Ellsworth gallery showcases Carroll Thayer Berry’s woodcut prints of Maine coast

Everyone has seen those idyllic depictions of coastal Maine in paintings and photographs. Brilliantly colorful lighthouses, sturdy pine trees and perfectly timed waves spraying up against the rocks — the ideal thing to hang in a summer visitor’s dining room, back in their year-round home in New Jersey or Florida.

And then there’s the work of Carroll Thayer Berry, whose stark, almost abstract take on the people and places along Maine’s coast exists in striking contrast to the picture-perfect landscapes up for sale in galleries from Ogunquit to Eastport.

Prints of Berry’s woodcut depictions of coastal Maine are on display for the month of March at the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth. The exhibit also offers an extremely rare opportunity for people to purchase the work of one of the most acclaimed Maine artists of the 20th century at affordable prices.

“The Emblematic Wood Engravings of Carroll Thayer Berry” features a number of Berry’s prints at prices starting at $275 — a fraction of the cost of similar 20th century Maine artists.

Those accessible prices are in keeping with Berry’s ethos. Despite the quality of his work and his formal artistic training, Berry, who died in 1978 at age 90, was a Mainer through and through. During the 1950s, he refused to sell any of his prints for more than $5 — roughly $50 in 2023. Fellow artists reportedly complained to him, saying they couldn’t compete with his prices.

“He started making prints during the Depression, because woodcut printing was a much more affordable medium than painting in that era,” said Sarah Lafontaine, who works for the Courthouse Gallery. “He sold a lot to summer people, but he also sold to locals.”

Berry was born in New Gloucester in 1886. Though his family wanted him to take over their dairy farm, he instead studied engineering at the University of Michigan. In 1910, he was sent to Panama to work on the building of the canal, where his artistic skills were quickly noticed and he later attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

After a stint working as a commercial artist in New York City, he enlisted during World War I and was assigned to the American Camouflage Corps, where alongside a number of other artists and designers, he created camouflage designs for soldiers in the field.

After the war, he and his wife lived in Chicago until the Great Depression hit, when they moved to Wiscasset. They would live in Maine for the rest of their lives.

It was in Maine that Berry found his artistic voice, using wood engraving, woodcut and linoleum block printmaking methods to depict the coast of Maine. All three types of printmaking involve carving or engraving an image into a block of wood or linoleum, rolling ink onto it and taking an impression or print.

Some of his prints are lyrical recreations of tiny fishing villages, shipyards and Maine landmarks such as Fort Knox or Old Fort Edgecomb. Others are more abstract, even severe, renderings of storms lashing the coast, or dilapidated old homes. They all have a distinctive style, unique to Berry and to the long history of artists interpreting the rocky coast of Maine.

Courthouse Gallery owners Karin and Michael Wilkes purchased a portion of Berry’s estate not long ago. Other collections of his work, including prints as well as drawings and photographs, can be found at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, the Penobscot Marine Museum and the University of Maine, as well as at national institutions such as the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Though most art lovers will be drawn to the fact that Berry depicted Maine, Lafontaine said his work belied a deeper, much more emotional core.

“His work was also very emotional. He had a lot of loss in his life, losing a son and later his wife. His later work is really very deeply emotional. He put a lot of himself in his work, even though he also loved Maine and everything in it,” she said.

Blacksmithing Lives on as Art Form

In ancient times, blacksmiths were the go-to guys for everything from repairing spears and arrow tips to tweaking axes and knives.

Mass production techniques replaced much of the blacksmith’s work, although the early 20th century saw a revival of ornamental ironwork, a market that then vanished with the Depression.

But the craft is far from dead. Blacksmithing enjoyed a revival in the 1970s that continues to this day by those attracted to the craft’s functionality and rich history.

Today blacksmiths’ pursuits generally range from the utilitarian combined with the artistic to the purely artistic.

Mark Kindschi falls in the latter category.

