New quarter honors Weir Farm
WILTON — Don’t be surprised if you wind up holding a little piece of Connecticut in your hand one day soon.
On Monday, April 6, the United States Mint officially released a quarter bearing the image of Weir Farm National Historic Site. The coin is part of the Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, which honors national sites in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.
The coin is being released into general circulation, but it will not be available at the park. It depicts an artist painting en plein air, with J. Alden Weir’s studio in the background. It proclaims that Weir Farm is “A National Park for Art.”
The coin was designed by Artistic Infusion Program artist Justin Kunz and sculpted by Medallic artist Phebe Hemphill, who are both credited with the artistry of several coins issued by the Mint.
There was to have been a celebration at Weir Farm on April 6 and 7, but due to restrictions on large public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the special events planned for the launch of the quarter were canceled. The park is hopeful a future date can be set to hold a coin forum and celebration.
Begun in 2010, there are 56 quarters in all in the series. This is the second quarter of 2020 and the 52nd coin overall in the program. Also being released in this wave are quarters honoring National Park of American Samoa, Salt River Bay National Historical Park in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.
At the program’s outset, the Mint reached out to governors and other chief executives of all 56 U.S. jurisdictions and asked them to identify national sites for the America the Beautiful coins.
After reviewing their recommendations, the Mint consulted with the secretary of the interior and established a list of sites, which was then approved by the secretary of the treasury.
In 2009, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Weir Farm had been selected for the series. “Weir Farm is a treasure — long hidden — that this program will give a share of the recognition it deserves,” she said at the time.
The Mint will release for purchase collectible rolls and bags of Weir Farm quarters later this year. They will be available through the Mint’s online catalog at catalog.usmint.gov/coin-programs/america-the-beautiful-quarters-program/ or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).
This is the off season for Weir Farm, therefore no programs or visitor services are being offered at this time. The grounds, however, are open and people may also visit the park virtually by exploring interactive resources, art and image galleries, and information offered at nps.gov/wefa as well as the park’s Facebook page.
Weir Farm is the only national park dedicated to American painting, and was home Julian (J.) Alden Weir, often referred to as the “father of American Impressionism.” He settled here in the late 1800s, painting extensively in the gardens, at the pond, and throughout the rest of the grounds. Many of his contemporaries came to visit and paint as well.
A succession of artists, including Mahonri Young and Sperry Andrews, followed in his footsteps.
Many of the programs Weir Farm offers are dedicated to art, including Take Part in Art, which encourages visitors to pick up a brush and set of watercolors to paint what they see. There is also a robust artist-in-residence program through which a different artist visits the farm, living on site, for a month.
One of the artists who participated several years ago was photographer Xiomáro, who last year authored a book in the Images of Modern America series — Weir Farm National Historic Site — that was published on last June by Arcadia Publishing.
“Weir Farm is something for the people of Connecticut to be proud of,” Xiomáro said during a recent interview at the park. “It’s a small park with a big message.
“People can walk in the footsteps of artistic giants,” he said. “It’s a national treasure”
To learn more, visit nps.gov/wefa.