by Tori Rasche
No, not Bernie Sanders. I recently got to ‘hang out’ with another Bernie, the artist Bernard Karfiol (1886-1952), through a collection of his drawings and ephemera from his life that was generously given to OMAA last year by the Karfiol family.
As a gallery attendant, I normally work at the museum when it’s open to the public and warm outside, and when the museum is full of happy visitors enjoying the exhibitions and the beautiful gardens. So having the chance this winter to help with things behind the scenes was a nice opportunity for me, especially as an artist. Over 1,300 individual pieces of the Karfiol gift needed to be looked at, measured, and logged in and I was happy to dive into the musty piles and sift through this slice of art history laid out on long rows of tables in the OMAA’s galleries.
It felt pretty impersonal, at first. Leafing through the magazine articles, exhibit catalogues, and newspaper clippings, I learned of Karfiol’s professional story and of his successes in the American art scene of the early 1900s. But as I worked my way through the bins and boxes, it didn’t take long before I sensed a more personal connection to the artist through his connection to Ogunquit. One of the hidden treasures I found tucked into the pages of a worn magazine was a group photo from the Ogunquit School of Painting and Sculpture. The school, established by Hamilton Easter Field in Perkins Cove, was at the center of one of America’s earliest art colonies. In the photo, Karfiol stands with fellow instructors Robert Laurent and William von Schlegell at the top of a staircase filled with that summer’s students. Karfiol had also saved several brochures from the art school, providing an intimate look at some of Ogunquit’s art history.
Going through his drawings and sketches is where the artist really came to life for me. His subjects in these works, which spanned the course of his lifetime, were mostly nudes and coastal scenes. I felt like I was witnessing the evolution of a great artist as I looked at his drawings of the human figure, first from his time as a student, beautifully drafted and modeled, with only a hint of what would become his mature, clearly identifiable style in later drawings. I could see it in the eyes of the figures. And when looking into the eyes of his figures, I felt like I also had a glimpse into the eyes of Karfiol.
The artist’s coastal scenes made clear his love for Ogunquit and his connection to the Maine coastline. The water and rocks around Perkins Cove and the museum grounds provided the backdrop for many of his sketches of bathers and fishermen enjoying their summers here. I loved finding the simple sketches of boys on the rocks, swimming and diving and just being boys, and then being able to look out the windows of the OMAA to see those very same rocks, empty now in the cold of winter. What a neat sense of place and the history of this place, this ‘beautiful place by the sea.’
I can’t wait to see how our director, Ron Crusan uses some of these anecdotal gems in this summer’s Bernard Karfiol: Ogunquit Master exhibition. I’m sure those of you who visit the OMAA to see it will feel like you got to hang out with Bernie too.
By Alison Gibbs
“And you may ask yourself, ‘Well … how did I get here?’”
Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
In my career, I’ve been a Wall Street wire reporter, a radio and TV news producer, a banking PR flack, and a government consulting marketeer, among other things. So how did I get to the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA)? The short answer is some arts management classes, the New England Museum Association website, and some soul searching.
According to research on why people participate in the arts, I may be an arts aficionado: a devoted follower who views the arts as a “transporter.” Maybe you are too. You know that feeling you have when you look at a great piece of art and you ‘get it’ (whatever ‘it’ is for you)? I love that feeling! And I thought, how great would it be to work in a place that’s so close to my cerebral happy place? Could I bring my professional skill set to a place like that? As it turns out, I could, and now I’m the OMAA’s new Director of Marketing and External Relations.
I have family in Ogunquit and got married here, so the ‘beautiful place by the sea’ was not new to me. But the museum was. The OMAA and its three acres of sculpture gardens overlook Narrow Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s stunning. Come see for yourself when we reopen for the season May 1.
I’ve been reading A Century of Color by Louise Tragard, Patricia E. Hazrt, and W.L. Copithorne to learn about some of America’s earliest art colonies and the artists who lived in Ogunquit or passed through and helped to shape American modernism. I had first learned about Marsden Hartley a few years earlier while reading Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town by Elyssa East, so I was pleased to read about his connection to Ogunquit in A Century of Color, and I was really interested to see his Still Life with Eel hanging in the OMAA’s Barn Gallery when I came for an interview.
Originally a gift from Hartley to the poet William Carlos Williams, the painting was given to the OMAA by the poet’s wife after his death.
Now I’m also looking forward to learning more about artists like Bernard Karfiol, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Robert Laurent, Walt Kuhn, and Peggy Bacon, and how they, too, influenced American modern art.
