Art and Nature in Andover

The Addison Gallery’s staid façade
Promoting the Electrohome Courier portable television set (late 1950s)
Francesca Woodman’s haunting House #4, from the series Abandoned House #1 (1976)
A scene from Weir Hill’s walking trails

 Two exhibits at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, in Andover, explore quintessential popular interests: real estate and television.

“Walls and Beams, Rooms and Dreams: Images of Home” features modern and contemporary photographs, such as the stunning, surreal images of “dispirited domesticity” in Gregory Crewdson’s 2002 Dream House series, and several sculptures and paintings, including Sam Cady’s Moved House Being Rebuilt (1983). “Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television” looks at how art and design trends shaped the medium’s formative decades, the 1940s through the 1970s.

The concurrent shows also inform each other, elucidating Americans’ evolving experiences of art and architecture in daily life. “In many ways, the television became a twentieth-century hearth around which families gathered to learn, laugh, mourn, and debate, creating the many associations and emotions that we connect to home,” says Addison director Judith F. Dolkart ’93. “And in the context of a museum with such rich American collections, I am glad that we can examine television and the ways in which the most innovative art of the day influenced and responded to this alluring medium.”

Housed in a red-brick building on the prep school’s campus, the Addison was opened in 1931. More than 17,000 works are in the permanent collection; artists range from John Singleton Copley and Georgia O’Keefe to Frank Stella, Kara Walker, and Kerry James Marshall. Admission is free. And the 2008 addition, named for Andover (and Harvard) alumnus Sidney R. Knafel ’52, M.B.A. ’54, has comfortable chairs and sunny places to sit while perusing books from the museum’s library.

Less than a mile’s walk down Bartlett Street (lined with antique homes) is the center of town. Eat lunch at Lantern Brunch (89 Main Street; 978-475-6191), a traditional coffee shop with vintage décor, or at LaRosa’s (7 Barnard Street; 978-475-1777), a gourmet deli with Italian fare. Afterward, drive seven minutes into North Andover and stop in to smell the roses (and meander through the perennial gardens designed in the early twentieth century) at The Stevens-Coolidge Place, or go a little farther to walk at Weir Hill; the reservation has four miles of trails with views of Lake Cochichewick and the Merrimack Valley.

Read more articles by: Nell Porter Brown

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