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Thoughts in Maine

Old Mistress-Maine-She Makes You To-LUG-LUG-LUG
-she makes you to-pull-pull-pull-she makes you to-haul-haul-haul
-and when she's thrashed you a plenty-between those thrashings

She's lovely
she smiles
she's beautiful

with an unforgettable loveliness-an unforgettable beauty
-Turns masculine-borders big and mighty-against-the big and mighty Atlantic-

John Marin, letter to Alfred Stieglitz, August 28, 1932
Driving the coast of Maine you'll surely be struck by the amazing light, ever changing, but always decisive, as it plays from sky to water to land. The sky - incredible arrangements of clouds, the water - constantly moving, through tidal flow or reflection, the land - often dark mysterious rocky ledges, slammed by bursts of frothy waves, grounded by stands of green spruce and every now and then this all disappears into a thick rolling fog; for me it's a visual paradise.

For centuries artists have been coming here for insiration: Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole, John Marin, the Zorachs', Marsden Hartley (this image from a recent Bangor Daily News reminded me of a Hartley painting), Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz, the family Wyeth and the original painter of light, Edward Hopper.

Louise Nevelson grew up in Rockport. Before she married, moved to New York, and made her way as a sculptor, she painted the Maine landscape. Some of her early work can be seen at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. I have no doubt the dark rocky coast had some influence on her work.

A painter whose work I always look forward to seeing, Lois Dodd, has a mini-retro of her Maine-inspired work, Lois Dodd: Directly Considered, at the Center For Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport. It's a small exhibit, spanning the 60s to the present; a nice insight into her progression. Dodd is quite prolific, painting most anything that captures her eye, a rocky landscape or some of my favorites, wind-blown sheets hanging on a clothes line. As always, in her pared down style of simple gestures.

Down the road in Rockland, the Farnsworth Museum is showing Celebrating Louise Nevelson: An American Master, mentioned above, and Alex Katz and Friends, a selection of work that Katz has donated to the museum over the years. He has summered in the area since the 50s; some of my favorite Katz paintings are his Maine-inspired landscapes.

OK, now it's time for me to get to work. I'll cover some galleries next. For more images from Maine, visit my Flickr site.


libby said...

You got out of town in the nick of time. It's sweltering.

Mark Barry said...

I've heard! It's been beautiful in high 70's, 50's at night.