Perhaps the only match for the breathtaking beauty of Maine’s great outdoors is the art that graces many of the state’s great indoors. From Kittery to Caribou, Jackman to Jonesport, Portland to Presque Isle, the Pine Tree State is a haven for artists, art galleries and museums. Many of the more famous artists whose work is on display to the visiting public—Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth among them—took inspiration from the woods, fields, mountains and seascapes that surrounded them. Contemporary artists have settled throughout the state and work in a wide variety of media: oil painting, watercolors, sculpture, etchings, even filmmaking, photography and pottery. Together, they prove that art is for everybody.
One local painter who admits she was drawn to the state’s “beauty, atmosphere and mystique” is Ann Scanlan. “I had always wanted to live in Maine,” she says. “The beauty of Maine has inspired so many artists and the state has an incredible amount of art history. Artists were coming here in the 1800s to paint.” She says artists love a challenge, “and what could be more challenging than trying to capture [on canvas] the amazing coastline?”
There is another reason why artists flock to Maine, and why art is everywhere, Scanlan says. “People who visit see so much beauty all around and they want to take some of it home with them,” she explains, “and what better way to do that than to take home a painting?”
Finding a Maine gallery or a museum exhibit to take in while you are here isn’t difficult. The Maine Department of Tourism website (VisitMaine.com) lists no fewer than 405 museums and 161 galleries. The Maine Art Museum Trail is a great place to start. The Trail is actually a collaboration of seven leading art museums across Maine, offering more than 53,000 works of art. The pieces range from ancient to contemporary and are housed at Bates College Museum of Art (Lewiston); Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville); Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick); Farnsworth Art Museum (Rockland); Ogunquit Museum of American Art; Portland Museum of Art; and the University of Maine Museum of Art (Bangor).