Sunday, April 15, 2012

An Encounter with the Unexpected: The Oculist

The first time I visited the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts I walked down this hall, looking at some small statues behind the glass on the right, then walked to the painting hanging on the wall in front of me.  When I got there I was stunned; genuinely speechless.  I could touch if I wanted to.  My expectations for this museum were not high when I went.  I have been to the Smithsonian Galleries in Washington, D.C., and I have been to The Louvre in Paris, France, as well as the Art Institute in Chicago, among others.  Before me, in this little art museum in Hagerstown, Maryland, was a Norman Rockwell: The Oculist.  

The museum acquired the painting after the director personally wrote Rockwell and asked to buy the painting in 1957.  It was the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 19, 1956.  

I want to expose my kids to art of all kinds.  Today they did a scavenger hunt in the museum, mapped out as to go through all the galleries and expose them to different genres of art work.  After finding The Shipwreck (the painting in the picture below), they were interrogating the security lady for clues to the next painting on the list.  

Surprisingly, one gallery at the museum exhibits paintings dating back to the 13th century.  French, Italian and Dutch paintings hung on the walls.  I did my best to explain to my son and daughter how to recognize Dutch style paintings (it's in the lighting) in preparation for our trip the the Philadelphia Art Museum.   

A picture looking into the American art gallery (below).  I will take my kids here often as they grow. Art is important.  It was the camera of the day, before cameras were invented, and a lot can be said about a culture by the art they produce.  In my opinion it is important and necessary for people to appreciate art, even if we don't always understand it.  I can't imagine a culture or country that doesn't make room for it.  


  1. Looks like you picked a great day as the museum appears empty of other people to get in your way!

  2. There were some other people there, and more coming all the time. I try to wait for people to move out of the frame before taking a picture I want. I only need about 1/60th of a second or less.