Mixing work and pleasure: On the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31, one of my colleagues here at The Lincoln County News, reporter Maia Zewert, and I took a 50-minute Hardy Boat trip from New Harbor to spend the day on Monhegan Island, which is part of Lincoln County and, therefore, part of the paper’s coverage area.
It was my first time visiting the island and it was my job to check out the arts scene there. Probably needless to say, but it was a very pleasant assignment.
Monhegan Island is beautiful and unspoiled. Around every turn in every little dirt lane lies yet another view of something eye-catching and lovely – a tidy and inviting cottage tucked amid lush greenery, a shock of bright-pink flowers behind a picket fence, a lighthouse, a small sandy beach sprinkled with kayaks and kids, and view after view of the picturesque Atlantic. And that does not count the 12 miles of wooded trails that I did not have time to wander. It is no wonder that so many artists – including Edward Hopper, Andrew Winter, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, and N.C. Wyeth – have spent considerable time there painting.
On this particular Thursday, more than one artist – either visiting the island or one of its 65 or so year-round residents – could be seen with easels and paints, either painting one of the countless scenic views or walking down a path seemingly in pursuit of the next scenic view to paint.
I spent time at the art studios of painter Alice Boynton, a full-time resident of the island (see story in this issue), and multi-talented artist Kate Cheney Chappell, who divides her time between Monhegan and Kennebunk.
I went to Lupine Gallery, which features Monhegan-focused art by a number of artists, including Boynton and Chappell. Mike Stiler, Alison Hill, Beth Van Houten, the late Don Stone, Paul Niemiec, Kevin Beers, and Stan Moeller are some of the top-notch artists featured at this cozy gallery that also conveniently sells art supplies.
A modest (and, yes, scenic) uphill hike toward the island’s lighthouse brings one to the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, which currently features the impressive exhibition “Reckoning with Nature: Andrew Winter at Monhegan Island,” in addition to paintings by such Monhegan artists as Rockwell Kent, Sarah McPherson, and Joseph DeMartini. Numerous historical artifacts are also housed at the museum, in the light keeper’s building.
In the area of crafts, tiny Winter Works packs a big punch. It is loaded with all sort of Monhegan-made works, from crocheted hats to seaglass jewelry to CDs to calendars to cool postcards. I bought some particularly entertaining postcards featuring Monhegan chickens and dogs by artist Donna Cundy.
On the food side, I was most happy with my cup of dark coffee and “adult grilled cheese” featuring kale and red bell pepper at The Barnacle, the cafe that is dockside as one arrives at or leaves the island.
I hope to return to Monhegan Island in the spring (or sooner) to be one of the many who will make the trip from the mainland to take in the island’s peaceful-yet-invigorating beauty, both natural and artistic. I think I’d like to stay a little longer next time.
(Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543. I love to hear from readers.)