Karen and I returned from out trip to New England yesterday afternoon, and I have to say it was a wonderful four days. We caught our plane early Thursday morning to Boston, where we rented a car, and headed up to Camden Maine. I've wanted to visit the Olson House in Cushing for years, and this seemed to be a perfect time to fulfill that dream. My mother introduced me to the paintings of Andrew Wyeth when I was young, but I became a full fledged fan when I attended an exhibition of his work at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 1973 while I was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. I went back to see that show multiple times before it moved on.
Having spent so much of my life admiring the paintings he had done at the Olson House, I had to take advantage of being this close, and include a visit the location. My first reaction, as the house came into view, was visceral. As I got out of the car, I felt as though I was treading on sacred ground. Maybe that's a little extreme, but after nearly forty years of memorizing his paintings of this place, not too far off the bat. Christina's World, on display at the MOMA, is the most famous painting set in this location, but my favorite is Weather Side.
Weather Side and Christina's World
The weather was perfect that day, so Karen and I did a lot of photography. We probably spent the better part of two hours going over every square inch of the house, inside and out. Each room evoked a memory. It was as though I had returned to a house where I once lived. A very strange, yet wonderful feeling.
I used to live in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and I have a lot of happy memories of both. I think that's one reason Wyeth's paintings are so powerful for me, since most of them are representative of Pennsylvania and New England.
When we felt we had extracted all we could from the house, Karen and I went down to the Olson family graveyard. We were surprised to discover that Andrew Wyeth was buried there near Christina and Alvaro. The family cemetery is located in a wooded area on the bay a short walk from the house. You can just see the water through the trees. A beautiful, and very peaceful spot of land.
I left there fulfilled, ready to move into our digs for the night, and get something to eat. It was a short drive from Cushing to Camden, and our lodgings at the Whitehall Inn. The inn was originally a sea captain's home, but was purchased in 1901, and was gradually transformed into an inn. We had a wonderful room on the top floor with a view of the water. After unpacking, we drove into the town center, and had dinner on the dock. A perfect end to a perfect day.
Early the next morning we went down to the water a couple of blocks from the inn, and watched the sunrise. After that we returned to the Whitehall for breakfast. Fueled and ready to go, we drove into Rockland to visit the Farnsworth Museum. They actually own the Olson House, and operate two other facilities as well. The Farnsworth Museun and the Wyeth Center. The Wyeth Center was having a special exhibition of paintings and drawings, most of them on loan from the Marunuma Art Park collection in Asaka, Japan. The exhibition is titled: Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World & the Olson House. A terrific compliment to our visit there the day before. Once we'd finished up there, we plugged in a book on tape, and began the drive into Orleans, on Cape Cod.
Our plan was to get to the gallery before closing on Friday, but we spent more time in Rockland than expected, and had vastly underestimated the traffic heading out of Boston to the Cape on a Friday. Vastly underestimated! So we called Julie Bangert, the director of Tree's Place Gallery, and let her know that we wouldn't be in until well after closing, and we'd see her in the morning. That evening we checked into our motel, then ran out long enough for some Thai food before we came "home" and crashed.
The gallery didn't open until 10, so we went out early to the beach, and after a short walk, tracked down a spot in town for a late breakfast. We lingered with out coffee until it was nearly 10, then headed to the gallery. The space looked beautiful. Julie, Katrina Hayes and Kelsey Whitaker (sorry about the blurry picture), had done a wonderful job of hanging the paintings, and staging the gallery.
After we all had gotten to know one another, and had a good chat, Karen and I drove up to Provincetown for the day. It's one of Karen's favorite places, and there are a lot of art galleries to check out. Saturday was another perfect day, weatherwise, and we had a lot of fun walking up and down Commercial Street. There wasn't a lot of time to linger in any one place since we had to be back at the gallery at 5, so as our time there came to a close Karen grabbed a sandwich at Karoo Kafe, and we drove back to Orleans for the reception. (That sandwich will play a part in our next days adventure.)
We walked into the gallery right at 5, and the parking lot was already nearly full. When I saw those cars I breathed a huge sigh of relief, "people did show up!", I thought to myself. Julie, Katrina and Kelsey were all very upbeat, and excited about the show, and it wasn't long until visitors began to come up, and compliment me on the work. One of the first guests to approach me was Steve Zafarana and his wife Sue. They are type designers, and are part of a group called BluHead Studio, LLC. I liked them immediately. We had a great time discussing our years in graphic design. At one point in our conversation I happened to mention that I used to live in Norwood MA, then very quickly, and in unison they both said, "we live in Norwood!". Steve and Sue, if you read this, thank you for coming in to see the show. It was wonderful meeting you both.
A little later I felt a hand on my shoulder, and as I turned I was greeted by Teresa Fischer. Teresa is one of my favorite artists, and her husband Scott is an awesome illustrator. I was shocked to find out that Teresa had driven three hours to get to the gallery. She was so nice, Karen and I fell in love with her immediately. After talking with her for five minutes, it felt as though we had known her for years. My one regret was that I didn't have near enough time to visit with her. When your the one having the show, you spend a lot of time talking with a lot of different people, and not enough time with any of them. Thank you again Teresa for coming, it was really great to meet you.
My entire evening was spent talking with wonderful people, all very complimentary of my work. I had a fantastic time to say the least. On a commercial note, combining pre-show sales, with paintings sold during the show, I had, by the time the doors closed, sold five paintings. There is also talk of a number of commissions, so I am calling this a successful show.
Thank you again Julie, and to your staff, for the positive energy, and hard work you all put into preparing this show. I was overwhelmed by your generosity, and kindness.
That night after the show Julie took us into Wellfleet to a have dinner at a wonderful restaurant called the Wicked Oyster. Before we ate Julie drove us around Wellfleet, a delightful town on the Cape, filled with shops, restaurants and galleries. Our dinner was delicious, and it was really nice getting to know Julie, who is lovely in all its' definitions, a little better. A great capper to a great day.
Our plans for Sunday changed entirely when I made a significant error in my planning to visit Nantucket for the day. I got some times completely wrong, and we missed the ferry. Karen was great about it, and said she'd just as soon go back to Provincetown, so we did. We had a much more leisurely visit than the day before, and got to see some places we'd missed on Saturday, like the Provincetown Museum of Art, and the beach. I was really excited about coming back because I had had only one bite of Karen's sandwich from Karoo Kafe the day before, and couldn't get that flavor out of my mind. I wanted one of my own, so we ate there for lunch, then on the way out, stopped in again to pick up two more sandwiches for dinner that night, back in our room.
Monday we left early for the airport even though our plane didn't leave until noon. I'm glad we did because we hit that horrific Boston traffic once more on the way in. The flight was on time, smooth, and on the drive home we missed Atlanta rush hour traffic. All and all it was a splendid trip.