are going to have their legs in their neighbors laps)


John Grillo used color and light to realize this large-scale abstracted painting.  Typical of his style, 
4 Odalisques is a composition of female figures and animals painted in bright yellows, pinks and oranges.  The women in the painting were all acquaintances of Grillo and the fluffy dog in the work was the artist's own pet.

An Alexander Calder mobile--Does this man have something in every modern art museum in the country?

But this garden was my favorite.

"Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to the world as the beloved children's author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904 and drew much of his early inspiration from his hometown.  May this memorial serve to spark creativity in future generations."

The Dr. Seuss garden is surrounded by the other museums...

Yes, that's a cement bench.

I loved reading Dr. Seuss to my kids--not so much for their enjoyment as for my own.

The Whimsey of the characters...

The lilt of the verse...

The silliness of the plot that somehow imparted a moral.



and Upside down."   

 "And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he, 
Is King of the Mud, that is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course..All the turtles are free,
As turtles and, maybe, all the creatures should be.

(Ironically, this live turtle was in a small glass case inside the Natural History Museum)

I think I am going to invest in a new copy of "The Cat in the Hat" or perhaps "Oh, The Places You Will Go",  just to read to myself--out loud--and with great emotion.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss. 

But I will look for a secluded place to park.