|The Dream Garden|
THEY RAZED MAXFIELD PARRISH'S STUDIO, AND I FILMED THE DESCONSTRUCTION
By Robin Lee
[Special to WC News Service]
Over twenty years ago, I filmed the sad demise of the magnificent and historic estate and art studio of American illustrator and artist and Philadelphia native Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966).
His estate and art studio sprawled upon the upper level of his historic estate with hundreds of miles of views all the way over to the Vermont mountains, captured in many of his paintings. This estate was located in the Cornish area of New Hampshire, a place for artist, poets and writers to work.
I lived close by his estate, and 1993 was the first time I was invited to his estate for tea. A long story and it would take all day and more to tell you of what I discovered. In short, I discovered nirvana, a world that few know of. And, now, it is gone.
I was allowed to film and take photos there. I would wrote in my journal the details of all my precious visits there, and all that Parrish created I wrote about. I would always write in my journal about this force that was there, it was so demanding. Maybe it was inspiration calling.
The big gardens that once flowered are now overgrown, unloved, unwanted and his studio -- how magnificent; it just needed some restoring and T.L C .
Parrish's fifteen-room studio was steeped in art history and was created by Parrish himself. This was where he painted the masterpieces, many of which featured his devoted servant, model, and friend, Sue Lewin. Parrish and Lewin lived in this beautiful studio, with sweeping grounds and architectural elements incorporated into his art. This valuable and precious art history is now gone with the exception of my extensive film footage, photography, artifacts, research and findings and of course, his masterpieces.
That art studio was amazing, it had secret passageways, hidden stairways, a huge Juliet balcony up high in the main living room with this big round gold motif upon it. I could clearly see all the masterpieces with in those walls and they embraced you. I was in his private world.
I had heard about The Dream Garden mural by Parish and Tiffany, installed in the Curtis Building in Philadelphia, being restored. I have all the elements, views, back drops, columns, and more throughout my film footage and photos that reveal all the secrets of The Dream Garden.
When you are at the Parrish estate you are inside the masterpieces, they surround you, and it is an experience when you can point out which painting was painted where.
When the Parrish estate was destroyed, I keep filming through the my tears as I watched art history die.
During one visit I viewed piles of his studio on the lawn waiting to be taken to the dump. I was allowed to salvage stunning items to save --- they are the survivors of what once was. The Parrish panel, deep green, handsome, is my favorite, it has that same round protruding motif upon it, the same round motif that was all over the inside of his art studio. I salvaged other precious items, and they have taught me well.
I hope to release my film research and story about Maxfield Parrish, his art studio, the paintings, his faithful Sue, and their day-to-day lives.
Not long ago I read that filmmaker George Lucas said that it was the artwork of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired the feel and look of his Star Wars films. A lost chapter in Star Wars history?.
Robin Lee is a composer, flutist, an artist, a mother, an avid swimmer, an advocate for animals and the author of Sanctuary Dishonored, The Decline and Fall of the Maxfield Parrish Estate.