He moved to Maine with his wife, Mia Kanazawa, in 1988, after deciding “we were done with New York.” They made a beeline for Brooksville, drawn by the back-to-the-landers Helen and Scott Nearing as well as Eliot Coleman, considered the grandfather of the year-round farming movement.

“This is a great community,” said Kindschi, whose property abuts Coleman’s.

His resume is eclectic— actor, high-wire walker, furniture maker, world traveler, puppeteer and builder of specialty metal work for the Metropolitan Opera House.

The basis of his technique —repoussé — is the same used on the Statue of Liberty.

In repoussè a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. One of Kindschi’s 18-foot sculptures in 16-gauge steel might only weigh 65 pounds.

“Most people look at it and don’t have a clue how I do it,” he said.

He describes his work as descendant from the steel craftsmen/artists David Smith, Gonzales and Cesar, who brought industrial metalworking techniques to art. “As an artist, I feel that I must make every part of my pieces,” Kindschi explains in his artist’s statement. “I forge, hammer, weld and patina every piece; no assistant or foundries.”

Among his most arresting works are the “Dominant Species” series, which include, among others, headless figures.

“As a representative piece it doesn’t need to have a head,” said Kindschi. “The idea is we think we will be the dominant species until we kill ourselves off. We really need to find a way to live in the world without damaging the world.” He and Kanazawa live simply in a home they built and have no regrets about their choices. “Our theory has always been that our art is our life,” said Kindschi.

Christopher Crosman – Jeffery Becton: Passages

The late, beloved American painter, Andrew Wyeth (1917–2006), once mused about his most famous work, Christina’s World (1948, collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York), that if he had been “any good” as an artist, he would have left Christina entirely out of the picture. He realized that idea fifteen years later with Her Room (1963), which includes the pink fabric of Christina’s dress as curtains, and is a consummate portrait of his wife Betsy James Wyeth, who, in fact, posed for the original image of Christina for Christina’s World. For Wyeth, absence only deepened emotional resonance and mystery that he challenged viewers to find for themselves, one among other reasons Wyeth’s art is far from simple realism.

Jeffery Becton has produced work that echoes the ineffable longing and poetic quietude of Wyeth’s work, where human presence is softly whispered in other, more mysterious ways—a rack of antlers, a table clock without hands, a soup tureen. I suspect Wyeth might have understood and applauded. Becton’s essential subject, like Wyeth’s, is the littoral—the spaces where land and sea meet silently, merging into each other, ceaselessly transforming into something utterly new, unnameable. Becton is as much the master of islands and coastlines as any captain of working vessels plying offshore waters near his Deer Isle home and studio. He knows where the ledges are and how time and tides affect safe passage.

Becton is a photographer who paints. He paints images through the evolving late 20th- and 21st-century technology of digital photography that he helped pioneer in the early days of personal computers and Adobe Photoshop. Along with work by a younger generation of photo artists like Jeff Wall, Gregory Crewdson, Candida Hofer, Axel Hutte, and others, Becton began to explore heroic scale, subjective narratives, and new tools to stitch together images that his teachers never would have imagined possible for photography. Becton’s work evolved slowly, incrementally, over several decades into the later-in-life montages that have become increasingly abstract, albeit assembled from multiple sources of his own “straight” photography over many years, past and present. Along with the human figure, time takes a holiday in his ambiguously untethered-to-precise date-and-place compositions. He has built a visual practice that allows for the seamless meshings of morning light into afternoon water, lapping, caressing, occasionally pounding isolated boats, flooded walls, submerged floors, the outside and inside of ancient (by an American time scale) homesteads by the sea, ravaged and empty but strangely furnished and seemingly unoccupied.

Manipulating photographs implies a certain disregard for outward appearance, or at least a sense of humor embedded among many of Becton’s images. Whatever Louise Brooks or Pandora’s Box silent film director, Georg Pabst, might have thought, Becton’s Pandora’s Chest is the embodiment of a double-take and photography’s multiple perceptual mysteries. The chest repeats the seascape on the horizon through the door that is also repeated on the chest, the wall behind and even in the mirror above. Like cinema, time and place are unfixed, settings and story subject to flashback and retelling from differing points of viewUnlike music, theme and variation can be experienced all at once, literally enabling the viewer to take in different sizes and scales at a glance, challenging certain preconceived notions of what photographs mean. Becton’s chest is seductive in its simplicity of a seascape that is both inside and outside, simultaneously calming and disquieting.

