Lincoln County is home to dozens of galleries, several world class theaters, and all sorts of venues in between. I look forward to getting to know the people and places of the local art scene.
This summer I took up writing the news column for my adopted hometown. I had not published anything in years, stretching back to my time as a blogging private investigator. That was two or three lifetimes ago. It was even earlier that I wrote my first music and performance reviews for the high school and college papers.
But I do not want to review art. I want to talk about it, and to artists, and art lovers. I want to tell readers about fun, interesting, exciting, unique, and weird experiences happening in your neighborhoods. Please send me your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, Aug. 26 was an absolutely fabulous day for a mini art tour in southern Lincoln County. True sky blue, fluffy white clouds, boats drifting through the harbor, buoys bouncing in the bay … it’s no wonder so many artists find inspiration in this view and have made “en plein air” a household term in Maine.
Maine Art Gallery in Wiscasset was the first stop. “Members Show” is an eclectic mix of subjects, mediums, and skills levels. Such a group show highlights differences between artists, their individual focus and style. Some acrylic paintings had a slow, dreamy, wistful aura while others depicting the exact same location interpreted a scene of busy industrial activity.
Maine locations were well represented with vistas of locations as near as the Sheepscot River (just visible from the sidewalk outside the gallery) and distant as Moosehead Lake. From Hermit Island, Matinicus, and Casco Bay to Monhegan Island and Rockport Harbor, water views seem to make up the bulk of what’s fascinating members of the Maine Art Gallery.
An eclectic show also has the element of surprise. As soon as maybe you’ve seen enough charming painted landscapes of the Maine coast, boom! – a Catherine Gibson ceramic wound with bittersweet vines. Then a variety of still life images, abstracts, mixed media collages, photographs, and the whimsical wooden assemblages of Andre Benoit. Vanessa Saft’s sculpture “Find a Space and…” is one of the more contemplative 3D pieces in the show.
After viewing nearly 100 pieces from 80 artists on two floors, I was almost disappointed in myself for having fallen hardest in love with one of the first paintings I saw as I entered the gallery.
I was not the only smitten attendee, as many pieces had the red sticker. Another gallery visitor was so struck he nearly shouted, “I grew up here, I don’t like sailboat paintings – but I LOVE this one.”
After the gallery, we made a refresh stop at Treats. Art’s here, too. Paintings by local Mat O’Donnell are both proudly displayed and hidden like Easter eggs around the shop.
Back outside, my spouse pondered aloud if the apples and stones were an art display, having noticed that every waist-high pillar along both sides of the street was so adorned. It was certainly creative.
Down the peninsula, we went to the Lincoln Arts Festival’s “Art for Art’s Sake” annual show at Southport Island’s Hodgdon Yacht Services. The three-day event is in its 15th year in this location, which is a giant boat repair garage the rest of the year. Saturday’s program was Art Interaction Day, so not only did we get to see art, we got to make some as well.
There was a memory game as we recognized a few artists from work displayed in the Maine Art Gallery. But the breadth was wider, encompassing fiber arts, ceramics, paper craft arts, sea glass creations, floorcloths, and more.
Benoit’s works at this show were even more fantastical. In his booth, attendees were encouraged to add wood pieces to an in-process piece, making an individual contribution to a collective artwork.
As the artists were mostly on hand in their booths, and many have returned year after year, there was a warm, congenial vibe in the room, fed by the arrival of a rare gorgeous sunny Maine summer day.
Every which way you turned on Saturday in Lincoln County, something stunning was on display.
(Sarah Masters grew up in the woods and ran away to the big city. While that was fun and all, she and her husband moved their dogs to Maine and settled down in the sticks. Now they study chicken math and goat husbandry. To contact Masters, email email@example.com.)