Clyfford Still Pilgrimage: Our Visit to Westminster and New Windsor, Maryland
by Bailey Harberg, Collections Manager and Emily Kosakowski, Registrar
Last month, we were able to travel to the area in which Clyfford Still spent the last quarter of his life while we were in Maryland for the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting.
Driving on the rural highways between Baltimore and Westminster, we couldn’t help but feel like we were on our own little Clyfford Still pilgrimage. Sandra Still even put a folder together for us mapping out her father’s favorite spots along the route and specific sites we should look out for.
The first stop on our trek was Westminster, Maryland, where Still moved after leaving New York in 1961. After driving around town rather aimlessly in a hunger-induced stupor, we found ourselves face to face with Clyfford Still’s favorite diner, Baugher’s. Recognizing that this was nothing if not miraculous, we immediately pulled in. Baugher’s is a family run enterprise that was running full tilt when Still arrived the summer of 1961. Sandra Still says that her father enjoyed going to Baugher’s for a burger sub—one of their specialties—and often ate there for breakfast or lunch. We bought some fruit from the little farmer’s market on site and indulged in a homemade ice cream shake. Definitely delicious!
Feeling revived, we drove the short distance west to New Windsor, MD to find Still’s home located at 312 Church St. New Windsor is a quaint town with charming storefronts and beautiful, grand homes. The Stills’ former home is no exception. Although it is currently home to a law office and is in a bit of disrepair, one can easily imagine Clyfford and Patricia sitting on the wonderful, wrap-around porch enjoying an evening drink and meal.
We then followed Sandra’s map to Pipe Creek Cemetery to pay our respects at Clyfford Still’s mausoleum outside of town. The mausoleum is situated down a narrow strip of land that looks out over the distant mountains. It is a quiet place with extraordinary views; we commented that neither of us could have imagined Still’s final resting place to be any more peaceful.
Finally, we drove back towards Westminster in search of the now empty fields outside of town where Clyfford Still’s farmhouse and barn studio once stood. Even though there isn’t anything left of the original structures, we were able to get a sense of the placid, somewhat reclusive life that Clyfford and Patricia Still chose after they retreated from the art scene of New York. Sandra Still provided us with several Google maps outlining Still’s property so we could really see where the home and studio once stood.
Standing on Still’s New Windsor front porch, swinging open the door to Baugher’s that Still must have swept through countless times, and driving along the dirt roads he sped his jaguar down on the way to his Westminster farm house and studio humanized the artist to us in a way that I don’t think either of us could have expected. After visiting these bucolic towns and interacting with the people there, it is completely plausible to imagine Still going about his daily life with no one being remotely aware of the historic figure walking in their midst. He could not have chosen a more authentic area to spend the last decades of his life.