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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: July 8, 2015

Maine’s top painters gather in Cape Elizabeth to paint the land and sea during Paint for Preservation

Written by: Bob Keyes

What fun it would be to stop at a Portland gallery and see new work by Marsha Donahue, Michael Vermette, Caleb Stone, Jill Hoy and Michael Boardman. They are among Maine’s top watercolor and oil painters today. Through the refined eyes of an artist, they tell the story of Maine’s beauty and allure with both splashy and muted colors and a range of taste.

On Sunday, they and two dozen more of Maine’s best-known artists come together for Paint for Preservation, a fundraiser for the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust. Thirty artists will spend the day in the fields, on the rocks and in the meadows of Cape Elizabeth, exploring the town’s prettiest properties and vistas and making fresh paintings.

That evening, beginning at 5 p.m., they’ll gather at Van Stewart’s seaside estate at Garrison Field, where the work created during the day will be auctioned. The event raises about $60,000 for the land trust, whose annual operating budget is between $250,000 and $300,000. Proceeds benefit the land trust initiative Saving Cape’s Great Places to preserve conservation land.

In eight years, Paint for Preservation has become a favorite event of Maine artists, who are chosen by jury.

A piece from the artist Erin Ferrell.

A piece from the artist Erin Ferrell.

The jury process “tends to produce great results in artwork, a show you are proud to be part of,” said painter Marsha Donahue of Millinocket. “The whole day is celebratory, artist to artist, neighbor to neighbor and collector to artist.”

She got involved because she supports the work of the land trust. Before moving to northern Maine, Donahue lived in Cape Elizabeth. Paint for Preservation is the only live painting auction event she says yes to.

Christopher Franklin, executive director of the land trust, said the fundraiser attracts applications from artists across Maine and beyond. The first couple of years, mostly artists from Cape Elizabeth expressed interest.

“We’re pleased to have the attention,” Franklin said. “Having these artists interpret and portray the places we see in our daily lives aligns so well with our mission. These are remarkable places, and that connection between the land and artists is as old as time.”

Garrison Field is a new venue for the event. It’s a seaside estate that overlooks Pulpit Rock, which has long been a destination for painters. The party includes music, refreshments, hors d’oeuvres and the auction.

The event usually attracts about 400 people, said organizer Mary Anne Cary. Its continued success remains a point of pride for members of the organizing committee, who are mindful that it can’t go on forever. Keeping the roster of artists small and encouraging new artists each year helps keep it fresh, she said.

Paint for Preservation

WHEN: 5-8 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Garrison Field, Cape Elizabeth
TICKETS: $60 in advance, $70 on Sunday
MORE INFO: or 207-767-6054

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