MISSING SUNLIGHT

When it’s this gloomy all day, –when there is no sense that there has ever been a sun, –ever will be a sun, I miss places where the sun was guaranteed:  Provence      Hawaii

Turns out that memories of the American West for me are also light-filled.  My own images from early trips there did not involve electronic cameras.  However, at the Princeton University Art Museum just now, there is a splendid array of The Moderns from the Phillips (Gallery, of Washington, D.C.)  My favorite museum in the capital, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips’ own home, — this haven proves a gateway to the paintings of Bonnard.  No one, –not even Matisse–, equaled this artist, who had lived one hill over from me in my life in Cannes.  Especially, no one seemingly has even attempted light in mimosa, such as he so magnificently evoked in canvas after canvas.

To my delight, amongst European moderns, such as Picasso and Braque, there is a high proportion of American art.  Even a Georgia O’Keeffe I do not know — with a torn red leaf asserting its power despite having been altered…  One of my all-time favorite of our artists is ‘our Turner’, Thomas Moran.  His views in Yellowstone National Park involve all the senses, so that we can nearly hear his waterfalls.

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The West was never easy for me — whether sightseeing or skiing.  Coming from the storied East, where most mountains and rivers involved our War of Independence, and even the tragedy mis-named Civil War – I often felt as dwarfed as the figures in this scene of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Moran dared another favorite site, Venice.  I remember light there, also, dazzling, more than doubled by all those wrinkling canals.  Especially the Easter morning when I stood alone in St. Mark’s Square, in absolute silence, even to the pigeons.  I hadn’t realized that all the bells of Venice had been silenced on Good Friday, when we’d arrived.  At the moment of dawn, all the bells began their clamor.  The birds rose as one, swirled like sandpipers, in grey clouds, imitating the DNA spiral.  Church bells and wings and the light of a Venice dawn…

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Master of Venice, indeed.  But Moran was most at home in the American West.

And I learned, anew, that one place where one can count on light is inside any art museum, no matter what is going on outdoors in any season.
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Thomas Moran Country

This man can find light even in the most formidable mountain passes.

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Moran’s Dawn at Sea — favorite experience, whether crossing on the France, the Mary, or the QEII.

 

ON SUNLESS MORN, SOUTHWEST MEMORIES

NjWILDBEAUTY readers know that three of the Intrepids — Jeanette Hooban, Janet Black and I — pursued a Georgia-O’Keeffe-Quest in Santa Fe and Taos.  On this grey day in this week of not only no sun, seemingly never sun, I journey back into the southwest’s sunlit scenes.  Come with us.  Help me realize that somewhere, surely, sun is gleaming.

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Early Morning, Millicent Rogers Museum

Frail early light in a southwest olive tree, weathered classic adobe and a cloudless sky greeted first visitors at the Millicent Rogers Museum on our last full Taos Day.  This ‘glamourwoman’ was one of a constellation of strong-minded females who turned this tiny New Mexico town into a 20th Century arts mecca. Georgia O’Keeffe and Mabel Dodge Luhan were key members of the major triumvirate.  Feisty, original, independent to the core, weaving in other luminaries of both genders, –such as D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda; the luminous Ansel Adams; Mark Strand — photographer whose extreme cropping heavily influenced Georgia O’Keeffe; her long-time friend and travel companion, connoisseur/collector David McAlpin; and, oh, yes, the entire Taos ‘School’ of artists — these worldly women linked Taos to the world.

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Millicent Rogers sitting in a chair wearing a sweater set and many pieces of turquoise jewelry        Millicent Rogers Museum Caption

Millicent Rogers became devoted to American Indian culture of the Southwest, of Taos in particular.  This is not just any turquoise jewelry, in the picture provided by her museum.  They are among the finest early 20th-Century Navajo pieces, of which Millicent was a renowned connoisseur and promoter.  Rogers earned world renown for her passion for the first truly American art form.  She was equally sought after for her own massive, dramatic, ‘unignorable’ jewelry designs.  A ‘cover girl’ in every sense of the word, she shared brilliance, originality, independence, and depths with her Taos ‘sisters’-in-creativity.

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The Dramatic Millicent Rogers as photographed for Manhattan-based magazine article

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Abstract Doorway — Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sun and Shadow — Courtyard, Millicent Rogers Museum

We spent ‘the shank of the day’ ‘with Millicent’, learning Taos through her fascinated, discriminating eyes.  Our entire journey was justified by the treasure trove of Navajo pieces, alight with resonant early turquoise, in gleaming cases on all sides.  We marveled at Millicent’s designs, and that this slender woman could carry off works of such massive majesty.

