Old State Capitol hosts huge 'backyard party' art exhibition - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Old State Capitol hosts huge 'backyard party' art exhibition

Jimmy Guynn and daughter Peggy in their backyard pool 1958. (Source: Peggy Guynn) Jimmy Guynn and daughter Peggy in their backyard pool 1958. (Source: Peggy Guynn)
A photo from the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition “Patios, Pools, and the Invention of the American Backyard” A photo from the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition “Patios, Pools, and the Invention of the American Backyard”
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

In the leading into the new exhibition at the Old State Capitol, curators asked people from all walks of life to dig through their boxes and albums of photos and find pictures of their homes' backyards.

The current exhibition from The Smithsonian Institute,  "Patios, Pools, and the Invention of the American Backyard", was coming and Tom Shedler's museum workers were adding local flavor to the national institution's cultural treasure trove.

Peggy Guynn sent along her black and white photo from a hot day in 1958 when she was four and was finding relief from the heat in her little wading pool when her dad suddenly joined her.

"He probably had been mowing the lawn and just wanted to cool off as much as I was!" she laughed. "And I don't know for sure what brand it was, but I know that can in his hand was a beer."

Her dad, Jimmy Guynn, had been the modern day equivalent of a CFO for Airtrol, a heating and air conditioning company that served large commercial buildings. Peggy's mom had been a legal secretary, but once she married, became a stay-at-home mom like everyone else during that time.
Peggy says she was the couple's only child, and was a big-time Daddy's Girl. This wading pool episode wouldn't been a delight for them both.

Guynn says think of how things have changed, " Everybody has their big pools, their fountains, their coy ponds, their outdoor kitchens...
This was the wading pool, the aluminum folding chairs ..."

The Old State Capitol has lectures, a Family Day in the Old State Capitol's "Front Yard"! These are events help make an exhibition like "Patios, Pools...." become a lesson in American culture.

Peggy heard a speaker on opening night for the exhibition, Dr. Neil Odenwald of LSU School of Landscape Architecture, explain that America had entertained indoors up until around the 50s, and then companies began making products to be used for entertainment in the outdoors.

We're talking about folding chairs and tables, things like that. He also mentioned that the cultural concept of the suburb was just evolving, and homes on the outskirts of large cities in the quieter neighborhoods took on a certain style that became indelibly tied to "suburbia".
So where do we see Peggy Guynn now? She says she's semi-retired, and working part-time at Woman's Hospital.

I want to give you a heads up on two events coming up this weekend...Here's the way Secretary of State Tom Schedler's staff describes it: "Families are invited to Louisiana's Old State Capitol for a special "family weekend" Saturday, October 10th and Sunday, October 11th.  Inspired by the Old State Capitol Museum's current exhibit from The Smithsonian Institute,  "Patios, Pools, and the Invention of the American Backyard" on view through November 28th, the Old State Capitol welcomes families to bring a blanket and lawn chairs on Saturday, October 10th at 10 a.m. to see the Red Stick Croquet Club play the time-honored game of Croquet.

You will then be invited to join in on the fun, playing with the experts or on your own at the croquet courts set up just for you on the Capitol lawn. 

Finally, on Sunday, October 11th from Noon - 2 pm, please join the Old State Capitol as they welcome special guest Johnette Downing to a "Patio Party" right before the downtown Sunday in the Park concert.  The "Musical Ambassador to Children" and the "Pied Piper of Louisiana Music Traditions," Johnette Downing is a multi-award winning singer, songwriter, musician and author for children, their families and their educators.

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