Always an ‘art guy,’ but also just the sort of salesman a new gallery might need

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Ron Crusan with an original Andrew Wyeth watercolor on display in the new Wyeth Gallery

When Linda Bean began talking with Ron Crusan about coming to Port Clyde to become the director of her new Wyeth Gallery she asked him, “Can you sell?”

Crusan, who at the time was the Executive Director of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, vividly remembers his response: “‘Can I sell? I’ve been selling my whole career! It’s been different products, but I’ve been selling the whole time.’”

Indeed, Crusan admits that, beginning with his first job as an executive director of an arts center in North Carolina in 1991, he has always taken an entrepreneurial approach to his work, a bent he believes he shares with Linda Bean.

“This art center was having financial troubles and they were talking about not opening even as they were interviewing me for the job,” Crusan recalls. “They said they wanted to hire me, but wanted to put it off for a couple of months because they couldn’t afford to pay me. And I said, ‘You can’t afford not to have me come in.’ And they said I was right, if they put it off they’d never open. So I went in and over the course of seven years we doubled the budget, got donors lined up and really made that place go. So I got the reputation for turning organizations around. Then every organization that was in trouble called me. That was really hard work.”

Crusan claims no special training to explain his ability to turn struggling organizations around. “I was always an art guy—my BA was in studio art and my BFA was in photography—I never had any business training. But I was never afraid to ask people for money. Of course, you have to believe in your organization, but I was selling what people already wanted—I was just laying it out for them.”

IMG_0960 small cOnly into its second year of operation, Linda Bean’s Wyeth Gallery is not a financially struggling organization like most of the museums Crusan has directed, but his entrepreneurial outlook will be an asset as he works to develop the business over the next few years. Soon after beginning his new job on April 1, he began working on expanding the gallery’s space, which is located over the Port Clyde General Store. In addition to original paintings and prints by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, there is now room to show work by such Wyeth-related artists as Anne Wyeth McCoy, John McCoy and Anna B. McCoy as well as work by other artists such as New York painter Maurice Freedman who painted on Monhegan in the 1940s. Crusan also has some of his own work on display—assemblages and other creations using found objects.

Over 2,000 people came through the gallery between Memorial Day and early August, but Crusan says he would like to triple that number. The trick, he notes, is to find ways to draw people to Port Clyde from further afield than St. George. For example, he has just begun an ad campaign to reach people in the Brandywine Valley in southeastern Pennsylvania, which many people think of as “Wyeth country” because of the Wyeth family’s ties there. “But this also is Wyeth country,” Crusan stresses, “so we’re trying to get people in Wyeth country there to come to Wyeth country here.”

Another part of the business that Crusan is trying to build is the “Wyeth by Water” tours. “People who are already here in St. George come across the tour and take it, but, like with the gallery, we have to market it outside of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde.”

Apart from the business side of Crusan’s new responsibilities, a big reason Linda Bean wanted Crusan on her payroll was his experience and skill as a curator of art.

“After many years of working in the non-profit world of museums, I always had thought that an ideal job would be either a corporate or a private curator, a job that would not involve all the politicking and fundraising and all the things involved in keeping an organization afloat,” Crusan says. “The opportunity presented itself when Linda became involved with the Ogunquit Museum as a supporter. We did an exhibition of her collection of Andrew Wyeth—15 works by Andrew and one work by N.C. Wyeth and one by Jamie Wyeth just to give it some context—so I got to know her pretty well through that. And because she was a donor, I kept in contact with her.”

Crusan cites a pivotal phone conversation with Bean late last winter during which she recounted a variety of needs relating to the gallery and to her personal art collection. “I told her, ‘You just need someone to pull it all together for you,’ and she agreed. So in my blunt way I said, ‘Hire me!’”

A first step in managing Bean’s personal art collection, Crusan says, involves cataloguing it and evaluating the condition of each piece. “I really have no idea of the full scope of the collection—it is spread out and in many different locations, including restaurants and rental properties. It’s everywhere.”

