One drives past the Saltwater Artists Gallery on Bristol Road in New Harbor on the way to and from the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Those making a beeline for the lighthouse may miss stopping at this delightful multi-room gallery, but they should make every effort to return another day to leisurely view all that the gallery has to offer.
Saltwater Artists Gallery is “a cooperative adventure in the arts,” as its website, saltwaterartists.com, describes it. Indeed, this membership-operated gallery – currently displaying the work of 23 talented artists – offers the gallery-goer much in the way of an artistic adventure. The artists’ work on display ranges from oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings to sparkling recycled-glass art and sea-glass jewelry to sculpture, etchings, photographs, and finely crafted wooden bowls.
Brooklin artist Alison Dibble was “sitting the gallery,” as she put it, on a recent Friday morning. Dibble, a Saltwater Artists Gallery member, is also an assistant research professor at the University of Maine, specializing in pollination ecology. Her watercolor and oil paintings – painted largely of scenes in the Blue Hill area – hang on one wall near the entrance to the gallery. “Levesque Boathouse with Ice” and “Blue Hill Fire Tower, about 1986” are two of her Blue Hill-area pieces. The latter is an effective oil painting featuring an asymmetrically placed fire tower as the subject. The viewpoint is from below – not looking straight on at the tower, as might be more usual – giving one the sense of looking up toward the top of the tower and the sky. “I tried to achieve a feeling of vertigo,” Dibble said.
On the wall facing Dibble’s artwork hangs the watercolor paintings of 92-year-old South Bristol resident Maude Olsen, a charter member of the 48-year-old art cooperative. Olsen’s “Council of Herons,” “A Little Hill Music,” and “Old Boats Never Die” give one a sense of the range of subjects and styles Olsen is drawn to, ranging from delicate washed colors (“A Little Hill Music”) to the commanding dark-brown strokes of “Old Boats Never Die.”
The lovely sea-glass jewelry made by Olsen’s daughter, Lynne Thompson, aka “The Seaglass Lass,” is located in a glass-topped case in an adjacent room. Near her work are the striking wildlife photographs of Pemaquid and Texas resident Sandy Flint. His photo of a puffin standing atop a rock on Maine’s Easter Egg Rock Island, wings outstretched seemingly triumphantly, is fittingly titled “ … and Tomorrow the World.” “Catch of the Day” is a large photograph of a “spirit bear,” a rare, cream-colored American black bear also known by the names “ghost bear” and “Kermode bear.” “Big Foot!” is a playful look at a young grizzly bear in British Columbia, holding his right foot up in the air like a toddler might do.
Flint’s gorgeous extra-large framed archival print of a bison in Yellowstone National Park – titled “Our National Mammal, the American Bison” – hangs front-and-center in the gallery, greeting guests as they enter the front door.
The work of Midcoast-based oil painter Carolyn Gabbe hangs on a front-room wall near the bulk of Flint’s photographs. Her work is notable for its bold, deep colors, conjuring up a Southwest feel. This should not be surprising, as Gabbe’s biographical information at the gallery says that she was “born in the West.” Her “Meghan” is a portrait of a young woman, the strength in her face conveyed with the help of the boldness of the bright red and green Gabbe employs in painting the ribbon around the subject’s neck and the background, respectively. Gabbe makes a pair of old turquoise-and-black cowboy boots the subject of a fine portrait called “Little Old Boots.” Similarly, she esteems a beautiful white, red, and green kimono hanging on a limbless mannequin in “Kimono” and honors a stack of four iced donuts in “Four Village Store Donuts.”
Saltwater Artists Gallery’s rooms full of art invite one to wander and linger, taking in the abundance of art and craft created by the talent represented. Kay Miller’s monotypes and etchings are wonderfully detailed, including her sweet set of three sea-centered pieces, “Sea Net I,” “Sea Net II,” and “Sea Net III,” and her tiny green-tone etching of a lobster called “Lobstah Anyone?” Woodturner Tom Raymond, a former Merchant Marine who teaches at the Woodturning School in Damariscotta, offers his beautiful wooden bowls. Carol Wiley weighs in with her multi-media abstracts, still lifes, and landscape paintings; her watercolor-collage pieces, “Kimono 9” and “Kimono 10” are eye-catching. Waldoboro photographer Ardy Greatorex’s photo prints nicely focus on such local attractions as the village of Round Pond and the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Her “Pemaquid Lens,” of the lighthouse’s huge Fresnel lens, taken from inside the lighthouse with a view of the Atlantic Ocean out the lighthouse window, is particularly striking, in large part because it is so unlike the usual depictions of the lighthouse seen from the outside.
Teddi-Jann Covell’s numerous Maine-centric oils make for excellent viewing. Covell also offers a coloring book, “Color ME: Maine Coloring Book for Artists of All Ages” for sale at the gallery.
Not to be missed are Pam Wilcox’s recycled tempered-glass pieces, made from discarded windows from a paper mill in Madison, and Cynthia Smith’s sculptures. Smith’s maplewood piece featuring a small rowboat titled “Memories of the Lost” and her large sculpture of a frog on stilts-of-sorts – “After Dark” – are particularly nice. Dave Higgins’ “enhanced digital images,” such as “Straight A’s Beal Island” and “Ram Island Light, Boothbay,” are must-sees as well.
Saltwater Artists Gallery is located at 3056 Bristol Road, New Harbor. For more information, go to saltwaterartists.com or call 677-2490. The gallery will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 10.