Members Shine in Summer
by Greg Morell
Sometimes the stars align for an arts group. Such was the case for the venerable Ogunquit Art Association, currently celebrating seven decades of painters and sculptors drawing inspiration from the dramatic coastline of southern Maine.
In the founding years of the organization, the collective of artists was bequeathed the largesse of the Ogunquit Playhouse — a very desirable parcel of Perkins Cove real estate in which to build their home. They then secured plans for their smartly designed showplace, the Barn Gallery. Make no mistake, the gracefully appointed edifice that welcomes visitors to the vacation hamlet of the Cove bears very little resemblance to a barn. The complex is favored with 4,000 feet of indoor exhibition space divided into three separate galleries, an outdoor walled sculpture garden that ambles around the perimeter and a gift shop.
The smartly conceived architectural plans designed for the group were once again a donated service, along with materials from local businesses. From this secure foundation, the battle for monthly rents that is the bane of most artistic collectives is happily avoided. Perkins Cove is a mecca of summer tourism, seaside bistros, boutiques and a great variety of marine craft that bustle in and out of the picturesque coastal inlet.
Its current membership of 91 artists pays a very modest $85 dollars a year without the requirement of gallery sitting. The cohesive group is managed by a professional paid staff, which allows the artists to fully concentrate on the production of their work.
During high season, when hoards of tourists invade the Cove in July and August, two members are chosen, selected by lots, to showcase their latest work in monthly shows. The general membership is encouraged to submit their work to the annual open juried show, and a representative sample of the members’ work is always on view to give visitors a glimpse of the membership as a whole.