Saturday, January 28, 2017

Friday With Andrew Wyeth

For the most part, I am not prone to adulation of famous people.  When I was younger I did have intentions of getting Jimmy Page to marry me but that didn't work out and I moved on which was probably for the best because of that whole black magic thing and the heroin problem.  So, no, I am not one to fawn over famous people.  If I saw one walking down the street I would remain unstirred. I've hobnobbed with some pretty famous people whose names I won't drop because ewww name-dropping and also because I'm not trying to impress you by saying that.  I think I was let in to their circles because of my indifference.  You breathe, I breathe, let's get a drink and chat.

Despite the fact that my preference is always for people, places, and things that are non-famous, there are a very few for whom I hold deep admiration for despite their notoriety.  Which brings us to the Wyeth's.

I liked Andrew Wyeth before I knew who Andrew Wyeth was.

Which brings us to Brandywine.

If you are unfamiliar with the Brandywine region of Pennsylvania I would probably advise you to immediately stop what you are doing and go there right now.  But then on second thought, no, please don't go because I am terrified that too many people will discover its immense greatness and beauty and peacefulness and serenity and then it will go from being a genuinely magical place to being overrun and therefore ruined by tourists.  So don't go there after all.  I'ts boring, you'd hate it.

Brandywine, or more specifically, Chadds Ford, is where the Wyeth family hails from.  I'm not going to get into their history - there's a zillion websites with that information so just do a Google search if you are so inclined.  I have been traversing that area for years and a bunch of my photographs that have turned into my artwork have come from all around there...all of this long before I knew anything of the Wyeth's and their deep connection with that region which is what I meant when I said above that I like AW before I knew who he was.  You see, me and Andrew...well, we like the same things.  That's what I discovered when I finally did discover him and so he has a permanent position on the very very short list of Famous People Sharon Is In Awe Of.

For awhile now I have been wanting to sort of walk in the footsteps of AW on his home turf.  I can't figure out why I haven't before now since I live relatively close to the area.  Maybe the time just wasn't right.  They do tours of his places - like, the kind where everyone gets on a tiny bus and gets driven here and there and everyone moves around shuffling and stuck together as one entity while some volunteer points things out - which someday I'll probably get around to doing but that's not in any way how I really like to do things.
It might be pretty easy to figure out that I am not a tour bus kinda gal.

JP had a rare day off yesterday and I had to go to the Wilmington gallery where my next art show will be to discuss a few things.  Naturally the plan was to head to Brandywine afterward since the gallery is about a 10 minute drive away so we set out for a bit of adventuring and some lunch.  I knew where we were going, I just had to find it which proved to be really easy.

Yes, we went to AW's studio yesterday...

Andrew Wyeth studio

...and it kind of felt sacred there.  It's hard for me write that because it can be interpreted wrong. I mean, if AW himself were there and I ran into him - which would be kind of weird being that he's dead and all - I most certainly would not gush over him. But when you are there, right where he created so much wonder and magic...well, yeah, sacred.

If you have any familiarity with AW's work, you might know a little something about Kuerner's Farm and it was quite great to also be right there yesterday.

Please note how great the sky is.  We were so lucky to have a perfectly cloudy and mild winter day. Brandywine is so perfect when it's cloudy and when it's winter.  It's beautiful in the summertime, too, but you will miss a lot at that time of year...and it's a lot more crowded.  I'm certain there are a lot of people who would disagree but AW wouldn't have been one of them:

We tried to go to the Brandywine Battlefield also because it, too, is a very special place - there's a feel to it that I can't describe - but it was closed for the season.  The battlefield is a very short distance from AW's studio.

I took the above picture because of the below picture.

Photo courtesy of the Christian C. Sanderson Museum, (c) 2016

At this point we got hungry.  There is no other place to go when one is having a Wyeth Day in Brandywine than Hank's Place, where AW was a regular at their counter.

Hank's Place, Chadds Ford, PA

Please don't miss Hank's Place if you visit Brandywine even if you're not having a Wyeth Day.  Do you like good, real food?  Do you like comfort food?  Do you like diners?  On the weekends they're super crowded so choose your time accordingly.  And if you go in the warm months, take note of the amazing flowers outside that Hank's Place will be covered in. Brandywine River flows right behind here.

Of course we had to sit at the counter.  There's only a handful of counter seats and we had our choice of them even though the place was really busy.  I sat at the end, right under this picture:

Framed picture of Andrew Wyeth above the counter at Hank's Place, Chadds Ford, PA

On the far wall you can see some of the Andrew Wyeth art prints that hang at Hank's Place.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you what we had for lunch, right?

We had BLTs and a shared plate of french fries.

I am a french fry connoisseur and consider FFs to be a basic food group.

On a scale of 1 - 10, I give theirs a solid 9.  Yup, that good.

I also got bread pudding to go.

My mother and grandmother were diner waitresses for years and years and I grew up on Elizabeth, New Jersey Greek diner bread pudding so if it's on the menu I must have it.
Hank's is good but it's missing raisins.

I can't wait to go back and try some of their Fancy Strawberry Pie when it's in season!

It's true: the people there are genuinely friendly

Confession:  I snooped at AW's studio  After lunch we went back and I had to go around to see if the door sign was still there.  Much to my great delight, it was, which made me jump up and down when I saw it.  I have the same one hanging on my own studio door.

Door to Andrew Wyeth's studio.

