Philip Barter Biography
Philip Barter (b.1939) is a self-taught artist from Boothbay, Maine, who was living in California during the 1960s when he met Alfonso Sosa, an abstract expressionist painter. Sosa took Barter under his wing and added a “charge of light and color” to Barter’s aesthetic vision that in influenced his work for the next fifty years.
While living out west, Barter encountered the work of Marsden Hartley and experienced an aesthetic epiphany. He felt an immediate connection with the Lewiston-born painter. Hartley would serve as a kind of talisman, an artist to inspire but also to move beyond. Back in Boothbay Harbor, Barter met Frederick Rockwell, a painter and sculptor, who also encouraged Barter to keep painting.
By the 1970s, Barter and his second wife, Priscilla, had moved to downeast Maine, where they raised their seven children. Challenged to support his family as an artist, Barter took a ten-year hiatus from painting, working in all manner of traditional Maine jobs—he clammed, dug worms, was the sternman on a lobster boat, did carpentry, and dragged for mussels. In his spare time, Barter studied art history, and with Priscilla they made a life immersed in art for their large family.
By the time Barter returned to painting full-time, he was receiving critical acclaim for his work. Bates College Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of Barter’s work in 1992. e Farnsworth Museum, the Portland Museum of Art, and Bates acquired his work. In 1995, Barter was the subject of a feature profile in Down East magazine, and Tim Sample highlighted Barter’s life in art in one of his “Postcards from Maine” segments on the CBS Sunday Morning program hosted by Charles Kuralt.
Barter has since spent a half-century painting narratives based on the Maine’s fiercely independent people and the landscape of his home state, becoming the “painter laureate” of the region.
Philip Barter: Forever Maine (Marshall Wilkes), a monograph by Carl Little, was published in 2017.
Maine Master: Philip Barter
When the Bates College Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of Philip Barter’s work in 1992, the painter, then 53 years old, was on a major roll with regard to his reputation among aficionados of Maine art. His work was winging off the walls of prestigious galleries up and down the coast. Barter was also […]Read More