PACK UP A WEEKEND BAG AND CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE ART TRAIL.
WE PICKED THREE OF COASTAL MAINE’S MOST ROAD-TRIP–WORTHY
REGIONS FOR ART LOVERS AND LAID OUT OUR STOP-BY-STOP ITINERARIES
FOR EACH. READY TO EXPLORE SOME OF THE BEST OF MAINE ART?
The York County gallery scene is vibrant, with artsy shops in Kennebunkport’s dock square and Ogunquit’s Perkins Cove that straddle the line between showrooms and boutiques. (as a bonus, you’re never far from a great beach.)
1 Well proportioned and nicely glazed, Elaine Xenelis Fuller’s ceramics fill this unassuming Federal-style studio gallery just blocks from the heart of Foreside. Find elegantly ornamented teapots, handsome dishes, and sturdy mugs, along with a scatter of collectibles and gifts from other local artists. 44 Government St., Kittery. 207-439-5671.
2 Perched alongside the York River, this three-story, former 19th-century general store (a property and program of the Old York Historical Society) shows contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, and more, primarily by New England artists. This summer’s gems include found-object sculptures by Dan Dowd and colorful and mildly impressionistic landscape paintings by Ann Trainor Domingue. Openings are festive affairs — often under the stars, riverside — so check the gallery’s events calendar. 140 Lindsay Rd., York. 207-351-1083.
3 A season of thoughtful and original exhibits is underway, starting with a 65th anniversary retrospective highlighting some of the best-known artists in the museum’s collection and the role that Ogunquit’s art colonies played in the development of American Modernism. Others include a survey of the glossy, hyperreal paintings of Steve Hawley, drawings and paintings by Lois Dodd, and a collaboration between poet Richard Blanco and photographer Jacob Bond Hessler. The 3-acre, oceanside sculpture garden is full of surprises. 543 Shore Rd., Ogunquit. 207-646-4909.
4 This bright red gallery on the edge of Perkins Cove has been a landmark since it opened in 1959. Run by the nonprofit Ogunquit Arts Collaborative, it showcases local painters, photographers, sculptors, and others. Check the event schedule for the summer slate of lectures, demos, music, and poetry readings. The gallery packs them in for an annual auction the first week in August. Shore Rd. and Bourne Ln., Ogunquit. 207-646-8400.
“It’s not always the easiest area to maneuver in the middle of the summer, but in the heart of York Beach is a place called ⑨ Chases Garage (16 Main St.; 207-361-4162). I used to get my car inspected there. Now, recent New Hampshire Institute of Art grads Cait Giunta and Ned Roche have turned it into studio spaces with a small gallery up front and a focus on printmaking and ceramics. They show work by artists who use the studios, but also former professors and others. Some of Maine’s top ceramics artists have done workshops there. They’re sort of doing it on a shoestring, and there’s just a great energy.” — Mary P. Harding, curator at York’s George Marshall Store Gallery
5 Twenty-five years ago, Corey Daniels transformed a stately 19th-century colonial and adjoining barn into a mod, expansive exhibition space, with art spread across 6,000 square feet in seven rooms. Artists include Rockport photographer Shoshannah White, whose encaustic landscape (and seascape) photos are hauntingly beautiful, and Kennebunk native and designer Miles Spadone, whose experimental, often plasticky sculptures play with notions of utility. The big gallery accommodates large-scale installations too. A painter himself, Daniels also collects antiques and artifacts, and some of his finds share space with the art. 2208 Post Rd., Wells. 207-646-5301.
6 A set of whirling, copper wind sculptures at the entrance to this gallery complex has a tendency to stop traffic in Kennebunk’s lively Lower Village. They’re made by Lyman Whitaker, one of 35 Maine painters and sculptors represented inside the gallery. Check out the skewed-perspective, slightly cartoonish fishermen portraits by David Witbeck or Jill Valliere’s moody, textured landscape paintings. Across the street, on Chase Hill Road, a sister set of micro-galleries, new this spring, hosts weekly pop-up exhibits. 14 Western Ave., Kennebunk. 207-967-2803.
7 One block up from Kennebunkport’s bustling Dock Square, in a quieter neighborhood of period homes, Jean Briggs’s group gallery represents more than 70 artists. Find paintings, sculpture, graphic art, jewelry, furniture — you name it — along with some less classifiable stuff, like Lindley Briggs’s fantastical copper medallions and Kate Cheney Chappell’s found-object collages. The Greek Revival gallery space also hosts frequent and intimate jazz concerts. One Mast Cove Ln., Kennebunkport. 207-967-3453.
Photos: Courtesy Corey Daniels Gallery, Eric J. Taubert (Jamie Wyeth, Barn Gallery), George Marshall Store Gallery (Arches)
Where to stay: Ogunquit’s Hartwell House Inn
(312 Shore Rd.; 207-646-7210) has a historic B&B vibe — poster beds, afternoon tea service — along with a micro-gallery of local art and an artist-in-residence program. Walking distance to Perkins Cove and Marginal Way too.