Marketing is storytelling and the OMAA has so many great stories to tell! For instance, the Karfiol family recently donated materials dating back to Bernard’s time teaching at Hamilton Easter Field’s Summer School of Graphic Arts. Field was a pioneer who pushed Ogunquit to the forefront of American modernism, and Karfiol, an Ogunquit master, taught painting at the school. An OMAA colleague is right now combing through and cataloguing the gifted materials in preparation for this summer’s opening exhibition, Bernard Karfiol: Ogunquit Master. We’ll let you know what she finds!
My work and enthusiasm for modern and contemporary American art bring me to the OMAA. In our 2016 season, I hope to see you here too!
by Jill Burke
A big part of my job as the OMAA Education Coordinator involves visiting schools and community organizations weekly between September and June to share objects from the museum’s permanent collection. I teach the students about the artist, the medium, and elements of art and design that can be drawn from the artwork, then help them to create artworks that relate to what they’ve learned.
I feel so fortunate to work with the educators, support staff, and elementary students at the Baxter School and really look forward to my time with them each week – they’re funny, they jump right into our lessons, they’re not afraid to experiment with the materials, and they’re really talented!
On a recent visit, we explored still life drawing and the idea of learning to look at the world around us and see shape and form rather than outlines. While considering elements of art and design, we used a viewfinder tool to look around the classroom to learn how to define composition. We had great fun with this little exercise! I saw the ‘light bulb’ go on for the kids as they each started viewing things around the classroom inside their frames, looking for composition.
The children were inspired in this still life lesson by two Bernard Langlais works: Untitled (plant), 1954-55, watercolor and graphite on paper and Untitled (fruit bowl), early 1950s, oil, graphite, and crayon on paper. Born in Old Town, Maine in 1921, Langlais was a highly accomplished painter whose landscapes and still lifes were noted for their bold colors and flattened perspectives, as well as their experimentation with abstraction and expressionism. In the later 1950s, Langlais became well known for his painted wood sculptures, three examples of which can be found in the OMAA sculpture gardens.
After the lesson, students used chalk pastel on colored paper to create their own still life renditions, with great results! I was blown away by how they really used the entire frame – exactly what we’d been talking about!
For more information about OMAA education and outreach programs or to support this program, contact Jill at email@example.com.
By Ron Crusan
I often get asked, “What do you do all winter while the OMAA is closed?” After our season ends October 31, I don’t pack up and head to Florida to wait for our May 1 opening (appealing as that may seem on a 20 degree Maine-in-January day). In fact, I and a full complement of staff work here at the OMAA year-round. Amid the empty galleries and snow-covered sculpture gardens, the staff and I have been busy conducting our year-end appeal, soliciting lapsed members, preparing next year’s budget, finalizing the 2016 exhibitions and programs (more on that soon!), developing event schedules and marketing plans, and compiling end-of-season statistics. For instance, you may be interested to know that in 2015, 22 percent of surveyed new visitors said word-of-mouth brought them to the museum. Thank you and keep spreading the word!
During post-season meetings, the OMAA staff agreed that our new Totally Tuesday program was a success. With special programs, the Tuesday night lecture, and additional shop discounts, our busiest day of the week shifted from Thursday/Friday to Tuesdays. We will certainly continue Totally Tuesdays in 2016 and look for ways to enhance the visitor’s experience even further.
Our Board of Directors also recently held a day-long retreat with a facilitator to plan not just for next year, but for the next three to five years. Long range planning is key for us because it helps us stay true to our mission: celebrating Ogunquit’s artistic heritage and its role in the history of American modernism through acquiring, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting American modern art.
Committee work is also important winter work for us. We have the Finance Committee, Collections Committee, Governance Committee, Development Committee, Board and Executive Committees, all of which meet at least quarterly, and sometimes several times a month. The Art By the Sea Committee meets in the fall for a wrap up session, then, beginning in January, meets on a regular schedule until the event is held in August.
A highlight of my job is visiting artists and collectors year round. In December, I traveled to Boston to view a private collection and to several homes and studios in Maine to see art work. Recent acquisitions include work by Wolf Kahn, Charles Woodbury, and Andy Warhol.
The off-season also gives us the opportunity to make needed repairs to the building and grounds. In recent years, we’ve replaced the glass gallery walls and renovated the Barn Gallery wing. This year we are completely renovating both restrooms.
