Sandra James Browne painted this European scene while vacationing. It is one of the items to be sold at an estate sale in Winter Harbor this weekend. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS

Estate sale to feature personal items from longtime Winter Harbor artists

WINTER HARBOR — Art lovers and collectors of vintage items will have a chance to pick up a piece of Winter Harbor art history this weekend.

The former gallery at 355 Main Street where Sandra James and Syd Browne displayed and sold their art will be the site of a sale of their personal belongings — and paintings — from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 4-6.

Bob Hammond, owner of Antiques and Artisans in Winter Harbor, said the Brownes’ granddaughter, Nancy Coleman, has decided to sell the artists’ former home. The family, which now lives in the Boston area, had kept the property after Syd’s death in 1991 but decided to divest it.

“They don’t come up anymore,” said Hammond, adding it’s expensive to keep unused real estate. “I think, with a lot of regret, they’re putting it on the market.”

The family kept a few things from the home but is selling the remaining contents. “They didn’t take all that much. They took a lot of the art,” he said.

However, they didn’t take all of the art and 11 original pieces will be offered at the sale as well as a number of household items. These include Vibert and Maine Kiln Works pottery and furniture, some of which Sandra painted. Among the furnishings is a pair of midcentury reclining chairs that the Brownes’ grandchildren remember sleeping in, said Hammond. A few other odds and ends include mirrors, cabinets, vases and even Syd’s personalized Maine license plate.

Husband and wife artists Sandra James and Syd Browne were known locally as “Syd and Sandy.” Sandy painted their names on this wood box.

The couple, known locally as “Syd and Sandy,” learned about Winter Harbor during the 1940s from an artist friend who had just picked a random place on the map to visit.

“He came to Winter Harbor and wrote us all about it,” Sandy is quoted as saying in a 1969 article in The Acadian. “That was 25 years ago when Syd and I first came here. We, of course, immediately loved the area and the people.”

They visited several times before finally moving to Winter Harbor at the end of World War II.

“At the time, there was literally nothing here,” quipped Hammond, adding it was a picturesque location for painting.

According to a 1960s newspaper article by local journalist Jonas Crane, the couple checked out other places before settling in Winter Harbor.

“They traveled a lot in a wide range of territory, from Mexico to the Gaspe Peninsula, but none of it was quite as satisfying as the wild beauty of the surf breaking on the jagged rocks at Schoodic Point,” Crane writes.

Initially, the Brownes rented the building on Main Street that became the gallery, purchasing it a year later. They also bought a barn in Winter Harbor and converted it into the house and studio where they lived and worked from 1947 to 1991.

Syd was born in Brooklyn and Sandy in Colby, Kan. The couple lived in New York City before moving to Maine. A 1988 article in The Ellsworth American reported Syd sold his collection of Depression-era paintings of New York City to a private collector.

During the time they spent in Winter Harbor, they specialized in pieces with a Maine theme. A number of pieces depict Winter Harbor and the surrounding area, Hammond said. They also taught art classes locally.

Both artists’ work has been displayed nationally and each won numerous awards.

Hammond credited Jesse and Sarah Christensen, who own the Brownes’ former gallery and the Pickled Wrinkle, for allowing the sale to take place in the gallery. For more information, contact Hammond at [email protected]

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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