500 miles to Homer

On Wednesday I packed up the car and headed North.  It was a page turning day of memories as I haven't been to Williamstown since stock the summer of my twenty birthday and hadn't been to Bennington (Vermont) for five years.

So eager was I to get to New England that I didn't pay much attention to the roads I traveled and wound up on the wrong road.   I finally got off in Deposit, New York, a town of 1700.   With the assistance of two women in a local breakfast stop, I found myself going in the right direction: Northeast.

Already hours had gone by, and although I should have been in New England I was entering Oneonta, New York.  If Deposit is small, Oneonta is big, far bigger than I imagined, and a place I did not want to get lost in.  So not quite tired, and not quite hungry, but nearly time for lunch, I stopped at Alfresco's Cafe just before the Oneonta Bridge.

It was a garland of gorgeous flowering plants, and reminded me of a cafe in Sicily.   At first I passed it by and then turned around.   I stepped inside and asked for and got mussels in wine sauce, and iced water.   I sat outside although it was getting terribly hot.

Half an hour later, I was back on the road, satiated and headed to Bennington (Vermont).  I  had decided, willy-nilly to go to Bennington first because of the Midnight Sale at Bennington Potters.  I never made it to the sale. 

Bennington is the last town I was in before I came to the Upper Delaware Valley and perhaps it held some unconscious memories.

Different towns or cities in Vermont have a language of their own, and Bennington is White Bread.  It is clean, it has what to offer but is tame in comparison to Brattleboro or Burlington.  Brattleboro is trendy, Burlington is a monkey puzzle.

I hoped to grab a coffee and a snack in one of my former favourite cafes but it had gone out of business.  I swung the car around the corner and made a bee-line to the South Street Cafe.

South Street Cafe, Bennington, Vermont

I hadn't planned to stay in town, and had no idea where I would stay.  I pulled out my often out of service cell phone.   On the 2nd attempt I found a motel just around the corner.  It was clean, everything worked, it was more than I generally want to spend, but it was too hot, and I had travelled too many hours to keep going even the few extra miles to Williamstown, my ultimate destination.

I settled in at the motel, and then went to Madison's Brewery for dinner.  The barista at South Street had recommended it as the best of a small lot in town.  It was excellent!

Madison Brewery, Bennington, Vermont

Shortly after the birds chirped, and a second cup of coffee at South Street Cafe, I headed south on route 7 to Williamstown, Massachusetts and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. 

The institute (or museum) was showing the works of Winslow Homer and George Inness, two different kinds of painters, but both worth a 500 mile round trip.

Undertow, Winslow Homer © Clark Institute

I've seen Homer's before, but I hadn't seen a Homer since doing watercolour and it was those paintings I was most eager to see.

What did I learn?

Homer didn't erase.  Homer mixed media often.  He was not against using graphite with watercolor, watercolor with gouache, and pencil with everything.  He often used toned paper, text weave, I believe, and several of the paintings clearly had faded.  No mention was made of the fading, and inasmuch as the catalogue was $50.00 I passed it by.

Winslow Homer © Clark Institute
A great many etchings were on view, far more than paintings, and they were excellent and not usually exhibited.

The entire collection was delightful.

Homer's Studio was a destintation I had thought to visit last year, but I am not good on making reservations in advance;  too spontaneous I suppose. 

The Inness' were small in number, I believe, less than a dozen, but remarkable in their execution. 

Woodland Interior, George Inness ©
Where Homer is active, bold, striking down images with gestural strokes, Inness is dreamy, interior, nearly surreal, definitely a spiritual tone.

And if I was thrilled to see the show, I was also excited to be back in New England, and to see how Williamstown had changed.  The shops were glittering and the Clark off-campus shop one of the nicest, best stocked I've seen this side of the Atlantic. 

These are the things I brought home.

Lime green pocket journal, roomy collector bag and a magnifier

And perhaps with this, my favourite purchase, I'll find my way Northeast, and not just plum North!

Keychain Compass
I'm already looking forward to another adventure to New England, this time to places I might not get lost going to or coming home from.

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