Indeed, the OMAA operates on a year-round basis! Happy New Year to all and we look forward to opening our doors to welcome visitors again May 1, 2016.
Maine Photo Project at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art
Rose Marasco: Patrons of Husbandry
The second in a series of five photography exhibitions at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Rose Marasco: Patrons of Husbandry (June 5 – July 5, 2015) highlights selections from the artist’s Maine Grange series. The series was created in the 1990s and first exhibited at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine as Ritual and Community: The Maine Grange. Marasco documented both the architecture and the culture of Maine Grange Halls from Saco to Houlton, Deer Isle, Castle Hill, and beyond; capturing the traditions of an organization over a century old operating in contemporary America.
The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was founded in 1867. Since its beginning, the Grange, as it is often called, has focused on strengthening local community by placing a spotlight on community service and local agriculture. Its present existence is unique, as the group’s membership has experienced a downturn with the decline of local farmers in recent U.S. agricultural history. Marasco’s images observe the Grange’s ability to continue preserving its core traditions, rituals, and values in an ever changing, modernizing culture. When the images are displayed, they offer viewers a chance to consider past and current social, communal, and agricultural values in America.
In this display, stark black and white silver gelatin print images of Grange Hall exteriors meet vivid Ektacolor photographs of the buildings’ interiors; calling attention to the history of architecture, the history of photography, and the progression of time. The OMAA’s Rose Marasco: Patrons of Husbandry combines a selection of these Grange images with various pieces of text Marasco composed of research and first-hand experience. Together, the images and didactics give the audience a chance to view the Grange simultaneously in a personal and objective way. While the neutral environment of an art museum and the gap of time from the series’ creation separates viewers from the rituals of this community, the artist has given the audience a chance to look through her lens and closely observe a fragment of American history in contemporary light.
Curatorial Assistant and Collections Coordinator
Rose Marasco has produced several significant and innovative bodies of photographic work including Domestic Objects: Past and Presence, a ten-year project of large format vibrant cibachrome prints that infuse everyday objects with poetic symbolism; and, Ritual and Community: The Maine Grange, which received the New England Historical Association exhibition of the Year Award. She is currently at work on New York: Pinhole Photographs, a series of street scenes of each neighborhood in Manhattan. The initial solo exhibition of this work was exhibited at Meredith Ward Fine Art, NYC, in 2014. Marasco will have a retrospective of her photographs, spanning a 45 year career, entitled Index, at the Portland Museum of Art, April – August, 2015.
Previous solo exhibitions include at: The Houston Center for Photography 2010-11; Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest, France, 2008; Sarah Morthland Gallery, NYC 2003, 2000 and 1998; The Davis Museum at Wellesley College 1995; and, at The Farnsworth Museum of Art in Rockland, Maine 1992. Group exhibitions of distinction include: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Marlborough Gallery, Photokina, the International Polaroid Exhibition, and the Smith College Museum of Art.
Rose Marasco’s photographs are included in many private and public collections including most notably: The Fogg Museum, Harvard University; The Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College; the Photography Collection at The New York Public Library; The Portland Museum of Art; Fidelity Investments Corporate Art Collection and, the Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Marasco’s work has been reproduced and highlighted in major publications including, the New Yorker, New York, and, The Chronicle of Higher Education magazines. Her exhibitions have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, and Art New England, the Maine Sunday Telegram, and The Portland Phoenix.
Rose Marasco has a teaching career of distinction having initiated two photography programs at college level institutions, the first in 1974 at Munson Williams Proctor Institute (now Pratt/MWPI) and, in 1979 at the University of Southern Maine. In 2005 she received the national Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award, from Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has lectured and conducted critiques at many institutions including Harvard University, Bates College, Colby College, Massachusetts College of Art, and Parsons School of Design. Marasco holds the rank of Distinguished Professor Emertia, University of Southern Maine.
In celebration of the year in photographs in Maine, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art is hosting a series of photography exhibitions as part of the Maine Photo Project, which features exhibitions in more than 30 museums and galleries across the state. The OMAA is very glad to participate in this statewide initiative by exhibiting work by celebrated photographers:
Verner Reed, May 1-31
Rose Marasco, June 5-July 5
George Daniell, July 10-August 9
Todd Webb, August 14-September 27
Michael Alpert, October 2-31
Each photographer brings his/her individual voice to the Museum, and each represents the best in photography in Maine.
It was an honor to have worked with guest curator Andres Azucena Verzosa on all of the exhibitions. As an experienced Maine curator, and an intimate friend of all of the photographers, he brought a unique perspective to the series and curated a strong schedule for our season.
