Tuesday
Aug192014

Ashokan Dreams Bed & Breakfast

Charlie and I like to get away to regroup. We have found a special place that suits us perfectly. I love nature and a peaceful setting. Charlie needs a quiet place to write music. The Ashokan Dreams Bed & Breakfast is the perfect remedy. Tucked away on a hillside over looking the Ashokan Reservoir in New York State, the B & B has only 3 guest rooms, all with private entrances. Ann Marie, our amazingly efficient and gracious hostess makes sure she absolutely understands our dietary preferances and accomodates them to perfection. Breakfast is brought to our room. I can get used to this!

The rooms are clean, clean, clean and cleverly decorated. The beds and seating are comfortable. There is wifi. No tvs. Not a problem. The views are spectacular. The wildlife and gardens are entertainment of a different kind. Quiet walks through woods and past farms gives a renewed sense of calm.

Ann Marie can arrange and host weddings and other social events on the spacious property. I imagine a wedding here would be a wonderful dream occassion.

The B & B is about 30 minutes from the town of Woodstock. Lots of shops in Woodstock plus places to explore in a natural setting. I enjoyed the Saturday Flea Market. And, of course, there is music everywhere. We had a delicious dinner at the Bear Cafe and also at the Country Inn in Krumville. The Country Inn boasts at least 500 choices of beer! Decisons, decisions!

Morning view @ 5:30 AM

Sample breakfast

Amazing selection of beer at the Country Inn in Krumville, NY!

 

 

Thursday
Aug142014

Storm King Art Center

For many years, we’ve traveled Route 87 (the New York State Thruway)  to vacation in the Adirondack Mountains. I often wondered about the huge modern sculptures on the right side of the highway just north of the Woodbury Commons Outlets. I discovered that this area is home to the Storm King Art Center, an ingenious combination of nature and human creation. Two men, Ralph aka “Ted” Ogden and Peter Stern, had a vision. The idea was to display contemporary works of art within the visual confines of two natural boundaries, Storm King and Schunnemunk Mountains. The outdoor museum opened in 1960 and since then, sculptures by household names such as Calder, Lichtenstein, and many other artists have found their place on the expansive 500 acre property.

The initial exposure to this dramatic venue can be a bit daunting especially on a hot day. We opted to take the tram, which travels throughout the park. This permitted us to gain perspective, enjoy the amazing views, and learn a bit about the various sculptures. The tram is easy access so we could get on and off at will.

In my opinion, the works of art can be experienced in at least two ways. The first and obvious way is to view them in their natural surroundings as an extension of the landscape and to appreciate their beauty as a whole. The second way I discovered quite by accident. As I said, it was a very hot day. Charlie and I hastily crossed a field to stand in the shade provided by one of the sculptures. I came to realize that an up close and personal experience with one of these mighty works is not to be missed. I gained a new perspective and appreciation for the artist and creation.

This is a great place for children, but, come prepared with food & drink. There are few comfort stations and most without running water.

 I imagine the views must be spectacular in the Fall and would be the best time to visit.

 

Tuesday
Aug052014

Gillette Castle

It’s not every day you encounter a medieval castle in the United States. Two years ago, Charlie and I made this chance encounter as we headed toward a ferry to cross the Connecticut River. We arrived too late to take the tour at that time and resolved to return. It was a resolution worth the effort.

William Gillette (1853-1937) was an enormously successful American actor, best known for his numerous performances onstage as Sherlock Holmes. Creative and inventive, he imagined and realized his dream of building a castle on the bank of the Connecticut River. The structure is made of steel and covered with stone with admirable effect. Here is a pictorial tour of this clever residence.

Living room - greeting area for guests

William Gillette had a series of mirrors installed in the greeting room. He could stand at his balcony and inspect the company without being seen. If he did not wish to see them, he vanished.

Master bedroom with mechanical invention to adjust and control lighting.

Terrace garden room

 View of the Connecticut River

and ferry crossing

Gillette Castle State Park is located at 67 River Road East Haddam, Connecticut. Bring the kids. They will enjoy the inventions and stairways. There is a comfortable out building with a museum and cafe and wonderful views. There are also hiking paths. The ferry is just below with convenient access to highways.

Thursday
Jul172014

The Bee & Thistle Inn

Part of the fun of visiting museums and historic places is trying out various inns, hotels, and B & B's. The Bee & Thistle Inn is conveniently located next door to the Francis Griswold Museum. This had to be the easiest transition from venue to inn ever! The added bonus was, we could continue enjoying the grounds and sculpture of the museum after checking in. I highly recommend a stay at the Bee & Thistle. The house was built in 1756. It is a large building with many beautifully decorated rooms. Our room was #10 on the third floor. Even though the trek up 2 flights of stairs was long there was so much to look at that I hardly minded at all.

There is a restaurant at the Bee & Thistle. Charlie & I both enjoyed the Milestone Cabernet Sauvignon. Seating was very comfortable and we were not crowded, yet, there were plenty of guests to insure popularity. The next morning, there was an egg breakfast + other healthy choices included with our stay. The staff was friendly and helpful.I would definitely return.

Front entrance-The Bee & Thistle Inn, 100 Lyme Street Old Lyme, CT

Front Hall Way-The Bee & Thistle Inn

The breakfast room

Beautiful Room # 10

Pre- dinner fun on the grounds by the Lieutenant River

Wednesday
Jul162014

Art of the Everyman: American Folk Art from the Fenimore Art Museum at the Florence Griswold Museum

I was flummoxed. I began too late to look for lodging in, near, or around Cooperstown, New York. My wish was to visit the Fenimore Art Museum, which I had heard has a fantastic folk art collection. I must see this museum for myself. But, this was not to be – not this year. However, an alternative plan which  seemed as a last resort turned out to be a triumph. On recommendation from a friend, I visited the Florence Griswold Museum. What a treat!  44 works on loan from the Fenimore Art Museum are on display at the Florence Griswold Museum now through September 21, 2014. Fresh interpretations and solid documentation make this exhibit a treasure. I spent two hours reading, absorbing, and marveling over the collection- from artists such as Ammi Phillips, Edward Hicks, Thomas Chambers, Joseph Davis, Sheldon Peck, William Matthew Prior, Sturtevant Hamblin, Grandma Moses to an anonymous carver who crafted an extraordinary knife box depicting a ship carrying slaves to America. This is a folk art fan’s dream come true.

So what is folk art? The definition, according to one of the curators, is that folk art was made by craftspeople and amateurs with no formal training. In a way, the style of folk art almost resembles Modern Art. Self taught artistry finds a wide appeal and acceptance in contemporary culture.

Everyman is the broad term used to define the collection of artists in this exhibit. There is a paring down and simplifying of line, movement, and expression that unites the work of these creators. Fortunately, early 20th century collectors, with an eye to the future, came to revere these humble works. The collectors appreciated Everyman’s values and attempts to document as accurately as possible their world.

Photography is not permitted in this exhibit. There is a companion book, “ Folk Art’s Many Faces” available in the gift shop. This is an excellent volume  which contains portraits in the New York State Historical Association. Many of the works  in the exhibit are included in this volume, most in color with excellent descriptions.

Classes for children led by a guide frequented the rooms while I was there. The children apparently enjoyed their tour, emitting squeals of delight at the various discoveries they made.

 

 Although not in this exhibit, the paintings by Edward Hicks (above) and Thomas Chambers (below) are a few examples of the style of artwork found in the gallery. ( These paintings are on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Wing)