Crusan admits that, while he has always been a fan of Andrew Wyeth’s work—“He paints white sheets blowing in the wind in water color! Who does that? Who can do that?”—he has been learning a lot he didn’t previously know about N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth since beginning his work with Bean as her director of art projects. And, he adds, he has discovered an aspect of their art he hadn’t appreciated before.

“I’ve always known the Wyeths from an art historical standpoint. I thought the art is what is important. But I’ve come to see the other side of it. I never understood this, but to people who aren’t art historians an artist’s place in the community is what’s important, that personal connection of the Wyeths to the community.” After saying this, Crusan adds, “If you read about Andrew and why he painted who he painted, you find that he had a personal connection to the people he painted. He wanted to know the object he was painting intimately, so it worked both ways.”

Crusan says he and his wife, Sally (who is now an emergency room coordinator at PenBay Hospital), are pleased to have made the move to St. George and look forward to buying a home here. “We love it here. I like this community’s remoteness. I don’t leave the peninsula if I don’t have to. My goal is to have a studio for my own work that is quiet and away from people and to also do my thing for Linda. I’m feeling very lucky.”—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Julie Wortman, bottom, Betsy Welch

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Working hard to reduce St. George’s tax burden by reducing its volume of solid waste

IMG_0940 sm cWendy Carr, chair of St. George’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, acknowledges that recycling may not be a priority for everyone, but with a recycling rate that hovers around 50 percent, the town is doing better at taking material out of the solid waste stream than almost every other community in the state. That translates into important savings—and earnings—for the town.

“When we dispose of municipal solid waste we pay transportation costs and something we call ‘tipping fees.’ So every ton of trash the town disposes of involves a fee that we pay through our taxes. So if we can reduce the volume of waste, we’re going to reduce how much we spend and that’s the goal.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarr brings to her work with the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee a strong backround in environmental law. “I was an environmental lawyer, a litigator, for 25 years, dealing with air, waste and water, mostly from a contamination standpoint, but I was also a landfill lawyer for many, many years. That meant I was mostly in the business of challenging landfill permits when they expanded either upward or in their footprint. So I definitely know about solid waste disposal, including hazardous waste disposal.”

As for the other part of the cost-saving equation—the money brought in by selling the materials town residents bring in for recycling—Carr claims no special expertise. “I can’t say I am anything more than a regular consumer,” she admits. But her exposure to the ins and outs of recycling while serving on the committee has taught her a lot. “At a recent conference I attended I learned that because we pre-sort, because we have human hands that move things into bins, we should be able to command higher prices for our recycled materials.”

She notes that some communities, like Portland, have instituted “single stream” recycling to encourage higher rates of participation. With this approach every bit of recyclable material goes into the same can. “The problem with single stream is that there are bottles of olive oil that can contaminate newspapers,” Carr observes. “I know that when I have renters at my rental cottage, no matter what I tell them they throw everything together with the garbage, so that’s not something I can recycle because the value is gone. So single stream on the one hand is easier for people to wrap their arms around, but on the other hand it produces an inferior product.”

Carr also acknowledges that recycling has its critics. “Sometimes people think that recycling takes your eye off the environmental goal of, say, reducing our carbon footprint, or looking at our energy needs, because it focuses so much solely on reusing materials,” she explains. “Other people are against recycling because it requires energy to recycle and make the materials useful again and because people may feel virtuous about recycling and then not think about their wasteful practices in other aspects of their lives. So sometimes people consider recycling a red herring in terms of the environmental movement. I just look at it as one piece, and it’s one piece, especially in a town of this size, that we can get our arms around.”

Carr says that it feels “weird” to her if she sees somebody put something in a trash can that she knows can be recycled. But she takes a philosophical view of the situation.

“There is always going to be a segment of the population that does not recycle.We try to reach out to them, but there is a whole psychology to the ownership of trash—that you feel like you generated it and you want to put it where you want to put  it and you don’t want somebody to tell you what to do about it. That’s tough.”

