Sullivan artist paints here and now

“Pink Pier,” oil

ELLSWORTH — The Thrumcap rises like a wooly cap outside “The Gut” or narrow channel separating Great and Little Cranberry islands. Mount Desert hills rise in the distance.

That scene is captured in Sullivan artist Philip Frey’s painting “Thrumcap and MDI.” The oil was commissioned for Maine folk singer Pixie Lauer, who composed the song “Cranberry Road” about the same treeless mound rising from the sea.

Frey, who spent the month of August painting on Great Cranberry Island through the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation in 2012, is now the focus of a new book “Philip Frey: Here and Now” (July 2018, Marshall Wilkes Publishing), fittingly co-authored by Daniel Kany and Carl Little. Marshall Wilkes, which produces a line of fine art books, is an outgrowth of Courthouse Gallery Fine Art in Ellsworth.

The gallery will hold a book launch for “Philip Frey: Here and Now” from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 7. The reception also signals the opening of a solo show of Frey’s latest work. The event will include a talk by the artist and book authors at 5 p.m. Admission is free.

In addition, Lauer will be on hand to perform two original songs inspired by the Philip Frey’s paintings highlighted in the book.

Over the past two decades, Frey has developed into one of Maine’s finest landscape painters. Known as a colorist, he uses a bold palette to capture the light and moods of his home state, from the streets of Ellsworth and Portland to Monhegan and Acadia National Park.

George Kinghorn, executive director and curator at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, singles out Frey’s ability to render complex motifs by way of dynamic planes of color.

“Frey’s art occupies the nexus between contemporary painting and brushy traditionalism,” Kinghorn wrote in the new book’s introduction. “If there is a focus to this new direction in Maine painting, his art is it.”

A plein-air painter, Frey’s oils are imbued with an immediacy that reflects his commitment to being “in the present,” whether responding to a panoramic view from the Cadillac Mountain summit, on the dock of a working waterfront, or an intimate interior.

Courthouse Gallery is located at 6 Court St. in Ellsworth.

For more info, call 667-6611, or visit To learn more about the book, visit

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