I find it interesting that even parents who have been homeschooling a long time slip into the mindset that learning comes from books and classes. It was asked if our CT Art Trail adventures is educational. What? This is art history taught on site. During our latest trip to Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, we stood on a porch where famous artist would gather every afternoon for a meal and spirited conversation. We stood in the garden where they painted, saw the rooms where they slept and saw the amazing panels they painted. The artists left their mark all over this home. They even painted on door panels as a lasting reminder of who they were and what they did.
This was the second artist colony we visited (the first being Weir Farm). We learned how people traveled up by train from New York City, crossed the river by ferry, and traveled up the main streets of Old Lyme by horse drawn wagons. We learned how art supplies changed to accommodate this new practice of painting en plein aire. They became compact, with fold up easels and paint packaged in tubes.
We learned how it was respectable for an unmarried woman to open her home to boarders, hire some staff to cook and clean, and learned about the magic that happened when these boarders picked up a paint brush. They were quite an exclusive bunch, shutting out most woman artists and offering invitations to only those they felt were among their ranks. At the end of the season they held a big sale in the library and people came from far and wide to purchase their pieces.
This museum left me with the awe and wonder and magic of a bygone time. These artists considered themselves bohemian, but they were not really. They still wore bow ties to dinner and rolled their sleeves into precise folds. They painted in the impressionist style, either tonal or the colorful style that came over from Europe. They were respected and sought after. Can we say the same about artists today? As the parent of two artists, one daughter who is seeking to be a professional artist, I have to wonder why we don’t respect art like we used to......
Is it because the government made a push for STEM careers and has consistently defunded art education? Is it because the quality of art has diminished? Is it because art is seen as less academic and therefore less prestigious? Have we lost our sense of awe and wonder when we look at art? Do we even take time to look at art anymore? I wonder.
What I know, is that this was my favorite museum to date. I loved it. The docents were friendly and welcoming. The art was amazing. The grounds were breathtaking. The weather was perfection and our company was delightful.
We have always tried to approach education holistically. Books are wonderful, but sometimes I think experiences are better at making lasting impressions and what lasts is what is learned.