Tuesday, June 7: Today, I drive about an hour and a half west to Winchester, Virginia to visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. I’m meeting a friend, Layne, who I met years ago in D.C. through a travel Meetup group. That was back in the day when Mike and I were separated and Meetup groups provided much of my social life. 🙂
Layne and I have shared expat experiences in Asia, at different times and places. She lived and worked in Chang Mai, Thailand for a couple of years; during one of those years, I was living in China. She is now living and working in western Australia, and is here visiting family in Maryland for a couple of weeks. It’s really great to be able to see her while she’s here.
We first meet for lunch at One Block West. We sit outside on the deck despite threatening rain, and luckily we stay dry as we eat our asparagus soup. I also order Shrimp and Grits. I can never resist shrimp on any menu! It’s fun to sit over lunch and catch up with Layne and her life over the last couple of years. She has fallen in love with Asia and will be going back next week.
After lunch we head to the museum to see Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau. The exhibit showcases more than 70 original works by Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939), who from 1895 to 1910 was one of the most significant artists in all of Europe. His work became synonymous with the international Art Nouveau style, popularly called “le style Mucha” in Paris.
Art Nouveau means “New Art” in French. This type of art was popular in Europe from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Art Nouveau artists often used dramatic curving lines and flowers in their work.
The exhibit includes vintage lithographs, original drawings, paintings, books, posters, advertising ephemera, and more. We wander at our leisure through the wonderful exhibit, admiring Mucha’s work. Sadly, we’re not allowed to take pictures, but you can click on the exhibit link above to see some of his work.
After the Mucha exhibit, we wander quickly through the Shenandoah Valley collection; these objects and decorative artifacts include ceramics, furniture, textiles, metals, baskets, folk art, and paintings. They tell the stories of the region’s artists, craftspeople, and communities.
We then wander through the R. Lee Taylor Miniatures Collection. The Museum’s late Curator of Gardens R. Lee Taylor (1924–2000) began collecting miniatures as a hobby in 1979 to occupy time over the winter months. The hobby turned into a passion and by the time of his death, Lee had amassed a collection containing more than 4,000 objects, embracing the work of more than 70 individual artisans.
We really enjoy peeking into these miniature houses, decked out in so much tiny finery.
Next door to the museum are the Glen Burnie Gardens. Designed by MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor, creating these formal gardens began in 1956 and evolved over the latter half of the twentieth century.
As we walk around the gardens, Layne asks, “Didn’t Elise (the organizer of the travel Meetup group) kick you out of the travel group after you gave your risque Egypt presentation?” Yes, I tell her, she did, although she recently allowed me back into the group. It’s too late, however; at this point I’m no longer interested in going. Layne says, “That was the most hilarious presentation!” It was! People were laughing so hard they were howling and crying. Those were some fun days. When I remember things like that I’ve done in my life, I honestly believe I should be an inspirational, or some kind of public, speaker! 🙂
The landscape also includes some Chinese gardens and a Water Garden, where Layne and I wander, soaking in the Asian ambience.
As it’s getting near 4:00 and Layne has to drive back toward Baltimore, about 2 hours, and I have about an hour and 15 minute drive, we decide we better head off in our separate directions. Driving anywhere at rush hour in the D.C. area is a pain, so it will be a long haul home. Luckily, I can still follow Layne’s adventures on Facebook, as she’s heading back to Asia next Friday. It was wonderful to see her in person after such a long time! 🙂