Hand-built wooden domestic furnishings by farmers and fishermen, for whom simple carpentry was a survival skill from the Colonial era through the mid-19th century, are still found in both modest and more stately homes throughout rural New England. Painted furniture, however, was often reserved for wedding chests, concealing the bride’s intimate linens and wedding night bedclothes. Built for sturdiness and function more than comfort, sensual New England folk furniture is an oxymoron. In any case, Becton’s references to “Pandora” suggest seething, sensual secrets residing within and, perhaps, how outer, exterior worlds invade inner lives. It may be telling that only the trash container and a converted orientalist-China Trade table lamp crowning the chest are untouched by the invasive sea that washes through the entire room.

And, if one were to link Becton’s sensibility to other artists, one would necessarily invoke a North Atlantic perspective, evidenced in the art of such diverse masters as Caspar David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and even the expansive, crumbling textures and dark, visionary post-modern landscapes of Anselm Kiefer. They are panoramas of our environmentally challenged present as well as some unknown but likely not too distant future where art and culture float athwart the laws of nature. These altered photographs present the familiar stuff of art—landscape, still life, traces of human activity—as layered, mutated, juxtaposed, transformed. His places are variously familiar and adrift, hidden and revelatory. They are like missing words: unspoken, on the tip of the tongue.

If Picasso had a digital camera, he would have instantly understood Becton’s work. He would see interiors that are simultaneously outside, and know that the slippages between land and sea, reality and abstraction, represent new ways of seeing. Like Gauguin’s The Spirit of the Dead Watching, Becton’s space is that moment between waking and dreaming, haunted by what John Fowles once described as that black paradox at the heart of the human condition—when the fulfillment of the desire becomes the death of the desire. Becton’s work often depicts distant views brought uncomfortably close; weather about to change; the seduction of mysterious shorelines, their distant terrors coming unmoored and detached; black clouds and walls of water breaking onto and overtaking broken boats, or how a raging sea feels, far more than how it looks, in sailors’ nightmares.

Becton’s first love is history, a subject he majored in during undergraduate studies at Yale. His response to both historical and recent complicity in terrorizing fellow citizens—Black lives taken as if they did not matter, and relentless, systemic racial violence over four centuries and counting—is seen in several of his montage photographs referring to the historical Middle Passage of the Atlantic slave trade. Here, Becton alludes to what Barack Obama famously observed (quoting William Faulkner): “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The sallow, scarified white face with eyes closed is a ghostly indictment of white indifference and blindness to slavery, its aftermath and troubling persistence in America’s complex and difficult story. The calm demeanor of an artificial white face is based on Becton’s photograph of a ceramic table lamp originally created by an artist-friend, Mark Kindschi. Becton’s manipulated image is vaguely reminiscent of folk art “face jugs” from the 17th and 18th centuries, originally produced by African-American slaves in South Carolina. Face vessels by early slaves seem to have had religious or burial significance and, according to scholars, may also reflect a need to capture individuality under the identity-erasing conditions of slavery where only the slaves might know their own African names in their own languages. Doubtless the double irony of Becton’s image of a white face from an object designed to function as a source of light, now evoking the metaphorical darkness of the slave trade, is not lost on the artist. A second version of Middle Passage is more suggestively underwater, a drowned visage in a shallow, sun-dappled sea.

