If you’re visiting (or passing through Midcoast Maine along Route One)… and you have never visited the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland… it’s time that you discovered this gem!
They have a website at http://www.farnsworthmuseum.org/, but let me tell you about this Maine treasury of art paintings. The museum features celebrity artists – still alive and those who are no longer with us. We are members of the museum and visit it at least two or three times a year. My favorite collection is that of the Weyth Family – particularly, Andrew!
I will soon be posting another blog on this website devoted entirely to suggestions for visiting Rockland, so you should read it for a broader perspective on what to see and what to do in Rockland when you visit there.
One of the best ways to visit Rockland is by train. Their online website link ishttp://www.maineeasternrailroad.com/. It’s a fun trip and during the summer. They have about 5-6 trips a day.
Here are some of my favorite things to see at the Farnsworth:
Save the Gift Shop for last. Visit the main gallery on the second floor to get a wonderful orientation to Maine artists of the past, then walk to the end of the main gallery into the Andrew Wyeth Gallery for a stunning and moving experience! They rotate his art work so there is always something different to see. To fully appreciate his work you need to appreciate that you are viewing his original paintings. You need to not just “see” but “closely observe.” Let your eyes slowly be pulled into the composition. Andrew planned this “eye shepherding” very astutely and many of his “angles of perspective” are delightfully unusual and hypnotically captivating (e.g. “Soaring” and “The Carry”). He often painted in egg tempura (which is a very difficult medium to control), but I love the transparency of his watercolor paintings. Many of his paintings display his genius for detail – each blade of grass, each weed… each twig. But, the most powerful painting are those which convey “a mood, a voyeuristic presence, an emotional empathy” with the scene. Unless your are hopelessly unimpressed with paintings and usually scan a gallery is a few minutes, you will be transported to new insights, new feelings about “people and situations!”
If you want to learn more about this controversial artist, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wyeth. His sensuous paintings of Helga are rarely on display, but his Helga book is in the Museum Library (accessed through the doorway at the other end of the main gallery). Find the book (on the eye-level shelf near the doorway) and make yourself comfortable in on of the well-used old leather chairs… and enjoy.
The Olsen Home is now part of the Farnsworth and it’s worth driving the short distance to experience it. Wyeth expressively documented life on the isolated, saltwater farm in many of his works. He said, “In the portraits of that house, the windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost. To me, each window is a different part of Christina’s life.” For him, Christina and the Olson House were symbols of New England and Maine. He once remarked, “I just couldn’t stay away from there. I did other pictures while I knew them but I’d always seem to gravitate back to the house. … It was Maine.”
His son’s (Jamie) and his father’s ( N.C. Weyth) paintings are mostly in the white building opposite the museum gardens.
Well, don’t forget that there are many other artists who have galleries in the Farnsworth that are worth seeing, so explore the whole museum and then go through the gift shop… and then, across the street to the Atlantic Bakery for some great pastries and designer coffee. You’ll need to let your visual senses relax.