Maine

Changing Times

At one time Maine was a prosperous state thanks to lumber, textiles, boat building and fish packing.  Those days are gone as one business after another has disappeared. A dwindling economy means that many of the small towns that define Maine are having to reinvent themselves to give folks opportunity to make a living. Two midcoast towns that have done just that are Belfast and Rockland.

Belfast Belfast once relied on chicken and sardine packing to provide its economy.  Today, those businesses and the associated smells have been replaced with restaurants, galleries and retail shops.

For us, it is easy to go to Belfast on the boat which means a fun outing and a great way to entertain guests. Favorite stops are Chase’s Daily, a combination vegetarian restaurant and farmers market featuring flowers and produce brought in daily from the owner’s farm.

I stock up on those things, but my very favorite thing is the chocolate cherry cookies that are irresistible!

New on the scene since last year is a year round farmers market that sells everything from handmade goods to cheese to meats to produce.  One can spend a couple of hours there browsing and snacking on Saturdays from 9 until 2.

IMG_2045Rockland has undergone a complete metamorphosis in recent years.  When we started coming to Maine 26 years ago, we held our noses and quickly passed through.  These days Rockland prides itself for being the state’s art capital.

IMG_2044It is home to the Farnsworth, one of the country’s best small art museums. It has an extensive collection of Maine related art, but the real draw is the work of the Wyeth’s: Andrew, N. C. and Jamie.

IMG_2047An exciting addition to the  community is CMCA (Center for Maine Contemporary Art), formerly located in Rockport.  Early on, some were concerned about its architectural style not complementing buildings dating back to the 1800’s, but that worry has dissipated and CMCA adds a vibrancy to the flourishing art scene.

IMG_2043As many charms as Maine has, the sad truth is that it is a poor state.  So much of the economy depends on summer tourism, but aside from the coast there is not much to draw visitors.  With dwindling opportunity, it becomes increasingly important for small towns to respond to changing times.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine, Random

Transitions

Lucky girl that I am, half of my year is spent in Houston and half in Rockport, Maine.  As you might guess, the two environments are very different.  Houston is a big city with lots of people and traffic, terrific restaurants, great shopping, professional sports and incredible visual and performing arts.

data=Ay5GWBeob_WIPLDYoIWcfVXxvZu9XwJ55OX7Ag,MJiqbusxCsk-l8k8NiMvxCrlr8_46OdWNEM65sV71RnQxjgDkTFDNjYje7dIj7eMR8tXQhmuZHfxVnt_W4scPQmJT4oDInc1slugVLjDKacSXzIGFalYeq7fUUoVyEQCTivs2JajjbRILnVUWFGZGcpOdmZIDzbIsoSJEjfaIQ9KycdVuJMBYxoOSdQRockport, on the other hand, is a small village on Maine’s midcoast with some 3300 residents.  Its history dates back to 1769 when it was first settled and in 1791 it was incorporated as Camden.  In 1891, there was a split because of a dispute over building a new bridge over the harbor and Rockport, so named because of its rocky terrain, became a separate town.

Rockport Harbor In 2008, Forbes put Rockport at the top of its list of America’s prettiest towns in no small part due to its beautiful harbor.

Andre/Rockport HarborFrom the 1970’s-1986, Rockport Harbor was home to Andre, a seal who provided much entertainment for onlookers and about whom books have been written and movies made.

belted galloways

Aldemere Farm, responsible for bringing the first Belted Galloway cattle into the U.S., is in Rockport.  From that original herd, many others have spawned and the oreo cows, as they are called, can now be found in many parts of the country.

CMCARockport is home to CMCA where I am privileged to run the gift shop and meet art interested visitors from all over the country.

Maine houseThe architecture is quite different from Houston where homes tend to be newer and built of brick or stucco.  Here, many date back to the 1800’s and are mostly shingled or clapboard Maine cottages.

Maine houseHere and there you are likely to see a church converted to an eye catching home.

There is really no comparison between Houston and Rockport.    Both are places I like to be, but I must confess that Rockport with its natural beauty and quieter lifestyle does more to make my heart sing.  I  have good friends here, but they do not replace the long term friends that are in Houston.  Spring and fall I have to transition from one place to another and that requires a certain kind of energy that is sometimes difficult to  call up.  I love life in both places, and there’s no question I appreciate each more because of the time I’m not there.  

Come along now and for the next few months join me for a taste of life in Maine.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Open House Party

What’s It Wednesday

Favorite Thing Thursday

Art

A Look Inside

I love art, all of it, and I am thrilled to have the Center for Maine Contemporary Art right down the street from me.  I am privileged to volunteer there on a weekly basis to enjoy the art as well as the visitors.

You may not realize it but Maine has played a significant role in the history of American art and is still doing so.  Artists from Winslow Homer to George Bellows to Edward Hopper to Georgia O’Keeffe to Robert Indiana to Alex Katz to the Wyeths…..well, you get the picture, have found Maine to provide an abundance of subject matter as well as color and texture and solitude.

While there are many places to look at art in Maine, CMCA is what I consider the “go to” place for experiencing the more cutting edge work being done by artists who have a connection to the state, and the current biennial exhibition is great proof of that.  Come on in and take a look.

Seventeen artists were selected by invitation and from open submissions, and each is referencing traditional methods in new ways to express his or her own voice.

James B. Marshall Standing Five

There are sculptures that look very much like metal but are made using graphite, PVA and plaster on paper.

This fiber installation piece is influenced by the artist’s experience hiking among glaciers in Patagonia. Its sheer beauty is breathtaking, and I marvel at its complexity.

David Stess

These photographs, shot with film rather than with a digital camera, document the experience of migrants who work the fields of Maine

Luc Demers

while these capture moody interior spaces.

Erik Weisenburger

These paintings are done in classical style but have a touch of whimsy

Cassie Jones

as do these acrylics done on felt that is stuffed and manipulated to represent forms in nature.

As these and other pieces in the 2012 Biennial illustrate, art is more than just pretty pictures.  It is an opportunity for a new way of looking at the familiar as is so often the case with contemporary art.  Liking it is not what is important.  It is the seeing, the experiencing, accepting the challenge to think outside the box that makes it meaningful.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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