Still, pointing to the success of Lisa Beal’s shop at the transfer station along with the picking that goes on at the metal and wood piles, Carr notes that St. George does have a strong culture of reusing and repurposing goods and materials, which is also an important aspect of recycling.

And even though the town’s recycling rate is high, the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee’s focus continues to be on coming up with practical solutions to make recycling in whatever form easier.

“We’re always looking to get our recycling rate above 50 percent,” Carr says. One initiative now in the planning stage is to co-sponsor a “shredding event” with the St. George Business Alliance. “I’m probably not alone in having bags of tax returns and all kinds of things I don’t want to get into the wrong hands,” she says. “So having a shredding company come to the town hall and to area business locations so that people can bring their documents and watch them be shredded could be a service people here would appreciate.”—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Betsy Welch, bottom, Julie Wortman

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Chicken and ribs Steelin’ Thunder benefit at Montpelier

Steelin-Thunder-Steel-Drum-Band with Mike Miller sKnox Museum will host a chicken and ribs barbecue, with music by Steelin’ Thunder steel drum band, on Sunday, August 28, from 3-6 pm on the big stage in front of Montpelier in Thomaston.  Advanced ticket prices are $15 General Admission and $12 Knox Museum members, and are available at www.knoxmuseum.org, or in the gift shop at Montpelier during regular business hours. Tickets will be $18 and $15 at the door the day of the event. Admission includes food, drinks will be available by donation, and children under age 12 are admitted for free. All proceeds will benefit this past Memorial Day weekend’s exhibition of The Moving Wall.

Steelin’ Thunder, a steel drum band from Rockland under the direction of Mike Miller, will perform some rousing selections with a Caribbean flair ideal for dancing or just good ole lazy August afternoon listening. Formed in 2001, Steelin’ Thunder has 17 members representing eight different towns from Waldoboro to Belfast, and puts on one of mid-coast Maine’s all-time favorite summertime experiences.

Chicken and ribs will be prepared by another local legend, Melody Wolfertz, chef and owner of Rockland’s well-loved Main Street bistro, In Good Company. Both Steelin’ Thunder and Chef Wolfertz are graciously donating their services. The Moving Wall event drew 13,000 people to Knox Museum and cost $100,000 to produce. Since Vietnam Veterans of America’s contract prohibited Knox Museum from charging admission, collecting donations from visitors, or selling anything in conjunction with the exhibition, Knox Museum had to rely on sponsorships and individual donations in order to make it possible. To date about $25,000 of in-kind donations and $70,000 in cash donations have been received. This event will be the last benefit to pay the last of the expenses for the big community event.

Concert-goers are encouraged to car-pool, and to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on the front lawn. Some seating, as well as games like croquet and badminton, will be provided.  Thomaston Selectman Peter Lammert’s donated grill will be fired up with food ready to be served sometime after 3 pm, and the band will start playing at 4 pm. The event will go on rain or shine, so please bring umbrellas and sun screen as needed, and come early for the best seats and to enjoy pre-barbeque beverages.

For further information call Knox Museum at 354-8062 or e-mail info@knoxmuseum.org.

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Haddock ‘chowdah suppah’ to benefit Port Clyde couple

Lorna Hupper Grey and her husband, Ken Grey of Port Clyde, recently survived an accident that totaled their truck. And, when Ken was brought to the hospital after the accident, the hospital staff discovered that he had additional serious medical problems unrelated to the accident. Since then Grey has had five surgeries and remains in the VA hospital in Augusta. Ongoing medical expenses not covered by insurance are anticipated when he is finally able to leave the hospital.

fishA haddock chowder supper on Friday, September 2 at 5pm at the Odd Fellows Hall in Tenants Harbor has been organized by family and friends to benefit the Greys. In addition to donations for the supper, they are asking for donations of desserts, especially pies. Left-over desserts will be sold after the supper.

