Afternoon in the museum

Afternoon in the museum

One of the few benefits of being unemployed is the opportunity to do things during the day with Melanie and Isabella. Today, we went to the Peabody-Essex Museum here in Salem for its Painting Summer in New England exhibit. As residents of the city we get in for free, which is a price you can’t beat. It seems, though, that it’s well worth the price of regular admission since this has been the museum’s most popular exhibit ever.

(N.B. The museum is one of the oldest in the country, originally founded as a ship captain’s club. When they brought back treasures from their jaunts around the globe, they’d display them in the club. In fact, the Oriental galleries were the original exhibits of the museum.)

The Summer in New England exhibit includes some of the most well known American painters, including John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish, and even Normal Rockwell, as well as many lesser known but also talented artists. The styles varied from realism to impressionism to abstract to pop art and on. It’s very nice with a lot of art I really liked (as well as some that left me cold.) The curators engaged in a little of the standard art-criticism twaddle in some of the descriptions (bringing in irrelevancies like one artist’s bisexuality and how it supposedly influenced his painting, making it “detached” and “awkward.” Huh?)

My favorite, I think, was Maxfield Parrish’s “Hunt Farm”. This print doesn’t really do it justice. The colors on the original are much deeper and the light is magical, almost evocative of a fantasy or fairy world. He also used a glaze atop the painting that works almost like a polyutherane coating on a hardwood floor: bringing out the colors and the grain. (This link to a story about the whole exhibition has a much better reproduction, as well as examples of the other works.)

Bella was very good for most of the show. We made it through four of the five galleries before she started squawking about her dirty diaper. She was very popular among the other art patrons and museum employees, drawing almost as much attention as the paintings. Unfortunately, the paintings didn’t excite her much at this point. We’ll have to wait a year or two.

I always say I have to remember to visit the museum more often. It’s a privilege I don’t take advantage of enough.

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1 comment
  • Isn’t the Peabody-Essex Museum great? I’ve been there twice. I lived in Japan for 2 yrs, and I love their Asian stuff. The other exhibits are great as well. And Salem is just a pretty place to visit.