SWH Library opens Annual Art Auction

Once again, Mount Desert Island artists have risen to the occasion and offered up the work of their hands and hearts for the good cause of supporting the Southwest Harbor Public Library.

At a gala event Sunday evening, the library’s annual silent art auction opened offering works from established professional artists the likes of Judy Taylor, Ellen Church, Linda Rowell Kelley and Scott Baltz, and some talented “Sunday painters,” at starting prices that ranged from $10 to $1,500.

This is always a favorite opening, not only because of the art on display, but because the artists, who cater the event themselves, also are terrific cooks, as evidenced by the happy crowd that gathered around the food tables before setting out to see the artworks.

When folks did manage to tear themselves away from the excellent guacamole, bacon-wrapped dates, tiny stuffed peppers and artichoke dip, they discovered another feast — this time for the eyes.

John Bryan’s dramatic portrait of a lobster, “Five Fathoms,” certainly fits that description in several ways. Rendered with an unexpected palette of gold and ochre, like a sun-struck ocean floor seen through a slightly fogged diving mask, his lobster has such presence and personality it should have a name.

Maggie Johnston’s watercolor of a strutting rooster is another animal with heaps of attitude.

Evocative scenes in which the artist conveys a time and place and a mood include Patricia Lewis’s “Misty Meadow,” in which a trio of horses are just barely seen through the morning fog, and Bob Jay’s “Fishing Boats,” where three lobster boats lie at anchor in the silvery light of dawn.

Boats, both the working and sailing variety, are prominently featured in this show. Judy Taylor’s Bernard Harbor depicts a summer’s day in a small harbor that is so exquisitely quaint one would think it was a fantasy. There is something delightfully old school about Emilie Bregy’s watercolor “Entering Somes Sound.” Looking at her little sloop scudding along in a fine breeze is almost as much fun as being there.

Somehow, Nan Ulett has managed to capture not only the image of racing sailboats in her colored glass window scene, but the action as well. One almost expects her boats with their colorful spinnakers bellied out to sail right out of the frame.

Cathy Willey’s boats sail through a charming tunnel book she has created from paper and maps, and a majestic two-masted schooner, its gaff-rigged sails positively glowing against a background of forested mountains, is captured in Sandra Gott’s photograph “Sailing into Great Harbor.” Another photographer who found himself in the right place at the right time is Stan Gott, whose “Moose Eating Lunch” is the perfect wildlife shot. Susan Getze and Meile Rockefeller create their own perfect timing in their photographs. Ms. Getze’s Western Mountain and Somes Sound Fog are all about weather. Ms. Rockefeller’s “Fall in the Water” and “Lily Pond” are all about light and reflection.

Amidst all the pretty landscapes in photographs, watercolor and oils, it was a pure pleasure to find Robert Clark’s nostalgic block print of two little boys pondering a beached jellyfish and Gay Paratore’s print of a motorcycle “All American Harley.”

Several artists had a message to convey in their work. Jennifer Judd McGee did so quite literally in her enchanting graphic art print “Mighty World” and Brenda Merritt more subtly in two of her pieces. In “1492,” Ms. Merritt uses found objects and iconic Native American images to suggest an alternative perspective on Columbus’s arrival in the New World and an idyllic landscape painted on an antique ironing board to tell a similar story in “Before They Came.”

Among the crafts also donated to this cause are Cherie Magnello’s exquisite silver and gemstone jewelry, Chris Breedlove’s signature “Lobster Bowls,” and a handsome cutting board made from the old maple that used to stand in the library’s dooryard.

Some of the artworks mentioned here already have gone out the door in the “buy it now” option, but many more still are available in the silent auction, which ends Aug. 25.

For more arts & entertainment news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.