Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WNPRs Faith Middleton interviews Jeff Andersen

WNPRs Faith Middleton recently interviewed director Jeff Andersen about the Museum's current offerings and the exciting things to come...Check in on this continuing series about great things to see and do in Connecticut! Listen here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Faerie Illustrator

We thought you might like to hear from the creator of our faeries...the "faces" of our Village...Jeffrey Himmelman...

A few months ago my dad told me he was building a miniature fairy dwelling in his basement.

To most people this might sound a bit odd, but growing up with my dad, it wasn’t all that out of the ordinary. My dad writes and illustrates children’s books in addition to being a nature photographer and author. He’s just a really creative guy.

He told me all about the Wee Faerie Village exhibition in October, and I was very interested. He mentioned that David Rau, who was putting all this craziness together, found my portfolio linked on my dad’s website. David had worked with my dad in the past but didn’t know that his son was also an artist. He asked if I’d be interested in doing something for the exhibition. I was definitely on board.

I’m primarily a fantasy artist. I went through high school playing dungeons and dragons with my friends and doing other similarly geeky stuff, and now that I’m grown up I’m doing art for games. It’s a really fun field to work in and I consider myself pretty blessed to have been able to turn my hobby into my profession, even if I don’t have time to play games anymore.

David got in touch with me a short time later and told me he was interested in having me create a map and some promotional images. He invited me over to the museum (at the time I was living in New York), and so I took the trip. I spent the day learning about the history of the art colony, and taking tons of reference shots.

Over the next few months I did quite a few illustrations for the museum. I broke out some of my fairy art books for inspiration. Brian Froud and Tony Diterlizzi are some of my favorites. I was trying to convey a different personality into each of the faeries. The boy faerie (nicknamed Griswold) is kind of brash and adventurous, whereas the girl (as you may have guessed, her nickname is Florence) is more demure and playful.

The actual map was a bit outside of my comfort zone. It took much more collaboration and fine-tuning with David to get exactly what they were looking for. In the end however I think the map turned out well!

So there you have it: my experience helping to create the Wee Faerie Village. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re looking forward to visiting the village as much as I am!

~Jeff Himmelman
Illustrator & Podcaster
Art: jeffreyhimmelman.com
Podcast: wippodcast.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Faerie Dwelling? Where to begin?!

Bill Vollers, a Graphic Designer and Artist in Chester, Connecticut, was asked to design a house for Footsie, the muse of Will Howe Foote.

From Bill...

Create a Faerie dwelling? Say what?? Hmmm…well why not, but where to begin? As with other projects new to me a little research seemed to be the best place to start. The fun begins, Google "Faerie houses" and all sorts of fascinating things appear, folks have been creating these tiny dwellings for quite sometime. Then I recalled a visit to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine where these dwellings thrive. I’m inspired!

I first selected a very old rather primitive but “funky” box from my collection which seemed appropriate. My artist is Will Howe Foote…feet will play a large part in the overall theme. I then scavenged for woodland type materials and other stuff from my shop. I created the tables and chairs out of sticks with small sand dollars for tops. The bed is the lining from an antique shoe I found in a dump behind my house. Then I remembered that my brother had crafted a miniature stagecoach years ago that had fallen into disrepair. However along with the coach he made small trunks, barrels etc..perfect to the scale and character of my dwelling. A true gift!

I then decided to decorate the walls with miniature paintings and drawings of feet, which I framed with twigs. For the entrance and awnings I used pieces of fungus as well as feathers …this is exciting! At a tag sale I came across two pieces of fan like coral (very much like Faerie wings) a natural addition to the outside of the dwelling. Fine-tuning and putting all the pieces together is the final stage, which I am indeed looking forward to.

I do hope my faerie, Footsie, will enjoy his new home, he’s been an inspiration and somehow I’ve felt his presence during time I’ve “worked” on this project. I’m grateful for the opportunity, it’s been a pleasure.

For more photos of Footsie's house....