Becton understands that a white artist commenting on Black trauma is fundamentally and always problematic. But Becton has described this image as possibly belonging to his own distant, mostly unspoken family history and the likelihood his Southern ancestors played a role in perpetuating the economic conditions enabling the Middle Passage—applicable in some measure to most white families in America before the Civil War, north and south. That racial violence and endemic inequity persists in contemporary American culture after four centuries is unconscionable—eyes wide shut as Becton’s imagery would suggest. Its cause and effect, its continuing presence today is, in part, a function of passive silence and willful blindness. For thoughtful, inwardly-looking artists like Becton, the work is about bringing differences together in his stitched-together medium of montage. He suggests difference is not only possible but essential, a necessary means toward reconciling—integrating—our shared humanity. In black and white photography—digital and analog—both are required, essential, to produce any image that can be seen. The same white face in his And the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead (2020) is unsettling, with one open eye and one eye closed, as if to say seeing and not seeing one another haunts our long, fraught history. Becton’s work travels middle passages eliding boundaries between shoreline and sea, time and place, absence and presence, sensual beauty and uncomfortable truth.

Jeffery C. Becton on liminal spaces, creating emotional connections, and the power of ambiguity

Running until 31 August 2022, Between Two Worlds is an evocative showcase of two photographic artists who have a strong connection to the poetics of coastal spaces. Jeffery Becton and Andrea Hamilton are both interested in the intersection of land and sea, memory and place. In this exhibition, the pair highlight the emotional potential of our environment.

Jeffrey, a pioneer in the field of fine-art photography who lives and works in Deer Isle, Maine, expresses these thoughts and observations via seamless, painterly montages. Images layer up to bring us waves crashing through hallways and shimmering rooms that appear, even if not always literally, to be submerged in some way.

The architecture of vintage New England houses, many of which are part of Jeffery’s personal story, feature prominently in his work for Between Two Worlds. Flooded with watery light, these uncanny images see the walls of these ravaged homes peel like skin, prompting the viewer to meditate for a moment on generational fade and what might have been lost.

To learn more about his life story, approach to photography and the work on display at AH Studios, we talked to Jeffery as he headed across the Atlantic to London in time for the show’s opening.


You’ve received an MFA in graphic design, but what made you want to move into photography?

The truth is I wanted to go to art school, but as I was majoring in history, I had only taken two art classes as an undergraduate at Yale, so I didn’t have a portfolio to submit. However, it occurred to me that the graphic design department might provide me with an art education of sorts, and they accepted me! Photography was required, and it came naturally to me. We were fortunate to have mentors such as Jerry Thompson, a protégée of Walker Evans, who encouraged me to carry on – and so I did!

How has your approach to photography changed and developed over the years?

I moved from doodling around using a small format to a medium format, at which point I became interested in black and white portraiture using a Rolleiflex. From there, I began using a variety of cameras and soon began shooting in colour. As the technologies changed, I adapted, and when digital came along, I embraced it: from the earliest Nikon Coolpix to my iPhone 13 pro max with multiple cameras in between. My current favourite digital camera is my Sony A7R IV which produces a 55-megabyte file.

This is your first ever exhibition outside of the US. What made you want to come to London, and how have you found it?

I came to London because of the fine art photographer Andrea Hamilton, who discovered my work at the Steve Koman Gallery, which also represented her in Vero Beach, Florida. Seeing how our mutual interests overlapped, she suggested a collaboration, and after numerous conversations, she convinced me to come back to London. I have loved every minute of my time here in London, especially this hidden gem of a street where AH Studio is, full of creatives, artisans and a thriving community she is so generous towards.

What is it about Maine that makes for such a good photographic study?

The Maine coastline is 3,000 miles long, and it is spectacular. I love the sea and recording every aspect of it, but I especially love the coast: the rugged rock-bound edges, the presence of many harbours to shelter in, the light on the water at different times of day, tides, seasons and weather. Equally, the multi-generational summer homes along the shoreline pull on my imagination. (My parents built their summer house on the coast in Blue Hill, Maine, in 1947, the year I was born. We always summered there as a family. In 1976 I decided to move to Deer Isle nearby, and live there full time.)

How has Maine itself shaped you as a photographer?

Aside from the ocean itself, my greatest inspirations are the intertidal zones – those shifting, liminal spaces – and the patinated surfaces found therein, created by both the growth and the decay that takes place where land meets the sea.

Mary Alice Treworgy: A Maine Painter

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art is pleased to announce that Marshall Wilkes, a publisher of fine art books affiliated with the Gallery, has released their latest book—Mary Alice Treworgy: A Maine Painter by Carl Little. The Gallery will host an official book launch in the spring of 2022 (TBA). For more information please email karin@marshallwilkes.com.

Mary Alice Treworgy: A Maine Painter follows the artistic career and life of Mary Alice Treworgy, a modern-day precisionist who found inspiration on Monhegan Island and elsewhere in Maine and New England. Author Carl Little traces Treworgy’s journey in art, from a childhood infatuation with paint to studies at the Massachusetts College of Art, a career in graphic design, and critical notice as a painter.

Mary Alice Treworgy’s painting Mrs. Wilson’s Barn–Morning, is an architectural presentation that delights me. Through notation, it reduces a parade of forms into a near-abstract pattern and then appoints it with an explosive yellow automobile.”   Philip Isaacson, Maine Sunday Telegram, 1992

Born in Baltimore in 1936, the great-granddaughter of board game creator Milton Bradley, Treworgy lived for much of her life in Brunswick, Maine, where she raised her family and maintained a studio. Treworgy studied with noted painters, including Joseph Nicoletti, Thomas Cornell, and Wolf Kahn, and attended the Vermont Studio Center on several occasions.

In 1991, Treworgy discovered the work of the American precisionists, which further sharpened her geometric approach. Her work was shown at Maine Coast Artists and numerous galleries, reviewed by critics Philip Isaacson and Pat Davidson Reef, and juried into three biennials at the Portland Museum of Art.

An introduction by Episcopal minister and author Frederic Stecker offers a personal account from his perspective as a member of the Monhegan summer community and as a collector of Treworgy’s paintings. “Mary Alice has taught us well,” he writes. “She paints the object’s essence; there is really more to see and to understand if you remove the distractions.”


Carl Little Born and raised in New York City, Carl Little holds degrees from Dartmouth, Columbia, and Middlebury. He directed the public affairs office and the Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic before becoming director of communications and marketing at the Maine Community Foundation in 2001.

Little is the author of more than 30 art books, including Paintings of Maine, The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper’s New England. He has written monographs on a number of artists, including Dahlov Ipcar, Beverly Hallam, Joel Babb, Francis Hamabe, William Irvine, Jeffery Becton, Wendy Turner, Philip Barter and Philip Frey. His book Eric Hopkins: Above and Beyond won the first John Cole Prize from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance in 2012. He edited his brother David Little’s Art of Katahdin and co-authored with him Art of Acadia and Paintings of Portland.

Little writes for Art New England, Hyperallergic, Island Journal, Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors and Ornament. He has helped produce several Maine Masters films, including the award-winning Imber’s Left Hand. He has written essays for numerous museum and gallery exhibitions and lectures widely, with talks presented in recent years at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art and the Newburyport Literary Festival.

In 2000 Little received the Acadia Arts Achievement Award for contributions to the arts on Mount Desert Island. In 2008, the Maine Crafts Association awarded him its first individual award for contributions to the field of craft in Maine. A published poet, he lives and writes on Mount Desert Island.    

Frederick Stecker is an Episcopal minister and a student of religion and culture. He holds doctorates from Bangor Theological Seminary and The Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of The Podium, the Pulpit and the Republicans: How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate.

Mary Alice Treworgy: A Maine Painter
By Carl Little
Foreword by Frederick Stecker
PUBLISHER: Marshall Wilkes Fine Art Publishers, Ellsworth, Maine
Karin Wilkes (207) 266–5199 or karin@marshallwilkes.com
ISBN: 978–0–9839670–7-1
PRICE: $35.00 US
Hardcover with Jacket
PAGES: 108
SIZE: 10 x 10 inches
DISTRIBUTION: Tilbury House Publishers, Thomaston, Maine
Mariellen Eaton (207) 582–1899 or mariellen@tilburyhouse.com