If anyone has a truck they can donate to the Greys, that would be very much appreciated. In addition, donations of cash or checks (made out to Lorna Grey) would also be very welcome. Those unable to attend the supper but who would like to help can mail checks to Marvon Hupper (PO Box 225, Port Clyde, ME 04855).

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St. George VANITZ

VanitzAug25 level cWhose plate is the name of the wonderful dog he had for 18 years?
It comes from a Jetson’s episode when a lawyer tells George that Astro belongs to him and is named Tralfaz. —Susan Bates

Who’s behind the wheel? Email your answer. The first reader to respond correctly wins a free business-size ad in the print edition of The Dragon.
Charlie Merrill knew Hannah and Herbert Nelsbach’s plate HH ONE in the August 11 issue.

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Port Clyde

PC Church SM CThe Port Clyde Christian Church is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their building, which was built in 1916. The building was designed by Russell W. Porter. An Arctic explorer, artist, astronomer and sometime architect, Porter was the developer of the 50-acre tract north of the Marshall Point Lighthouse called “Lands End,” which he bought from fisherman Alfred H. Marshall in 1906. Repair of the church building’s bell tower, complete with a crenellated parapet, is now underway. “We believe the bell tower parapet crenellation was intended by Porter,” says Elder Tom Schwamb, “but we can’t confirm absolutely as IMG_0932 sm Cwe do not have Porter’s architectural drawings. We do have a photo taken around the 1930s or 1940s [top right]showing a portion of our original parapet.” The repair work, which also involves installing refurbished stained glass windows, is being performed by Lorraine Construction of Rockport.

PHOTO bottom: Betsy Welch

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‘Experience and common sense’—and a thick skin—prove essential requirements for job of Harbor Master

Tenants Harbor

Tenants Harbor

Between the time Dave Schmanska took the job  of St. George’s full-time Harbor Master in 2000 and February of 2015, 156 wharf permits were issued by the town, with three pending.

“Since then there have been quite a few more permitted but I’m not sure of the exact number,” Schmanska says. “And these numbers do not include docks that were permitted/built before 2000. Given that we have approximately 125 miles of shoreline, the numbers to me are astounding. From the air the peninsula must be looking like a porcupine or pin cushion.”

Dealing with this kind of rapid development and its impact on the town’s marine environment, in fact, was precisely why in 1999 the town realized a part-time harbor master was no longer adequate to keep up with the demands of harbor management and planning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASchmanska, who had moved with his family to St. George from Islesboro in 1998, was well qualified for the position. “My background was boats and I had been part-time harbor master in Islesboro. It was much like it was here—a local guy using his own boat to look after things and getting a very small stipend for all the headaches. So I had some experience. Also, I wasn’t a fisherman, I didn’t have any wars or arguments going on with anybody in any of the harbors.” After a reflective pause, he adds, “My only concern taking the job was whether I had a thick enough skin to make and live with decisions that might anger folks, especially friends or acquaintences. If you’re dealing with two people and they both want the same thing, no matter what you do one of them goes away thinking you’re a jerk if you’ve made a decision that favors or appears to favor one and not the other.”

Dealing with hard feelings and disappointments is pretty routine for Schmanska, since a big part of his job has to do with the administration and enforcement of mooring and dockage privileges. His authority to make decisions about such matters is based on state statute, which, in turn, is based on federal guidelines. But luckily, he says, the rules are not hard and fast.

“The folks who have been involved with putting the legislation together that governs Harbor Master authority have had the good sense to allow a great deal of discretion,” he says appreciatively. “They give you relatively broad guidelines and then they allow ‘home rule’ to kick in, which is a really good thing because what is good for Kittery isn’t necessarily good for here. I can’t just do what I want, but I have a lot more discretion than, say, our town’s code enforcement officer who deals with shoreland zoning where the rules are much more rigid. The way that Harbor Master authority is set up they almost build in a hedge. Something might not be totally kosher, but if it’s going to work in a particular situation you can do it.”

Schmanska says guest moorings are a perfect example of what he is talking about in this instance.

