Art imitates life imitates art: On Aug. 2, a gorgeously sunny Friday, I traveled by Hardy Boat from the Bristol village of New Harbor out to Monhegan Island, a 50-minute journey that is worth it just for the ride across beautiful Muscongus Bay, let alone what awaits on the sweetly scenic island itself.
My main mission was to view the current exhibit at the Monhegan Museum of Art & History of the work of the late Maud Briggs Knowlton, one of the first female artists to paint on Monhegan in the late 19th century, as Robert L. Stahl, the museum’s associate director, points out in his foreword to “A Life Made in Art: Maud Briggs Knowlton,” the companion book to the exhibit of the same name.
In this issue of The Lincoln County News, I review that very fine show, but in this column, I just wanted to focus on one of the things that struck me repeatedly both while I was on the island and since then – namely the unmissable overlap between the subject matter of Knowlton’s artwork and the gorgeous scenery one is greeted with everywhere one walks in the village of Monhegan.
Looking at Knowlton’s paintings, most of which were created in the early 1900s, one could just as easily be viewing paintings created recently (except that the slight yellowing of some of the paper used for Knowlton’s work occasionally belies that idea). So little has changed on the quaint island and Knowlton has captured so well, with her admiring eyes and skillful hand, the breathtaking beauty that continues to exist on Monhegan that I found myself feeling pleasantly surrounded by Monhegan’s flowery beauty both indoors and out.
It may sound like I am stating the obvious – and perhaps to some I am – but it is an absolute balm to the soul to move between the incredible natural beauty of Monhegan and the representation of it as displayed in the Knowlton exhibit. I highly recommend the experience.
Kudos – and thank you — to Knowlton, to the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, and to Monhegan Island for offering such tranquil beauty.
“A Life Made in Art: Maud Briggs Knowlton” runs through Sept. 30. The Monhegan Museum of Art & History is online at monheganmuseum.org. Its hours in August are 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily; September hours are 1:30-3:30 p.m. daily.
RIP, Lea Wait: Widely celebrated Edgecomb author Lea Wait, known for her children’s books and her Shadows Antique Print Mystery and Mainely Needlepoint series of books for adults, recently passed away, according to a post on the Facebook page of Islandport Press in Yarmouth.
“Across her work, she aimed to write about people trying to find love, acceptance, and a place to call home,” said the Aug. 12 post. “Much of that was inspired by adopting children as a single parent.”
(Christine LaPado-Breglia has written about the arts in both California and Maine. She is the recipient of two 2018 Critic’s Awards and a 2018 Local Columnist award from the Maine Press Association. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543.)