My daughter and I planned to meet at a central location this weekend. This isn’t working out well. If it’s impossible to get a room at a Motel 6 in Vermont, I can’t imagine the crush here on the mid-coast.
July and August are my busiest months of the year. Besides teaching weekly in Rockport and at my Schoodic workshop, I’m doing two events back to back.
Five resident artists will paint at Ocean Park’s Art in the Park from July 17 to 20. Ocean Park was established in 1881 as a Free Will Baptist Chautauqua along Saco Bay in Old Orchard. The original tract was laid out in 50X60 lots, so it has a Victorian feel even where the cottages are newer.
People have great loyalty to Ocean Park, coming back over the generations. However, many of them only visit during “their” block of time in the summer. That means they aren’t necessarily there during the art festival. To solve this problem, the organizers are encouraging us to take commissions. This is an innovative approach, and if any of you readers are interested, the artists are Ed Buonvecchio, Russel Whitten, Christine Tullson Mathieu, Anthony Watkins and, of course, me.
From Ocean Park, Anthony Watkins and I both head north to Castine, where we are participating in the fourth annual Castine Plein Air Festival. This being a three-hour drive, we’ll be missing the opening reception. But we will both be there in time to have our boards stamped in the morning and dive into it.
I’ve participated in Castine’s event from the first year, and it’s a real honor. Every year as the application deadline draws near, I get inquiries about it from artists I know from all over the place. I’m torn between my essential honesty and self-interest, because it is, indeed, a great show.
What these two festivals have that set them apart is a sense of place. First, there’s the unique quality of the communities themselves, both proud of their pasts and unashamed to bring the best qualities of small-town America forward into the present. Then there are the people who live there. Both are very welcoming, but they are also very different from each other. Ocean Park is a distillation of our childhood summers; Castine exists outside of time.
Before I head out, I’m going to go see Monhegan on the Mainland, featuring the work of painter Alison Hill. Alison is a fixture on Monhegan, a great painter with a wonderful sense of place. Last time I was there, I went looking for her in her studio and found her on the road painting lupines.
This show is an opportunity to see her iconic work here on the mainland, and it’s worth braving the crowds in Camden. The opening is Saturday, July 9, from 4 to 6 PM.