“There are no provisions for guest moorings anywhere in statute. So are they allowed? Not really.” Especially, he adds, in a harbor already crowded with moorings. “But if you have a house that is up the St. George River seven miles and, while you don’t have a boat, you have some boating friends that you’d like to be able to grab a mooring and come ashore to have a picnic or you have family who would like to stay for a week, are you going to get a guest mooring permit? Why not?  No else wants to be there. It’s not crowded. So that kind of discretion I’m lucky to have and I try to use wisely.”

The competition for regular moorings in the larger harbors of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde is pretty intense, Schmanska admits. “There are guidelines that say that if you want a mooring you have to prove to the Harbor Master that you need a mooring and that means that, (a), you have a boat and, (b), that you have a boat that requires a mooring. If you have a dock, say, and you have a 10’ boat, you probably don’t need a mooring. But if you need a mooring, the problem is that there is no set number of vessels that will live together nicely in any harbor.”

From one day to the next, Schmanska says, he never knows what sort of boat a mooring application will be for. “If we only had 25’ boats in Tenants Harbor, for example, we could probably get 30 percent more boats into the harbor. But we don’t. What it boils down to is experience and common sense. Right now, for example, in Tenants Harbor proper I’ve been kind of ringing the harbor, especially on the Hart’s Neck side, with moorings in relatively shallow water for small boats. But if you have a 40-foot sailboat that draws six to eight feet, I can’t put you there. So you either have to go farther out, which now in Tenants Harbor is quite far out, or you’re going to have to go on the waiting list and wait for someone to give a mooring up that will fit your boat.”

Schmanska says that a relatively new phenomenon is house buyers or realtors who say the purchase of a property depends on whether the buyer can get a mooring, something he never heard when he started as Harbor Master 16 years ago. But there are simply no guarantees that someone looking to buy property in St. George can get a mooring, though the chances are better in Wheeler Bay, Long Cove or on the river.

The annual permit fee for a resident recreational mooring is $20, which is one of the lowest in the state. “When I took over in 2000 the resident recreational fee was $10,” says Schmanska. “A couple of years before that it went from $2 to $10. I’m really glad I wasn’t the Harbor Master then because people were irate—‘They quintupled it!’ But you don’t have to go very far down or very far up the shore to find places where you don’t get a mooring at all unless you pay a $100 application fee and a $200-$300 permit fee. And then, sometimes, if your boat is too big, there’s a certain charge per foot over and above the basic fee. So folks here have it really wonderful.”

An instance when a thick skin is truly an asset, Schmanska notes, is when he is obliged to require that a mooring be moved. “The mooring fee in the State of Maine is good for one year, but at any time during that year the Harbor Master may ask the mooring holder to move that mooring for harbor management or safety purposes,” he explains. “People all the time do not understand the law. Especially longtime fishermen. They’ll say, ‘That mooring has been there for 50 years, my father had that mooring and I’m not moving it.’ Well the law states very clearly that the permit is good for a year and during that year you may be asked to move it. You do not have any control over the place on the bottom where that mooring lies. Moorings are in state waters. Almost every time I’ve required that a mooring be moved it’s bent people’s noses out of shape—it is like cutting off their arm.”

Quite another sort of controversy arose soon after Schmanska became Harbor Master in the early 2000s. “When aquaculture reared its head I got involved because we had some oyster growers on lease sites in the river and the lease sites were in front of some properties where the owners objected. So I started investigating the matter. Then, by sticking my nose into it, I was approached by the aquaculture coordinator for the State of Maine and asked to be a municipal representative to the state task force studying aquaculture. I agreed and became involved in what I call the ‘aquaculture wars’ of that period.”

Schmanska’s involvement on the aquaculture task force turned into a two-year commitment during which he says he learned quite a bit, especially about the difference between fin-fish aquaculture, which has a potentially damaging impact on the marine environment, and shellfish aquaculture, which actually has a positive impact. He pushed hard for a requirement that the mooring systems that hold aquaculture beds in place should be permitted by the town, but in the end the state decided to keep control of the permitting process. Still, thanks to lobbying by Schmanska and others, towns were given input into the permitting process.