Art Featured in Old Courthouse’s Stairwell

ELLSWORTH — In late fall, Courthouse Gallery Fine Art mounts an exhibit of artists’ small work in its lofty stairwell. Straddling Bridge Hill, the stately Greek Revival building, which once served as the Hancock County Courthouse and Registry of Deeds, becomes part of the show as patrons leisurely ascend the stairs and eye paintings, prints and sculpture as well the tin ceiling and beaded wainscoting. In this year’s “Stairwell Show,” which runs Nov. 11 through Dec. 23, the public will climb the stairs and see small, diverse works of art. Their creators include Janice Anthony, Matt Barter, Siri Beckman,  Kevin Beers, Judy Belasco, Tom Curry, Lilian Day Thorpe, Kate Emlen, Philip Frey, June Grey, Richard Keen, Holly Meade (1956–2013), Rosie Moore, Ed Nadeau, John Neville, Linda Packard, Carl Sprinchorn (1887–1971) and Christina Thwaites. The artwork runs the gamut from oils, acrylics, watercolors and encaustics, to woodblock prints and etchings, photomontages and sculptures incorporating reclaimed wood beams, Styrofoam, plaster and polyester resin.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has the option of seeing the “Stairwell Show” in person during gallery hours or by appointment or in a video online at https://courthousegallery.com/exhibition/stairwell-show/. All the featured works also are on view online.

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art is housed in Ellsworth’s historic courthouse built in 1832. The gallery is located at 6 Court St. For more info, call 667-6611, email info@courthousegallery.com and visit courthousegallery.com.


Jeffery Becton: Dream State

The work of Maine-based photographer Jeffery Becton melds interiors with shots of sea and sky, offering images that can come across as romantic reveries or manifestations of passing time. Using digital cameras, including the iPhone, Becton uploads images to Photoshop, where he crops, cuts and pastes pictures together. There’s a slightly Magritte-like mash-up in some, a hypnotic, Hopperesque vacancy in others. But when he discusses his work, he focuses on the emotional aspect of it rather than anything else. “Language is as problematic as thinking,” he says. “The eyes do a great job on their own coming up with meaning and feeling.”

An early participant in the digital revolution, Becton started out as a conventional portrait photographer after receiving a Master’s in graphic design at Yale. He began exploring Photoshop as soon as it appeared, and in the early ’90s, enrolled in a workshop at the Center For Creative Imaging in Camden, Maine, an initiative of the Eastman Kodak Company. “Moving from being a straight photographer to someone who altered the images to get something that felt right was a process,” he says. “I was very insecure about doing this. But at the Center—where they had the absolute best computers—I began to see that digital work is a legitimate kind of expression, its own medium.”

Many of Becton’s images have origins in the interiors of weatherbeaten summer cottages along the coast of Maine, to which he has unique access, given his family’s multigenerational history in the area. Often intimating decay and absence, life stilled or drifting away, his photographs possess a narrative attraction. And while he acknowledges that peeling wallpaper or a pair of old iron bedsteads can tell a story, he sees himself as much a formalist as fabulist. “That comes from my graphic design education, which was very Bauhaus and quite attentive to placement, size, texture—all the things that have to do with what makes a picture have an effect in the end.”

That something’s-not-right essence is often front and center in Becton’s pictures. Pink Door reads like a weather-beaten Maxfield Parrish crossed with a Cocteau film still. With Stage Door, it takes a moment to register the fog-shrouded sea just beyond. “Baker’s Bed,” he reveals, “came about because the large, multigenerational family that owned the house for so many years had to sell it and wanted a memorial. It’s a big summer house and over the years had seen whirlwind activity, growing as the children grew, until they spun off in many directions, leaving the vessel empty. I was simply trying to convey the joy and sadness that letting go involves.”

Becton’s process is more a visceral than an intellectual operation, one that begins with an image that excites his own eyes. “I need to be enthusiastic about what’s in front of me, a formal structural kernel that suggests other things,” he says. “I try to see what can grow organically from there. Sometimes it’s a long slog. Sometimes I give up, but not very often. I’m very tenacious about finding what works.”

