Wiscasset Art Walk shines after dark

Artists lament Haggett Garage’s planned end
Posted:  Monday, October 2, 2017 - 8:00am
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Westport Island’s John McBee got his mowing and raking done in time to catch the last 2017 installment of the Wiscasset Art Walk Sept. 28. He came looking for inspiration for his own art, in pencil and watercolor.

Augusta friends Terry Tatlock, who taught at Edgecomb’s prior Eddy School and has lived in Edgecomb and Damariscotta, and Jacqueline LaRochelle arrived with a plan. They went into Sarah’s Cafe and asked what time the restaurant closed so they could get back from checking out the art walk in time to have supper there.

One of Tatlock’s favorite aspects of Wiscasset’s art walk is the night it’s held, Thursdays, because he doesn’t have to choose between it and other events, he said. He, LaRochelle and other attendees also cited Wiscasset’s friendliness, and the art walk’s. “Everybody talks to everybody on the street. They don’t do that in Portland,” LaRochelle said.

First Congregational Church of Wiscasset Pastor Josh Fitterling tried his first raw oyster and liked it, he said as he and friends enjoyed burritos from the Taco the Town food truck from Brunswick. The oyster was from O’Oysters, a South Portland-based food cart also in town for the art walk. At other installments this summer, Fitterling and church members were part of the art walk, putting on a booth for event-goers to don costumes and  pose for free photos. He enjoyed being a visitor to the event this time, he said.

Joan Taylor of Edgecomb made some buys – a couple of wines at Treat’s, where she went to a wine-tasting, and at BIRCH, Christmas ornaments for family members. Taylor said she does the live art of gardening. She enjoys Wiscasset’s art walks every year, for their variety, especially this year’s, which even had a donkey one month, she said. “Everybody is having a good time. It’s good for the town and it’s good for the artists.”

Lucia Droby, who organizes the July-September art walks with Mary Ellen Barnes and Violet Brandwein, said she had been hearing similar feedback. The art walk has matured, with more merchants taking the initiative to find artists themselves or add other features, Droby said. That was a hope when the event began five years ago, she said. They’ll keep it on Thursday nights  in 2018, she said.

Wiscasset resident and artist Leonard Meiselman said he likes the art walk’s energy. He and a fellow local artist interviewed separately, Mat O’Donnell, also brought up the state’s planned removal of Haggett Garage, where O’Donnell said his 22 paintings, on view that night, were the final art exhibit there. Maine Department of Transportation bought the building from Coastal Enterprises after claiming eminent domain. MDOT plans to replace it with a parking lot as part of the agency’s downtown project.

“We will miss the building and the space. It will be a big loss for the community,” said Meiselman, who showed six oil paintings there last year.

O’Donnell said being the final exhibitor made the experience very bittersweet for him.

His paintings on the walls included “Out Back, Jackman, Me.” based on a photo he took of two people canoeing nude in Jackman in 1978. “You have to remember the time. It was the 70s,” he said, smiling. As he spoke, fellow artist Frank Lehman of Belfast walked up, then the two hugged and Lehman told him, “When I read about (O’Donnell’s exhibit), I had to come.” They did a high-five.

Minutes later, O’Donnell spoke with attendees about his paintings. He works on several at once on a table. “It takes all of the sensitivity and focus out of making one, special thing.” Less is more, he said, adding, he will always consider himself a student of art.

At Wiscasset Bay Gallery, gallery manager Quincy Brimstein was enjoying the harp-playing of Suki Flanagan of Alna. “It’s been great,” Brimstein said. The gallery was excited to host Flanagan for the art walk because her playing is calm, enjoyable and adds even more life to the gallery, said Brimstein, a printmaking artist.

Seasonal Newagen, Southport resident Charles “Randy” Gifford had been to Bath earlier for lunch at the Cabin restaurant and returned to Wiscasset for the art walk. He and wife Susan love the village, he said. They have a photo at home of the Hesper and Luther Little in Wiscasset harbor with an aircraft passing overhead.