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A View from the Veranda: The Chautauqua Experience

lecture/slide show

The veranda is a sanctuary for rest and renewal. It offers a vantage point on a corner of creation, and a place to fall in love with the world.
The veranda was the place of social resort for the whole family in the summer months and these warm associations continue to color our feeling for this Victorian American setting.
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Through his paintings, and the writings of Andrew Jackson Downing, artist and writer Robert Selkowitz unfolds his vision of the restorative and therapeutic qualities of the veranda. He follows the idealism embodied in the architecture of the veranda through the creation of the network of Chautauqua communities, enclaves of verandahed cottages built as restorative sanctuaries for the human spirit.

The Chautauqua communities provided the artist in Robert Selkowitz with motifs for his paintings, and provided the writer in him with a vision of spiritual and moral aspiration for life at its best. These communities united the arts, education, religion and recreation, providing a utopian experience to generations of Americans. In the decades after the Civil War more than 200 Chautauquas were established and Selkowitz takes us on a tour of 21 sites which are vibrantly active more than a century after their founding.

This slide lecture program includes more than 60 paintings and hundreds of photographs of Chautauqua communities including:
Chautauqua Institution (NY), 1000 Island Park (NY), Round Lake (NY), Bayview (MI), Ocean Park (ME), Ocean Grove (NJ), Mt Tabor (NJ), Monteagle (TN), Lakeside (OH), Fountain Park (IN), Boulder (CO), DeFuniak Springs (FL), Mt Gretna (PA), Mt. Tabor (NJ), South Seaville (NJ), Cape May Point (NJ), and Silver Bay (NY). Also featured is the acclaimed enclave of Seaside (FL), an instance of Chautauqua inspiring a new model in town planning.

Robert Selkowitz was a Contributing Editor of "Victorian Homes" magazine and has photographed and written articles about a number of the most significant Chautauqua sites. His interest in the veranda as a motif for his paintings began in his work set at Cape May, New Jersey and followed through into the Chautauqua enclave's settings by lake, sea and mountain. Selkowitz' paintings have been widely published and collected.