By Lowell & Kaye Christie, F47246
It would be a mistake to think only painters and sculptors are artists. Writers also are artists, using words instead of brushes. The art produced by composers can be anything from grand opera, to period music, to rock. That’s why we were more inclusive in selecting the places covered in this column.
1. Peterborough, New Hampshire
The MacDowell Colony began a century ago in Peterborough. Composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, Marian, started it all. Since then, more than 60 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to the 5,000-plus artists in (temporary) residence. Thornton Wilder wrote his play “Our Town” while there; composer Aaron Copland worked on Appalachian Spring. MacDowell is still an active colony where 20 to 30 artists are invited to live and work, provided with free room and board. The music tradition has certainly endured. Based upon the number of musical groups in this town of nearly 6,000, almost everybody there must either sing or play an instrument.
2. Cornish, New Hampshire
Here’s another great example of small-town America, one that has evolved into a summer resort for artists and writers. Perhaps the most famous resident was sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He began frequenting Cornish, not far from Greenwich, Connecticut, in the 1880s. Poets, writers, and painters soon followed. Today’s visitors to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site see the sculptor’s home, gardens, and studios. Also in Cornish is the Harlakenden House, which came to be known as the summer White House of President Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps the town’s three covered bridges and easy access to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail also may spark your interest.
3. Gloucester, Massachusetts
Gloucester’s scenic beauty has inspired two centuries of artists. One of the earliest painters to live there was Fitz Hugh Lane, whose home still exists on the waterfront. His works hang at the Gloucester Historical Association, as well as in museums in Boston and New York City. Other artists from the area include William Morris Hunt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and many more. Rudyard Kipling wrote his Captains Courageous there. The city also was used as a setting in the movie The Perfect Storm.
4. Ogunquit, Maine
With its three-mile beach of sand dunes forming a peninsula, Ogunquit is connected to the mainland by a century-old bridge. But it’s been more than a century since this old, weather-beaten village was discovered by artists and turned into an art colony and tourist area. The town is still a resort, whose visitors come from great distances and in great numbers. The town’s cultural sites and museums include the Meetinghouse Museum; the Ogunquit Museum of American Art; the Ogunquit Playhouse; and the Captain James Winn House, built around 1785.
5. Saratoga Springs, New York
Saratoga Springs may be best known for its crystal springs and baths, but it also is home to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the National Museum of Dance. Yaddo, a century-old artist’s community, is located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs. And like other art colonies, its goal is to provide an opportunity for artists to work in a supportive environment. Artists specializing in film, literature, music, performance art, or other creative fields must enjoy working there, given that those who have stayed at Yaddo have won more than 60 Pulitzer Prizes, and almost as many national book awards.
6. New Hope, Pennsylvania
This town dates back to a land grant from William Penn. Tourism is now the town’s primary industry, so people are plentiful over the weekends, shopping in the many antiques stores and art galleries, dining in the restaurants, or simply strolling along the Delaware River. New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse offers a steady stream of musicals and other theatrical productions. As for history, the post office dates back to 1805, and a number of homes from that era still stand.
7. Palenville, New York
Claiming to be “America’s First Art Colony,” Palenville was an important center of the Hudson River School back in the 19th century. Well-known painters created works of art in Palenville during the height of the movement. Today, Palenville is better known for its running water than its artists, because of its location near many impressive waterfalls. In fact, it’s been called the “Village of Falling Waters.” The town’s theater and opera still flourish, and galleries continue to exhibit works by artists from all over the United States.
8. Key West, Florida
Welcome to Key West, home of an unusual nightly arts festival. The Sunset Celebration takes place at Mallory Square, where visitors can view arts and crafts exhibitions. Visitors also will see the street performers “” jugglers, escape artists, musicians, magicians, and tightrope walkers. But that’s not all. Around two hours before sunset, masses of people flock to the water’s edge to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.
9. Sedona, Arizona
The village of Tlaquepaque (pronounced “tla-keh-pah-keh”), in Sedona, dates back a mere quarter-century “” not to the time of the re-created Mexican village you’ll find when you visit. Tlaquepaque means the “best of everything.” Visitors will want to stroll through the many galleries and shops, and then dine at one of its restaurants. Tlaquepaque is modeled after Guadalajara, Mexico, complete with arches, fountains, and peaceful plazas. It isn’t unusual to see a resident artist at work in one of the galleries. The village holds frequent art shows and other festivities during the year. And while you’re there, listen for the peal of the chapel bell, luring you to view the chapel’s stained-glass windows and hand-carved leather pews.
10. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe has long been a center of arts and culture. Visitors enjoy viewing the many outdoor sculptures, among them several statues of St. Francis of Assisi. Since the saint was known for his love of animals, it follows that artwork depicting crows, elephants, and other beasts are situated here and there in town. One of the best-known of the many artists who once lived in the area was Georgia O’Keeffe. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum features exhibitions of her work, as well as that of others.
11. Taos, New Mexico
The history of Taos as an art colony stretches back more than a century, when Englishman Arthur Manby built his Spanish-style adobe mansion there and filled it with art treasures. (Rumor has it that he stole most of them, and that some years afterward he was murdered.) A half-century later, the Taos Art Association converted the property into art galleries and an outdoor community theater.
12. Laguna Beach, California
This oceanfront community on the southern California coast has also been an artists’ colony for more than 100 years. Over the summer, several million visitors come to enjoy its art festivals as well as its beaches. Laguna offers numerous art shows, galleries, and special events, from the Laguna Art Museum to the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters (a stage production featuring great art).
13. Monterey, California
By the end of the 19th century, the Monterey Peninsula was well established as an art center. When word of the area’s spectacular location spread, it attracted artists of all types. In the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel, resident artists shared their lives along with their art. An article in the Overland Monthly in 1911 claimed that all good and loyal California artists consider it a “sacred duty” to make a pilgrimage to the peninsula. So should all good and loyal art lovers of today.