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December 1, 2003

Hill-Stead makes a good impression

By Joe Keo and Katie Jordan

When youíre in technology-overload, let go of the remote, turn off the cell phone, and do something that doesnít involve double-clicking. Escape to the Hill-Stead Museum and enjoy its architecture and impressive art collection.

Visitors to the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington get a break from the noisy modern world and have a

chance to think. The name Hill-Stead sounds like a convalescent home, but itís actually a snazzy house and art museum.

The Hill-Stead offers an intimate and quiet atmosphere where visitors can dig deep into their imaginations and dive into the landscapes, seascapes, and skylines of the impressionist

paintings on display.

Unlike other museums that loan out art, or show temporary exhibits, the Hill-Steadís collection is permanent.

Stepping into the Hill-Stead is like walking back in time. The musty house ó a National Historic Landmark ó is unchanged and offers a fascinating view of life in the early 1900s.

At first sight the Hill-Stead looks like an opulent colonial house, but it contains much more than just antique fixtures and furniture. The Hill-Steadís fine art collection also packs a punch.

Alongside famous masterpieces the Hill-Stead offers a nonconformist twist for the rebellious teenage audience as well.

Architect Theodate Pope, the daughter of wealthy industrialist Alfred Pope, designed the sprawling farm.

Within its walls hangs a beautiful family scene by painter Mary Cassatt, a renowned American impressionist.

Art and architecture were male dominated fields, but both Cassatt and Theodate Pope pushed the envelope and are now part of the museumís appeal.

The Hill-Steadís entire impressionist collection was once considered too radical and not worthy of being called art. But this didnít stop Alfred Pope from buying these unorthodox paintings that he loved.

The times eventually caught up with Alfred Popeís tastes and the Hill-Stead is now revered as an exclusive home to many fine works.

Artists are storytellers who communicate with colors, light, and shapes. Visitors can enjoy the adventure of looking deeper into paintings and uncovering the intentions of the artists.

Paintings of daily chores and outdoor scenes may seem like boring subjects, but itís how the artist portrays these images on canvas that makes them attractive to the eye.

In The Tub, Edgar Degas captures the beauty of a woman in the simple act of cleaning her tub.

Another Degas piece, Dancers in Pink, pictures ballerinas in pink leotards.

In this backstage view, itís a tiny speck of gold on a dancerís earring that shines out and takes your eyes hostage.

Impressionism is the style of painting where artists focus on lighting and atmosphere instead of the exact details of the subject. This style of art is based on the use of visible brushstrokes that create an impression.

Perhaps the most stunning of all the paintings in the Hill-Stead is a pair by Claude Monet, Grainstacks, White Frost Effect and Grainstacks in Bright Sunlight.

Theyíre two views of haystacks in a field, but the contrast between them is amazing.

In White Frost Effect, soft cool shades of violet and blue create a feeling of a calm evening. In the other, Monet used his choice of colors to create the strong light and warmth of a sunny field so perfectly that standing near it, you can almost feel the heat.

That painting may make you long to step outside into the sun.

When you do step outside, youíll find the Hill-Steadís beautiful Sunken Garden , where flowers bloom in abundance in spring, poets recite their works each summer and where leaves work wonders with their own palettes each fall.

The colors of natureís painting are so bright and invigorating that you may even be inspired to create some art of your own.

Or, if you prefer, you can stand quietly and just enjoy the peace of a place where time stands still.

Take in the vast sky and rolling plains and let the Hill-Stead make an impression on you.

Click here for The Tattoo's all-art issue

 

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