A tiny Maine fishing village that looks much as it did when modernist John Marin painted there a century ago hosts an art show this weekend with work by contemporary painters who live and work there.
The West Point Art Walk, from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, includes paintings by Felicity Sidwell, Carol Beyna, Donna Coffin, Livy Glaubitz and Jillian Herrigel. Pat Colwell and Friends will provide music from 2 to 4 p.m.
West Point remains an isolated fishing community on the west shore of Phippsburg. A half-dozen or so lobstermen keep their boats and traps at West Point, which is buffeted by a trio of islands, providing the artists with fodder for their work.
Marin came here in 1914 and spent the late summer and early fall in a tiny shack on the south end of one of those islands. It was his first visit to Maine, and the setting inspired new directions in his work. He returned to Maine for all but one summer until his death in 1953. He spent most of that time at Cape Split, in Down East Maine.
Sidwell will show her paintings at Sidwell Art Gallery. The others will show at the East Village Gallery. They are a short walk from each other.
The women have been painting and showing together for 10 years. Their work tells a story that’s unique to Maine and specific to West Point in watercolors, acrylics and oil.
The get together on Thursdays to paint, always on location and often from the wharves overlooking the harbor.
“The stimulation of being on site in such a charming place as West Point is invaluable,” Coffin said. “Painting direct from the scene gives my work more energy and life.”
Herrigel appreciates the interplay between the working waterfront and village life. The character of the village has changed since Marin was there. Few fishermen live there anymore – most of the houses are occupied seasonally – but they keep their boats in the harbor and maintain their wharves, which are stacked with traps, buoys and other gear.
For Sidwell, painting in West Point means paying attention to changing colors, light and forms. That makes painting outside en plein air “a necessity.” The same scene looks and feel dramatically different when seen on a cloudless day than when seen on a day filled with fog and mystery. “Then there are those bright windy days where the reflections off the water sparkle and the rocks stand out in sharp contrast. I find each requires a different approach so that my painting style varies with the lighting conditions and feel of the day,” she said.
She called West Point a magical place. “Wherever you look, there is a painting in the making – the ocean and the islands of Casco Bay, the rocks, wharves, fishing boats, our little sandy beach at Cat Cove and the charming old buildings of the village. What makes the West Point so special though is the warm welcome we people from away get from those who have grown up here for generations, and the history of the place and peoples that they share,” said Sidwell, who lives year-round in Brunswick and grew up in England.
Marin, who came to Maine from New Jersey, said nearly the same thing a century ago.
WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Sidwell Art Gallery, 79 Wallace Circle, Phippsburg; East Village Gallery, 110 Wallace Circle, Phippsburg
HOW MUCH: Free
INFO: 207-389-1031, 207-389-1706 or sidwellartgallery.com
ALSO: Pat Colwell and Friends will perform blues, rock and other music from 2 to 4 p.m. FMI: www.sidwellartgallery.com