Art From Maine’s Top Museums On Display at Portland Museum of Art

The rugged and raw beauty of Maine has been a lure to many of America’s foremost landscape artists. Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School, first visited Mount Desert Island in 1844. When he returned home to New York with a bounty of canvases, Cole’s affluent patrons were astounded by the mix of mountains and sea. Man versus the chaotic forces of nature, particularly fishermen struggling against powerful nor’easters, kept Winslow Homer busy on the boulder-strewn shores of Prouts Neck for more than two decades. In the 1920s, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and other early American abstractionists from Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery joined John Marin to work at his summer cottage in Deer Isle. 

This summer, the Portland Museum of Art is taking full advantage of this bevy of work to present Directors’ Cut: Selections from the Maine Art Museum Trail that includes signature pieces from Maine’s most-renowned art museums. On view from May 21 through September 20, the show will bring the best art Maine has to offer together for the first time. All of these museums are part of the Maine Art Museum Trail. To celebrate the exhibition and the route, Summer Feet Cycling, who I biked with on my 50th birthday, will present a weeklong ride along the coast that visits all 8 museums on the Maine Art Trail. This includes stops at Homer’s former art studio in Prouts Neck, a visit to Andrew Wyeth’s Olson House in Port Clyde, and a requisite day on Monhegan Island, where Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent all painted the island’s cliffs, meadows, and quaint fishing communities. The dates are June 21-27 and September 6-12. Cost is $2595 per person, including lodging, bike rental, guides, van support, museum admission, and most meals.