Boston, MA – August 2017 – This fall, Fruitlands Museum is featuring a series of fall exhibitions and new works curated from its permanent collections, area partners, and artist-in-residence, Greg Lookerse.
Two exhibitions open in the art gallery on September 2, presenting a powerful array of traditional landscape and portrait paintings. The first, A New View: Landscapes from the Permanent Collection, is the largest grouping of landscape paintings from the museum's permanent collection to be on view in decades. The group of more than fifty 19th-century landscapes includes works by Hudson River School painters such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church. The paintings will be displayed in ornate, gilt frames and hung salon-style from chair rail to ceiling, making the room seem set in an earlier time period.
“We’d like to transport visitors to 1947, when museum founder Clara Endicott Sears first presented them to the public,” says Shana Dumont Garr, Curator of Fruitlands Museum. "Covering the walls to the ceiling, rather than in a row along a single sight-line, was a late 19th century exhibition style that we hope evokes the feeling of stepping into a grand treasure box, or a cabinet of curiosities. We feel it is important to share the collection in a way that recalls how it was first displayed by Clara Endicott Sears, the founder and the collector of most of the objects in our holdings.”
Also opening on September 2nd is Portraits & Penmanship: The Appletons in their Own Words. Curated by Susan Hill Dolan, a Trustees Curator, this exhibition will continue The Trustees’ literary theme of 2017, “The Language of Nature,” by pairing significant Appleton family portraits with written materials by family members.
Appleton Farms, established by Samuel Appleton in 1638, is a Trustees property in Ipswich known for its rolling grasslands, on-site dairy production, popular CSA program, Appleton Cooks! classes, workshops, farm dinners, some of which take place in the old family homestead. In the exhibition, Appleton letters, speeches and other original written ephemera will help provide intimate views of family members and give viewers an idea of the personal and public life of this family who began the longest-operating farm in America, which continues to be a vital and fascinating site of The Trustees.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to share highlights from one of The Trustees’ richest collections,” says Ms. Hill Dolan. “We display together both the Appleton family’s hand-written stories and their portraits, which represent the work of some of America’s leading artists of their time.”
In addition to enjoying the words and images, visitors will be invited to create their own portraits with the help of a gilded frame hanging in front of a papered wall. “Through this exhibition,” adds the curator, “we hope that we can inspire people to capture their own family portraits and stories.”
Greg Lookerse, Fruitlands’ artist-in-residence, has been visiting and working at the Museum since early 2017. His solo exhibition, Literary Soil, ended on August 20, and he now plans to unveil an interactive labyrinth on the hillside just past the Museum admissions building, and a new sculpture made with book pages in the Fruitlands Farmhouse.
“Fruitlands is a site of literary pilgrimage because of its history and the influence of the men and women who lived there,” says Greg. “My first response to this beautiful place is a contemplative, interactive piece where the community can engage with labyrinths and pilgrimages of their own design. The second response is a performative sculpture, a scroll made from many of the books I have read. As I contemplated the Fruitlands utopian experiment, themes of growth and history kept coming up. The book scroll is a sort of self portrait of the literary impacts on my life. Some of them include the Transcendentalists, but the scroll contains many more authors, with a web of connections rooted in the literary tradition.”
Coming up on November 18, Fruitlands will open Conversations in Craft, a collaboration with the acclaimed North Bennet Street School (NBSS) located in Boston. Curated by the Trustees’ Senior Curator, Christie Jackson, this exhibition will feature newly-created, original pieces of wooden furniture made by twelve select staff and alumni from NBSS alongside the pieces of furniture from the Trustees collections.
Each participant worked closely with Jackson to select a piece of historical furniture to respond to, and they will “answer” in a range of ways -not with copies or reproductions, but in some cases with a contemporary companion to an 18th or 19-century object, such as a chair for a desk, or floral inlay that seems to bloom in response to bud-like inlay made in the 1820s. Each pair of objects – old and new – will be displayed together.
“We are so pleased to be working with North Bennet Street School on this exhibition,” said Christie Jackson. “The process of curating this has truly been a conversation, where we are exploring the stories of these historic objects, discovering the ways they were crafted, and creating a new dialogue between old and new with contemporary interpretations. Through these conversations, we are celebrating the rich tradition of cabinetmaking in New England that continues to this day.”
Literary Spirit of Fruitlands Museum and The Old Manse, an exhibition which presents the shared cultural and literary history between the two Trustees sites, will remain on view through November 5.
Meet the Artist, Greg Lookerse
Saturday, September 30, 2PM-3PM
Join Artist-in-Residence, Greg Lookerse as he discusses his works created during his Residency at Fruitlands Museum. Hear about his process and the ways in which his time spent at both Fruitlands Museum and the Old Manse have inspired the creation of these new, dynamic works of art.
