It started out as a work training trip for my mechanically inclined hubby but, thanks to a serendipitous find of cheap plane tickets, I was able to accompany him to Kennebunkport, Maine. We treated the trip like a belated 25th anniversary adventure. At night we both enjoyed traipsing through the various gift shops, and savoring the local food specialties, especially the lobster! Or as the folks of Maine would say, “lobstah”. During the day my husband went to work while I explored the towns plethora of art galleries, so of course I decided to share a few of my favorites here.
Click on the links to see what I’m so excited about!
One of the first places I found was located at 8 Western Ave. Deborah Randall Fine Art is owned and operated by its namesake. Even in the few moments I got to spend speaking with Deborah, I can tell you she exudes strength and passion in person, as well as in her art. The front of the gallery displays her amazing Maine seascapes in large, small, and even smaller amuse bouche sizes. Water, clouds, and earth in every shade capture the many moods of the surrounding area in a majestic and magical style. The back of the gallery doubles as her studio / office, but also houses her more whimsical enamels. Smaller 5″ x 7″ paintings, these bold offerings are fun and thought provoking little petit fours of artistic expression.
**I fell in love with two pieces “Big Red Sky” and one of the chicken enamels. Love!
The Maine Art Gallery at 14 Western Ave. was my next stop. Filled with paintings and sculptures from many incredible artists. I was blown away by the eclectic nature of the works offered. Paintings of every discipline graced the walls, while sculptures both wood and metal filled up any blank spaces. In fact the metal sculptures continued to the outside parking lot as wind catching whirligigs. Gallery Director, Amy Lewia, kindly answered my questions with a smiling enthusiasm that drew me in and kept me browsing. From ethereal to earthy there was something to appeal to every taste.
**My favorite sculpture was a perfect sphere, nearly as tall as me, made out of rusty old horse shoes. Amazing!
David P. Fouts at 31 Ocean Ave. The Landmark gallery was painting a seascape featuring a tall ship when I walked through the door. That didn’t stop him from getting up to shake my hand and inquire about my day. Personable and talented, his work as well as that of many other regional artists, both painters and sculptors, is displayed in this lovely renovated firehouse. Sea birds, ships, boats, beaches, waves and sand, the offerings in this gallery are representative of all things nautical and lovely. A total treat for the eyes, the styles ranging from dreamily impressionistic to amazingly life like are well worth looking into.
**David P. Fouts’ painting of St. Ann’s (sorry I lost the title!) and David Tutwiler’s “Thunder of the Iron Horse” stood out to me. Gorgeous!
Northlight Gallery , 33 Ocean Ave. is right next door to The Landmark and one of the owners, Harry Thompson, was jamming out to 60’s music when I stepped in. I had to admit, the music drew me in and put me in the mood for a bit of funky art. I wasn’t disappointed. This gallery displays artists of all kinds. Paintings, photos, and sculptures don’t compete for space as much as share it and compliment each other. Harry himself, besides being a talented artist, is a warm and lively host / curator with a quick smile and great sense of humor. Creative to the core, he asked me to compare and contrast east coast (Maine) artists against west coast (Washington) artists. Well Harry, that topic is way to broad for this old broad (jet lag being what it is) so instead I’ll give you all the highly generalized short version: Kennebunkport vs. Spokane.
The artists I enjoyed in Kennebunkport, despite their wildly different styles, all seemed to have a couple things in common: a sense of life and inevitability. Like the ocean they live by, the waves against the shore, ever changing, ever the same, their work can be counted upon to create feelings of wonder and awe. Motion and mystery.
The artists I know and love in Spokane share a different aesthetic. Evergreen forests and animals inform much of their work. The wildness of the ocean is traded for the ruggedness of mountains and river valleys. Spokane artists tend to honor native traditions, question authority / reality, and highlight nature’s bounty, and wrath. Their work invokes appreciation of and respect for inland nature, as well as a sense of mirthful irony.
**So many great artists to choose from here, I have to say I was struck by Stephen Maka’s folded photographs, Harry Thompson’s colorful dorys, and Jack Standish’s clean, minimalist paintings. Overwhelmingly cool!
My final visit ended up being the most amazing. Little did I know when I walked into the W. Robert Paine Gallery who I was meeting or how lucky I was to do so.
The screen door squeaked when I opened it and I was greeted by the sound of small dogs barking. I was looking at two 8″ x 8″ paintings hanging just inside the doorway; waiting for my ankles to be attacked, when a door opened and a gentle voice shushed the enthusiastic pups. A tall, elderly gentleman approached me and apologized for the noise. I joked about his “vicious guard dogs” and inquired about a familiar painting above his left shoulder showing George and Barbara Bush sitting with their dog. That one question started a forty-five minute conversation that would keep me smiling for days.
Turns out, the elderly gentleman was none other than the artist W. Robert Paine. Ninety three years old and still as sharp as a tack, Mr. Paine shared many lovely memories about his paintings, his family, and his friendships. Incredibly charming and elegant, he regaled me with stories of serving his country, going to art school with renowned American artist Norman Rockwell, creating those iconic Palmolive dish soap ads, and hanging out with both Presidents Bush and their families.
Agog at his history, I asked him if he’d ever considered writing an auto-biography. I should have known better. Mr. Paine strode across his studio and picked a book off his coffee table. Together we leafed through it as he pointed out past work he’d done and people he’d known. The book is out of print now, but as I promised him, I tracked one down. It’s used, but I’m hoping if I send it to him, he’ll sign it for me. W. Robert Paine has lead an amazing life. I am honored to have gotten to spend time with him, and wish him all the best. I also wish I lived closer so that I could visit this amazing and kind man again. God bless you Bob!
**Favorite painting at W. Robert Paine’s house? “God Bless America.” Great story attached to that one. Thanks again for sharing it with me sir.
**A quick mention** On our way to catch our return flight home, the hubby and I stopped by the Franciscan Guest House and the adjoining grounds of the St. Anthony Monastery and Shrines. If you appreciate Catholic / religious icons and statuary, or just wish to enjoy a walk through beautiful garden-like areas, drop by.