Friday, February 26, 2010

The Heart of an Art Collector

Yesterday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Hibriten Garden Club. The topic was a study of the genus Helleborus.

The meeting was held at the home of Mary. Mary's gardens are just beginning to explode with hundreds of Helleborus blooms. Mary's lives in a woodland setting and over the years her helleborus have cross pollinated and self seeded in mass all the way down to her neighbors driveway.

Helleborus orientalis cross pollinate easily, in the right conditions, and the blooms colors range from dark purple to apricot to pink to white.

When we finished the chocolate torte with fresh raspberries and cream, and discusssed all the attributes of the best woodland perennial ever....we were then given a tour of Mary's beautiful art collection.

For me it was an eye opening moment into the heart of an art collector. Mary has a fondness for the artwork of a group of women artists known as the Philadelphia Ten. A unique and progressive group of women painters and sculptors who broke the rules of society and the art world by working and exhibiting together. The Philadelphia Ten exhibited together between 1917 and 1945, at first annually in Philadelphia and later, with traveling exhibitions at major museums and galleries on the east coast and in the Midwest. All members had studied art in the schools of Philadelphia and all but three of the original ten were graduates of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). Relatively unknown today, this group of a total of 23 painters and 7 sculptors was critically acclaimed, aggressively shown, and widely patronized during the twenty-eight years they formally exhibited together.

For Mary, the significance and range of these artists was great, because at the beginning of their era, they did not have the right to vote, and the artwork of women artists more often than not, was not counted as significant in the art world, because they were women. At this time in our history, women were expected to raise babies and stay out of sight.

Forming a group of artists to exhibit their work, some of the women were students of the influential PSDW teacher Elliott Daingerfield, who painted mystical, visionary landscapes, as well as poetic genre scenes and academic figural compositions. Beyond the studios of PSDW, Daingerfield conducted summer classes in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Thus another link to Mary's heart with this group of artists.

So, not only did I enjoy a great group of southern women gardeners, I so enjoyed the art, the history of the artwork, and insight into why people collect the work of certain artists.

Cora Smalley Brooks, Nasturtiums, c. 1920, oil on canvas, Collection of Michael Chutko

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poppies in February

Here is a bouquet of poppies and nasturtiums (my favorites) to enjoy on yet another snowy day.

Alas, the Landscape class didn't fill, we came close this time, and will offer it again in another semester this year.

Truthfully, I am grateful to not have to drive over the mountain two nights a week, considering the never ending ice and snow we are experiencing this season. I did get into Boone this week, and everyone was wondering when their children would ever go back to school.

I haven't posted in such a long time! It is as though my mind had been emptied of any meaningful thought. I read, and take in information, but nothing comes out! At least I am painting. Poor Finn, being a snow and rain wimp, just sits at the sliding glass door and sighs.....What kind of Lab doesn't love the snow? It is so funny to watch this huge brown bear dog tippy toe through the fluffy white stuff....I know he is strange.

I will mention an incident we had driving up interstate 81 on the way to Virginia for Christmas.
Finn had a seizure in the car while I was passing a line of trucks at 80 mph. When it began he jumped into the front seat, wanting to get into my lap, and seized into the steering wheel, turning off the car. His head sank down to the gas pedal near my foot and I had to yank on his collar to keep him from sliding down and affecting my control of the gas. I was afraid I was going to strangle him. His 90 lb body was stiff as a board and he was foaming at the mouth. I kept shouting at him 'Come on Finn you can do it!' I quickly turned the car back on and kept passing the trucks. Amazed that no one had plowed into me from behind. I realized, I am really good in a crisis! This is why I claim that everyday of my life is an adventure, and after this incident, I am grateful to still have one.

He came out of it and I exited off a ramp and right into a hotel parking lot. He was terrified, I was as well. I walked him on the leash in the parking lot until we both stopped shaking. He didn't want to get back in the car.

I realized the trip was worth it when my grand daughter wrapped her little arms around his thick fuzzy brown neck and whispered 'Oh Finn...I do love him! ' after he dropped her rubber ducky into the tub for her. He loves bath time with Barrie and all her toys!

When Finn & I got home to NC, I realized how much that incident affected me. We were exhausted! Thus January was for resting and recuperating. We have had one warm day where I could get to Blowing Rock and clean up from the Christmas day ice storm. Blowing Rock looks like a war zone.
There will be much to do come spring...devastating!