Grab a bite: The Boston Globe said the deviled eggs at Black Birch (2 Government St., Kittery; 207-703-2294) were the equivalent of fine art, and the restaurant shares a building with the adventurous ❽ BUOY Gallery (207-450-2402). Opening events sometimes spill over.
Don’t miss: The inaugural Maine Art Hill Block Party on June 8, during the Kennebunkport Festival, with drinks, live music, and art on display.
1 You can’t swing an easel in downtown Rockland — where the lamppost banners read “arts capital of Maine” — without hitting a gallery. (There are some 25 stops in 10 blocks on the First Friday art walks.) Among the best are Dowling Walsh Gallery (365 Main St.; 207-596-0084), which reps contemporary, sometimes provactive painters, photographers, and sculptors (including this month’s cover artist, Greta Van Campen), and Harbor Square Gallery (374 Main St.; 207-594-8700), where painting and sculpture share space with mod jewelry and pottery, worth a visit for its rooftop sculpture garden alone.
2 This summer’s highlight, opening June 30, is American Steel by Brunswick’s John Bisbee, who hasn’t had a solo show in Maine in a decade. The sculptor uses forged and welded nails — and that’s all — to create minutely rendered objects that are at times instantly recognizable (a tree, a bathtub), at times writhing and abstract. Also this summer, installation artist Tom Burckhardt’s life-size cardboard rendering of an artist’s studio literally turned upside down (you can walk right in) and the environmental portraits and still-life photography of Jocelyn Lee. 21 Winter St. 207-701-5005.
3 Anchoring the Rockland scene, the Farnsworth celebrates its 70th anniversary this summer by trotting out highlights from its permanent collection, including work by American masters like George Inness and Winslow Homer. Another exhibit, N.C. Wyeth: Poems of American Patriotism, shows off 16 paintings by the eldest Wyeth artist, imagining scenes from early American history. On the Cushing peninsula, the museum administers the Olson House (384 Hathorne Point Rd.), the lonely and evocative farmhouse made famous by Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World (and a couple hundred other Wyeth works). It’s open to the public, with docent-led tours. 16 Museum St. 207-596-6457.
4 At the north end of St. George, it’s worth pulling over for a trio of charming home galleries. First Light Gallery (1174 River Rd.; 207-372-1515) features painter Lucinda Talbot’s colorful abstract landscapes. Down the road, at Ibis Arts (1011 River Rd.; 207-372-8055), fiber arist Pat Kamlin offers hand-dyed wall art and textiles in cool geometric patterns out of a renovated chicken barn. Across the street, George Pearlman Pottery (1012 River Rd.; 207-372-9671) shows off the master ceramicist’s pots, vases, and dishes, all with his trademark abstract botanical designs.
5 At the tip of the St. George Peninsula, a handful of neat galleries cluster around tiny Port Clyde. Among them is the Port Clyde Art Gallery (5 Cold Storage Rd.), a fun, funky co-op (in the attic of the town’s Barn Café) of a dozen artists working in oils, watercolors, mixed-media assemblage, and more. Also, Barbara Prey Projects (855 Port Clyde Rd.; 207-372-8087) is the gallery of the prolific painter and seller of prints. Though usually a watercolorist, Prey exhibits a rare series of small-format oil paintings the first half of July.
6 Opening for its 50th anniversary season on June 24, the small museum housed in the former Monhegan Light Station presents the best of its collection, including works by Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Andrew Wyeth, and other noted artists who’ve helped turn this weatherbeaten rock into a storied art colony. Ferries leave from Port Clyde (also New Harbor and Boothbay Harbor). Check the website for a schedule of commemorative lectures, films, and special events. 1 Lighthouse Hill. 207-596-7003.
“I think the ❼ Langlais Sculpture Preserve (576 River Rd., Cushing; 207-594-5166) is exciting. Bernard Langlais’s wooden sculptures are somewhere between fine art and folk art. He was absolutely a trained artist, had a sophisticated art education, went to New York, and then came back to Maine and started doing these more whimsical figures. There’s a wonderful huge elephant you can go up inside, a giant Nixon waving the peace signs. He did a sculpture of Christina from Christina’s World, kind of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Olson House nearby. And there’s art and nature together, since you can walk the lovely trails down to the water.” — Suzette McAvoy, chief curator and executive director of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art
Photos: Andrew Estes (John Bisbee), Benjamin Williamson (Monhegan Museum, bear), courtesy of 250 Main (chairs and art), courtesy CMCA (Jocelyn Lee)
Where to stay: Maine’s artiest, most fun boutique digs, 250 Main Hotel (250 Main St., Rockland; 207-594-5994) features 26 industrial-mod rooms, a killer rooftop bar, and the work of Maine artists (including Henry Isaacs, Janice Kasper, and Eric Hopkins) everywhere you turn.
Grab a bite: After 25 years of anchoring Rockland’s downtown dining scene, Cafe Miranda (15 Oak St.; 207-594-2034) is as strange and satisfying as ever.
Don’t miss: Through June, the paintings of the late Cushing artist Bernard Langlais, better known for his wooden sculptures, hang at (oddly enough) Rockland’s Eastern Tire & Auto Service (70 Park St.; 207-594-5166).
