Maine's artistic legacy is back in the national spolight

Maine's artistic legacy is back in the national spolight

Maine is having another moment in the national museum world.

The state always enjoys a prominent place in major museums. Walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you’ll see Edward Hopper’s The Lighthouse at Two Lights and Winslow Homer’s Maine Coast, to name but two. Go to the Museum of Modern Art, and you’ll find Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral (currently featured prominently in the exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction). If you live near a great museum, wherever you are, chances are good you’re not far from the long reach of Maine’s rich cultural legacy.

Right now, however, the Met Breuer features an exhibition dedicated entirely to the state: Marsden Hartley’s Maine. Organized by Randall R. Griffey of the Met, Elizabeth Finch of the Colby College Museum of Art—where the exhibition will be on view from July 8 through November 12 of this year—and Donna M. Cassidy, a professor at the University of Southern Maine, Marsden Hartley’s Maine looks at the Lewiston-born painter’s complicated relationship with his home state, and the magnificent works that he created here.

The exhibition is supported by the Maine Office of Tourism, and it provides strong promotion for the state, not only putting the word “Maine” on people’s lips in the New York City area, but also by showcasing the state’s culture, landscape, and people in a fashion that’s vibrant, colorful, and alive. The Met designed the exhibition to encourage visitors to experience the paintings in chronological order, and they closed this journey with seven Hartley paintings of Mt. Katahdin. To see these works is to feel inspired to get into a car and travel to Katahdin yourself.

The Maine Office of Tourism also proudly supports the Maine Art Museum Trail, a collaboration of eight art museums to develop shared marketing and ensure that as people drive north, they’re aware of all the cultural experiences and incredible art that is found along the way—whether driving to Colby or Katahdin. Here at the PMA, we have several Hartley works in our collection and three currently on view (Surf on Reef, New Mexico, and Kinsman Falls), adding the Hartley story or ensuring that if you’re unable to make it to New York or Waterville for the exhibition, then you can still spend time with the painter.

To set the mood for Marsden Hartley’s Maine, the Met brilliantly created a title wall with a large-scale projection of waves crashing on a rocky stretch of Maine’s coastline. At the PMA and the other museums on the Maine Art Museum Trail, such technology is not required—visitors can drive or walk to the ocean, and then spend an afternoon at a Maine museum absorbing the art inspired by this environment, and created by Marsden Hartley and countless others.

Image credit: Marsden Hartley (United States, 1890-1970), "Surf on Reef" (detail), 1937-38, oil on board, 9 7/8 x 14 1/8 inches. Bequest of Elizabeth B. Noyce, 1996.38.18.

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June 14, 2017
Editorial and Brand Specialist

Robert is a native of Winslow, Maine, and a graduate of Boston’s Emerson College. After spending years as a screenwriter in New York City and an arts journalist in Santa Fe, he moved back to Maine to raise a family in 2008. He currently lives in Portland’s Back Cove with his wife, who owns a business up the street from the PMA, and two young sons.