Monday, September 21, 2009

On being a Faerie Architect

This blog is by one of the Wee Faerie Village Architects, Lisa Kenyon. Everyone at the Museum is very excited about the start of the Village! Only three more weeks to go! If you haven't taken a look at all the wonderful special events planned, check them out now. The Village is open October 10 through November 1.

From Lisa....

Late summer is the perfect time to be creating a faerie dwelling. On routine walks through my neighborhood, I find beautiful wild flowers to dry, seed pods that can act as flowers in a faerie flower box and tons and tons of acorns that make great stone walls. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere without finding some natural object that might be useful if you were a three inch faerie.

My dwelling is going to sit in the middle of the vegetable garden otherwise known as Vegetable Valley. I decided early on that I would focus on the exterior so it could be viewed from all angles. My faerie, Iris, is the muse of Matilda Browne and I wanted to model the structure after her painting Saltbox by Moonlight. I am very grateful that my husband is much handier with a saw than I am because he made the concept come true. I will be using my various natural objects to adorn the house and it doesn’t stop there. A house must have a vegetable garden, some restful sitting areas and landscaping.

With just a few more weeks to wrap up, I am looking forward to the last minute treasures I will find on my walks. You never know what a sea shell, twig or flower might become to a faerie.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Watching The Rambles

Since the completion of Patrick Dougherty's sculpture The Rambles on the campus of the Florence Griswold Museum we've noticed a definite increase in the number of visitor wandering our grounds and taking photos of this enormous stickwork. We thought we'd share a few hundred of our photos with you in the form of a 6 minute video set to a familiar piece of music, the "Miss Florence Rag," written and performed specifically for the Florence Griswold Museum by Neely Bruce. We hope this look at how the sculpture was made, as well as our new website about the project, will entice you to come and see it in person. Enjoy!

Friday, August 07, 2009

A note from the artist, Patrick Dougherty

The work is entitled The Rambles, and I am proud of the sculpture which resulted from my residency. With the museum's help, I was able to find and gather birch saplings from several sites around Old Lyme, CT and transport them to the museum. Volunteers removed the leaves from the branches and then proceeded to help with the weaving process. I use the infuriating tendency of branches to entangle with one another as my method of joining and then worked at a breakneck speed to complete the sculpture. The work, encased in scaffolding during its construction, provided working platforms but also aided in the bending and tying of the larger support saplings into the desired shape. Ultimately all strings were removed and the smaller saplings, which had been intertwined by volunteers, secured the work. I thought of the sculpture not only three dimensionally but also concentrated on the outer surface as a canvas on which to draw. Sticks are the material of bird nests, but they are also bundles of lines. All the drawing conventions used with paper and pencil still apply.

I was given a beautiful site—behind the museum, but still visible through the large window wall in the lobby-gift shop. All in all, visitors need only walk a short distance to enter and explore the work. The sculpture is sited to take advantage of the bucolic view of the Lieutenant River, a classic vista for the painters who visited Florence Griswold so long ago.

When I began to search for an image or a starting point to guide the creation of the work at the Florence Griswold Museum, I imagined the garden follies of previous eras. In the past, those who had means sometimes festooned their gardens with strange architecture and even built intentional ruins. These structures were meant to evoke mystery and stimulate a longing for bygone days. They offered a kind of poetic drama as nature reclaimed the manmade. I have been intrigued by ruins all over the world because vine cover, tree roots and unruly branches are often the first blush of architectural decay. For me it is like throwing a dust cloth over a piece of furniture which can obscure the detail but cannot deny the basic manmade form. With this in mind, I envisioned a kind of drapery for the museum's imaginary ruin—one with a 22' high round tower, a square tower and many architectural features in between. The viewers are invited in to explore the interior, to walk in some doors and peer around others. In The Rambles, the energy of the natural world seems frozen in the drawn surfaces as all the unassuming sticks gathered by the volunteers in the first few days take on presence and new meaning. With only a hint of underlying geometry, this backyard folly has no core of stone or wooden beams. As the scaffolding was removed on the final day, it was as if an insect chrysalis had finally opened and an enormous sapling slipcover had been shaken free and set out to dry.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Three Weeks in One Minute