Please note that a very nice man from the Brandywine Conservancy rolled up in his truck and very nicely told us that we couldn't be there so we skedaddled.  I told the nice man "sorry, I'm a fan" and he said "yes, I understand, so am I."  Very nice.

Please also note that if AW very still around I would never in 10 gazillion years have barged in on him and if you know a living artist please don't barge in on them even if it's in your own house and they are just in the next room or upstairs or in the garage, etc.  Interruptions are bad.  Interruptions break the spell.

Never, ever break the spell.

I have lots more pictures that I will add at a later date but I wanted to add this one before I closed this post:

It might not come across very well here on Blogger, but take note of the colors in the above image.
This is not the best picture in terms of quality but you can get a feel of the winter Brandywine Valley/Chadds Ford landscape.  I think it kind of shows a little bit of what might have influenced AW's paint palette.  Do a Google search for AW or go to his website and look at his art; I think you'll see it, too.

Overall it was an exhilarating day.  I can't wait to go back and I am so lucky that my house is an hour away from all of this.  I have two months left of beautiful winter starkness before the landscape there starts changing and hiding all of its glory inside of its full bloom.

   photo Sharon sig with heart dragonfly butterfly waltz font1_zpsgxy5knqy.png

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ennui Is Pronounced On-Wee; Isn't That Fun To Say?

I am deep in the throes of a massive attack of ennui.

Do you know what ennui is?

I will provide a visual aid for you so you can mentally imagine it:

This is me sitting in a dark room on a sunny day, hand resting forlornly on face as I  periodically let out a heavy sigh
There's a bunch of reasons for this apathetic mood of mine.  Would you like to know what some of them are?

It's okay if you don't because I'm going to tell you anyway 😀 because writing about stuff is very therapeutic and you should try it soon, too, if you don't already do it.

1. Politics. I used to care about politics.  I was even enthusiastic about this past election season for a tiny bit of time.  Then it turned into a circus and I HATE anything circus-related to begin with
and then everyone got stupid about everything...
then a whole bunch of people started wearing pantsuits and pink hats which made me feel really embarrassed for them and some of that happened right around the time that I realized that I was screwed because there was no way in hell I was voting for either of the candidates because I was mostly embarrassed about and for both of them which left me feeling kind of hopeless...
and then the celebrities - oh my God, the celebrities!* - came crawling out of their holes and they were all foaming out of their mouths which made me hate them even more than I already did (do) because anyone who knows me knows how much I hate celebrities and they were all just spewing such stupidity and amazing self-importance and cult-like, Scientology-worthy adulation for one of the candidates and being all hypocritical as they pretended to be all kumbaya in their beliefs while calling for the head of the other candidate and not recognizing  the mass hysteria they were caught up in and did I mention their amazing self-importance?... and I'm over here being appalled that people actually give celebrities credence because they're famous and have a lot of money as if that means anything which makes me feel embarrassed for all the zillions of people who hold these people up on some kind of pedestal and are horrifyingly being influenced by them...and the other candidate is making me feel embarrassed for him because he tweets and makes me actually write the word 'tweets' as I write about him which makes me embarrassed for him and for me because "tweeting" really??  I mean, come on...how does one take another human being seriously if they tweet.  It's so embarrassing.

2.  I have had to stop following people I admire because they need to share their political thoughts with the world.  And that confuses me because why the hell would you want to alienate an entire segment of people who admire you?  I am talking about non-political authors and creators and business owners and regular people, etc.  I don't need or want to know their politics.  I want them to shut up about their politics.

3. What happened to all the independent thinkers?  Why is everyone a lemming now? People used to be funny about a million things but now almost all of their humor is politically-based which gets old reallllly fast, by the way, and is giving me headaches because of all the eye-rolling I'm doing.  How do I get everyone to start thinking about real life again and stop drinking the "pick one political side or another" Kool-Aid?

4. Snark.  Everyone is snarky now about everything.  Ad hominen attacks are the order of the day.  Don't like what someone says? Attack them, call them names, make fun of their appearance. People are proud of themselves because of their superior sarcasm "skills" (e.g. Saturday Night Live, which used to be a funny show that brought people together to laugh together and have fun together.  Keyword: together).  People try too hard to be funny by using sarcasm and personal attacks ad nauseum.  Meanwhile, I'm over here wondering why no one is addressing the a**hole epidemic.

5.  Social media everything. "Did you see what I posted on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Etc?" or
"Look how great/popular/funny/successful I am because a bunch of people clicked the Like button." Ugh.

6.  Cell phone everything.  As I write this I am unsure of the exact location of my cell phone since I haven't used it since sometime yesterday afternoon.  It is downstairs somewhere.  On the charger?  In my handbag? In the car?  No clue.  Yes, I am an alien.  A proud, unaddicted-to-my-cell-phone alien.

7. Labels.  Oh my God I am so sick of the idiots who label people for.every.little.thing.

Be careful about opening your mouth or having an opinion that differs from the masses about anything because you will absolutely be labeled a racist/bigot/homophobe/sexist/xenophobe/misogynist/islamophobe/classist/elitist/ageist/anti-semite/etc.    
But wait...
do people even have opinions that differ from the masses anymore?!  Am I the only one left?

8.  Spending an excessive amount of time pining for the way things used to be:  simpler, kinder, funnier, less partisan and divisive.

Heavy sigh...


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