August is a special month at the Brandywine. Our gardens are painted purple and gold with an ongoing parade of butterflies of every species. The bubbling river is filled with laughing families in canoes. Trees planted on local farms last fall are beginning to peek over their protective shells.
Both arms of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art are passionate about beauty, nature, and the Brandywine Valley. This month, when so much of what we love most about this bucolic corner of Pennsylvania is in full swing, we love to celebrate that unique space where art and nature meet. This year we plan to do so with a perfectly named painting and a tiny pewter rat.
August, painted by one of the founders of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art, George “Frolic” Weymouth, is a memorable image in the Brandywine Collection that captures the beauty of a stroll through a field of wildflowers in bloom on a lovely summer afternoon. A staff and member favorite, this image can be found on postcards, magnets, and hanging in many offices on campus.
The scarf, an elegant piece of wearable art, has delighted Brandywine staff, friends and visitors alike with the delicate beauty of a wild meadow since it was created in 2014. The intricate product development process included rounds of color proofs to establish a standard that accurately represented the original work, and samples that had to win Frolic’s personal approval before being printed.
The final result is a stunning rendition of his gorgeous painting and a treasured keepsake that Frolic himself loved to give as a gift. In fact, one year for Christmas Frolic gifted the scarf to the entire staff of the Weymouth building where his office was located, where he spent many hours working, laughing, and bringing his vision to life.
Frolic Weymouth was not only a talented artist but also an inspired conservationist who understood that a great sense of humor was just as valuable as a will to succeed. Years ago, during the campaign to preserve what became our beloved Laurels Preserve, he came up with the idea to create a pewter pin in the likeness of the Brandywine mascot as a gift to donors who made a contribution to that vital land conservation effort.
The little river rat pin has become a wry conversation piece and a proud emblem of those who know the Conservancy and support our work across the globe. This page from a 1985 catalyst tells the story of the little rat:
The lovable rats were first sighted at the Laurels Picnic in September 1985 high atop the shoulder of donors who contributed to the Brandywine Conservancy’s Land Management Endowment Fund. The picnic, of course, celebrated the deed transfer of the Laurels Preserve (800 critical watershed acres) from Buck and Doe Associates L.P., to the Brandywine Conservancy.
During the month of August, the museum shop will offer a free river rat pin with the purchase of an August silk scarf. Worn together, they will be lasting tribute to a gifted artist, and will honor one of our founders and our friend.
George "Frolic" Weymouth. Photo by Jim Graham, http://www.jimgrahamphotography.com