Elderkin the great: Last week I had the distinct pleasure of spending a morning in Boothbay Harbor with Southport artist June Elderkin. We met at the art gallery (upstairs) at The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor, where Elderkin currently has a wonderful show of her paintings.
Before I get into why I use the word “distinct” (definition: “recognizably different in nature from something else of a similar type”) in describing the joy I felt in Elderkin’s company, I want to note that the opera house’s spacious gallery, which I had not been in until my visit with Elderkin, is a lovely space in which to view art.
So, my pleasure was distinct because Elderkin is a distinctly refreshing and unique woman to spend time with. She exudes strength, a curiosity for life, and an obvious ability to roll with things – notably her creative impulses.
Elderkin said that her approach to art – the mediums she uses and the way in which she uses them – is continually evolving, as one can see in viewing her current work at the opera house.
“Leafless #4,” for instance, one of Elderkin’s very recent paintings, is a striking, somewhat abstract acrylic piece depicting the sun shining through tall, slender trees at either dawn or dusk. The pinks, purples, blues, and yellows give the viewer a sense of peace and tranquility.
“Sylvia’s Beach,” an earlier acrylic painting of a coastal view from Elderkin’s friend’s house at Beals Island, is decidedly based more in realism.
Elderkin’s use of oil paints, as opposed to acrylics, results in yet different styles of paintings from her various landscape pieces. Particularly interesting – and definitely abstract – is her eye-catching large painting “There Is a Crack in Everything,” in shades of red and orange and based on the music of Leonard Cohen, whom Elderkin enjoys listening to.
“Tree Line,” a beautiful large acrylic landscape painting, is notable for its combination of an old-fashioned realism with a modern, rather abstract take on the line of trees referred to in the piece’s title.
Elderkin told me she started painting years ago in watercolors. “I always worked and I raised kids, but I still had time to paint at night,” she said of her early years as an artist. Elderkin, incidentally, was born in Boothbay Harbor and spent much of her earlier life in the Jonesport area. (I could have sat with her for hours just hearing her stories of living in that area in the 1940s, without any lights, with a literal ice box instead of a refrigerator, using an old-fashioned crank telephone, and so on, but I couldn’t.)
“When I was introduced to acrylics, I went nuts,” she said, smiling. “When I was introduced to pastels, I went crazier!”
Elderkin said she loves the versatility of acrylic paint and that pastels gave her “instant gratification.”
Of pastels, Elderkin marveled that “there are so many colors that you’ve got to have them all!”
Elderkin’s philosophy of life and work is basically this: “If you don’t get beyond what you already know, you will never grow. So, you just have to keep experimenting.”
I love her attitude and I love her work. Readers are advised to take in Elderkin’s fine show before it closes on Sept. 30. It is a rewarding experience.
The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor is located at 86 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the same as box office hours.
See Elderkin’s art online at elderkinstudios.com.
McGrory & Wolf closing: I am sad to say that McGrory & Wolf Gallery in Waldoboro, which I wrote about in this column in February of last year, is closing its doors for good on Saturday, Aug. 31. Besides the fact that owners Polly McGrory and her husband, Wolfgang Busse, are fabulous painters, they are wonderful human beings, a delight to be around. Their departure from the downtown Waldoboro art scene is indeed a loss.
But, one can still partake in their artistic and human goodness a little longer by visiting them at the gallery and perhaps taking part in the gallery’s ongoing silent auction. “Many paintings will be auctioned to the highest bidders, so drop in and bid on your favorite work!” they say. “Winners will be contacted by Aug. 28.”
McGrory & Wolf Gallery is online at mcgroryandwolf.com. Its storefront hours are Monday-Friday noon to 4 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment (call 790-1427).
(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.)