“Towns have valuable local knowledge,” Schmanska notes. “So when we had a guy wanting a lease in the mouth of Long Cove, I was able to point out that the spot under consideration would be directly in the way of local boating traffic. But by moving the lease a few hundred yards it would be out of the way and basically invisible.”

Cold Storage Road property

Cold Storage Road property

Most recently, as part of his role in planning for harbor management in the future, Schmanska has been intimately involved with planning for the development of the Cold Storage Road property in Port Clyde recently acquired by the town. Of particular interest to him, he says, is the chance this purchase presents for reserving a portion of the property for future commercial use.

“Commercial access to the waterfront in the last 50 years has become a huge issue,” Schmanska stresses. “There are about 5,000 miles of shoreline in the state of Maine and less than 20 miles of working waterfront. That’s huge. And of that 20 miles I would bet 19.5 are privately held and can be sold at a drop of a hat. So to have public commercial access, in my opinion, is huge.”

St. George has always extracted something from the ocean, and Schmanska believes it always will. “Shrimp right now is questionable. Urchins—we’re about the only place in the state that is really still producing urchins except for down east. Lobsters—who knows? There is some concern with scientists that the boom may be over for this neck of the woods. Down east is seeing huge numbers of lobsters the way we used to 10, 15, 20 years ago. The reality is, in my opinion, that the lobsters and shrimp have gone to colder waters and I believe that trend will continue. So fast forward 20 years and there aren’t so many lobstermen here. Instead they are hauling out kelp or they’re hauling hag fish from deep water or snow crabs from deep water or sea cucumbers. They’re going to need a place to haul it ashore and if we can reserve an area for them to have that access I think it would be great.”—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Julie Wortman; harbor photos, Betsy Welch

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A ‘summer art camp’ in Port Clyde that is also a ‘state of mind’

IMG_0930 smThese summer days it is not unusual to see people by the side of the road who have set up their easels and are intently focused on capturing the scene in front of them with paint on canvas. For the past six years a good number of them have been hosted by painter Mary Erickson for what she says is a sort of “summer art camp” experience at the bungalow on the lighthouse road called Nanatuck.

“Last year I stayed here for eight weeks and hosted 45 artists from all over the country,” she says. “We’re all professional artists, people I’ve come to know over the years. Everyone scatters to the winds in the morning to go paint and then they come back for a lunchtime dinner after which they may rest for a while and then go out to take advantage of the late light.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErickson first got the idea of bringing painter friends to St. George to paint about seven years ago, when she discovered that her then husband’s family were renting a house here for a family reunion. “I asked if I could rent the house for the week before the reunion and brought some of my friends to paint,” she recounts. “Then I rented for three weeks and invited more friends to come and paint. Then I began renting for two months.”

Erickson’s own career as a painter has spanned several decades. Growing up in Connecticut, she began painting at an early age. After college she worked briefly in small business management until a move to Florida in 1986, as she says, “stirred a desire to pursue art as a career.” She went professional in 1993.

“For 22 years I did outdoor festivals to sell my art—I did 18 shows a year, basically every weekend or every other weekend.” She adds with a laugh, “I used to say that’s a job for a very tall 20-year-old of which I was neither. For younger artists I recommend that it is a very good thing to do because you learn how to deal with the public and how to present your work—and you learn how to work hard. But I finally retired from that, sold the van, sold the tent and transitioned into selling my work in galleries.”

Although Erickson has traveled the world extensively to expose herself to many different qualities of light—and birds, for which she has a particular affinity—this part of Maine has offered her an environment she enjoys savoring and sharing with others. “What I love about being here in Port Clyde is the small community. Of course there are harbors here like elsewhere in Maine and there are rocks like elsewhere in Maine, but you go just a little bit inland and you’ve got farms and gardens and sheep and cows. It’s all very accessible.”

