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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: September 23, 2018

Drawn by the allure of the Royal River to paint

Written by: Bob Keyes

Grist Mill by Catherine Breer.
Images courtesy of Yarmouth Frame and Gallery

Catherine Breer finds color wherever she looks. This summer, she spent a lot of time looking at the Royal River.
Beginning this weekend at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery, 720 Route 1, Breer will show about a dozen of her colorful paintings of her favorite spots along the river, which begins in New Gloucester at Sabbathday Lake and flows north and east to Auburn and then turns south through Gray, North Yarmouth and Yarmouth and then to Casco Bay. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Royal River Conservation Trust, which works to protect the natural, recreational, scenic, agricultural and historic resources of the river and its watershed. The gallery will donate a portion of proceeds from sales during an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday to the conservation trust.
The seed of the exhibition germinated during a conversation between Breer and gallery owner Elizabeth Newman, who has shown Breer’s painting for eight years. Two years ago, Breer had great success showing a concentrated body of work from Acadia National Park and wanted to pursue something similar closer to home.
“She was looking for a large body of work with a theme in mind, and we like to help out the Royal River as much as we can,” Newman said.
Breer, who lives in Freeport, has a dozen paintings in the exhibition, and many of them show local landmarks, the Sparhawk Mill among them, as well as images of beautiful old homes along the river and quiet wooded scenes.

Rail Road Bridge by Catherine Breer.

“The Royal River winds its way from Sabbathday Lake to the ocean, creating along the way a never-ending source of inspiration,” Breer wrote in an email. “I first started painting scenes from the usual spots – the mouth of the river in Yarmouth, the rushing water at the Sparhawk Mill dam. Venturing further and discovering more obscure spots, I was inspired by the incredible diversity I encountered. The river ranges from calm and quiet to rushing, noisy waters. I wanted to capture the diversity and beauty of this amazing river.”
Carrie Ridgway, the trust’s development coordinator, said Breer is good fit for the trust because her paintings expose some of the “hidden gems that exist along the Royal River. Hopefully people are inspired to do some exploring. Certainly, she has painted parts of the Royal that some people might not know about. We enjoy supporting and collaborating with local businesses and saw this as a partnership that could work for both of us.”
The trust has conserved more than 4,000 acres in the Royal River watershed over 30 years. Ridgway said she hopes the exhibition will encourage people to explore the Royal River and its watershed “and the many areas we have conserved, from the headwaters at the Shaker Village at Sabbathday Lake all the way down to the marshes at Spear Farm Estuary Preserve and everything in between.”
Breer called this body of work “perhaps” more cohesive and mature than some of her earlier explorations of a theme. “Where I used to find inspiration in built objects (like) houses, boats, docks, I am now seeing the incredible range of subject matter that is in nature. This love of nature and the outdoors is not new, but it’s the first time I feel like it’s coming through in my work. I’m interested in getting both closer to it and farther away to see what shapes and feelings emerge.”
The exhibition will remain on view though Oct. 26.
Breer grew up in Seoul, Korea, and studied painting and drawing at the Atlanta College of Art and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


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