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Art Finds

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoreau’s Maine Woods, A New Exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s “The Maine Woods,” the Harvard Museum of Natural History is showcasing the works of photographer Scot Miller. Miller has traversed the state of Maine for seven years retracing Thoreau’s epic exploration. The exhibition, on view through September 1, 2014, will also feature a snowshoe made for Thoreau by the Penobscot Indians and a beautiful new illustrated edition of Thoreau’s book. As an outdoors writer based in New England, I’ve also spent a good deal of time following in Thoreau’s footsteps. You can see my story in Sierra Magazine on paddling a similar route Thoreau used while writing “The Maine Woods.”

(Photograph by Scot Miller, courtesy of the Harvard Museum of Natural History) 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/13 at 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Eureka Art Scene

They say Eureka has more artists per capita than any other place in California. A walk around town Sunday introduced me to many of the impressive local wares. My first stop was the Morris Graves Museum of Art housed in the circa 1904 Carnegie Free Library. A jazz quartet was playing to a packed crowd in the atrium as I wandered over to the Humboldt Artists Gallery to see the inviting watercolors of poppies and hydrangeas by Karen Berman, photographs of the seascape by Jim Lowry like Camel Rock, a favorite surf spot in the region. In the upstairs gallery, Corey Drieth creates mesmerizing geometric shapes of gouache on wood. From Morris Graves, I walked down to the historic Old Town waterfront district of Eureka and stopped in at the First Street Gallery. Run by Humboldt State University, the fine arts gallery features the works of students, faculty, alumni, and visiting artists. Inside, Don Gregorio Anton’s 3D Lazergraph produced intriguing faces and mist etched in glass, while Teresa Stanley’s “The Waters No. 6” was an enticing play of color and geometric patterns, all created on yupo paper. 
 
That evening I wisely chose to spend the evening at The Hotel Carter, one of four Victorians that form the Carter House Inns near the shores of Humboldt Bay. The hallways are lined with contemporary art, a sign that owner Mark Carter is a longtime supporter of the local art scene. Carter is perhaps best known as a winemaker in Napa Valley. Paired with a sublime beef tenderloin, I had the pleasure of sampling his 2006 Carter Cellars Cabernet at Retaurant 301. A perfect way to end a perfect day. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/17/13 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Put Naumkeag on Your Berkshires Must-Do List

If you’re heading up to Tanglewood this week to catch the NPR show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on Thursday night or Harry Connick, Jr. on Saturday night, make a slight detour and check out what’s happening at nearby Naumkeag in Stockbridge. Formerly owned by the Choate Family of New York before it was bequeathed to The Trustees of Reservations in 1958, Naumkeag is a 44-room Berkshires “Cottage” from the Gilded Age, filled with arts, antiques, and collections around from around the world. But it’s the outdoor gardens that truly inspire, a masterpiece of 30 years of collaborative work by former owner, Mabel Choate, and her dear friend, Fletcher Steele, one of America’s first modern landscape architects. 

 
Described by the Library of American Landscape History as a “playground for the imagination,” The Trustees have just completed Phase 1 of an extensive 5-phase, 3-year, $3 million garden and landscape restoration project designed to rejuvenate the gardens and bring them back to Choate and Steele’s original vision. The transformation includes the renovation of Fletcher Steele’s iconic Blue Steps, one of the most photographed features in 20th-century American landscape design, celebrating its 75th Anniversary this summer.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/28/13 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spending a Night at the Shaw Festival

