On the Maine Path of Cultural Discovery
September 17, 2008 -
I don't know much about art other than I know good art when I see it – or at least I think I do – and I like to get out frequently to enjoy it. My latest venture in art appreciation was to the Portland Museum of Art to see the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, a stunning display of photographs and paintings capturing the artist's life and the beautiful New Mexico landscape.
In the museum's lobby I found a brochure with the word "trail" on it, always an eye-catcher. I soon discovered that there is a Maine Art Museum Trail, a path of cultural discovery where art enthusiasts can view more than 53,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary, at seven world-class museums across Maine.
Thinking more like a hiker than an art lover I wondered, What if one were to follow the Maine Art Museum Trail and not only take in the exhibits, but walk the local trails as well? A little research revealed a host of interesting trails in close proximity to each of the museums, so the plan to combine the art of humans with the art of nature is entirely possible.
Before you strike out on the Maine Art Museum Trail you'll definitely want the free trail guide, available at www.maineartmuseums.org or by calling (800) 782-6497. Then it's time to pack up and head out to explore this unique trail and enjoy the beauty of Maine, indoors and out!
The Bates College Museum of Art is hosting Stairway to Heaven, a look at the changing urban landscapes of China, figure drawings from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection, and traditional pieces of the Maine Folk Art Trail (another trail!).
The Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary (www.stantonbirdclub.org/thorncrg or 524-2060) is a 357-acre preserve sporting three miles of hiking on six trails, including eight small ponds, several streams and Lewiston's high point at 510 feet.
Among the 12 exhibitions at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is Passages, a collection of landscape paintings by Claude Lorrain and others, and Landscape Photography: Politics and Poetics features the landscape photographs of Frank Gohlke and others.
The Cathance River Nature Preserve (Cathance River Nature Preserve or 729-7694) is found in neighboring Topsham. Five trails and seven miles of hiking lead to an old quarry, a heath bog, and follow long stretches of the Cathance River.
At the Colby College Museum of Art, visitors can view Realms of Faith: Medieval art from the Walters Art Museum, masterpieces of American folk art, Whistler's waterscapes: river, sea, and canal views from the Lunder Collection, and Chuck Close: self-portrait/scribble/etching portfolio.
The Messalonskee Stream Trail in nearby Oakland is a terrific six-mile, out-and-back hike that winds along the stream past a gorge and remnants of an old mill to a dam at Rice Rips. Find this and more Kennebec-Messalonskee Trails at www.kmtrails.org/trails online.
The Farnsworth Art Museum is showing the 30 etchings and lithographs of Homer, Whistler, Marin and Bellows: American prints from the Farnsworth, and From Impressionism to Modernism – American Paintings from the Farnsworth Art Museum, 1885-1935.
A five-mile section of the Georges Highland Path (Georges Highland Path or 594-5166) in Camden/Rockport traverses Ragged Mountain, an alpine-like peak offering outstanding views east to the Atlantic Ocean and west over miles of rolling coastal woods and farmlands.
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art features the paintings of Dorothy Eisner, 1953-1983, The New Hope School: Pennsylvania Impressionists, and The Watercolors of Robert Eric Moore. Note: The museum closes for the season Oct. 31.
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm (www.wellsreserve.org or 646-1555) in Wells is a 2,200-acre coastal preserve offering seven delightful miles of trails that lead through woodlands, fields and wetlands; to beaches and dunes; and along the Little River.
At the Portland Museum of Art enjoy Andr Kertsz: On Reading and a series of photographs that capture the essential pleasures of reading in life. American Menagerie features animal images in the work of Dahlov Ipcar and others.
Take to the Portland Trails (www.trails.org or 775-2411) network by walking out the museum door and heading for the Harborwalk Trail. Continue on the Eastern Prom and Back Cove Trails for six miles of striding amid the natural beauty of urban Portland.
The University of Maine Museum of Art features Katherine Bradford and bold paintings of ocean liners, Stella Johnson and black-and-white photographs of remote communities in Mexico, Cameroon and Nicaragua, and the still-life acrylics of Nicole Duennebier.
The 10,000-acre University Forest borders the campus and provides many miles of wonderful exploration on a dozen trails. Additional area hiking opportunities can be found by contacting the Bangor Land Trust (www.bangorlandtrust.org or 942-1010).
CAREY KISH, Portland Press Herald, September 11, 2008
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