Over here in Ogunquit, Maine we happen to have an absolute jewel of an art museum strategically positioned on such a picturesque and storied piece of coastal property that I oftentimes find my eyes and attention pulled away from the exhibited art and magnetically redirected towards the breathtaking coastline scenery visible through the soaring floor to ceiling glass windows at the rear of the sculpture gallery.
Perched on a portion of the 5 acre plot of rock ledge and pastureland off of Shore Road that Charles H. Woodbury once purchased from Jedidiah Moses Perkins for $400 (in 1896), a site that Woodbury believed offered one of the best views anywhere along the Maine coast, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA) exists on hallowed artistic ground.
The museum itself may have opened (by Henry Strater) in 1953, but the arts legacy of Perkins Cove goes back to the 1890s when Ogunquit became a destination for artists (from New York and elsewhere) to visit and paint. Over the years, as the reputation of the Ogunquit Art Colony grew, a great many of America’s notable artists visited the area and painted what they saw. Think: Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, Bernard Karfiol, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alfred Bellows, Harmon Neill, Peggy Bacon, William Ehrig, Walt Kuhn and hundreds of others.
The wall space and permanent collection of the OMAA is peppered with artistic renderings of the inspiring oceanfront settings in Ogunquit and the people who existed in them – but outside those back doors of the museum you’ll encounter a direct experience with the actual raw material these artists throughout the ages were working from. The craggy, salty, windswept, glistening, seething, foamy, meteorological essence of Ogunquit; an elemental and timeless stretch of shoreline with captivating capabilities, screaming silently to all with any semblance of an artistic urge: ‘Create Something. Here. Now!’.
That’s why absolutely any visit to this ‘most beautiful little museum in the world’ (according to Frances Taylor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), requires you to schedule a little extra time to walk the museum grounds, breathe in that infectious ocean air, and mindfully appreciate where you are; the significance of this storied piece of property where the ocean reaches up to meet the land; and the ghosts of those who have felt what you are likely to feel — and were moved to create enduring works.
Click any image for a larger view:
Note: The Ogunquit Museum of American Art closes for the season on October 31. Be sure to visit before then to see these excellent, creativity-stirring, and thought provoking exhibitions and events:
Cabot Lyford: Truth of Material
This exhibition presents the artist’s sculptures alongside rarely seen works on paper. While he is best known for direct carving – chiseling and cutting directly into stone and wood – this installation also includes a selection of drawings and watercolor paintings. Click here to learn more…
Alison Rector: The Value of Thought
View works from a series of paintings by Rector exploring historic public library buildings. The artist has visited 18 of the Carnegie libraries in Maine and many others, and has created more than 40 paintings exploring a wide variety of these shared spaces. This exhibition is supported by Greenhut Galleries. Click here to learn more…
Marsden Hartley and His Circle
Painter, poet, and essayist Marsden Hartley is shown among a coterie of associates within the Modernist movement in American art. From Maine to Ohio, New York, and Europe, Hartley traveled widely during his lifetime and became active among a formidable group of contemporaries such as American photographer Alfred Stieglitz and artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The exhibition draws upon the OMAA permanent collection to explore the circle of artists that helped to shape his personal awakening and career. Click here to learn more…
ALSO – DON’T MISS: Sunday, October 29, ArtHOPE 1000 Healing Cranes with Ogunquit Artist Laura Jaquays