Greg Lookerse creates sculptural artwork joining conceptual rigor with thorough craftsmanship. It is not enough for him to read texts by influential authors including St. Augustine, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Annie Dillard. Once read, the pages of his personal copies become visual art. In a process that often evolves through performative consideration, the ideas held within the pages become activated and made public in a way they wouldn’t if they remained on a bookshelf, in a library. Lookerse folds the pages of Dillard’s The Living (1992) into an elaborate, mandala-like relief resembling the window of a Gothic cathedral. Pages of Thoreau’s Walden become a winding path on the gallery floor with a simply-hewn prayer bench at its center. Melville’s Moby Dick becomes simple, blunt paintings as the artist systematically covers all but chapter headings with rows of white pigment.
“Night and Moonlight”: A Transcendental Night Hike
Wednesday, September 6th | 7PM-9PM
“Chancing to take a memorable walk by moonlight some years ago, I resolved to take more such walks, and make acquaintance with another side of Nature.” –from “Night and Moonlight” by Henry David Thoreau
Join us under the Harvest Moon at the Fruitlands Museum for this Transcendental Night Hike. We will share a public reading of Thoreau’s “Night and Moonlight,” an essay printed in The Atlantic Monthly Magazine in November 1863. Next, we will take to the trails to discover nature by night and explore the elements, sites, and sounds that awaken when the sun sets. Thoreau describes, “As for the moon, I had seen her only as it were through a crevice in a shutter, occasionally. Why not walk a little way in her light?” Please help us plan and pre-register online to secure your spot in this program. Member $9. Nonmember $15. For those interested in Thoreau and learning more about Nature, a unique, literary-themed outdoor walking play coming to The Trustees’ nearby Old Manse property in Concord in September which explores the friendship between Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, both transcendentalists shared had a deep, mutual love of nature, visit www.thetrustees.org/nature.
Exercises for the Quiet Eye
Saturday, September 9th | 2PM-3:30PM
Exercises for the Quiet Eye: This practice of deep looking, of resting in a tolerance of ambiguity, in a state of not fully knowing, is one of the greatest potential gifts of human visual culture. Being open simultaneously to deep sensory, emotional and intellectual experience, happens best when we can resist rushing to easy, premature understanding–when we accept the mystery. In this way, the intensified satisfactions and challenges of art prepare us for the essential experience of the human condition–the state of living in mystery, the human experience of not knowing.
Join educator, Annie Storr, as she leads you through close looking activities in the Art Gallery in the Fruitlands Museum. Take time to pause, absorb, and dive into art and artifacts with your senses. Gain new understanding of the impact of art on the viewer. Please note that space in this program is limited and pre-registration is required. Member $9. Nonmember $15.
7th Annual Craft Festival at Fruitlands
Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24 | 10AM-4PM
Enjoy original handmade craft by 48 New England Artisans during the 7th Annual Craft Festival at Fruitlands. The Festival is a two-day outdoor tented show set on the picturesque grounds of the museum. Quality juried craft, museum offerings, and stunning views has made the Festival a popular September destination for all. It’s the perfect opportunity to get a jump on your holiday shopping and find that original gift for the hard-to-buy-for! For your entertainment, there is a food truck, the Café, and live music, courtesy of the Summertime Trio, on both days of the Festival. The Guests’ admission also includes entry to the Museum exhibits and trails. It’s a fun day out with family and friends. Member Adult $5. Nonmember Adult $10. Kids 12 and under Free.
Fruitlands Museum, a 210-acre historic, natural, and cultural destination based in Harvard, MA, recently became a property of The Trustees of Reservations. Founded in 1914 by author and preservationist Clara Endicott Sears, the Museum takes its name from an experimental utopian community led by Transcendentalists Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane that existed on this site in 1843. Fruitlands is dedicated to New England history, art, and nature, and its properties include: The Fruitlands Farmhouse, once home to the family of Louisa May Alcott and a National Historic landmark; The Shaker Museum, home to the largest archive of Harvard Shaker documents in the world; The Native American Museum, which houses a significant collection of artifacts that honor the spiritual presence and cultural history of the first Americans; The Art Museum, featuring a renowned collection of Hudson River School landscape paintings and 19th century vernacular portraits, along with rotating special exhibitions; and The Land, which features panoramic views of the Nashua River Valley, including 2.5 miles of meadows and woodland recreational trails. The Fruitlands Museum Store sells fine crafts by local artists, including pottery, glass, jewelry, clothing and home furnishings. The Museum Café, open during the main season focuses on locally-sourced, sustainable cuisine reflective of the heritage of New England. www.fruitlands.org.
Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 125 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit supported by members, friends and donors and our more than 115 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. www.thetrustees.org.