1 Now in its fifth year as Maine’s only Smithsonian affiliate — and its 90th as a repository and interpreter of Wabanaki culture — the Abbe hosts a core exhibit, People of the First Light, introducing visitors to the Native people of Maine. Emergence: Root Clubs of the Penobscot Nation displays (and dispels myths about) dozens of elaborate ceremonial weapons made by Penobscot tribal artists from the root balls of birch and poplar trees. Four Directions of Wabanaki Basketry presents a traditional basket from each of the four Wabanaki tribal communities: Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Penobscot. 26 Mount Desert St., Bar Harbor. 207-288-3519.
2 The arts scene in bustling downtown Bar Harbor is on the commercial side, but art lovers turn out for themed First Friday art walks, dropping in on galleries like Argosy Gallery (110 Main St.; 207-288-9226), which emphasizes landscapes and realism, and Island Artisans (99 Main St.; 207-288-4214), featuring stoneware, fiber art, jewelry, and more from dozens of local and Maine artists. June–October.
3 A trio of venues makes Northeast Harbor a mecca for aficionados of contemporary art. Among the summer highlights at Sam Shaw’s hybrid jewelry shop/art gallery, Shaw Contemporary Jewelry (128 Main St.; 207-276-5000), are an exhibit of vintage black-and-white photographs by George Daniell (who shot portraits of Sophia Loren and John Marin) and new work by collaborative jewelers Caro-Gray Bosca and Mary Hughes. The stable at Artemis Gallery (1 Old Firehouse Ln.; 207-276-3001) includes painter and sculptor Rebekah Raye, one of Maine’s most beloved animal artists, and Mary Barnes, whose drawings and paintings play with natural patterns and forms. At Star Gallery (6 Neighborhood Rd.; 207-276-3060), find Cynthia Stroud’s captivating bronzes of bears and birds and selections from the estate of abstract expressionist and part-time islander Robert S. Neuman, who showed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art before his death in 2015.
4 Sculpture, furniture, and wall art that runs the gamut from realism to abstraction. The gallery backs right up to the Sound, so there’s really no beating the view. 1112 Main St., Somesville. 207-244-1165.
“Known for her illustration, collage, and paper-cutting art, Jennifer Judd-McGee has, over this past year, stepped deeply and confidently into social justice issues, integrating messages about equality, feminism, and non-violence into her intricate designs. She has offered her work to political activists the world over to use, and they have! At her shop ❽ Swallowfield (104 Main St., Northeast Harbor; 207-276-8087) Judd-McGee also showcases other artists and is quite adept at using her success and talents to boost their work. I believe it’s her generosity that makes her art so resonant, beautiful, and collectible.” — Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, president and CEO of the Abbe Museum
5 This harborside gallery is a must-stop for collectors looking for blue-chip Maine art. Proprietor Peter Rudolph offers an engaging array, from 19th-century drawings of MDI by Hudson River School landscape artist William Trost Richards to Carroll Tyson’s remarkable Birds of Mount Desert Island lithographs. Also in the mix this summer: a stunning watercolor view of Baker’s Island, circa 1910, by landscape painter Harold Warren, one of the “Three Islesford Painters” who frequented the Cranberry Isles in the early 20th century. 46 Clark Point Rd., Southwest Harbor. 207-244-0920.
6 Perhaps best known for her mural dedicated to the history of labor in Maine (now on permanent display in the Maine State Museum), Judy Taylor is also a fine landscape painter and portraitist. Her studio gallery is open by chance or appointment, and she often leads plein air outings, plus drawing and portraiture workshops. 1517 Tremont Rd., Seal Cove. 207-244-5545.
7 If you’d rather practice art than look at it, try this arts center in the Bar Harbor village of Town Hill. Run by a collective of professional artists, ArtWaves offers affordable, approachable courses in everything from watercolors to contemporary dance. Friday’s “Create and Sip” nights offer laid-back intros to embroidery, stained glass, printmaking, and more. 1345-A State Hwy. 102, Bar Harbor 207-266-0010.
Photos: Courtesy of Artemis Gallery (Donald Rainville, Come What May, 48×48, oil on board); courtesy of Gallery at Somes Sound (Donald Demurs, Into the Gulf Stream, 44×62, oil), courtesy of ArtWaves (painting class), courtesy Abbe Museum (basket)
Where to stay: Owner (and inveterate traveler) Jim King has strewn folk art from seemingly every continent throughout the Lindenwood Inn (118 Clark Point Rd., Southwest Harbor; 207-244-5335).
Grab a bite: The paintings crowding the walls at Galyn’s(17 Main St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-9706) are said to constitute the state’s largest publicly displayed private art collection.
Don’t miss: Some 35 artists set up on the village green in downtown Bar Harbor for Art in the Park, June 16–17. July 1 kicks off the 52nd season of the Bar Harbor Music Festival (207-288-5744), a month of concerts at venues all over town, chamber quartets to classical guitar to opera to Dixieland jazz. The festival culminates with three concerts by the Bar Harbor Festival String Orchestra, including one outdoors at Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground. The juried Bar Harbor Fine Arts Festival takes over the grounds of the The Bar Harbor Inn August 3–5 and again September 8–10.