It was my Mom who turned me on to Andrew Wyeth’s paintings early on in my life. She would always point out his works whenever they appeared in print magazines. I would cut out the images and put them on my bedroom wall…staring at them late into the night and wondering what it was about them that so interested me. For a boy of 9 it was refreshing and invigorating to take in all the colors, hues and shapes of Mr. Wyeth’s work.
Tony Hyde the art teacher at Bel Air High School, when I first went there, took me a few steps farther in learning about art, painting and images…It was 9th grade, and luckily there was Art I as an elective, and I stayed with his classes until I graduated.
Mom never bought an ‘original’ Wyeth, but we would go to the Smithsonian from time to time with the family and there she would buy prints by the artist and have them framed for our home. After I turned from ‘want to be’ painter to ‘aspiring photographer,’ Mom and I decided to drive to Brandywine and see the land and people Andrew Wyeth painted.
We cruised around and asked locals where the Wyeth’s lived and we headed there….driving into a beautiful home, with barns and out buildings. While we sat in the car, a lady came to a window in the house and asked, ‘can I help you?’…and we said we were looking for Andrew Wyeth… which seemed the best thing to say under the circumstances of invading one’s privacy.
She said he was not available…did not ask us to leave, but she went away from the window. Mom was taking in all the scenery and I was taking my time turning the car around…seemingly from the shadows of one of the out buildings came this man…tall, lean and dressed like a hired-hand, with boots on.
“How you doing?” I said….to which he replied, “Fine, and you?”…that was it. It was Andrew Wyeth, and rather than go any farther, I said, “Thanks, we’ll be leaving.”…Mom was a gasp…wanting me to say something else so she could take it all in….but the old ‘seat of the pants’ instinct told me to take what I was given and leave it at that….he walked into the house, closed the door and we drove back out to the main road.
“That was the man, Mom…we got to see Andrew Wyeth and say hello to him,” What a huge impression that made on me. The entire world swirling around him, in his mind and being replicated on the canvasses he painted…and there he was the real deal….
Sure, folks have met him at galleries and openings, and I’m sure that was a huge thrill….still in all, that day, seeing him in his element was memorable for me and my Mom…..
His passing was noted quietly on the weekend of pre-inauguration events that filled the papers….and he quietly was mentioned, in his passing.
“Andrew Wyeth, whose durable and realistic paintings of rural Pennsylvania and Maine made him one of America’s best-loved artists, and made his paintings some of the priciest in the world, died yesterday. He was 91.
Mr. Wyeth, who divided his time between Chadds Ford, Pa., and Cushing, Maine, died in his sleep at his home in Pennsylvania, the Brandywine River Museum told the Associated Press.
Hundreds of Mr. Wyeth’s paintings are displayed at the museum. In 2006, a retrospective of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art attracted more than 175,000 visitors in about four months.
In 1976, he became the first living American artist to be given a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City “