Cultivating American impressionism

Jul 13, 2018
The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn., takes it place in art history in “The Artist’s Garden.”

Rockland — The Strand Theatre’s Exhibition On Screen series continues with “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism” Thursday, July 26. High definition screenings are set for 2 and 7 p.m. at the downtown venue, 345 Main St.

“The Artist’s Garden” tells the intertwining stories of American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, which flourished between 1887 and 1920. Both movements responded to rapid social change brought about by America’s industrialization. Increasing urbanization prompted the emerging middle-class to seek refuge in the suburbs, and they began to spend their free time and wealth cultivating impressive private gardens.

When French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel brought a selection of impressionist paintings to New York in 1886, he changed the course of art in America entirely. Many American artists, inspired by what they saw, made the pilgrimage to study in Monet’s Giverny and were keen to employ their experience to capture America’s own unique landscapes. In doing so, they captured a unique moment in America’s history — a snapshot of a nation transitioning from a land of agriculture to a land of industry.

“The Artist’s Garden” follows the sell-out exhibition “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920” on its journey from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to the “home” of the movement: Florence Griswold’s colony at Old Lyme, Conn. Famed as a “place for high thinking and low living”, the colony attracted a host of influential painters including Henry Ward Ranger and Willard Metcalf.

Audiences will also be transported to Maine’s Appledore Island, run by poet Celia Thaxter, where pre- eminent impressionist Childe Hassam produced 300 works over three decades. The film reveals how Celia Thaxter and other American women saw the garden not only as a beautiful oasis, but also an important political space for women. As gardening’s popularity rose, women began to take on new professionalized roles, from garden design to horticultural writing, and lead activist movements to protect native species.

“The Artist’s Garden” is a truly immersive film, offering a unique opportunity to get up close to the greatest examples of American Impressionism, and to understand the unique cultural moment in which they were produced.

Working with top international museums and galleries, Exhibition on Screen creates films that offer a cinematic immersion into the world’s best loved art, accompanied by insights from the world's leading historians and arts critics. Since launching in 2011, Exhibition on Screen has released 16 films that have been shown in more than 50 countries worldwide.

The film runs 90 minutes. Tickets are $12.50, $10 for Strand Theatre members. For tickets and more information, visit rocklandstrand.com; call 594-0070, ext. 3; or email info@rocklandstrand.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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