Long before people headed to Niagara on the Lake to sample the world-class chardonnays and rieslings, and prior to outfitters like Butterfield & Robinson arriving on the scene to design exceptional day rides, there was the renowned Shaw Festival. Held from the beginning of April to early November, the theatre festival celebrates the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. More than a dozen productions are performed each year at four stages from works created by Noel Coward, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Lillian Hellman, and a slew of other noteworthy playwrights. This year, expect to find Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls, Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, and Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara. Last night at Royal George Theater, I took in Our Betters, a rarely performed play by one of my favorite writers, Somerset Maugham. Set in 1920s London, the play is based on a familiar story line from the popular television show, Downton Abbey, where a down on his luck British aristocrat marries a well-to-do American gal for her money. Yet that’s where the similarity ends. Our Betters is much more of a satire, a predictable romp that gets big laughs. Though it’s not Maugham at his finest, it’s still a delight to watch due to the exemplary acting, absorbing sets, and the art deco costumes that take you back to the Roaring 20s. Kudos to the Shaw Festival for continuing to produce plays where biting wit and rapid-fire repartee entertain. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/23/13 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibition Comes to the Hyde Collection this Summer

At first glimpse, Lake George’s narrow width could be mistaken for a long rambling river. It’s not until you veer downhill from the honky-tonk shops and hotels of Route 9N to the docks below that you appreciate the grandeur of this body of water. Step foot into a sailboat, like my family has done for the past 35 summers, and the narrow passage becomes an immense lake dotted with pine-studded islands and shadowed on either side by the verdant mountains of the southern Adirondacks. 

 
The cool waters and green hills that serve as solace and repose for me have been a source of inspiration to many artists over the years including the early American Luminists of the 1850s, sculptor David Smith, and most notably, Alfred Stieglitz and his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe. This June, The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York will unveil a blockbuster summer exhibition featuring 58 paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe. “Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George,” organized by The Hyde Collection in association with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will explore the influence that living and working in Lake George, New York had on the art and life of the famous American painter. 
 
O’Keeffe's art was introduced to Stieglitz on his fifty-second birthday, January 1, 1916.  By the summer of 1918, they were involved in one of the most sensual and artistically symbiotic relationships in the modern era. For the next 16 years, she would spend a good portion of her summer in Lake George with the man she would eventually marry in 1924.  The romance with Georgia O’Keeffe drove Stieglitz into a picture-taking frenzy.  O’Keeffe's sexually evocative flowers and leaves filled her canvases while every inch of her body filled the lens of Stieglitz’ camera.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/29/13 at 12:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Visit Boston’s MFA

Over the past decade, pundits have criticized Malcolm Rogers, the Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for sending priceless Monets to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and staging questionable exhibitions like the display of Ralph Lauren’s sports cars, as a veiled attempt to raise money for the museum’s expansion. The launch of Rogers’ monumental endeavor, the $504 million Art of the Americas Wing in November 2010 has silenced most critics and cements Rogers’ legacy. Foster + Partners designed a 4-story building with adjoining pavilions on either side to house the 53 new galleries. Walk into the soaring glass-enclosed courtyard, where trees and holly bushes have been planted just outside its windows to mirror Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace. Then journey through three millennia of North, South, and Central American works, from pre-Colombian gold on the Court Level to the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe on the top floor. Highlights include the galleries devoted to the works of John Singer Sargent and John Singleton Copley, and the Roswell Gleason parlor and dining room, two mid-19th century period rooms taken intact from a house in nearby Dorchester and never displayed to the public before.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/24/13 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, March 04, 2013

My Story on New England Art Finds in the March/April Issue of Yankee Magazine

Blame it on the majestic scenery in New England that lured artists to its shores and mountains, or savvy collectors who had the foresight to purchase the preeminent works of their time. The result is undeniable. The bounty of art found in this region is mind-boggling, from the American art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to the Hudson River School paintings hanging at Hartford’s Wadsworth Athenaeum to the Impressionist gems located at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Add university collections like Harvard’s Fogg and the recently reopened Yale University Art Museum that could rival the finest art museum in most mid-range cities, and you understand how spoiled we are. 

