August 2022

Vacationland: Maine- Part 2 | Carla Maria Verdino-S眉llwold | Scene4 Magazine | August 2022 | www.scene4.com

A Personal Tour of Maine's Arts and Cultural Sites
A Series in Three Parts:  Part 2

Carla Maria Verdino-S眉llwold

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Maine has been a destination for artists, who came seeking the inspiration of the state's natural beauty, founded colonies and schools, and contributed measurably to the history of American art.  The tradition continues to this day with countless galleries, art walks, and festivals showcasing the works of native and 'from away" artists.  But perhaps the most remarkable tribute to Maine's strong connection with the visual arts is Maine's Art Museum Trail which features nine museums, 80,000 works of art, and 350 scenic miles devoted to an impressive diversity of subjects, media, and artists.  The trail stretches from Ogunquit on from the southern coast all the way north to Bangor and Bar Harbor and includes such prestigious institutions as the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, the Portland Museum, the Bowdoin College Museum, Bates College Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Monhegan Museum of Art, Colby College Museum of Art, the Zillman Museum, and the Abbe Museum. With all these riches to choose from, here are a few personally chosen highlights to entice the visitor and art-seeking pilgrim.


Perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean at Narrow Cove in the picturesque seacoast town of Ogunquit in southern York County, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (www.ogunquitmuseum.org) is a small, but exquisite gem that offers both permanent and changing exhibits of American art spanning the 19th century to the present.  The diverse collection includes works by Peggy Bacon, Will Barnet, Charles Burchfield, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Walt Kuhn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jack Levine , Arnold Newman, Charles Woodbury, and William and Marguerite Zorach. The Museum also holds an extensive collection of works by artists associated with Ogunquit's noted early 20th-century art colony.  The museum, itself, is surrounded by beautifully manicured sculpture gardens with gorgeous vistas of the sea, and the Marginal Way cliff walk, and nearby Perkins Cove, which housed the famous art colony founded by Charles Woodbury at its heyday from the 1920s-1950s.  One of the best things about the museum is that its "just right" size allows for a satisfying visit in which one can take in the beauties of the collection in its entirety without feeling exhausted or overwhelmed – and then, perhaps head off to Perkins Cove for a Maine lunch and a bit of shopping or hike the mile-long Marginal Way with its glorious views of the ocean.

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Heading north, the next recommended stop is the Portland Museum of Art (www.portlandmuseum.org). Housed in the the McClellan-Sweat Mansion, built in 1800, and the more recent addition, the museum features an excellent collection of 18th – 19th century American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts in the period home and galleries devoted to changing exhibits of American and world art, as well as a core collection of American masters and Maine artists.  The museum generally mounts one large exhibition and several smaller ones in addition to its permanent collection.  They boast an excellent gift-book shop and a fine caf茅.  Located in the heart of Portland's arts district, there are galleries and eateries within walking distance, as well as Portland's famed Old Town. An added treat is that the museum owns Winslow Homer's Studio in nearby Proutts neck and offers bus tours from Portland to tour the Homer site.


About thirty minutes north of Portland, still on the coast, is the Bowdoin College Museum, located on the lovely campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick (www.bowdoin.edu/art-museum/).  A small, first-rate teaching museum, it mounts several major exhibitions annually, drawn from the permanent collection and borrowed from across the country.  The eight galleries are easily toured in an hour or two, making this a delightful stop.  Visitors to the museum might also take in some of the other campus sites, including the Peary Arctic Museum and the lovely Bowdoin Chapel, or visit some of the historic architectural homes such as the Joshua Chamberlain House (across the street) or the Harriet Beecher Stowe home nearby.

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Heading up the coast, the traveler cannot miss Rockland's Farnsworth Museum (www.farnsworthmuseum.org).  Located in the heart of a bustling seaside waterfront town, the Farnsworth can, indeed, be credited with the growth and beautification of Rockland in recent years. Celebrating Maine's role in American art, the Farnsworth Art Museum offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America's greatest artists. The museum has one of the nation's largest collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson. Its Wyeth Center (in a former church across the street) features works by Andrew, N.C., and Jamie Wyeth. Two historic buildings, the adjacent Farnsworth Homestead and the nearby Olson House in Cushing, devoted to Andrew Wyeth's paintings of Christina's (Olson)
belong to the complex.  After taking in the treasures of the Farnsworth, walk Main Street and shop the galleries, boutiques, and restaurants or take a stroll along waterfront on the newly constructed Boardwalk.


Driving inland from the coast less than an hour and a half, one reaches Waterville, the home of Colby College and the Colby Museum of Art (www .museum.colby.edu).  The original teaching museum was founded in 1959, but the complex has been expanded dramatically in 2013-2017 with the addition of the Lunder wing, a gift from Peter and Paula Lunder to house their impressive collection of art, which they have given the institution. The permanent collection is rich in American masters both period and contemporary, while the Lunder Collection's initial gift consists of 500 American works ranging from Whistler to Georgia O'Keefe, American Western art to contemporary works.  Waterville, itself, is a storied mill town, which, thanks to the college, benefactors like the Lunders, and cultural institutions like the Waterville Opera House, has spruced up its downtown with shops, restaurants, and galleries – all worth a visit. 


Off the mainland, but definitely worth the voyage by boat, is Monhegan Island, long an artist's paradise that features prominently in the works of the Wyeths, Rockwell Kent, Marsden Hartley and other American artists. Located on Lighthouse Hill in buildings which replicate the old lighthouse station,  the Monhegan Museum (www.monheganmuseum.org) opened in 1958.  The facility houses the collection of American art and features one major exhibition each summer.  Monhegan can be accessed from Port Clyde or New Harbor by public ferries.  There is a picturesque inn for overnight visitors, and the island itself is filled with scenic walks, shops, and galleries.

Maine has long been for artists and lovers of art a place of pilgrimage.  The landscape, the sea,  the rugged and pristine vistas, as well as the small hamlets, farms, western mountains and lakes have provided inspiration to create and to enjoy these creations. Maine's museums have made invaluable contributions to the preservation, study, and enjoyment of American art, in particular, and today they serve to invite visitors to the state and to nourish the aesthetic and cultural wellbeing of residents.


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Part One

Carla Maria Verdino-S眉llwold | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com
Carla Maria Verdino-S眉llwold 's new book is Round Trip Ten Stories (Weiala Press). Her reviews and features have appeared in numerous international publications. She is a Senior Writer for Scene 4. For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives

©2022 Carla Maria Verdino-S眉llwold
 ©2022 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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