Deb Meehan, director of URock, always tells students that downtown Rockland is their campus. So today, before my 1:00 class, I toured part of campus. I took advantage of one of my favorite student perks at URock and got a FREE day pass to the Farnsworth Art Museum.
Located right in downtown Rockland, the Farnsworth houses an amazing collection of American art. Right now there’s an Alex Katz exhibit and a big Wyeth show; I checked out those earlier this summer. Today I wanted to explore the smaller exhibitions.
Louise Nevelson grew up in Rockland, and over the years I’ve become familiar with her collages, wood sculptures, and wall reliefs. What I didn’t know is that she also painted. This exhibit has several of her colorful, thickly painted oils, and it’s a kick to see them side by side with black or white work in her signature style.
Next, on to the photography exhibits. Emily Schiffer’s work focuses on Lakota Sioux children growing up on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. She pioneered a project there that allows the youths to document their lives through photography, and she explores their world through her own lens. The photos here are hers, stark black and white images of kids at play: in water holes, in huge mud holes, on bikes, on massive tires. It’s an intimate collection. Some of the pictures are only about 3 ½” square, inviting you to move in close. The show is hung in an interesting way, with a poetry-like narrative running around the room, the text moving along the photos like a frame (alas, no photos allowed).
There’s a small hallway exhibit of Arnold Newman photographs. These are “environmental portraits” showing writers and visual artists in their work environments. Many of the artists depicted have work at the Farnsworth: John Marin, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Robert Indiana and others. A couple favorites: the painter Neil Welliver in a wooden canoe on a pond with a painting he’s working on. He doesn’t look amused to be interrupted. And there’s a great photo of Louise Nevelson in front of one of her dark wall reliefs. She’s such a dramatic grande dame, with such thick make-up her eyes look white-less, like black sockets (again, no pics allowed).
That’s enough culture for one morning. I had lunch at my favorite Rockland lunch spot, the little park behind the museum. I ate here nearly every week during the summer before my studio art class. Even at high summer, I was often the only one sitting at a table. I guess that’s what you call a hidden gem.