 
Even with this gluttony of art, there are some hidden treasures to be found. I was fortunate last summer to be hired by Yankee Magazine to describe six of my favorite art gems in New England, often overlooked: the Cushing, Maine house that inspired Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World; Winslow Homer’s studio in Prouts Neck, Maine; Albert Bierstadt’s 10-by-15-foot work, Domes of Yosemite, found in the back of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont; Jose Clemente Orozco’s 24-panel mural at Dartmouth University’s Baker Library, now seen under new lighting; the WPA murals of a whaling scene created by Thomas LaFarge in 1938 at the New London Post Office; and the only National Park System site dedicated to an American painter, the Weir Farm in Wilton, Connecticut. All are worth checking put. You can find the story the old fashioned way, in the magazine at newsstands. It’s not online. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/04/13 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Musee de la Civilisation A Must-Stop in Quebec City

Quebec City’s Musee de la Civilisation might sound like some vague museum of anthropology. Venture inside and you’ll be surprised to find one of the most intriguing museums in North America. On my last trip to Quebec City, I was treated to an exhibition called Urbanopolis, an architectural study that shows how cities around the world are preparing themselves for the future through apartment design and public transportation. When I returned this weekend, I saw a fascinating show on Nigerian art from private French collections, rarely seen by the public. The 187 objects from 44 various ethnic groups in Nigeria included a series of large masks created from, among other things, the human skull, facial hair, antelope horns, and lion’s teeth. I especially enjoyed the films of anthropologist Arnold Rubin from the 1960s that showed remote Nigerian tribesmen dancing with several of the masks and costumes on display. Another worthwhile exhibition at the Museum showcased New Zealand’s Maori culture and featured large wooden carvings from ancestral meeting houses. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/05/13 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, February 01, 2013

Modernism Comes to the Portland Museum of Art This Summer

William S. Paley (1901–1990), the media titan who built the CBS broadcasting empire, amassed an extraordinary collection of modern art. He also became the catalytic force behind The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which opened in 1929. When he died, he donated his entire collection to MoMA. Now MoMA is sharing 62 of those treasures with other art museums. The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism, will be on view May 2 through September 8, 2013, at the Portland Museum of Art. Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, and Francis Bacon, are among the 24 artists whose paintings, sculpture, and works on paper will grace the walls. The Portland Museum of Art is the only New England venue for this blockbuster show, which will then move on to Quebec City. 

 
Talking about Quebec City, I’ll be reporting live from the biggest Winter Carnival in the world next week, before traveling to Baie-Saint-Paul and Le Massif ski resort. So please return often! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/01/13 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2012, An Architectural Tour of Buffalo

Friends laughed when I mentioned that I was headed to Buffalo last July, before dropping my son off at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. “Not exactly Paris, huh?” Little did they realize that the city was undergoing a cultural renaissance, rehabbing many of the architectural wonders that Buffalo is blessed with. In the early 1900s, the affluent community, rich with Erie Canal commerce, helped persuade Louis J. Sullivan, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Frank Lloyd Wright to come to town to create skyscrapers, parks, and estates. 

 
Wright’s Darwin Martin House (1905), rivaled only by Fallingwater in scope and mastery among his residences, just completed a 10-year, $50 million renovation. This includes the renovation of a conservatory and carriage house, linked to the main house via a 100-foot long pergola. This was my third tour of a Wright house, include Taliesen West, and was by far the most impressive. 
 
I also checked out the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, a castle-like assemblage of 14 buildings designed by H.H. Richardson in the late 1800s. The gothic-looking towers have been rebranded the Richardson Olmsted complex and will soon become a boutique hotel and center for architecture. Other noteworthy stops include Louis J. Sullivan’s 13-story 1895 Guaranty Building, the first skyscraper in America, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, considered one of the finest collections of modern art in the country.
 
To top it off, the food was exceptional. On the first night we had inspired Polish fare at Bistro Europa, including pierogies and golabki, stuffed cabbage that would make my grandmother proud. The second night, we dined at the spanking new Mike A’s Steakhouse in a downtown building that was dormant the past 40 years. Saved by Buffalo’s favorite son, developer Rocco Termini, the circa-1904 Lafayette Hotel has reclaimed its French Renaissance and Art Deco glamour and is now a boutique hotel with a vintage bar. 
 
From the Saturday morning farmers market to Shakespeare at Delaware Park, the city was energized and proud locals were having the last laugh. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/10/13 at 01:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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