Want the perfect summer New England day trip? This is it! An enchanted drive up the coast, interspersed with serendipitous food spots along the way — ultimately culminating at Ogunquit Museum of American Art, a little jewel of an art gallery. Or, if you don’t want to end your day there, walk on up to Perkins Cove to dine — check out Barnacle Billy’s or M.C. Perkins Cove for food, Todd Bonita’s Gallery for more f ine art, Swamp John’s for fine crafts and jewelry, or a myriad of other shops. Or even better — plan ahead and take in a summer performance at Ogunquit Playhouse. Undoubtedly you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re coming from the North Shore or Boston area, take Route 1A and Route 1 along the ocean, where you’ll meander through fascinating little, out-of-the-way villages and Portsmouth, Kittery and York, all hosting great places to eat along the way, including Bob’s Clam Hut, When Pigs Fly Pizzeria, Stonewall Kitchen Bistro, Wild Willy’s Burgers and Flo’s Hot Dogs.
Warning: Ogunquit is a popular destination this time of year. But fret not, as it’s all worth it. Perhaps plan on the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA) as your base, and you can walk from there. Consider bringing a picnic lunch. The grounds are beautiful with sculpture gardens, exquisite, colorful landscaping and a stunning view of the Atlantic.
Indulge in two exhibitions that are running concurrently at the OMAA with overlapping themes. “Shorelines: Coastal Sightings in American Art” is an exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography that collect snippets of life on the coast and our relationship with the sea. Executive director and chief curator, Michael Mansfield, said, “‘Shorelines’ reflect the sea and the shore that has inspired artists to explore a host of formal, poetic, allegorical and conceptual subjects with profound introspection and creative expression.”
The surrounding geography — sandy beaches, jagged and ledgy rocks, the seagulls’ raucous cry, an occasional seal sighting, the serenity of the ocean waves — all act as a catalyst to spur generations of artists to create.
The “Shorelines” works on view are diverse with bits of unexpected delight. A piece titled “The Witchery of the Moonbeams” by Edward Henry Potthast, an oil on canvas, is richly colored and mysterious. The piece was created in 1906. Potthast, an American Impressionist painter, is known for his figure paintings of people at leisure in Central Park and on the beaches of New York and New England. This work offers a sneak peek into a romantic interlude as a couple with their backs to us leans on the deck railing of a ship and takes in the ocean as the moon glints off the expanse of marvelously delicious teal water that bumps up against an aqua sky. There’s a touch of Edward Hopper here in that the scene represents a short, isolated moment saturated with suggestion.