Monday, October 30, 2023

Rockwell Kent Revisited

     I keep running into Rockwell Kent. Sounds spooky since he died in 1971. But what I mean is that his artwork has been showing up here and there. In exhibitions and articles his legacy lives on. He was a fascinating guy who lived and worked in the Taconics of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York. For those unfamiliar with him, here's a brief introduction. 

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     Kent was born in 1882 and died in 1971. While he is best known as a painter and commercial artist he was multi-talented with stints as a carpenter, explorer, writer and dairy farmer! He traveled extensively while also marrying and divorcing extensively as well. He lived in a number of places with Asgaard Farm in AuSable Forks, New York being his home from 1927 till the end of his life. He was a Socialist and ardent supporter of left-wing causes which sullied his reputation and caused him grief in conservative 1950's America.

Asgaard Farm by Rockwell Kent
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     SUNY Plattsburgh holds a large collection of the artist's work and curator Scott Ferris is an acknowledged Kent scholar. There was a comprehensive exhibit in the campus's Feinberg Library Gallery this summer which I throughly enjoyed. It gave a good overview of the varied mediums Kent was proficient in with explanatory panels to put the art in perspective. I believe they have ongoing exhibits of Kent's work but do check before making the trip.

     If in the North Country you might also want to visit Asgaard Farm where David Brunner and Rhonda Butler milk goats and make award winning cheese in the same barns where Kent operated a dairy for many years. It's a beautiful, welcoming place with a farm store selling local products.

From Kent's time operating the farm

Entrance to Asgaard today
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     In Vermont you can see a few of Kent's paintings in a joint exhibit hosted by the Bennington Museum and the Southern Vermont Arts Center. They have over 200 works by a variety of artists from the collection of Lyman Orton entitled For the Love of Vermont. Better hurry though because the show closes on November 5.

Hoosick Valley by John Ford Clymer
at entrance to SVAC exhibit


A Kent painting at SVAC

     Rockwell Kent lived in Arlington, Vermont from 1919 to 1925 at Egypt Farm on Red Mountain. Many of his painting from that time include views north to Mt. Equinox and south down the valley towards Mt. Anthony. For insight on the Arlington years here's is a link to an article by Jamie Franklin.

This Kent painting of Mt. Equinox is on view at SVAC

     You can find a great deal more about Rockwell Kent on the web and in print. He was interesting, talented and inspired by the landscape all around us. 


Rockwell Kent

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

What a Crypt

     We liked to scare ourselves silly.

     A few neighbor kids and myself. This time of year. Halloween.

     There was this small, all but forgotten graveyard. Just a few half toppled stones on a knoll near my house. We would hang out there on dark nights when the moon was scudding in and out of clouds. Soon enough someone would say,

     "Did you hear that?"

     "Over there!"

     "I think I saw something move."

     Then one of the younger boys would say his mom wanted him home for supper. Another would claim he had homework to do and all of a sudden the rest of us were hightailing it back to warm, bright living rooms and an evening of boring black and white TV. 

Last stone standing
All that's left of my childhood spook spot

     I'm sure others smarter than myself (and with more time on their hands) have analyzed our fascination (and fear) of death and graveyards. More power to them. I'm not going that deep. It's a pop cultural thing this time of year and I just take in all the skeleton and tombstone lawn decorations with a smile.

     But I do still find myself attracted to graveyards. I like the variety of trees and shrubs, the grain of rock used for memorials (mostly marble, granite and occasional slate), the inscriptions and the history told by the stones. Lately another feature has caught my attention. Call them vaults, mausoleums or crypts. Most larger cemeteries have one and their architecture ranges from simple to ornate. They're a unique part of the landscape by day and good for a chill after dark. Here's a gallery of a few from Washington County. You might want to visit some on your own. Preferably on a night when the wind is rattling leaves and you've got a few easily spooked friends by your side. 




Enter at your own risk

View from the top
Many crypts are built into banks


There are close to a dozen of these mounds in the Old Burying Ground
I'm guessing they are over vaults 

At Evergreen Cemetery

Two statues once adorned the door to this family vault
unfortunately, the one on the left has broken off


Imposing Greek Revival mausoleum at entrance to Woodlawn Cemetery

Smaller but similar style
a private family vault up on the hill

A look inside
Apparently some people never wanted to 'go underground'


Big blocks of limestone and heavy metal doors
Prospect Hill Cemetery in the shadow of the Monument

     Have a 'crypty' Halloween...