Andrew Wyeth Forever Stamps the day

Shutters flutter at the unveiling of the Andrew Wyeth Forever Stamps

Chadds Ford neighbors, art fans and philatelists stormed the Brandywine River Museum of Art courtyard Wednesday to get their hands on the newly minted Andrew Wyeth Forever Stamps. The official ceremony to unveil the stamps was a steamy affair even though a white tent provided some relief from the blazing hot sun. Ironically, or fittingly, the ceremony was hosting by WPVI-TV meteorologist Cecily Tynan.

Everyone has his or her own personal “Wyeth story,” and Tynan shared hers. She recounted

Cecily Tynan opens the ceremony

that on her wedding day her groom went jogging in Chadds Ford. He encountered Andrew Wyeth as he was painting. “He had white dabs of paint under his nose from where he missed his mouth while trying to wet his brush,” she said laughingly.

Patrick Mendonca, Senior Director, Office of the Postmaster General, USPS, spoke of the twelve individual works that inspired each stamp. He reminded everyone of how determined Wyeth was to capture the essence of the people and the surroundings of Chadds Ford, and how excellently he succeeded. “These Forever Stamps are timeless, just like the work of Andrew Wyeth,” he said. “They will continue to touch people every day,” he added.

Director of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art Virginia A. Logan spoke next, telling the visitors, “How lucky you are to be able to go inside and see one of the best exhibitions of Andrew Wyeth’s work ever on display. She shared that, “The reproduction of Wyeth paintings on these stamps will extend the reach of his work.”

Jamie Wyeth at the podium

Jamie Wyeth knows something about working with the USPS. In 1971, he designed a Christmas stamp for them. He chose to illustrate the beginning lyrics from the Christmas favorite, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” He chuckled as he remembered the USPS calling him after he was well underway with the painting to tell him the denomination had changed from six cents to eight cents. “So, I very carefully changed the “six” to an “eight” and sent the painting on to Washington,” he said. “Then, I get another call saying they want me to change the phrase “my true love gave to me” to “my true love sent to me. So, I fixed that and sent the painting back again,” he continued. “Subsequently, after nine hundred million stamps were printed, the USPS received thousands of letters telling them the wording should have been, “my true love gave to me!” Wyeth concluded his remarks about his father’s stamps saying, “I can’t wait to use them!”

“The Andrew Wyeth Forever Stamps seemed like forever in the making,” said Karen Baumgartner who is in charge of rights and reproductions for the Andrew Wyeth Office. “We were asked to avoid paintings with people in them due to privacy issues. For Big Room, 1988, which has pictures on the fireplace mantel, we had to get permission from the families of every single person depicted.” “We were able to include Christina’s World in the series because Betsy Wyeth was the model for the painting, and she said, ‘yes.’”

Mary Landa, Collections Manager for the Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collections, and husband Michael Landa

Chadds Ford resident Michael Landa, new products manager for a division of Avery Dennison, took personal pride in the Wyeth stamps festivities. Years ago, working with the United States Postal Service, he perfected the self-stick stamp, as we know it today.

State Representative Stephen E. Barrar arrived after the ceremony, but many people returned to the tent to hear him announce that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives had declared July 12 “Andrew Wyeth Day.”

 

 

 

 

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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

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