PORTLAND (AP) – Hundreds of art pieces go on sale Friday night at the Barridoff Galleries art auction, a yearly highlight in the Maine arts community.

This year’s sale includes 355 paintings, drawings, lithographs and sculptures by many of Maine’s best-known artists. Among them are several paintings by William Zorach, a drawing of President Jimmy Carter by Jamie Wyeth, a series of screen prints by Neil Welliver, landscapes by Carl Sprinchorn, wooden sculptures by Bernard Langlais and several striking oil paintings by Stephen Etnier.

But it is the 1839 oil-on-panel painting, “Harbor, Liverpool,” by Robert Salmon that is generating the most interest. Salmon inspired artists to paint Maine seascapes 150 years ago.

Going into the sale, the Salmon painting was valued at between $40,000 and $60,000. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Shalom House, a Portland organization that helps people with mental illness live independently in the community.

Anne Weber of Georgetown, who donated the painting to benefit Shalom House, hopes it fetches much more.

“That would be the bottom figure. Hopefully it’s going to be way more than that,” she said.

Barridoff auctioneer Rob Elowitch said Salmon, after moving to America from England, had a major influence on what has been called the luminous movement of American art.

“He is a major marine painter. He sells well in England, but here people want anything from him,” Elowitch said.

Weber, an artist herself who has shown in Italy and France as well as in New York and Maine, found the painting in her mother’s attic. She didn’t know what she had, but she liked what she saw.

When Weber had the painting cleaned, she knew she had a gem on her hands. She also knew the Shalom House needed a financial boost.

Her son, 48-year-old Lukas Weber, lives in a Shalom House group home and participates in the organization’s art classes. Those classes meet in the conference room of the Shalom House’s downtown office, where space is tight and conditions are not conducive to creativity.

Weber decided to donate the painting for auction to help her son and the Shalom House expand the art program and move it into its own space.

The auction begins at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn By the Bay.

AP-ES-08-08-03 0216EDT

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