We are immensely excited by the this season’s exhibition schedule. It was a great experience for me and OMAA Curatorial Assistant Alexandra Bishop to collaborate with Andres, as we got to better know each photographer’s work and select strong shows. We also worked closely with the lenders and photographers who were all gracious and generous with their time. My hope is that visitors will come time and again to see each exhibition and experience the very different perceptions of life in Maine and New England.
The first photo exhibit for the 2015 season, Verner Reed: New England Life, highlights the lives of New Englanders caught on film by Verner Reed. Reed first learned photography as a way to document the hand crafted furniture he made throughout the 1940s, but was later asked to photograph for Life magazine when he happened to be among the picket lines at the Rosenberg trials with a camera on hand. From there his career bloomed and the artist went on to continue taking photographs as well as making furniture, fine jewelry, and blacksmithing.
To support the OMAA exhibitions for the Maine Photo Project, we have many other wonderful exhibitions as well. DeWitt Hardy, Alfred Chadbourn, Henry Strater, Winslow Homer, and the many fine artists from our permanent collection present a wide range of art for all museum goers to appreciate.
Funding for the Maine Photo Project exhibitions and print materials at the OMAA is generously funded by The Warren Memorial Foundation.
“It takes a very long time to be young.” – Pablo Picasso
Engaging and educating our audience is central to our mission, so in March, 2014, we hired Amy Donovan to develop and expand our education and outreach programs to better serve our visitors, members and community. Donovan is a certified art educator who works with learners of all ages and developmental capabilities. With support from a grant by the Tramuto Foundation and private donors, Amy began to develop relationships with area schools; Life Works and Company, in Springvale, ME; and the Alzheimer Association in Scarborough, ME.
One of the ways Amy has become a resource for area schools is by expanding the Picture This! program, a collaboration between the York School Department and the museum. Using the program as a jumping off point, she visits groups off site bringing reproductions from our permanent collection to explore and and discuss with related activity. Later, the groups visit the museum to see the works in person and do an on-site activity. (pictured above)
For local families with small children, or even for those visiting on vacation, Amy has developed a weekly youth program called “Stories by the Sea.” Wednesday mornings, from July 9 through August 27, the museum will offer a drop in session from 9-10am. The program will be geared for ages 4-8 and feature a book from the Shop at OMAA, read by Amy, plus a hands-on related art activity.
In the fall, the museum plans to reach out to the community with the first annual OMAA Family Day. On Saturday, October 4 from 9am to noon, the museum welcomes families to the museum, grounds and galleries to explore and engage. We’ll have ice cream, hands-on art activities, plus a few extra surprises! OMAA Family Day is include with museum admission. Children 12 and under are always free of charge.
Although our museum doors close on October 31, we will extend the education and outreach programming throughout the year. From multi-age drop in art classes, to Yoga with a View and art-themed birthday parties, the OMAA is now a year-round resource for art lovers of all ages.
For information on our education and outreach programs, contact Amy Donovan at 207-646-4909 X #5 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 was one of our most successful seasons. With an increase in visitors by 100% in the last five years, we intend to keep up the pace and finish 2014 with record-breaking numbers. Our goal is to become a year-round presence in the community; one that supports and participates in the ongoing dynamics of our schools and larger geographical area, and simply to become the most exciting art venue in Maine.
We can achieve this because of the invaluable support of our members, partners, and volunteers. This support has allowed us to:
- Make essential improvements to the building and grounds
- Expand education, membership and marketing programs
- Add staff to develop those programs
This winter, we hired Nancy Pearson as the new Director of Marketing and External Relations and Amy Donovan as Education Coordinator. Amy has been reaching out to area schools and adult learning centers. She is also working with our dedicated Docent group to develop a range of fall and winter programs, as well as maintain a strong presence in the galleries for our summer visitors. All of these changes have been developed in order to better serve our members and visitors.
This summer, we offer a wide range of exhibitions and programs. A John Laurent retrospective starts off the season, followed by solo shows by painter Richard Brown Lethem, photographer Alexandra de Steiguer, and installation artist Amy Stacey Curtis. Andrew Wyeth: The Linda L. Bean Collection promises to be a very popular exhibition as well. Tuesday programs will kick off in July and a new youth program, “Stories by the Sea” will launch on Wednesday mornings through July and August.
This is an exciting time at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. Visit often this summer, and as always, let us know how we are doing!