Deer Isle’s Nellieville continues to evolve
DEER ISLE — Nellieville, Deer Isle artist Peter Beerits’ park, inhabited by critters, cowboys, Vikings and sword-wielding knights and other characters, became the setting for New York playwright Melody Bates’ outdoor production of “Avalon” in 2019. Bates’ original play is a take on the medieval legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. “Avalon” blends magic, medieval myth and modern twists in the myth’s retelling.
As part of the set, Beerits built a three-story “wizard’s tower,” where Lancelot and Guinevere’s romantic tryst is discovered. A bloody “night of the long knives” ensues. In the scene, Lancelot fights off and stabs multiple soldiers.
Like an Arthurian character himself — a Merlin of sorts — Beerits has woven more magic and further refined his “wizard’s tower” since “Avalon” was staged. It’s just one of Nellieville’s many features from the sculptor’s real and artistic journey to Deer Isle from Los Angeles 30 years ago. The Silver Dollar Saloon, Mississippi juke joint and Rosebud County jail, populated by a cast of colorful characters, are among the eight episodes created so far.
Beerits, however, plans to unveil Episode 9 sometime this coming summer. And, Nervous Nellie’s, where Beerits and his wife, Anne, have produced a line of 15 jams, preserves and conserves — from strawberry rhubarb conserve to hot pepper jelly — for decades, will open Tuesday, May 11. Hours, through fall, will be 11.a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Visitors must wear masks and are limited to five at any one time in the shop. Visitors, observing social distancing, can stroll through and explore Nellieville. The café will not open this season. Purchases also can be picked up curbside.
In the shop, the Beeritses have expanded their goods. Taking center stage are Peter Beerits’ small, portable sculptures that are for sale. The birds and other creatures are fashioned from bits of scrap wood and metal salvaged from the dump or elsewhere. Many parts and pieces have a back-story like a bird’s conical body that once served as a wooden plug used on battleships built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works. The plugs’ purpose was to temporarily fill holes made by enemy artillery.
The Beeritses also added farmer-made sriracha, cribbage boards, hand-screened napkins with bees, crows and chickens and tide clocks featuring the Mark Island Lighthouse.
For more info, call 348-6182, email [email protected] and visit nervousnellies.com.