For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania.Â Home of Longwood Gardens, Valley Forge, the Mushroom Capital of the World (Kennett Square), and for any of us who went to public school in the county — the Brandywine River Museum.
The Museum was THE PLACE for school field trips once a year.Â It is such a gem in Southeastern Pennsylvania that I am sure most of its residents, as I did, take it for granted.Â We used to groanÂ when we knew the Brandywine River Museum was our “day away from school” destination, instead of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia — or some other “cool” place.Â
In reality,Â the BRM was the place that introduced me to art.Â Real art.Â Paintings of naked women art.Â Â You know, classy stuff.Â Stuff a kid from my background would most likely not appreciate, and perhaps snicker at, at that age.Â Timeless pieces of art and beauty created by man.
One of the reasons the BRM was started in 1971 was to honor and hold the collections of the Wyeth family, who made their home in Chester County.Â Â Yesterday, one of the most famous American contemporary artists, Andrew Wyeth, passed away.
AndrewÂ Wyeth was as famous as famous is in Chester County.Â Â His father, N.C. Wyeth, was known around the world as a painter and illustrator.Â Andrew learned his craft in his father’s workshop.
As a kid growing up in Chester County, the Wyeth family’s importance in the art world was embedded into our studently consciousness.Â AndÂ Andrew was mysterious.Â It was rumored he came in with the crowd somtimes at the Brandywine River Museum, but no one ever remembers actually seeing him.Â He was like our version of the Wizard of Oz.Â Really important, all-encompassing, never seen but through his work.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy honored Andrew Wyeth by giving him the President Medal of Freedom — the first time it had ever been given to an artist.Â Â Amazing.
I just wanted to acknowledge this morning the passing of this great American artist and patriot.Â And thank him for opening the world of art to a lot of stupid kids who appreciate him a lot more as they got older.