From Old Lyme To Guilford
by Kristin Nord
With the advent of trolley service from New Haven running eastward to Branford, Clinton and Old Lyme in the early part of the 20th century, the Connecticut shore- line became accessible seemingly overnight. Among the visitors flocking to the state’s midcoast region were artists seeking to recreate the colony experience so many had encountered in Europe.
FIRST STOP: OLD LYME
Leaders in the American Tonalist and Impressionist movements, Henry Ward Ranger, Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf among them, fell under the spell of Old Lyme. Even today, it’s still impossible not to be charmed by the architecture and scenery served up in this little town, which includes the same midcoast light and lush views of the Lieutenant River that drew artists to Miss Griswold’s Boarding House so many years ago.
This summer, on July 25 and 26, the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme Academy, The Bee & Thistle Inn and the Old Lyme Inn (both showcasing the work of contemporary local artists from two of the town’s galleries) will join forces with other sites for Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival, a celebration in the heart of the town’s Historic District.
In many ways the two-day party “encapsulates the essence of the town,” according to Olwen Logan, director of marketing and public relations at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. During the festival, the academy will be among nine institutions having open house and free admission on Friday evening. Visitors will be able to see the current exhibition of student work and “bird’s eye view” photographs of the natural world by Diana Atwood Johnson. The festival expects 7,000 on Saturday for its generous mix of art, music and food; full details can be found at oldlymemidsummerfestival.com.
Any visit to Old Lyme should include a stop at The Griswold Museum, where two summer exhibitions, “Art of the Everyman: American Folk Art from the Fenimore Art Museum” and “Thistles and Crowns,” explore the art of the common man.