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

Art, Maine

The Olson House

If you’ve seen only one of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, it is possibly Christina’s World now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  This very famous painting is one of many that Wyeth painted using Christina and Alvaro Olson and their home as subject.

The Olson house is today a historical landmark located in Cushing, Maine, and is part of Rockland’s Farnsworth Museum which always has a large exhibit of Wyeth family works.  Although the house has little left in the way of artifacts or personal belongings, it is a fascinating place to visit as one is exposed to the views and images that became subject for Andrew Wyeth.

In the kitchen window there are always red geraniums, objects that once captured the artist’s eye

as did the battered blue door leading from the kitchen.

The only original thing in the kitchen is Christina’s stove which was returned to the house by a relative.  One can imagine Christina and Alvaro spending many an hour quietly enjoying its warmth.

Wandering through the house, one becomes aware that life here must have been very simple,

even difficult.

Until his death a couple of years ago, Andrew Wyeth’s brother-in-law Dudley Rockwell visited the Olson House every day during the summer and entertained visitors with first hand stories of the artist and his relationship with the Olsons.  Theirs was a very trusting friendship, lasting until Christina and Alvaro’s death.

The Olsons lived a quiet life in a quiet area of Maine.  Christina’s crippling illness was never diagnosed and Andrew Wyeth contributed to making her life as comfortable as possible.  She and her brother died within weeks of each other and are buried close by the homestead in a family plot.

So is Andrew Wyeth, his grave marked by a simple stone.  To me, that says a lot about the special relationship these three people had.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind