Bidwell House gardens
Bidwell House Museum will hold its annual summer garden party, on the museum's grounds, Friday, Aug. 27. Photo courtesy Bidwell House

Bits & Bytes: Bidwell House garden party; Dewey Hall ice cream social; ‘The Gibson Girl’ exhibit, lecture

“The Gibson Girl: A Gilded Age Icon” exhibit is now on view at Ventfort Hall, with an accompanying event to take place on Saturday, Sept. 25 as part of the ArtWeek program.

Bidwell House Museum to host annual summer garden party fundraiser

MONTEREY — The Bidwell House Museum will hold its annual summer garden party on Friday, Aug. 27 from 4–7 p.m. in the gardens on the grounds of the Museum. To celebrate 30 seasons, the Museum is honoring its founders, Jack Hargis and David Brush, and two of its founding board members, Bill Brockman and Jack Jefferson. This year’s theme is “Hats Off” and attendees are encouraged to wear their best hats. Guests will enjoy music by The Lucky 5, hors d’oeuvres by Kate Baldwin, and a silent auction full of experiences.

All proceeds from this event will benefit the Bidwell House Museum. The summer garden party is the major fundraising event of the year for the Museum, supporting the historic 1700s homestead, educational programs, and grounds, which are open to the community year round.

For the safety and comfort of attendees, we ask that all those who are not vaccinated wear masks to this event.

Tickets to the Summer Gala start at $100 per person and may be reserved by contacting the museum office at 413-528-6888. You can also purchase tickets on the Bidwell House website.

—A.K.

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Dewey Hall to host South County neighbors at ice cream social

SHEFFIELDDewey Hall will hold an old-fashioned “ice cream social” in its back yard to greet South Berkshire neighbors, both new and old, on Tuesday, Aug. 31 from 6–8 p.m.

The event is free, and ice cream will be provided by sponsor High Lawn Farm. There will be lawn games, a coloring table, door prizes, and live music from the Michael Junkins and Dan Broad Jazz Duo. The first 50 families to attend will receive canvas tote bags filled with swag and information from Sheffield businesses and organizations. The bags are screen-printed with the original Sheffield Friendly Union mission statement “…to increase kindly feelings and promote intelligence and cheerfulness” and were sponsored by Sheffield businesses.

In the event of rain, the social will be moved indoors. Attendees are urged to bring their masks in case they are needed.

—A.K.

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Ventfort Hall to host “The Gibson Girl: A Gilded Age Icon” exhibit and ArtWeek event

Charles Dana Gibson
Illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. Photo courtesy Ventfort Hall

LENOX — “The Gibson Girl: A Gilded Age Icon” exhibit is now on view at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, with an accompanying event to take place on Saturday, Sept. 25 as part of the ArtWeek program.

Charles Dana Gibson, the most successful commercial artist between 1890–1920, created an ideal American woman, so lovely that she would become the symbol of her own age — The Gibson Girl. Elegant, independent, and strong, she was competent either on a bicycle or in the ballroom. She was the definition of style that taught an entire generation of women how to walk, talk, and dress.

The Gibson Girl was also the artist’s way to satirize the social scene of the Gilded Age, whether it was the New York horse show where the real exhibit were the women in the audience; social-climbing American families who married off their daughters to fortune-seeking dukes, earls, and princes; the nouveau riche attempting to crash the elite “Four Hundred”; the foibles of mismatched marriages; or the aching heart in love. A collection of Gibson’s illustrations representing some of these and other subjects will be on view.

Celebrated in story and song, The Gibson Girl had clothes and hairstyles named for her, and her image appeared on pillows, tablecloths, souvenir spoons, ashtrays, matchboxes, fans, screens, dinner plates, and even appeared, satirically, as the perfect wallpaper for a bachelor’s apartment.

Irene Gibson
Irene Langhorne Gibson. Photo courtesy Ventfort Hall

Included in the exhibit are dinner plates by Royal Doulton and an original 1901 folio edition, both depicting drawings from the artist’s series “The Widow and Her Friends.” Having lost her husband, the young and attractive Gibson Girl must deal with the trials and tribulations of Gilded Age widowhood. A second 1900 folio edition on view, “Americans,” contains 84 of Gibson’s best cartoons.

Irene Langhorne, one of five famously beautiful sisters, met and married Gibson, and become the model for many of her husband’s Gibson Girls. Their photographs can be seen in the exhibit. The exhibit also presents other glamorous women who served as muses for the artist, including Evelyn Nesbit, the subject of the shocking assassination of architect Stanford White, and the Belgian actress Camille Clifford, whose hourglass figure was attempted far and wide. Antique Gilded Age gowns presented on mannequins by Ventfort Hall staff member Nancy Whelan are also part of the exhibit.

On Saturday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m., program committee member Tom Hayes will give a visual presentation, “The Gibson Girl: A Gilded Age Icon,” covering the life of the famed artist, his work, and his wife. Hayes’s talk will coincide with ArtWeek Berkshires, which takes place September 21–26. Admission for this event is $20, and reservations are recommended as seating is limited. For reservations, call Ventfort Hall at 413-637-3206.

—A.K.