Western MA Landscape: Farmers’ Castles by Robert Strong Woodward
Castles in Western MA
Agriculture has it’s influence in all facets of food, habitat, and culture in New England. Artists often reflect back to us this influence in their art work, finding inspiration in the landscape that agriculture has shaped in our region. An exhibit in Deerfield, Farmers’ Castles, showcases the work of western Massachusetts artist Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) with a selection of paintings that celebrates our landscape and the castles that dotted the horizons… barns!
Farmers’ Castles by Robert Strong Woodward
Memorial Hall Museum
September 1, 2016 through October 30, 2016
Born in Northampton, MA, Robert Strong Woodward turned to painting as a profession after a gunshot wound paralyzed him from the waist down. He found refuge at his grandparents’ farm in Buckland, MA. Nestled in the Hilltowns and surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, Woodward found beauty and inspiration in his neighbors’ barns. Farmers’ Castles by Robert Strong Woodward at the Memorial Hall Museum features the painting Farmer’s Castle, a dynamic canvas of the Warfield barn in Charlemont recently donated to Memorial Hall Museum by John Warfield Glaze and Shirley J. Glaze, and five privately-owned and rarely-seen paintings of Buckland, Colrain, and Charlemont barns. Using perspective to literally heighten the barn on the canvas and in our minds, Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) succeeded in dignifying this rural structure to a position of honor. Referencing Woodward’s painting Farmer’s Castle—a play on the maxim “a man’s home is his castle”—if a farmer’s land is his kingdom, then the barn is his castle. Essential for housing livestock, grain, hay, manure, and equipment, it is the center of the farm. Using perspective to literally heighten the barn on the canvas and in our minds, Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) succeeded in dignifying this rural structure to a position of honor. In a 1938 letter to art critic Royal Cortissoz, Woodward wrote “My paintings have something beyond – merely the representation of factual truth… All the tragedy, humor, and struggle of New England farm life are found in this painting of mine.” Viewers will share in the nostalgia and celebration of the barn, symbolic of the agricultural abundance in our community. The exhibit will be on view from September 1, 2016 through October 30, 2016 at the Memorial Hall Museum. 413-774-3768 (Ext. 80). 8 Memorial Street, Deerfield, MA. ($)