Artist Alison Rector

“While many Maine painters are known for their depictions of the state’s iconic landscape, artist Alison Rector has gained acclaim for her interior views— light- filled spaces, both public and private.

Prior to moving to Maine in 1990, Rector had painted portraits and self-portraits. Once settled in her new home here, she responded to her surroundings, painting gravel pits and trailer homes. She turned to interiors after she began studying with Belfast-based artist Linden Frederick. Rector first heard Linden talk about color theory at Artfellows, an artists’ co-op, and was intrigued. A few years later she took a one-day color theory class with him at the Farnsworth Art Museum and subsequently arranged a private tutorial, visiting his studio to learn more about oil painting technique. is was, she said, her graduate school.

Rector had been trying to understand color and light, but the constant shifting of both in the landscape made it difficult. Inside, she found she could control the light source.

When she began showing her paintings of interiors, people reacted favorably, attracted by the psychological content. They also liked her alternative approach to the ubiquitous image of a Maine landscape, although many of Rector’s canvases incorporate landscapes, as seen through a doorway or window.

The interior became Rector’s trademark subject. She was drawn to particular places, including older Maine houses and camps with simple décor. While she rarely includes figures in her paintings, often the furnishings evoke the presence of people. The life preservers hung in the rafters in Boathouse Reverie, for example, stand in for swimmers in this rendering of a camp in Stoneham, Maine. Rector rearranges elements of a scene to enhance the engagement with the viewer. Here, three nesting kayaks with colorful hulls lead the eye past a lawn chair to the lake beyond and a boat waiting on the water.

Another evocation of a summer retreat, The Radiant Island, exemplifies Rector’s mastery of light. In this image of the community building, called the Casino, on Little Diamond Island in Casco Bay, sunlight casts shadows across the room, empty but for a ping-pong table in the center. The painting has an ethereal quality.

“Light is really what interests me,” said Rector, adding, “I still marvel that painters can take a basically plastic opaque material and create a feeling of light.” With each canvas she strives to reach that moment when “patches and bits of paint” coalesce and she says to herself, “Yeah, that’s the thing that got me when I saw it.”

Rector is perhaps best known for her series of library interiors, now numbering 45; she showed a group of them in “The Value of Thought,” a solo exhibition at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in 2017. Initially inspired by a visit to the Blue Hill Library in 2010, the painter set out to visit and paint all 18 Carnegie libraries in Maine and ended up painting many more along the way.

While some of these structures have undergone renovations to keep up with the changing needs of the public, Rector focused on “the original bones” of the buildings, scouting each one for quiet spots where the light was less fluorescent and the architectural elements—recessed alcoves, window shapes— were interesting. She also painted a number of libraries from the outside.

Rector views libraries as places of knowledge as well as sanctuaries. She has expressed concern about what she views as a popular disregard for the value of intellectual study and thought. “Would that our current leaders would say they care about the complexity of intellectual discussion,” she said.

Rector recently embarked on a new series related to railroads. “I’m kind of moving on from libraries now,” she said. In her studio are paintings of a railway bridge in Belfast and another of the train platform at Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, viewed during an Amtrak trip from South Station to Rochester last summer (she worked from sketches and photographs).

The latter painting reflects Rector’s interest in “the hidden views” of New England’s industrial past. “The train came through for me,” she reported, “providing views of the back sides of old warehouses, neglected back lots, suburban backyards and urban centers.” She will premier these paintings next August at Greenhut Galleries in Portland in a show called “Train Journey.”

Rector was born Alison Berard in Rochester, New York, in 1960, and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, in the D.C. suburbs. Her father had been finishing up a medical residency in Rochester when he was offered a position as a cancer researcher for the National Institutes of Health.

After graduating from high school in 1978, Rector attended Brown University. A major draw was being able to take classes at the Rhode Island School of Design. She enjoyed interacting with the art students, but first and foremost she wanted to get a liberal arts education, a decision she has never regretted. “I really learned reading and writing and critical thinking,” she said.

