Did you know that I live within an hour's drive of the first museum built solely to showcase American art and artists? Well, I am embarrassed to say, neither did I. (That question is not for you, Joany. I'm sure you knew about it, but never told me!) Once I found out about The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, however, it took us less than a week to drive out there and see it.
I actually learned about the museum in an interesting way. Saturday afternoon I was working on Julie's second scarf, trying to get it finished before she had to go back to Maryland. I like to have the tv on while I knit, but I really listen to it more than I actually watch it. I was clicking around, looking for something to watch when I found Bob Ross just beginning a painting. Perfect, I thought, and began to knit. I quickly realized, however, that I didn't want to look away from Bob's painting to knit. I might miss something. Well, it was only a half-hour show, so I laid my knitting aside, and watched Bob work. I love the sound his brush makes as he taps the canvas with spring green paint, and his soothing voice assures me that there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. My eyes glazed over, and I never even realized when I fell asleep.
When I woke up, Bob was gone, and someone else was talking to me about the collection at The Butler Institute. I had heard the name before, and I guess I thought it was probably in Pittsburgh. I was totally surprised to learn that it was actually in Youngstown, a place I have never been, despite living within 50 miles of it for the last seven years. I sat down at my computer and googled the museum. You can see what I found here: http://www.butlerart.com/ Well, we love museums, and since Ben has this week off, the two of us headed out there on Wednesday, mapquest maps in hand.
We only got lost once, and within an hour of leaving home, we turned into the parking lot of the beaux-arts building designed in 1917 by architects, McKim, Mead and White. After a quick lunch in the small (and very cold) museum café, Ben and I set out to explore the collection. What a pleasant surprise this little museum was! It had works by all the big names in American art, of course, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper and Grant Wood, to name a few, but it also had a lot of works by lesser-known (to us, unknown) artists, as well. I love to have a good mix of familiar and new art to look at, and that is exactly what we found.
A large new wing of the museum is "dedicated solely to new media and electronic art. The facility regularly displays works of art that utilize computers, holography, lasers and other digital media." The exhibits there were fascinating and fun, especially the interactive Ronald Amstutz installation.
Several hours passed before we knew it, then we headed for home. Although it took us a long time to learn about The Butler Institute, it won't take us long to return there. This was a One-Tank Trip well worth taking.