By Michael Mansfield
I was still in my first few days at the museum and just getting to know the collections and the history of Ogunquit when I met DeWitt Hardy. One of the first personalities to introduce himself to me, DeWitt came by to deliver some material he had been looking into on behalf of the museum and agreed to join the museum staff for lunch. He spoke with us for a brief 15 minutes, but shared over 50 years’ worth of insights about the building, the gardens and the exhibitions here. He told us about his travels to New York looking for artists to show, and teased us about how far the museum had come from the ‘early days.’ For me, it was an outstanding introduction to this beloved place from one of the original characters in OMAA’s story.
DeWitt first visited Ogunquit with his parents in 1953, coincidentally the year the museum opened. He went on to become a pivotal fixture and leading voice in the art community here, beginning with the Ogunquit Art Association. He was deeply devoted to his fellow artists at the Barn Gallery, and championed their work at every opportunity. He served as associate director and curator at OMAA from 1965 to 1976, working with both Henry Strater and John Dirks. An acclaimed watercolorist, DeWitt was the featured artist in a 2015 exhibition here, and OMAA is honored to hold several of his works in the permanent collection. DeWitt Hardy will be deeply missed, but his contributions to both Ogunquit and to American Art will be with us in perpetuity.