Artists of Western Maine

By Rich Livingston
Freelance Writer

The late Ed Muskie once explained that, as an avid amateur photographer who had been fortunate enough to travel the world in his professional capacities, he recognized “there’s something unique about the quality of light on certain days, at certain times, here in Maine. There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the world.” Whether it’s the quality of light or the quality of lifestyle, the hills of Western Maine have for years been home to an extensive and extremely diverse network of artists. Photography is certainly well represented, as is painting in a variety of media. But jewelry design has been part of the Oxford Hills since the mineral mines were first tapped; glass and beadwork, sculpture, furniture, metalwork, as well as fiber arts and tapestry weaving are also well represented.
The Western Maine Art Group/Matolcsy Arts Center has produced the Norway Sidewalk Art Show annually since 1967, and it is among the most widely attended – by both exhibitors and patrons – in Maine, providing a unique showcase to many members of the western Maine artistic community. For small communities, there seems to be extensive exhibit space, ranging from the Art Gallery at the University of Maine, Farmington – a spacious, three-storey facility that which hosts work by well known artists, photographers, sculptors installation artists and more – to Gallery 302 in Bridgton, the other end of the geographic region.
Pat Chandler, of Norway (http://www.chandlerfineart.com/) is a great example of a traditional professional artist. Her paintings include works of both realism and abstraction, as well as portraiture. Born in Maine, she has been a lifelong student of art, and, more recently, a teacher as well. She has a MFA in painting and printmaking from the Rochester Institute of Technology; she studied illustration at the acclaimed Rhode Island School of Design, and she has also studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, in Deer Isle; Boston University; University of Maine; and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She shows all around New England and beyond.

Carolyn Rhoads (www.carolynrhoads.com/index.html) is a Maine artist, in Denmark, but her work includes images not typically associated with her home. Her landscapes are European; her portraits are both European as well as some that are more traditionally evocative of Maine. She produces


linocuts and etchings. Originally from Oregon, Carolyn completed her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design as well. She has also taught there and at Providence College. She has shown extensively on both U.S. coasts, and she also serves as the director of the Denmark Arts Center.

The welcome message on the home page of Pinestar Studio (www.pinestarstudio.com/index.htm), in Denmark, says that “…you will find an appreciation of craft, color and texture, with an added touch of whimsy.” Linda Whiting’s enterprise is, in many respects, prototypically Maine. Mostly, it’s about fiber arts, especially tapestry weaving, specialty wool dyeing and spinning. The shop also provides elegantly designed handcrafted tools for weaving and spinning, classes and workshops. But they also hand-craft a small number of distinctive and artistic wooden canoes. It is Maine, after all, and like many artists and artisans sprinkled throughout the hills, income is derived from variety, combined with the most stringent standards of design and production.

SIDEBAR

The gateways to the western Maine artistic communities include the Western Maine Cultural Association (WMCA), at www.westernmaineculture.org/index.html, and the Mahoosuc Arts Group at http://www.thewmag.org/.

One of the most unusual museums in Maine is the Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Center, in Bridgton (http://www.rufusportermuseum.org/index.html),

Bridgton is also home to the renowned Gallery 302 (http://www.gallery302.org/latest/bag-member-news-5.php).

Other prominent local exhibit venues include:

The Art Gallery at the University of Maine, Farmington – http://artgallery.umf.maine.edu/

Stephens Memorial Hospital, Norway – www.wmhcc.org/wmh

The Commons Art Collective at Fare Share Cooperative, Norway – www.faresharecoop.org/cac.html

Local art venues

The gateways to the western Maine artistic communities include the Western Maine Cultural Association (WMCA), at www.westernmaineculture.org/index.html, and the Mahoosuc Arts Group at http://www.thewmag.org/.

One of the most unusual museums in Maine is the Rufus Porter Museum and Cultural Center, in Bridgton (http://www.rufusportermuseum.org/index.html), Bridgton is also home to the renowned Gallery 302 (http://www.gallery302.org/latest/bag-member-news-5.php).

Other prominent local exhibit venues include:

The Art Gallery at the University of Maine, Farmington – http://artgallery.umf.maine.edu/

Stephens Memorial Hospital, Norway – www.wmhcc.org/wmh

The Commons Art Collective at Fare Share Cooperative, Norway – www.faresharecoop.org/cac.html

Painted Mermaid Gallery, South Paris, www.paintedmermaid.com/index1.html 

Backstage Art Gallery at Deertrees Theater, Harrison – www.deertreestheatre.org/ 


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