Philadelphia, PA - Remember that scene in the film Dead Poets Society, the one where Robin William's character instructs his students to stand atop their desks? He was challenging them to break from routine, to see their world from a different perspective.
Historic Yellow Springs Reconceives 47th Annual Art Show with Online Auction Series
I thought about that movie moment during a recent run on a lovely autumn afternoon in Chester County. The sun would peek out on occasion; however, and for the most part, low-slung layers of grey cloud cover dominated. Mother Nature's artistry along a secluded stretch of the country road, where any passing traffic is inclined to be a local farmer's tractor hauling hay bales, challenged my pace with breathtaking painterly images.
While I have lived on this road for several years, and much like the aforementioned rut-stuck students, I had never deviated from my established running route. Not once did I mix it up or "take the road not taken." But one day, feeling an impulse to jettison the familiar, I ran in the opposite direction, which is how I came to discover Historic Yellow Springs Village in Chester Springs, PA. In all of these years, I never knew what a treasure trove of artistic, historical, and architectural riches--not to mention a surfeit of charm--was located (and now awaits further discovery) in my virtual backyard. There's a season for everything, it's said.
The Village (recorded in the National Register of Historic Places) is a work of art in its own right with its utterly delightful and captivating assemblage of historical buildings dating back to the 1700s. An annual art show, presented by the nonprofit organization Historic Yellow Springs (located at 1685 Art School Road, Chester Springs), is its premier fundraiser.
HYS's mission is to preserve and maintain said Village's 11 structures encompassing over 140 acres of land, much of which is conservation-protected. Additionally, HYS champions the arts through promotion and education. For instance, an upcoming class offers a course in Ikebana, the ancient Japanese art of floral arrangement. Their monthly calendar of events never lacks something for everyone.
And speaking of there being a season for everything, the annual Yellow Springs Art Show, now in its 47th year, typically takes place from late April through early May. Leading up to the show, there is a celebratory opening gala--a word that connotes elegance and sophistication catered eats and drinks and posh VIP attendees. Also featured throughout the art show's timetable are several wines, cheese, and music-type happy-hour pairings. These are memorable occasions when social gatherings (rather than distancing) foster community camaraderie, connecting art enthusiasts and the curious alike. Guests mingle in the beautifully lighted and staged galleries of the Lincoln Building to admire and discuss the artists' represented works.
But not this year. This year, one can pretty much state (for any given reason or situation) that "it's 2020" without having to clarify. The 2020 art show became reimagined as an online viewing experience launched on April 24th, then later comprised 32 auction iterations. To view the stunning works donated by over 75 juried artists, I had to nip onto HYS's Facebook page, an experience that left me (and no doubt others used to viewing art up close and personal) feeling out of sorts and akin to a cubist-fragmented Picasso painting.
Oh, happy day, when it was announced that reservations (which began October 1st) for in-person viewing of the pieces from October 19th through October 25th could be made with the proviso that all guests abide by the CDC's safety-mandated guidelines. Additionally, HYS included its own protocols. I happily complied with a request to complete a contact-tracing questionnaire when I headed into the Lincoln Building to view and photograph the fine art.
The talent and craftsmanship on display were unparalleled. A vast array of artistic mediums were exhibited. I delighted in meandering through the gallery rooms, grateful to be present in such a singular setting. The power of art can soothe the soul and more. Let's face it: computer views alone cannot capture the vitality of intimate, organic connections between the creatives' works and those who view them. The arts have that degree of power and influence over humankind.
As the poet, Walt Whitman wrote, "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering ... these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love ... these are what we stay alive for." Absolutely the same can be said of art, which is why I am grateful for one fall day, during which I created my version of a desktop leap with a single directional change. When one door closes ...
Time will tell how 2021's art show will present. However and since HYS reinvests fully 100% of the show's proceeds to continue their remarkable programs along with maintaining the Village's buildings, land, and more, your continued support and contributions that have and will always matter are that much more appreciated during these uncertain times.
If you've never been to Historic Yellow Springs Village, take that road not taken. If you have visited, come again and explore anew.
For more information, visit www.yellowsprings.org or call (610) 827-7414.
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About the Author
Writer: Sharon Kozden
Sharon is a local writer, covering events and Philadelphia's entertainment and society happenings in and around the city.