Erickson also likes the welcoming atmosphere on the peninsula, marveling at how kind people are about tolerating painters who set up their easels just about anywhere. “One day a couple of us had set up across the street from a stone wall with a view of the ocean beyond, when a man came out of the house and up to us,” she notes by way of illustration. “I introduced myself and said we hoped he didn’t mind if we painted his place from a respectful distance. And he said, ‘God didn’t create this view for just the two of us!’”

Part of the “art camp” aspect of the Nanatuck experience, Erickson points out, is that each week’s group of eight to ten artists shares in the cost of the house and in the cooking of meals. But just as important is that the generous downstairs living area of the bungalow provides plenty of space for lunch and evening conversations about such things as galleries, where to get frames at a good price and varnishing techniques. “Nanatuck is perfect for community,” Erickson explains. “People who paint for a living lead a pretty solitary existence. We all work hard while we’re here, but we also have a blast spending time with each other and sharing information.”

While spending time with Erickson at Nanatuck has been by invitation only, to her delight a friend of Erickson’s has pointed out that “Nanatuck is a state of mind,” something that any group of friends can replicate. Because the property is now in the process of being sold, embracing this idea helps Erickson and her painter friends accept the possibility that this will be the last year for their gatherings here.

Still, Erickson is confident that other opportunities for bringing friends together to paint in Maine will present themselves in the future—if not at Nanatuck, hopefully somewhere else in Port Clyde. “I’ve learned that the only thing you can count on is change,” she says philosophically, adding with a big smile, “I’ve had the best summers of my adult life since I started doing this!”—JW

To learn more about Mary Erickson and her art go to maryericksonart.com. High Ridge Gardens, in Marshville, North Carolina, is a 39-acre artist retreat and bird sanctuary that Erickson and her former husband are working to preserve for future generations to enjoy. The property and guest house are now available for visiting artists, workshops, spiritual retreats, family reunion picnics, weddings and birding outings. Contact: info@HighRidgeGardens.org  or call 704-219-0391.

PHOTOS: Julie Wortman

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Hurricane Island tour

Foundation staff will share information about the foundation’s current work.

Foundation staff will share information about the foundation’s current work.

Georges River Land Trust (GRLT) invites the public to join host Susan St. John on an explorative and informative tour of Hurricane Island on Wednesday, September 7. Tour tickets include a private boat charter, lunch and history tour.

From 1870 until its sudden closure in 1914, Hurricane Island supported an active quarry and a community of nearly 1,000. Later it became the Maine base of the Outward Bound School, which operated there for 40 years.  Since 2009 it has been the home of the Hurricane Island Foundation Center for Science and Leadership—an off-shore, off-line, off-the-grid nonprofit organization whose goal is to excite people about doing science and about being leaders in the next wave of scientific discovery and environmental conservation.

Tour ticketholders will board the Equinox in Rockland at 9:30 a.m. for the hour-plus boat trip to the island, where they will learn from experts about the history of the quarry and its community—and about the history of Outward Bound on the island. They will also meet Foundation staff and learn about the current work of the Hurricane Island Foundation.

A lunch will be prepared from food grown on the island, and participants will see firsthand how this community, functioning completely off the grid, is dedicated “to living together as a year-round, self-sustaining community with science and education at its heart.” The program will include several short hikes. Participants must be able to get in and out of the boat and walk unaided over uneven terrain. Return ride from the island will be at 3:15 p.m.

A limited number of tickets for this tour are available now for $125. This event is part of GRLT’s Revelry for the River event series, a year-long celebration of the Georges River Watershed. For tickets please visit www.georgesriver.org/revelry or call (207) 594-5166. All proceeds benefit the conservation programs of the Land Trust.

GRLT has conserved 3,500 acres of natural habitats and working lands in Knox and Waldo Counties and receives 90 percent of its support through individual donations. For more information about programs, trails, events, and membership visit GeorgesRiver.org or call (207) 594-5166.

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