Eat, Explore, Meditate
Norman Rockwell director leads us on an ideal day
Laurie Norton Moffatt has had a busy 27-plus years as director and CEO of the Norman Rockwell Museum—presiding over its evolution from a humble house-museum on downtown Stockbridge’s Main Street to its spacious campus on Route 183, where the artist’s studio cottage can be visited and rotating exhibitions, like this summer’s look at Edward Hopper, sit alongside Rockwell’s body of work. Her tenure has overlapped with Rockwell’s movement from the periphery to the center of the fine-art world, the auction value of his work skyrocketing with help from the intense attention of high-profile collectors like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
We asked her what her ideal day in the Berkshires would look like, when she has the time to tour around. With encouragement to pack in as much as possible, she sketched out a delicious itinerary that demonstrates the relationship between her professional life and personal interests, with a heavy dose of art exposure.
“I would start with an early morning meditation on my woodland terrace, listening to the sound of my burbling brook running past,” she says, sounding fully enthusiastic about the bucolic Berkshire lifestyle. From there, the former competitive diver would continue with the taste of the outdoors, with a long-distance swim in Stockbridge Bowl.
After toweling off, Moffatt would meet a friend at her latest favorite breakfast spot, Pleasant & Main in Housatonic. “The proprietor makes early-morning French croissants and pastries, Parisian style. It’s such a dilemma—it doesn’t make sense because I’m headed to yoga right after so I can’t eat very much. But I might have an omelet or a crêpe and maybe a croissant because he just keeps bringing things to the table,” she says with a laugh.
That yoga would happen at Yoga GB on Elm Court in Great Barrington, which gives her a chance to pick up some green tea at Rubi’s Coffee & Sandwiches, and then head around the bend to Lauren Clark Fine Art, Moffatt’s first art-related visit of the day.
“I’m quite a voracious collector of Berkshire artists. In this imaginary day, I decide I can’t resist another Bart Arnold piece for my jewelry collection. While there, I would look longingly and lovingly at another Joe Wheaton sculpture.”
From there, it’s time to drive back up Route 7 and meet a friend for a walk, with dogs, through Ice Glen in Stockbridge. “It’s nice and cool in the woods, and there’s a prehistoric feeling among the rocks and moss and trees.”
This also offers a chance to pop into downtown Stockbridge and visit Vlada Boutique to pick up a new accessory for the evening. And the visit wouldn’t be complete without stopping in to Sohn Fine Art “to glance at the latest photography and artists that owner Cassandra Sohn has in there, trying to keep up on the visual-art scene in the Berkshires. Quite a few of the towns throughout the Berkshires have very nice galleries. I like to keep up with people’s work and to support the gallery scene—otherwise we won’t have one.” [Sohn Fine Art will close the gallery on August 30. It now has a new, larger location at 69 Church Street in Lenox.] Not surprisingly, Moffatt would then pop into Schantz Galleries across the street to take a look at the stunning glass sculptures.
While in Stockbridge, it’s fitting that Moffatt would want to drop by the Norman Rockwell Museum to visit the artist’s studio and then take the quiet, ten-minute walk down to the Housatonic River for a spot of meditation. From there, she’d meet a museum trustee for a business lunch over in West Stockbridge at the Six Depot Roastery and Café.
“I was bereft when Scott Cole,” formerly the proprietor of Caffe Pomo D’oro, a longtime fixture at the same location, “left, but the new owners have created a wonderful experience—a new art-viewing opportunity at the gallery and having things like music and tango at night.”
She’d also venture around the corner to the Stanmeyer Gallery and Shaker Dam Coffeehouse for a pour-over coffee and to take in the work of National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer.
The back roads up toward Williamstown would offer a chance to take in the scenery and peek at Mount Greylock, followed by visits to the Williams College Museum of Art and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.
When dinnertime rolls around, Moffatt would be tempted to stick around and dine at the Williams Inn, followed by a visit to Williamstown Theatre Festival. But on this particular (imaginary) day, she’d head back down to Stockbridge for dinner outside on the terrace at the Red Lion Inn. She’d end the day with a walk up Main Street to Berkshire Theatre Group to check out something at the small Unicorn Theatre.
“I especially love the Unicorn productions—they’re experimental and fun and challenging and surprising. I never quite know what to expect, and I love that.”