“The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America,” currently on exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art, is a must-see for history buffs, sea aficionados, art lovers or those who are just curious to learn more about how Maine maritime history helped shape the growth of the United States.
A relatively young country, the narrative of the United States still continues to be written and its future re-imagined with each new generation. Since its founding, the “story” of the United States has largely centered around ideas of optimism, hard work, and promise, and the notion that this ideology came from an era when the country was inextricably tied to the sea is no coincidence. Throughout history, the sea has represented humanity’s spirit of hope and possibility, with the simultaneous potential for danger and ruin. In the context of a hard fought for and newly established nation, the sea represented both of these realities while framing a collective vision for the people of the United States of America. Those who live on the coast of Maine understand that proximity to the ocean and waterfronts can have quite an impact on one’s identity and on our perceptions and understanding of the world.
In this first installment of “Finding Maine Maritime Art”, we invite you to explore three southern coastal Maine towns worth visiting, each with major historical and commercial connections with the sea, and today are home to galleries featuring artwork reflective of those connections.
It is well known that Maine has an abundance of art, and many artists have been inspired by the natural beauty and picturesque surroundings of the state, using it as a backdrop for their work. Because of the 3,500 miles of coastline and the significant historical and traditional ties to the sea, it is not surprising that there are maritime themes within much of the artwork that has come out of Maine.
Traveling through the coastal towns of Maine it is easy to become enchanted by the views crafted by years of weathering, carved by the salty sea. The unique people who inhabit these communities capture their histories in a timeless experience—one they will readily share with you.
Lise Becu with her sculpture, “Spirit of the Marsh”
Take a look at a coastal map of Maine and you’ll quickly discover there are dozens of peninsulas that stretch like fingers into the Gulf of Maine. Each one is unique and well worth exploring, and the Blue Hill Peninsula is no exception.
When visiting this Peninsula, it helps to love boats. Brooklin, the self-proclaimed “Boat Building Capital of the World” is home to six companies that produce everything from prams and peapods to offshore fishing boats to some of the world’s finest wooden yachts.