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Millicent’s Navajo Collection – one shelf of one case

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Millicent Design — Mostly Diamonds

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Looking Out from Within Millicent Rogers Museum

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Sangre de Christo Range, Taos, from Millicent Rogers Museum

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BEST OF TAOS! — Millicent Rogers Museum in Early Light

Remote as we found Taos, –set like fine turquoise in the bezel of the Sangre de Christo range –, last summer, this haven seems even more impossible back in New Jersey.  Tethered to my desk, creating art receptions at D&R Greenway as I did last night, sending releases to all our media partners every week as I do.  I can feel as though The Intrepids must have dreamed our journey.  But I wear my own perfect turquoise pendant, bought while kneeling in Santa Fe, literally rapt with respect, before Navajo Grandmother Verdie Mae Lie. It is very simple, chosen for color, gleam and lustre.  Her mark, incised behind the stone, strengthens me in times of challenge

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Ms. Rogers, Wearing one of her Own Designs

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Crafting this post, this drizzly morning, I see that my own passion for preserving New Jersey lands has been amplified and deepened by the wise women of the Southwest, especially, today, the glamorous Millicent Rogers.

 

 

Home Is the Wanderer, Home from the Hills

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View From Florence Griswold House

NJWILDBEAUTY Readers know that Betty Lies arranged an artquest for us to the Connecticut town of Old Lyme.  Here, as you learned some posts ago, significant American artists of the Tonalist School boarded with Florence Griswold, turning out misty, moody, dreamy scenes of the bucolic surroundings of that stately home and town.  Others came along, electrified by the French Barbizon School’s approach to landscape, which had been (scornfully, by an art critic) christened “Impressionism”, with a nasty nod to Monet’s “Impression: Sunrise.” 

Neither school was a School.  Each evolved naturally, inspired by nature, in the days before ‘development’, which to me has always been a euphemism for ‘destruction.’

Our plan had been to drive up on Friday; stay in a nearby B&B; on Saturday, find the Museum that the Griswold home has now become;to  spend ‘the shank of the day’ with the artwork in frames and on walls, doors and panels of Miss Florence’s guests.  An adjacent gallery holds artwork of other countries and eras, all of it either leading to or influenced by Tonalism.

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Betty Studies the “Ticket Booth” for Outdoor Events on Florence Griswold’s Lawn

Fate had other ideas.

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Sign, Lawn and Gardens of Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme, CT

Betty’s early-morning fall on the Friday of departure led to nearly five Saturday hours in the Emergency rooms of (ironically) Middlesex Hospital (name of one of the hospitals in which my late husband long served, in New Brunswick, NJ, in the years of our marriage.)  This Middlesex is in Middleton, CT, and we now know more about Middlesex than we ever intended.  Her arm had broken.  Yes, the driving arm.  It was FINALLY splinted and slinged.  It is now cast, courtesy of Princeton physicians.  And we barely made it to Griswoldiana.

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Barn, Griswold House Grounds

Betty’s heroic and staunch.  I am neither, especially after spending this summer caught up in the dire plight of my nephew’s son James.  This musically gifted 20-year-old was snared by cancer inside his spinal column, abruptly and seemingly irrevocably discovered August 1.  James has now undergone two surgeries and God KNOWS how much chemo.  His walking remains a major challenge.

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Healthy Dahlia, Griswold Gardens

Betty drove anyway, insisting it did not hurt, as her insurance covers only the owner/driver.  I realized, that Saturday’s challenge was my first-ever experience of an Emergency Room.  That name, too, is ironic.  For no one seemed to comprehend the urgency in emergency.

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Palette, Griswold Garden

The art was lovely, dark but not deep.  Miss Florence remains overwhelmingly impressive, –such an independent woman making her indelible mark on the work of art, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in HER life.  Another mentor for us, like Eleanor (Roosevelt) and Georgia (O’Keeffe).

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Miss Florence’s Lamp, Griswold House

I only managed a handful of pictures for my readers.  Put Old Lyme into the search function to see the internet scenes of the mystical art which catalyzed and still evoke our experience.

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Miss Florence’s Roof

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to figure out this trip.

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Miss Florence’s House, Home and Catalyst of Tonalism in American Art