Outdoor Enthusiast: Picture Perfect

CPBN Media Lab travels to Weir Farm National Historic Site

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Outdoor Enthusiast: Picture Perfect
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CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen

Weir Farm, located in the towns of Wilton and Ridgefield, Connecticut, is the only National Park site in the state and the only site within the National Park Service that is devoted to the history of the American Painting. Three artists called Weir Farm their home, including Julian Alden Weir, Mahonri Young, and Sperry Andrews.

Julian Alden Weir first acquired the property in 1882 when a friend of his sold the farm for $10 and a painting Weir had previously purchased at an art auction in New York City. Weir was a critical member of the American Impressionism movement, and his relocation to Weir farm from New York provided him with the ideal natural environment to explore impressionism in the context of landscape paintings. When Weir passed away in 1919, the property was given to his daughter and fellow painter Dorothy Weir Young, as well as her husband Mahonri Young who made a name for himself as an American sculptor. When Dorothy passed away in 1947, Mahonri Young stayed on the farm for the remaining 10 years of his life, during which time he continued his work as a sculptor and painter. In 1957, after the death of Young, husband and wife Sperry and Doris Andrews acquired the property. They too where painters from Ridgefield, Connecticut and had befriended Young in 1952. The Andrews where critical agents in the preservation of Weir Farm, for they were the ones that advocated for the site to become a part of the National Park Service. Thanks to their efforts, the Weir Farm National Historic Site was officially named a National Park in October 1990. The Andrews continued to live on the property until July 2005 when Sperry Andrews passed away. The couple actively painted during their time living on the farm.

Today, Weir Farm National Historic Sites aims to inform visitors about Weir Farm, it's history, and the artists who once lived there. Park Rangers conduct tours of the property, which consists of a number of buildings including Weir's original home, two art studios, and the farm house that acts as the visitor center. Not only can visitors enjoy the landscape via tours and personal walks through the fields and around a man-made pond Weir had built on-site, but they are also invited to "Take Part in Art." This activity allows guests to partake in "plein air" painting and drawing, just like the artists who one lived on the property did for over 125 years. Pastels and pencils are provided Wednesday through Fridays from May to October, and watercolors are provided on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from May to October with professional lessons on Saturdays. All activities are free. Please visit the Weir Farm website for more information at http://www.nps.gov/wefa/index.htm.

We greatly enjoyed our visit to Weir Farm. While there, we were lucky enough to film a personal guided tour with Park Ranger Emily Bryant, an informational session about the wildlife at Weir Farm with horticulturist Greg Waters, an interview with painter Caroline Walker and an interview with painting instructor Sally Aldrich. She graciously brought her watercolor class from Ridgefield to Weir Farm on the day of our visit for us to film and interview. It was wonderful to learn about this unique National Park Site, and to get immersed in it's history.

- Hannah Dym