Art in the Capitol: Celebrating a Centennial of Maine Postcards with Contemporary Art

Alison Goodwin, Portland, Oysterman, 2016, 18x18, mixed media on paper

Alison Goodwin, Portland, Oysterman, 2016, 18×18, mixed media on paper

The Maine Arts Commission is proud to partner with the Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM) in Searsport to mark a unique Maine centennial, “Maine Postcard Day,” with a new Art in the Capitol exhibit: “Maine: A Continuum of Place.” The exhibit, on display now through March 3, 2017 throughout the ground and second floors of the State House, includes 25 paintings by 17 Maine contemporary artists, as well as original glass plate images from the museum’s postcard collection. All Art in the Capitol exhibits are free and open to the public.
One hundred years ago, Maine Governor Oakley C. Curtis declared a “Maine Postcard Day” and implored all Mainers to mail a postcard of their home state to friends and family out-of-state. Curtis allegedly hoped the cards would be a tool to communicate Maine’s exclusive qualities to the outside world. Inspired by the anniversary of this day, the Penobscot Marine Museum asked Maine art critic and author Carl Little to pair vintage photographs from the museum’s remarkable and vast collection with paintings of similar subjects by contemporary artists resulting in this unique exhibit.
“The show highlights what I call ‘the continuum of place,’” Little noted. “Kids will always leap from docks, though their outfits may change. Ships will find harbor, but they may depend on computers to find their way. And certain iconic vistas—the harbors of Monhegan and Stonington, for example—seem almost eternal even as a new building might go up or lobster traps change from wood to metal.”

Tina Ingraham, Portland, Portland Pier Moorings, 2016, 36x50, oil on linen

Tina Ingraham, Portland, Portland Pier Moorings, 2016, 36×50, oil on linen

The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport houses a vast glass-plate collection of original postcard images which present and visually boast of the history of Maine’s towns and unique geography. The museum, founded in 1936 by the descendants of local sea captains, is the oldest maritime museum in Maine and includes 13 buildings, eight of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum’s mission is to preserve and present the maritime history of the Penobscot Bay region through collections, education, and community engagement. In addition to the postcard collection, the museum has collections of historic small boats; marine paintings; artifacts from around the world collected by mariners; ship models; photographs; and manuscripts. For more information see

Jude Valentine, Lubec, West Quoddy Headlight, Lubec, Maine, 2013, 20x26, soft pastel on paper

Jude Valentine, Lubec, West Quoddy Headlight, Lubec, Maine, 2013, 20×26, soft pastel on paper

A former associate editor of Art in America, Carl Little has written extensively about art, particularly New England artists. His publications include Paintings of Maine (1991), Edward Hopper’s New England (1993), Winslow Homer and the Sea (1995), Art of the Maine Islands (1997), The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent (1998), and The Art of Monhegan Island (2004). He directed the Ethel H. Blum Gallery at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, for eight years and is currently on staff at the Maine Community Foundation. In addition to his art criticism, Little is the author of two poetry collections, 3,000 Dreams Explained (1992) and Ocean Drinker: New & Selected Poems (2006).

Mary Bourke, Lincolnville, Bathers, 2015, 18x18, acrylic on birch panel

Mary Bourke, Lincolnville, Bathers, 2015, 18×18, acrylic on birch panel

The Art in the Capitol program features rotating exhibits throughout the Capitol Complex and offers an additional venue to expand the audiences for Maine artists or artists working in Maine on Maine-based themes. Exhibitions are self-guided and may be viewed during the building hours where the exhibition is on display. Building hours: Maine Arts Commission Office 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; Capitol and Burton M. Cross Buildings 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To learn more about the Art in the Capitol Program please contact Julie Horn at or 207-287-2713.

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