In case you didn't get to stop by the Museum while Patrick Dougherty was constructing his stickwork, The Rambles, you can take in the progress in this quick video. While Patrick was on site we documented the creative process in nearly 4000 photographs. The best of them have been edited into a short film, now on view at the Museum. This weekend's Midsummer Festival is an excellent chance to come and see the finished project and take a few pictures of your own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 16 at The Rambles

Patrick officially finished the sculpture at a "last stick" ceremony today when he also christened our sculpture The Rambles, as in "Let's go to the Florence Griswold Museum and picnic down by The Rambles" or "Kids really enjoy running around The Rambles by the river." Rather than signing his work in a traditional way, Patrick took the last stick and chomped down on it with his teeth, leaving a permanent, personal record, before weaving it into the structure.

When the work was finished Patrick took off his work gloves for all the volunteers to sign. If you were a volunteer on the project you'll soon be receiving word about an upcoming volunteer appreciation dinner where you'll be able to sign the gloves too. The gloves will be on display in the Museum through October, at which point they'll be returned to Patrick's studio.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 15

After much concern about the weather and the availability of sticks over the past three weeks, we hear the good news from Patrick today that his sculpture will not only be done on time, but probably a little early tomorrow. In fact, they've been breaking down and moving the scaffolding away quite a bit as the work day draws to a close. I can see from my office window that the grounds crew here at the Museum are sprucing up the worksite as I type. There's sure to be a final push tomorrow to put the finishing touches on the project as a whole.

In eager anticipation of our sculpture's completion, we've installed an exhibition inside the Museum that shows many photographs of Patrick's other work, as well as models, sketches and videos. This too comes a little bit earlier than we'd planned and will coincide with the opening of the Lyme in Mind exhibition this weekend. Hopefully the many reporters, photographers, and news teams that visited the site today will help spread the word about this fantastic project and draw many many visitors to our Midsummer Festival next weekend. Fingers crossed that when I report in tomorrow our sculpture will have been given a proper name.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 14

There's been speculation for days as to what the sculpture will be titled. Visitors and staff alike are waiting to hear what sort of word play Patrick will employ. Our resident wordsmith and Director of Education and Outreach David Rau cleverly came up with "A Ruin with a View" taking into account both the theme of ruin that Patrick's been playing on, as well as the sculpture's prime location on the Lieutenant River (I wonder what the kayakers thought as they paddled by today...). My idea is to incorporate the word "Sub-Lyme" which is how the photographer Walker Evans used to refer to the area where he lived, in the lush far reaches of Lyme. I think it's great material for the kind of punning titles Patrick sometimes gives his sculptures. So many landscape painters, garden designers, and architects utilized elements of the beautiful and the sublime (sublyme?) in their work, in much the same way that Patrick is doing here. We all look forward to hearing the final title.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 13

With only three more work days left on the project, the crew was out again today harvesting more sticks and saplings. The "floorplan" of the sculpture seems more and more complex each hour, with walls forming today in places where there were only columns yesterday. Many devoted volunteers have been returning to continue working on "their" part of the sculpture, taking real pride in ownership of their piece of the overall project. Pauline and Bob Knoll were back for the third time today, bringing their dog Gracie along. Gracie watched the process unfold as if it was a doggie dream house being built just for her.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 12

The project is growing by leaps and bounds now. There was a remarkable difference between the state of the sculpture on Friday afternoon and the current state, at the end of Monday's work day. This video alternates between the Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon views. In it, you can see the tall sticks and saplings which had previously stuck straight up in the air have begun to curve over and are being worked into the overall sculpture. It's a little bit like taming unruly hair, but on a much larger scale. Patrick made a similar analogy today, describing the way he was working the sticks together, using one to hold back the rest, like a barrette.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 11

