In praise of craftsmanship

IMG_0260On a recent trip to Philadelphia (almost the home of my childhood- which was nearby in Oreland and Glenside), I got to play art tourist.

What a lovely city for walking around, and making beautiful discoveries everywhere.

Historical districts, architecture, public art, murals,IMG_0345 beautiful museums and an art school or two, were all enough to keep me occupied for several days.  And even though painting is my main occupation, I often find myself being totally inspired by work in other media.

Sometimes I’ll go into a gallery and be wowed by photography, or art glass….and yet just as often, I am disappointed for what passes for contemporary painting, including the lack of a certain level of craftsmanship and a unique personal vision-  which I believe is possible in very contemporary/abstract/conceptual work.

What struck me in Philadelphia,  walking around and soaking in various venues, was the celebration of a high level of craftsmanship.

From the fountains and sculpture in public plazas, to the beautiful architecture of the boathouses along the river, to the immense and impressive murals, to the ornamentation and craftsmanship of objects in the museum.

One of the last places I went to was the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art,IMG_0417 and on wall after wall, there seemed to be a confirmation that painting was and continues to be an important pursuit.  Contemporary students’ work, alumni work, displayed near William Merrit Chase and Winslow Homer, Eakins, etc etc.  All the work beautifully inspiring and alive.  In one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve been in.  Recommended if you are ever in that city, and have an affinity for great painting.

I got a kick out of this painting of a painter in action!

"A Motion Picture", Margaret Foster Richardson, oil, 1912
“A Motion Picture”, Margaret Foster Richardson, oil, 1912

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