Thursday, January 20, 2011

Barnes Foundation & Spring Garden Studios

Barnes Foundation
Located just outside of Philadelphia in Merion, you will find one of the largest, private collections of Impressionism, Post-impressionism, and African Art; at least for a few more months.  In June this year, the Barnes Collection will close as the entire collection of art will be moved to its new home in Philadelphia.  The new location is slated to open to the public in July 2012.  For this reason only half of the collection was viewable today; the entire top floor of 10 salons of art were roped off from viewing.  Even so, the short, congested travel to the site was worthy of the time.  Cameras were not permitted so I cannot offer any images of the works coveted in this private foundation estate and arboretum but can speak to the extant of the collection that we were able to view.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert Barnes in 1922, to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts."  With an amassed collection of 180 Renoirs, numerous Cezannes, Van Goghs (including a Van Gogh self portrait), Degas, Soutines, and other works, Barnes established his teaching salons of art ensembles that would rival any teaching institution today.  It is without question one of the most profound collections of art I have seen outside of an established museum.  I kept rotating back into various salons just to take a second and sometimes third view of a piece of work. 

If you do have the chance to visit the Barnes Foundation in the future, it is advisable to purchase the headset for touring to get the most out of the visit.  If attempting to go to the current site, do know that you will need to make a reservation ahead of your visit.  Come prepared with cash, as you will need to pay for parking and they only take cash.  Do not attempt to bring any handbags, cameras, or other electronics as you will be asked to store them in a locker.  Outerwear coats will also need to be checked in at a coat room before entering the gallery area.  If you take the first tour in the morning, 9:30 am, wait in your car if it's cold as there is not a holding room inside, so you will be forced to stand outside in the cold until the doors open at 9:30.  Hopefully, some of the stringent protocols surrounding entry into the collection will lessen once the collection moves to its new location. Overall, it is a definite must see on any trip to Philadelphia.

To learn more about the Barnes Collection, you can visit the their website

After our visit to the Barnes Collection, A. Paul and I were fortunate to meet two artists, Robert Sampson and Patrick Crofton, whose studios are housed in an old factory building located on Spring Garden  Road in the city. Both artists are recent graduates from PAFA, the oldest art school in the country, located in Philadelphia; both entering into the artist world after previous careers.

L to R:  Patrick Crofton, A. Paul, & Robert Sampson
Both artists' works are strongly influenced by their city environment. Both capture the intensity of light and shadows that exist around the rigid city landscape, balancing the forms with an intentional break of color or curve to ease the viewer's eyes.  Patrick prefers to render his works on flat surfaces of copper while Robert chooses to create his masterpieces on canvas.   At the moment of our visit, the two artists were in the finishing stages of  working on pieces for an upcoming thematic show at their representing gallery, Artists' House Gallery on N. Second Street, whose director, Lorraine Riesenbach, has been supporting works of emerging and established artists for the past 20 years.

P. Crofton painting on copper
More of these artists's works may be seen on their websites,  (Patrick we left without your site so perhaps you will forward it to us?) and on the Artists House Gallery website.  Overall, it was a wonderful visit and we hope that Robert and Patrick will visit us in Provincetown in the future to extend them the same courtesy they extended to us.

Tomorrow morning we leave Philly to move onto our next destination, Easton, MD, via Millville, NJ and Cape May, NJ.  We hope to escape the predicted snowstorm so check back with us tomorrow night to see our next leg of our tour.

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