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See the best traditional artists in America
For those who read or want to write for the magazine
Last weekend (last month, as you’re reading
this), a dear friend and I met over morning
cups of cocoa and tea, caught up on family
news, and shared a farewell hug before
she headed out of state to visit relatives. An
unremarkable encounter pre-COVID, that
brief face-to-face meeting takes on a special
sweetness as I—and so many others—look forward to
some semblance of post-vaccine normalcy.
We’re starting to see encouraging signs. Museums
are opening up, promoters are scheduling artisan shows
and re-enactments, people are planning vacations. We
traveled ourselves, returning to Philadelphia to view the
newly restored and re-opened galleries at the Philadelphia
Museum of Art.
We give you a brief glimpse of how the museum
rearranged iconic objects and newly acquired pieces of
American art in the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Galleries, part
of the Core Project directed by award-winning architect
Frank Gehry within the 1928 landmark building.
As the architecture underwent renovation, the curatorial
staff delved into immigration, colonialism, trade,
and underrepresented narratives in American art from
1650 to 1850 to re-imagine its development through a geographically
broader and more culturally inclusive lens.
While in the City of Brotherly Love, we also spent a
day at Cedar Grove, built in 1750 as a summer retreat by
the Paschall family. It’s now one of the six Park Charms—
second homes built by the city’s wealthy merchant class
to escape the overcrowding and yellow fever epidemics
of the city.
All six grand mansions stand
in Fairmount Park overlooking the
Schuylkill River, although Cedar
Grove didn’t join them until the
1920s, after the family moved the
house and donated it to the city’s
residents for all to enjoy. Expanded
and remodeled during five generations
of family ownership, Cedar
Grove provided formal, personal,
and utilitarian rooms in which to
photograph the work of today’s
best heritage artisans.
Happily, our Directory continues to highlight the
best work of new makers as well as sublime objects made
by the artisans who set the bar for superb reproductions
and interpretations of early antiques. As you look through
these pages, note how well these newly created objects fit
with the originals at Cedar Grove.
Another notable collection—featuring Chippendale
and Federal furniture, Hudson River School paintings,
and weather vanes acquired by Robert and Mary Ann
Peter over six decades—finally found a suitable home in
national landmark. The Peters, who consider themselves
the latest caretakers of the 1772 Nash-Hooper House in
Hillsborough, North Carolina, invited us to share the
home of early patriots and prominent officials as well as
the couple’s glorious gardens.
This issue also examines the emergence of American
democracy as practiced in the town meeting. Brought to
America by the Pilgrims, the idea of personal representative
government quickly spread throughout New England.
Even today, thousands of small towns hold annual
meetings, where every adult resident is invited to express
his or her views and vote on the budget, road maintenance,
and local ordinances that impact their daily lives.
We hope you’ll soon have a chance to visit a museum,
attend a show, or participate in a local cause as a way of
emerging from stasis and rediscovering your passions.