Take a Day for Art Appreciation

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Saturday is a great day for relaxed appreciation of art with a friend or friends. Such a date leaves the pressures of work far behind as we allow our sensitivities to blossom, aided by interesting food and drink.

Impressionism probably is the most popular genre of the visual arts. A new exhibit called "The Road to Impressionism" at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Point Breeze is a good place to start. It is delightful in itself and is a stimulus to understanding the way the impressionists added their personalities to themes found in nature.

12:30 p.m.

Hook up for your date in the Greenhouse of the Frick Art and Historical Center. The Frick Greenhouse is a rebuilt version of the one constructed in 1897. Flowers and vegetables are cultivated with the assistance of the community group Grow Pittsburgh. You'll be sharpening your eyes with real nature before you see artistic impressions of nature.

The Greenhouse is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. There is no admission charge.

12:50 p.m.

Head for lunch in the Frick Cafe, which is about a minute away from the Greenhouse.

The winter menu includes Potato Leek Soup or soup du jour, $4. Salads, $11, include Ricotta and Beets, with baby greens from the greenhouse and orange marmalade dressing. Sandwiches, also $11, include one with roasted portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, alfalfa sprouts and edamame puree (made from baby soybeans) on a multigrain roll. Consider a prix-fixe lunch, from $18 to $22.

A nice selection of wines is available, from $6 to $15 by the glass, $18 to $50 by the bottle. Martinis and cocktails, some sparkling, and beer also are available, as are non-alcoholic beverages.

2 p.m.

After a leisurely lunch, make your way to the museum at the complex. A $5 donation is suggested.

"The Road to Impressionism," an exhibit on loan from the Walters Museum in Baltimore, includes prime examples of art inspired by untrammeled nature in the Fontainebleu Forest near the village of Barbizon, 30 miles southeast of Paris.

Theodore Rousseau, Jean-Francois Millet and Jean-Baptiste- Camille Corot are among the Barbizon painters represented in the show, as well as an early work by Claude Monet -- "Windmills Near Zaandam."

A relaxed pace is best when viewing art. These paintings often assign a high percentage of the canvas to the sky, reflecting the artists' appreciation of the qualities of natural light both in the sky and on the landscape.

Take time also to check out the museum's current exhibition of drawings by Millet that are drawn from the Frick family collection.

The subjects of these artworks extend from landscapes to scenes of people farming and animals. Rousseau, for example, sought to convey the mystery of trees in all their majesty. …