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January 15, 1958 - Image 10

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Page Ten


Wednesday, January 15, 1958

Pqge Ten THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE Wednesday, January 15, 1958



Maine & The Artist


117MICHAEL KRAFT changing panorama of the sea. pattern of tides rising and ebbing,
Daily Staff Writer The Atlantic reveals to its on- waves breaking into surf, and the
RIVING rain accompanied the lookers a continual flow of change endless wearing away of the coast
dusk sweeping in across Maine which represents, if not progress, changes only in degrees of inten-
from the Atlantic. The town of a ceaseless cycle of rise and fall, sity. The height of the waves may
Boothbay Harbor closed its door fury and quiet that has long at- vary: the shape remains basically
to the darkening wet skies but tracted artists, writers and pho- the same.
along a road near the edge of the tographers. And in many ways, Maine's at-
old seaport, one door remained To be sure, Maine is dotted with traction stems from its similarity
ajar. glistening inland lakes, potato to this aspect of the sea. Even
An apple tree was painted on it. farms and forests, but the artists where the Atlantic's force is di-
tend to look away from the green minished - in the protected har-
The branches, unmoved by the of the Pine Tree State to the bors - the surface facets of life
gathering wind, stretched across blue-green of the sea. may change but the pattern is
the frame to the wood-shingled Along the 2,400 miles of in- generations old.
bearing a sign "Gertrude Stewartd ented coastline, the raw force of "It only takes a little imagina-
a inter" Sheltered from the rair the sea endlessly batters the gran- tion to see things as they were
by an overhanging porch roof, ite. But frequently, protected har- 100 years ago," a visitor said,
several paintings leanedag bors soften nature's lash, and finding a firm link to America's
the wall, since the first permanent settle- past along the waterfronts of pic-
They were firmly stroked sea- ment at Pemaquid Point in 1625, turesque Boothbay Harbor and the
capesy 1 usira ting schooners civilization has covered some of old shipbuilding town of Kenne-
tossed by the angry Atlantic and the coast's barrenness. bunkport.
waves pounding against the rocks The sea, whether hitting the Grey, weatherbeaten pilings and
protecting Maine's shore. Eery long-exposed expanses of coast- docks still welcome kchooners and
lnon the powerful canvases iny line or tamed with the ports, of- the fishing fleet continues to cling
line on that Gertrude Stewart fers continual contrasts in moods, together in the anchorages, per-
dicated both lively and young. Mrs. Stewart, who began painting haps seeking a security missing
seriously after her husband's out among the waves. And where
death 17 years ago, compares the the waterfront is lined with masts,
IT WAS enough to arouse the sea to fire, "turbulent and bright, the adjoining crooked and narrow
curiosity of the hungriest tray- which will sometimes smolder and streets are dotted with artists'
eler driving to the haven of some then sometimes blaze up. Person- studios and galleries.
cozy restaurant. - alities are often like that."
And it did. HIOWEVER, like the ocean, the
"Do you like my paintings?" an ET, while the sea appears to surface appearances of the
inviting voice inquired as the can- change continually, it is only ports change. The schooners, last
vases were being examined. a surface alteration. The basic of the great Windjammer fleet
The door had been opened by a
small figure hunched against the
cold evening air. Her grey hair
shone in the warm light of the
studio and her smile brought more
wrinkles to an already wrinkled
Gertrude Stewart, as she later
confided over tea and cookies, was
79 years old.
Her last couple years have been,
spent lame - the result of a fall
- among her paintings, frames,
books and mementoes of a life
that began in England, included
30 years as a nurse, 12 more on a
farm raising poultry, and the iso-
lated war years as the sole resi-
dent of her once-bustling resort
at Oceanpoint, Maine.
Inside her present home, which
once served Boothbay Harbor
(pop. 1,810) as a school house,
self-installed partitions covered
with her paintings and magazine
reproductions of the Old Masters
separate living quarters from the
cluttered "studio" and "parlor."
Vigorous oils, "done entirely with
my fingers, except for the signa-
ture," depict in swirling depth the
Jtlantic's restlessness. They stand
ex t to sensitively-drawn sketches
of lishermen hauling in their nets
and delicate pastels of a Ionly,
gall tingd wth She evening sun's
ng glow,
APT'iURED in the studio's di--
a ,suited display i. hthe t-

which issued forth from Maine's
shipyards to circle the globe, now
carry landlubbers on vacation
cruises instead of cargoes to dis-
tant ports. While fishing boats
may carry sails, they depend upon
the engine below deck. The ship-
yard at Kittery, which launched
the Ranger in 1777, first ship to
fly the Stars *nd Stripes, now
builds and services submarines. .
Streets which once vibrated to
throngs of whalers and seamen
now are jammed with cars, tour-
ists all the way from California
and resorters escaping the East
Coast's hot cities.
In some areas, establishments
designed to trap unwary 'guests"
almost outnumber the lobster
traps piled neatly ,on the docks or
submerged in the nearby bays.
But to many of the artists, both
those who feel sympathy with the
creaking piers and those sporting
their first beards, the layer of
tourism is transparent. Away from
the noise of U.S. 1, which links the
state to Boston and other coastal
cities, Maine's old pattern is
Weather forecasts, radios and
more powerful engines have eased
much of the fisherman's load, and
the lobster fleet keeps a careful
eye on Florida to see if the resort
trade will be lively and thus lob-
ster-hungry. But, as through the

centuries, fishing remains cold,
backbreaking and sometimes dan-
gerous work,
AT DUSK, a woman waits on one
of the docks for her son's boat
to enter the bay, "Two years ago,>'
she explained in the peculiar soft
accent of the region, "my brother
and another son were lost in a
storm." Raising a hand to shield
her eyes from the sun's rays, she
told how another son refused to
go fishing. "Do you think I want
to drown too?" he had asked.
However, as their fathers and
grandfathers did, many ignore the
hazards, continuing to mend their
traps, boat them out into the At-
lantic, and stake and bait them
from the smelly barrels of red-
fish shipped up from Gloucester
and Boston. Others, who travel
offshore for codfish and other va-
rieties, still face the perennial
fisherman's problem of keeping
nets in repair.
Meanwhile, the fishermen and
their boats continue to provide
absorbing, if not voluntary sub-
ject matter for local artists -- a
vacationing commercial artist
painting in a precise realistic style
can be seen commenting on his
wife's undisciplined attempts.
BELONGING to Maine's core of
impressionistic artists, Mrs.
Stewart has been dubbed "the
Grandma Moses of Maine" by lo-
cal papers. Her sparkling eyes
seemed to flash when the nick-
same was mentioned during a con-
versation in her parlor, "Grandma
Moses is a primitive. While I start-
ed that way, I've passed that stage.
"I'm more impressionistic now,
for I think getting the feeling
across is most important. My mind
doesn't bother with details; in-
stead, I like to soak up impres-
sions. At night, when I lived alone
at Oceaclpoint, I used to lie in bed
listening for hours to the roaring
Her favorite subject was again
compared to life. "One never
knows exactly what- form a thing
will take. I like to believe that
there is a Law of Compensation -
for every disappointmeit, there
will be some ultimate value.
"In a few months, the money I
have now will. run out, but who
knows what will happen . . , or
be sold. My accident, for instance,
put a crimp in my nursing. But
maybe it's better that way be-
cause the fall down the stairs left
me with more time to paint. Life,
like the sea, turns up many
And, as if to prove it, she limped
to her parlor to display an inter-
esting piece of driftwood a little
boy had brought her from a near-
by beach.



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