Just when you think a part of the sculpture is finished, the crew drags the scaffolding back and utterly changes the appearance again. Yesterday's work on the columns presented a very regular row of uprights when the work began this morning (see photo above) but by the end of the day today things were looking much different. It is a ruin, after all, and those columns maybe seemed a little too new. Today they began to transform into an arcade of sorts, with Patrick's assistant Mike working taller saplings into curved forms springing from one column to the next. Work is finished for another week, but come by the Museum over the weekend to take in the progress. We've posted a sign and informational brochures outside to help explain what's going on.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Day 10

There was a lot of talk about "verticality" around the stickwork project today. Traditional columns have fluting carved into them that emphasizes the length of the column. It's really a bit of optical illusion that the Greeks thought up to give their architecture a more monumental, soaring, appearance. Patrick worked particularly on trying to make his stickwork columns look less like they'd been wrapped up in vines and sticks and more like the vines were becoming the columns. Patrick fashioned an example so that our crew of volunteers could work on additional columns on their own. In the finished (or more finished) versions you can see how the smaller diameter sticks, packed tightly together, give the illusion of fluting and therefore the illusion of verticality as well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Day 9

This morning the plein air painters arrived to paint the river and gardens, creating a unique juxtaposition of 19th and 21st century approaches to landscape in art here on our grounds. Maybe once the sculpture is finished the painters will turn their easels away from the Lieutenant to capture the Patrick Doughery's sculpture on their canvases. In the meantime, the towers and columns of our "new ruin" continue to thicken with freshly clipped saplings. The towers themselves will remain roofless, maintaining a view of the sky from the inside.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 8

There was a lot of fixing the holes while the rain got in today. Buckets of rain alternated with bright sunlight as workers continued to shore up the walls of the two towers that have been defined. Remarkably, the two structures are developing very flat walls that stand tall and meet at fairly sharp ninety degree angles. Patrick's assistant Mike spent time today fashioning a column out of clusters of tall saplings, another aspect of the "ruins" theme. With nearly all of our on-site material stripped of its leaves and incorporated into the sculpture it seems as if we'll need more trips to gather sticks.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Day 7

One week into the project and it is apparent that we now not only have walls in our sculpture but doors and windows as well. It seems appropriate that the "home of American Impressionism" might inspire a sculpture in the form of a dwelling. As the stickwork grows up beside the Lieutenant River it is reminiscent, though in a much more fantastic format, of the makeshift artists' studios that dotted the riverbank a century ago.

As the sculpture continues to grow, more and more connections to the Florence Griswold Museum come into focus. Patrick's recent contemplation of ruins, like those of the temple complex at Angkor Wat featured in this month's National Geographic Magazine are inspirations for his work here. In the photos, vines and "strangler" fig trees are seen overtaking the man-made constructions of the Khmer Empire. Many Romantic landscape painters in Europe and America took buildings, cities, and entire empires brought to ruin and returned to nature as their subjects. Even Florence Griswold's house itself can be thought of as a building on the verge of ruin many times in its history.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Day 6

Art took a holiday on the Fourth of July, but the volunteer crew and sculptor Patrick Dougherty were back on duty on Sunday, July 5. The piece is beginning to take visual shape now and the the walls of the tower are solidifying. In this unique photo, Patrick (in his Florence Griswold t-shirt) is seen working with his son, Sam, on the scaffolding overhead. It was a family affair today, as many of our Museum staff members volunteered along with their families as well. It's becoming clear just how many hours of layering the sticks it will take to create the final sculpture. Under Patrick's artistic direction, his volunteer collaborators can all feel and see their hard work as vital contributions to an impressive work of art.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Day 5

As volunteers continued to strip branches of their leaves, Patrick and a few assistants went back to the Kus stumping ground to bring out some taller saplings. These taller trees were immediately stripped and put to use filling the remaining holes that had been dug earlier in the week. The scaffolding circled around and inside of the two emerging towers of trees and the weaving of sticks began. At first, horizontal bands of branches encircled the saplings, but eventually the walls became more and more dense with twigs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day 4

