Monday, March 18, 2013

Florence Griswold Museum


While there Griswold's Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing was kind enough to sit down with us and tell us more about the Museum and about their current exhibition of the work of the Candian landscape painter and illustrator Arthur Heming. I'd first learned of the exhibit from the Griswold's website, where the striking image of the leaping deer had caugth my eye. 

As a major fan of the Canadian Group of Seven landscape painters, I figured this was a rare opportunity to see the work of someone who while not an official member was associated with the Group. What I hadn't known was Heming spent considerable time at Miss Florence's boarding house. In a way he was something of a bridge between that modernist influenced group of Canadian landscape painters  and the early historic period of American Impressionist painting.


Both in Heming's Aurora Borealis from 1906 (in the Griswold's Collection) and in the Heming with the leaping deer at the top of this post, Heming reveals a remarkable sense of design and almost surreal playfulness with his forms. For example, I'm getting hints of a seahorse looking at one of Degas' ballet dancers adjusting her shoe from the two dark trees at the bottom of this Aurora piece. The inventiveness of the American painter Charles Burchfield comes to mind as in his watercolor September Wind and Rain (Butler Institute of American Art) below.





Another Heming in the exhibition, Canadian Pioneers below.



Want to mention just a couple of favorites of the Griswold's Permanent Collection. Below is the powerfully abstract pattern of cast shadows and broken ice in John Twachtman's Connecticut Shore. Winter, c. 1893. My wife Alice is always a bit hard on Twachtman, but she pronounced this oil "the best thing he ever painted." Perhaps she's right.













The Museum London that organized the show also loaned some Group of Seven oils to provide some additional context. Here are my two favorite, both by the painter Lauren Harris. First Glaciers Rocky Mountains, 1922.




It had been some time since I'd last visited the Griswold. Since then they added a major new wing that is housing their current Heming exhibit.




I'd like to say this photo of me represents me pressing against the pillars of the Griswold House to help uphold the grand traditions of American Landscape Painting. In truth it's me cowering from the chilly wind blowing in from the west that day.



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