Category Archives: Call of the Coast

Made in Matinicus

By Grace Kiffney
YourSpace High School Intern

One of our opportunities in the YourSpace internship is to spend an hour at the end of each day sketching from the works in the Museum. We began sketching on the 4th and 3rd floors and slowly worked our way through the Museum.

Finally, we reached the 1st floor and had a chance to sketch in the temporary exhibition gallery, which for the summer, includes the exhibition Call of the Coast. YourSpace, had given us techniques to practice while sketching, and part of that day’s technique was “sketch your favorite view.”

First, I had to find my favorite view. There were many magnificent impressionistic paintings from Connecticut and several thought-provoking modern ones from Maine. But standing out against the numerous breathtaking landscapes was a scene that wouldn’t attract much attention in real life, the working harbor in a small coastal Maine town.

This painting called Matinicus (1916) by George Bellows depicts a cluster of ramshackle buildings in the light of the setting (or rising) sun. The house on the far left was what actually caught my attention the most. This very narrow, pointy roofed house shouldn’t have been standing, it was so worn out. There are several other houses like it in the painting, and their ancient leaning frames bring them to life.

In addition, the wandering cow and geese add a little humor to the scene. Finally, toward the base of the painting are three fishermen sitting on their boat, surrounded by lobster traps, completing the view of classic Maine.

One can’t fully appreciate the exhibition Call of the Coast unless they see it for themselves.  For days before the exhibition opened, there was so much excitement in the Museum about the new paintings coming.  The Museum’s Artrek camp was centered on the exhibit’s theme of artist colonies, and I had heard so much about Call of the Coast before getting the chance to see it.  But now that I have been able to walk through the exhibition and really absorb the art, I am so glad that I did.

Image credit: George Bellows (United States, 1882-1925), Matinicus, 1916, oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches. Portland Museum of Art, Maine.

Black and White

By Josiah Webber
YourSpace High School Intern

Call of the Coast at the Portland Museum of Art is a glimpse into the lives of New England artists when they lived in one of the four art colonies. As you look around, you lose yourself in mesmerizing paintings. There are a variety of subjects in the paintings from fishermen and boats to houses and seascapes.

While I was walking through the gallery, I noticed one picture that seemed oddly different from the rest. It is called Monhegan Island by Louis Lozowick. This picture shows a mountainside descending into the water where a boat floats away from the shore. It is a very detailed picture, but at the same time, it is very simple and soothing. It has no color, just different shades of black and white. It reminds me of an oriental-style ink painting the way it has wave-like rhythm. The tree in the left-hand corner and the waves behind the boat flow smoothly, in contrast to the rough rocks. I enjoy this type of art, because I like the simplicity of black and white. When a picture is in black and white, it is easier to focus less on the colors and more on the subject of the picture.

My internship at the Museum has given me a lot of work to do. I have worked in the ARTREK program helping with the little kids for a week. It was a very new, but good experience for me, and I feel like I learned a lot in the short amount of time I spent there. I have also learned a lot about the Museum just from spending so much time here, and I have started to become familiar with a lot of the paintings and exhibits.

Image credit: Louis Lozowick, (United States (born Russia), 1892–1973), Monhegan Island, 1946, lithograph, 13 5/16 x 8 13/16 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Museum purchase, 2009.5.1.

Contrasting the Coast

By Sidney Dritz
YourSpace High School Intern

Walking through the Call of the Coast exhibition, it’s almost impossible not to get overwhelmed by the variety of styles, media, and colors; from the impressionists in the first few rooms with their feathery strokes and oil on canvas, to the two pieces that caught my attention the most in the adjacent gallery: Leo Meissner’s Crevasse and James Fitzgerald’s Black Head, Monhegan. The two works are startling, eye-catching depictions of Monhegan’s rocky shoreline, but otherwise have little to tie them together.

Meissner’s Crevasse is an intricate linocut, which shades each individual rock by facing the hundreds of tiny lines that fill it in into different directions. The meticulously delicate lines and the painful degree of detail set my head spinning. There in a small, unassuming frame, in tidy monochrome, sits a picture so microscopically detailed that it’s hard to believe it was produced by human hands.

Fitzgerald’s painting, by contrast, is a study in broad strokes and sweeping effects. The enormous cliff of Monhegan’s Black Head is rendered imposingly, with the charcoal outlines and dramatic watercolors making the scene more immediate than any amount of painstaking detail could do. Both works use the techniques they employ to their greatest effect; I think that much is plain. While there is little visual similarity between them, the two pieces are linked by the combination of skill and originality, which is represented in both. While the entire collection is magnificent, these two pieces stood out to me as the only ones that were entirely dissimilar to all surrounding works.

My experience in the Museum is pretty well characterized by my stint in the Call of the Coast exhibition, actually; a kind of bewildered awe at the excess of visual stimulation, which, in my summer, had hitherto been of a much more mundane kind. I suppose that would be true of anyone, though—who in the world spends his or her days surrounded by such astounding artwork? Well, I’ve been meeting several individuals who do, and so far, the experience has been a great one.

Image credits:
James Fitzgerald, Black Head, Monhegan, circa 1954, graphite and watercolor on paper, 31 x 23 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of Anne and Edgar Hubert, 1992.9.8.

Leo Meissner, Crevasse, 1934, linocut on wove paper, 17 9/16 x 13 9/16 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Museum purchase, 1985.17.