The augur arrived this morning and Patrick cautiously dug into our rocky New England soil. By afternoon the team was "planting" some of the larger saplings in the holes to act as the main supports for the structure. First a single sapling went in each hole, and then more to shore it up. The plan that seemed easy enough to read on the ground is getting more and more complicated as the sculpture rises into the third dimension. Before the end of the day, the scaffolding, which had been lying in wait, began to be assembled. Patrick estimates the sculpture will reach about 15 feet and have one or more towers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Day 3

Although the volunteer crew went down into the woods this morning, the thunderstorms soon brought them out again. Taking shelter from the rain in the new Rafal Landscape Center, the crew got down to stripping leaves from the saplings. Leaves covered everything. Patrick also talked about his plan for the site today, and shared drawings and images of ruins that inspired his thinking on this project. Before the end of the day the first test hole was dug (Patrick's son Sam led the charge) and the general footprint of the sculpture was marked out on the grounds. Of course now that the work day is over the sun is finally coming out again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 2

The pile of sticks is growing at the Florence Griswold Museum. But the ambitious plan that Patrick Dougherty has for our site calls for many more. Once we get all the sticks to the grounds we'll need plenty of help stripping them of their leaves. We've added a new work day on Sunday, July 5, so our weekend visitors can help with the project. Click here to sign up to volunteer for Sunday or just stop in and watch the sculpture grow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 1

The Stickwork has begun and volunteers are, at the moment, harvesting birch saplings for use in Patrick Dougherty's sculpture. The Waterford Target volunteer team has even gotten involved. Target team coordinator Edyse Smith said of her first day on the job: "It was a lot of work... but fun to be part of this project. I plan on volunteering each week to see it progress. It was nice to work right with Mr. Dougherty."

The sticks are beginning to pile up on the grounds of the museum and Patrick's plans for the sculpture will be revealed in a few days. It's not too late for you to join in the project, in fact, we're adding new shifts to the schedule. Click here to sign up or contact Nicole.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Come see what's going on...

Beginning on Monday, June 29, sculptor Patrick Dougherty and a crew of volunteers will begin building a Stickwork sculpture here on the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum. We're taking care to document the whole process as it unfolds and will post regular updates to our blog. For now, here's a peek at a part of the video that will be running in our orientation gallery to help explain what's going on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Online Volunteer Scheduling for Stickwork

Please sign up to help construct Patrick Dougherty's Stickwork here at the Florence Griswold Museum. We have created an online sign-up sheet located here.

To claim your place in a time slot once you have accessed the document, scroll to the bottom, enter your name, and select your time slots. Please bear in mind that if there are already 5 volunteers for a shift(check the counter at the bottom of the column) you should select another time slot.

If you attended the informational meeting at the museum on Thursday, June 18 and signed up then, you have already been registered on the sign-up sheet. Feel free to check the document against your own records.

In the event that you can not make it to your shift, please, contact Nicole as soon as possible. We will be happy to sign you up for a different time slot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting ready for Stickwork

This Thursday, June 18, come to an informational meeting about our upcoming Patrick Dougherty Stickwork project. Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing will give an overview of Patrick's work with many photographs of his fantastic pieces. We'll also screen a short video showing just what the process is like. If you know you want to volunteer to work on this exciting contemporary art event or even if you're just thinking about, we'll answer your questions and hopefully sign you up for the crew. One of Patrick's assistant will be on hand to give us an insider's perspective on the Stickwork experience.

Meeting Info: Thursday, June 18, 6:30 pm at the Florence Griswold Museum. If you can't attend but would like to learn more contact Nicole.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Rafal Landscape Center Opened June 5

Despite the weather, the opening of the Rafal Landscape Center was a lovely event!

Located in a traditional 19th century barn, the Rafal Landscape Center forms an integral part of how visitors experience the Museum. This outbuilding, which dates to the mid-19th century, is worthy of preservation as an example of a surviving Connecticut barn and as part of the cultural landscape of the Lyme Art Colony. The barn underwent a comprehensive restoration (described in earlier blog posts) to make it structurally sound, ADA compliant, and accessible to the public. Every effort was made to maintain the barn’s rustic character. The architectural plans and design decisions have been guided by how the barn looked in the early 20th century as documented by paintings and photographs in Museum’s collection. The barn’s appearance is consistent with the presentation of the Florence Griswold House as a boardinghouse for artists, c. 1910, and the interpretation of Miss Florence’s perennial and vegetable gardens, which are adjacent to the barn.

The barn features an exhibition that highlights the history and significance of the region’s landscape. In addition, the building includes program space for workshops and a work area for the Museum’s garden volunteers. This new center is one of the many special events planned for the Museum’s Year of the American Landscape. Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including a generous gift from the Rafal Family and a Historic Restoration Fund grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The exhibit was made possible thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, which also funded the programming and promotion of the Year of the American Landscape.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Barn Restoration Project, Part V

On 13 May 09 John the KSR carpenter and Dave the electrician are on site. John is building the barn doors, and Dave and his helper are running conduit throughout the barn to support the overhead lighting and various outlets.
On 14 May 09, the roofers arrive to begin putting on the metal roof. Although it is made of Copper, it is coated with a Zinc-Tin Alloy that makes it appear grey. John of KSR and the electricians continue work begun on 13 May.
On 15 May 09 the white oak cabinetry arrives to be installed in the Garden Work Space. Roofers continue their work.
On 18 May 09, Three Leaf Landscaping returns to install the handicap access bluestone ramps to the north and south entrances, as well as clean up and reseed the disrupted areas, lay the chip stone perimeter around the barn, spread new stone dust on the garden path, and remove the smaller cedar tree and foundations plantings. Dave the electrician completes his work.
On 19 May 09, Igor, Kronenberger's resident cabinetmaker, continues work on installing the cabinetry, while John is building a new closet. Carmello is re-installing the repaired upper west side window. Three Leaf Landscaping completes thier work.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Barn Restoration Project, Part IV

On 22 April, 2009, John, David and Carmello are seen hard at work finishing up installing the siding on the barn's west side. A ship-lap joint was used to repair a defective upper cross member on the barn's western most bent. This work was anticipated from the start. Fortunately, when we removed the remainder of the west side siding, no further deterioating girts or post became evident. By the 29th, the west side siding was complete.

On 05 May, excavators arrive to dig the two trenches required to connect the water, electric and fire/security lines from the Hartman Education Center to the Historic Barn, as well as the drain line from the new stone barn sink to the septic system . Electrical systems will be snaked in the laid PVC conduit. the water line is blue flexible plastic.

On 06 - 07 May, work continues on connecting all subterranean systems. this involves boring into the foundation of the Education Center to connect systems located in the Ed Center's basement with those of the barn. Concrete patch is used to waterseal around the PVC conduit that pierces the Ed Center's foundation. In addition, the Roofers arrive to install the 1 x 6 pine board underlayer. That evening Jason Zeleck arrives to lay the conduit for the Fire and Security System.

On 08 May, all systems are entrenched and Al, the excavator, proceeds back fill the ditches.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anyone for Volunteering?

The Florence Griswold Museum invites you to join our group of volunteers by contributing your time and talents. Some volunteer jobs have a public role, others are more behind-the-scenes, but each is vital to the Museum.

It is such a rewarding part of the museum experience. Visitors always appreciate the personal touch given by every one of our volunteers. You see it in our beautiful gardens. Guests are greeted at the house and gallery by smiling faces and knowledgeable dialog. Being a member of one of our volunteer committees allows you to make a difference in the workings of a great institution and you meet and make friends with the most interesting people. Miss Florence would be very proud!

This coming season proves to have many new positions for those who admire, enjoy and have interest in our landscape--coinciding with exciting new installations and our barn restoration.

Positions are available for those interested in art, nature, education and hospitality. Time commitment varies according to volunteer description.

Please visit www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org/education/volunteering.html for full descriptions and an application. Not sure where your talent lies? Call me at 434-7995 or contact Shawn Savage, membership coordinator, at (860) 434-5542, ext. 112, or e-mail Shawn@flogris.org.