People Can Focus on Paintings to Whet Appetite
The Bangor Art Society is privileged to be showing eighteen members’ paintings under the dome at the Maine State Capitol building in Augusta all summer! If you are riled up about politics or trying to lose weight, take your mind completely off the government and your stomach by viewing several mouth-watering displays of eye-popping art. Under the dome in our state capitol is the first exhibit that I recommend.
Folks must enter the state capitol building from the parking lot and file through security, like at the airport. Immediately upon exiting the security area, you will find yourself staring at stunning paintings that reflect “The Way Life Should Be” by your artist friends in the Bangor area! “The Captain,” watercolor by Karen Baron of Ellsworth, and an acrylic painting by Diana Young of Bangor are to your left. Obrianna Cornelius’s watercolor “Defending the Nation” is over the guest book table. While Jim Toothacker’s watercolor “Ice Field” is on your right, along with Nancy Laglois’ pastel “Pear Pair”. Mike Vermette’s oil paintng “Waiting on the Market Man: Monhegan” is in the hallway directly ahead. Upstairs near the Hall of Flags are other Bangor Art Society paintings. By Governor LePage’s office is Barbara Chase’s acrylic “Blueberry Barrens” on the left; and Robyn Vine’s fabric work “Camden Retreat” is on the right. My oil painting of “Dawn’s Early Light: Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain” is placed nearby to wake the sleeping head of state. Alison Dibble’s oil of “Bass Harbor Light House” is directly across from Paul LePage’s secretary’s desk, and she confided that she loves gazing out her door at it!
Forgotten Capitol and Rare Paintings
In the the meeting room of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Marianne P. MacMaster showed us a forgotten masterpiece painted by an obscure artist. This antique oil painting was purchased during the Angus King’s administration when money was extremely limited said Ms. MacMaster. This painting is the only existing depiction of Maine’s original State Capitol building built on Munjoy Hill in Portland in 1820 when Maine first became a state. The original building was a wooden structure and burned in a fire. Portland was the state capital until 1832. Then, the capital was voted to be moved north to Augusta, as a more central location on the Kennebec River. Charles Bulfinch of Boston was the architect and built current Maine’s capitol out of granite to resemble the Massachusetts State House. Obviously, it still stands today, and hidden inside are walls lined with historic paintings. I suggest people take a peek and look around the chambers for masterpieces.
Marsden Hartley’s Maine
Down the road from Augusta in Waterville is the Colby College Museum of Art. It is free and open to the public Tuesday thru Sunday until 5:00 PM. Few people realize that this museum is the largest art museum in the state. Colby has been the benefactor of extensive works of art donated generously by the Lunder family, Alex Katz, and the Bernard Langlais’ estate to name a few of the collections. This summer is highlighted by the stunning display of Marsden Hartley. Hartley was a member and teacher for the Bangor Art Society in the 1940s. At that time the society used the title “Bangor Society of Art”. This exhibit was developed in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Hartley was born in Lewiston and died in Ellsworth in 1943, but he lived for a time in Bangor and Winter Harbor. He painted Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Ogunquit and Winter Harbor scenes frequently in his later years. While alive, his paintings were exhibited in Georgia O’Keefe’s husband’s gallery in New York City and when Hartley passed away, O’Keefe gave some of his paintings to museums around the country.
Albert Daigle found!
Among the brilliant works of Mr. Hartley is the portrait of the young boxer from Madawaska Albert Daigle. Bangor Art Society archives and personal letters of Hartley’s revealed that Albert posed for him in the studios used by the Art Society above Merchant’s National Bank downtown Bangor in the 1940s. Daigle boxed at Bangor’s YMCA and probably lived there too. Earlier, Daigle’s parents were killed in a fire and he was an orphan who lived for a time in Dexter. Albert at some point left Dexter for the bright lights of Bangor and began his boxing career. Mr. Hartley appears to have been thrilled with the contrast of Albert’s black body hair and pale skin and painted him with a spotlight shining on his right side, mimicking the lights of the ring. When you view the painting, it is easy to tell that Daigle was a right-handed boxer because his right arm and shoulder muscles are twice the size of his left! This exhibit alone is worth the one-hour drive to Colby!
Where is Albert Daigle today? Well, if he were 20 years old in 1940 Albert would be 97 years old now. A member of our Bangor Art Society from Madawaska reported working at the mill in Madawaska in the late 1970s with a man similar to Daigle. He was a big hairy guy who always dressed up at Halloween as a woman, complete with high heels and lipstick! Could that have been the same model for Hartley? We might never know, but it’s fun to surmise the “behind the scene stories” of these paintings. I suggest everyone should travel, see, and learn about the famous artists from Maine at the Maine State House and at Colby College! Engorge your eyes; it’s slimmer for your waistline! Check out my website Teddi-JannCovell.com and facebook Paint ME., LLC TheBangorArtSociety.com