After college, Rector lived briefly in Boston before moving to San Francisco. During her four-year “adventure” on the West Coast, she made a living in the food industry, baking and cooking. She worked for food icon Alice Waters in her Café Fanny in Berkeley. The experience was life-changing—and inspired her eventual move to Maine.

Alison and her husband, Eric, met in a restaurant. They both love good food and their desire to be able to grow some of their own, inspired by Waters’s maxim that you’ll never get a better tomato than one that goes straight from garden to plate, sent them north from Boston in 1990. They purchased a farm in Monroe and embraced the homesteading life, raising sheep, cows and chickens and making apple cider. “We did a little of everything in a back- to-the-lander kind of way,” Rector recalled.

About eight years ago, when she turned 50, Rector started thinking about where she wanted to be later in life. She and Eric loved living on the farm, but they weren’t sure they wanted to be rolling hay bales and cutting firewood for the rest of their lives. Working through the Maine Farmland Trust’s Farmlink program, they contracted with some young farmers to incrementally purchase the property while running the farm. “It’s like a dating service,” Rector explained: “you look at each other’s profiles and if you find a match, you work out the terms of your agreement.

The couple built a home on a hill overlooking the farm. Their “passive dacha” is a super energy-efficient house, insulated so that the inside never goes below freezing. They also own a small condo in South Portland, which is their true plan for later in life. “I’d love to be able to walk to the library and grocery store,” Rector said.

When she isn’t painting or taste-testing one of her husband’s artisanal cheeses—Eric runs Monroe Cheese Studio in the barn next door—Rector helps out at several nonprofits, including the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine. When her parents died a decade ago, this organization helped her and her sister navigate the process. She recently represented the alliance on a segment about green burials on Maine Public Radio’s public affairs program “Maine Calling.”

In a presentation about her work at the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth a few years ago, Rector mentioned experiencing a “hiccup” when her parents died. She had a spell of self-doubt. But life is “constantly evolving and you can come back to important things,” she said. She admits to having moments when she thinks to herself, “Okay, I’ve said everything I’m going to say, I guess that’s it,” and then she gets excited about something new, like the views from a passing train. Soon she returns to her studio in the woods and starts to lay out a new painting.

(To read this article in Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors and see the mentioned paintings click on the link: https://maineboats.com/print/issue-157/artist-alison-rector)

Carl Little’s recent books include Philip Frey: Here and Now and Paintings of Portland, which he co-authored with his brother David Little.


Collector’s Focus: Women Artists

American Art Collector highlighted Janice Anthony in an article by John O’Hern in their March 2020 issue along with her painting Balancing Rock.


Janice Anthony lives on a farm in rural Maine intimately aware of her environment. Her painting Balancing Rock illustrates the balance that exists among massive granite rocks and tree roots seeking nourishment. She says, “The natural world, as it transitions from woods into wilderness beyond me, has been my companion for most of my life. I feel it as a continuous presence, both familiar and friendly, and independent and unknown. Such multiplicity of life is happening in this world that surrounds me. We share this space; as I move in and out of it, it flows through me, replacing thought with awareness. In my studio this exchange continues, as I paint I still communicate with the land and waters as they live their lives, indifferent to me, but essential to my painting.”

International Guild of Realism selects “Vaughn Cascade” by Janice Anthony

The International Guild of Realism selected Vaughn Cascade by Janice Anthony for its 14th Annual Juried Exhibition. The 2019 online exhibition will be held from March 20 through May 20. Located in the historic city of Alexandria, Virginia, their gallery displays a wide variety of realism work focusing in mediums of oil painting, bronze sculpture, and more. The Guild partnered with American Art Collector for their exhibition who released the following statement:

“The International Guild of Realism (IGOR) and American Art Collector magazine are proud to present the 2020 Spring Salon Online Exhibition. The entire Spring Salon is now LIVE on the AAC website showcasing 220 paintings from 215 IGOR artists residing from many countries around the world. The Guild began in 2004 and now has over 450 juried realism artists from over 35 countries.”