Due to the fact that we live in one of the top areas for potato farming, for two weeks of the Fall, our district is on Harvest Break. This Harvest Break, I was fortunate enough to travel to my hometown of Philadelphia to visit family. While I was there my sister and I went to the Brandywine River Museum. This museum is located in historic Brandywine, PA and is home to large collection of artwork by the Wyeth family, N.C., Andrew, Jamie, and the work of Andrew’s sisters (and their husbands). Like me, in addition to a Maine residence, the family also resided outside Philadelphia. The museum also houses stunning works buy notable American painters like Howard Pyle and Horace Pippin.
For me, this museum is one of the greatest places from my childhood. Every Christmas this beautiful museum, which sits on the Brandywine River, hosts a incredible display of Christmas Trees, decked out in “critter” ornaments made from natural objects. They set up five model trains on 2000 feet of track and have a Victorian doll collection on display that made me drool as a child. While the celebration of the holidays in this way was very enticing as a child, it was the aesthetic qualities that impacted me most; the architecture of the building, the natural surroundings, the view of the river from the floor to ceiling windows and the artwork; a whole room of N.C. Wyeth’s paintings, the Treasure Island illustrations, Jamie Wyeth’s huge pig painting and Andrew’s remarkable use of watercolor and tempera to create works like Christina’s World and the Helga series.
I was very lucky throughout my childhood, that my mom brought us to the museums frequently. I can still remember being very young and attending a retrospective of Marc Chagall’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I can distinctly remember, standing in front Chagall’s “I and the Village.” It blew my mind. It changed my life. To this day, Chagall has a special place in my heart. I can remember going to Washington D.C. for the Georgia Okeeffe show and how her cloud paintings dwarfed me as I walked past them. All of these memories, and many more, I count among the blessings in my life but the quiet force of the Brandywine River Museum and the work of the Wyeth’s, especially N.C. Wyeth, allowed me to become immersed in the surroundings and to get lost in the images.
This visit home was a treasure for many reasons but the day I spent at the Brandywine River Museum with my youngest sister, Regina, remembering past visits and acknowledging how much we have grown since the last time we saw “the big pig painting” (it did not seem as big this time) was certainly a day I will remember always.