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Art Finds

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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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get into the Holiday Spirit at Newport

Decking the halls with boughs of holly is not such an easy task in Newport, Rhode Island. Their opulent estates are each a city block long. The historic seaport gets into the Holiday spirit with a month-long citywide celebration simply called Christmas in Newport. The long list of activities includes Victorian dinners at the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion, tours of the rarely visited estate of Doris Duke, and lantern walks over the twisting cobblestone streets. 

Newport is also home to a slew of intriguing boutique shops. Near the mansions, Alloy Gallery (125 Bellevue Avenue) is owned by a Rhode Island School of Design-trained jewelry artist who displays contemporary wares created by her and her colleagues. On the corner of Spring and Church, Macdowell Pottery features crafts, towels, and women’s scarves. More women’s clothing—blouses, dresses, and jackets adorned with colorful summer prints, can be found at Tyler Boe, at Bannister’s Wharf. The kids will like the quirky games, clothing, books, and other odd miscellaneous knickknacks found at Pleasant Surprise on Thames Street. Close by is the Newport Historical Society Gift Shop, selling sea soap, shells, gardening and history books on New England, and my personal favorite, the Gurglepot, a jug that makes a gurgling noise when pouring water. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/12/12 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Cheer in Toronto—The City’s Architectural Boom

Over the past five years, Toronto has enjoyed an architectural renaissance, with Daniel Libeskind’s bold addition to the block-long stone and brick Royal Ontario Museum, Frank Gehry’s tasteful redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and hometown favorite, Jack Diamond’s acoustically perfect opera house, the Four Seasons Centre. Outside the ROM, shards of aluminum and ribbons of glass jut out onto the sidewalk with knife-like precision, without care or need for right angles. Libeskind’s whimsy lends itself well to the child-like intrigue that one can’t help but muster when visiting the mind-boggling collection of wares inside the ROM. More than a mere natural history museum with requisite brontosaurus skeleton, the ROM has a vast collection of gems and treasures from ancient Egypt, Greece, and China. On display until January 6, 2013, is the exhibition “Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana.” The show displays bizarre dinosaurs, virtually unknown to North Americans, before they were discovered in South American and Africa. 
Highlights of Frank Gehry’s new addition at the Art Gallery of Ontario include a stairwell that extends outside the blue titanium back wall to reward guests with vistas over Grange Park. And Galleria Italia on the second floor, a large lounge where ribs of soft Douglas fir curve upward, as if you’ve just entered the inverted hull of a ship. A spacious gallery devoted to the sculptures of Henry Moore and landscapes by the Group of Seven, highly regarded Canadian painters from the 1920s, are a small sampling of the impressive works found at the AGO. But I’ll be headed there this morning to view the latest blockbuster exhibition, “Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting.” This rare showcase of 155 works by and about the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera was created primarily from the collection of Mexico’s Museo Dolores Olmeda. It’s only on view through January 20, 2013, so find a way to get to Toronto soon. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/27/12 at 12:00 PM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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