The stars of Maine art will be out this summer. Museums across the state are mounting blockbuster displays by top-tier artists whose superstar legacies are tied directly to their association with Maine. The roster of exhibitions reads like an all-star lineup: Marsden Hartley, Andrew Wyeth and John Marin, artists whose paintings are instrumental in telling Maine’s story to the larger world.

There also are shows by Will Barnet, Dahlov Ipcar and her mother, Marguerite Zorach.

For these artists, Maine offered both the subject for their work, as well as a tangible connection to the landscape that helped keep them grounded. They helped create an image of Maine that reached across the country and overseas, and they laid the groundwork for an evolving concept that we now know as Maine art.

For visitors, the summer exhibitions provide an ideal opportunity for a crash course on the history of Maine art – and a chance to enjoy some really nice paintings.

‘Marsden Hartley’s Maine’

By the time Hartley died in 1943, he was proud of being from Maine and hoped to be known as “the painter of Maine,” a distinction he felt he owned as the only native Mainer among the many modernists who came to the state to paint. “Marsden Hartley’s Maine” exclusively features paintings that Hartley made in Maine or paintings of Maine that he made while living elsewhere. It’s the first major exhibition that looks closely at his relationship with Maine, and it reveals Hartley as a modernist landscape painter who was deeply tied to his place of birth.

A Lewiston native, Hartley had a love-hate relationship with Maine, deriding its provincialism while recognizing the state’s influence on him and his art.

This exhibition comes to Colby from the Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s modern and contemporary art space in Manhattan. The Hartley show closes there June 18. But make no mistake, this is very much a Maine exhibition, in content and creation. Donna M. Cassidy, who teaches art history and New England studies at the University of Southern Maine, co-curated the exhibition with Elizabeth Finch, a curator of American art at Colby, as well as Randall R. Griffey of the Met.

“Knotting Rope,” By Marsden Hartley Photo courtesy of Ogunquit Museum of American Art

While many people traveled to New York this spring to see the show at the Met Breuer, the Colby exhibition gives people close to home a chance to see what the fuss is about. This exhibition includes the inland landscapes from western Maine that Hartley painted when he started his career, paintings he made on the Down East coast near the end of his life, roughly rendered portraits of stalwart Mainers and majestic images of his beloved Mount Katahdin.

Hartley will always be best known for the paintings he made in Germany, Nova Scotia and elsewhere. This exhibition, said museum director Sharon Corwin, is designed to give people an appreciation for the role that Maine played in Hartley’s life and work and his evolution as an artist. Without Maine as an inspiration to draw on, Hartley might not have achieved his high place in American art.

In a related exhibition, the Bates College Museum of Art in Hartley’s native Lewiston opens “At Home and Abroad: Works from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection” on June 9. This exhibition explores Hartley’s childhood in Lewiston and his time in Europe between 1912 and 1930, when he learned from other artists and writers living abroad. Heirs of the Hartley estate left the collection to Bates in the 1950s. It includes the contents of his last studio in Corea, as well as drawings from sketchbooks, early oil sketches, works by other artists in Hartley’s personal collection and other items.

For this summer of Hartley, the Maine Office of Tourism has a link on its website directing people to “The Art of Marsden Hartley,” including museums in Maine that are showing his work this year and places in Maine where he painted.

• “Marsden Hartley’s Maine,” July 8-Nov. 12, Colby College Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill Dr., Waterville; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; free. colby.edu/museum or 859-5600.

• “At Home and Abroad: Works from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection,” June 9-Oct. 7, Bates College Museum of Art, Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St., Lewiston; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday; free. bates.edu/museum or 786-6158.

“Alvaro on Front Doorstep,” by Andrew Wyeth, watercolor on paper, 1942. Photo courtesy of Marunuma Art Park, © 2017 Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society (ARS)

‘Andrew Wyeth at 100’

On the 100th anniversary of Andrew Wyeth’s birth, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland takes a comprehensive look at Wyeth’s career in Maine with five exhibitions. The big one, “Andrew Wyeth: Maine Watercolors, 1938–2008,” includes more than 40 paintings and many of the most notable watercolors that Wyeth painted in Maine, spanning the breadth of his career. Other exhibitions explore his temperas and drawings, and a photography exhibition focuses on the Olson House in Cushing, which provided the setting for Wyeth’s most famous painting, “Christina’s World,” and was a subject in his work over three decades.

Wyeth receives attention for his tempera paintings, because he mastered the medium. But tempera was fussy, and working with it required patience and discipline. Watercolors and other water-based media offered more freedom, and it was there where Wyeth distinguished himself among his peers, said exhibition co-curator Michael Komanecky. “To me, Andrew Wyeth’s greatest contribution as an American artist was his work with watercolors and dry brush, another water-based medium he favored,” he said.

Taken as a whole, the five Wyeth exhibitions attempt a serious, scholarly look at Wyeth and his legacy, in hopes of advancing discussions about his career and his importance in American art beyond a surface-level critique of his work. Komanecky hopes viewers will look closely and examine the psychological interplay between the painter and his paintings.

• “Andrew Wyeth at 100,” though Dec. 31, Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., Rockland; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 8 p.m. Fridays; $15 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students, free 16 and younger and Rockland residents. farnsworthmuseum.org or 596-6457.

“Deer Isle Maine,” By John Marin, watercolor on paper, 1919. Artwork courtesy of Ogunquit Museum of American Art

‘John Marin: On the Verge of Wilderness’ and ‘Will Barnet: Family Homage’

John Marin and Will Barnet shared much in common beyond their love of Maine. Both came here from elsewhere, and both very likely would have had less productive careers and been less influential had they not allowed Maine to become part of their milieu. Once they did, Maine never let go of either. Both spent their summers in Maine as part of their painting routine, and rarely deviated from it. Ogunquit is showing the artists in separate, adjoining exhibitions to reflect their shared values and experiences.

Photo courtesy of Ogunquit Museum of American Art
“Woman By the Sea,” By Will Barnet Photo courtesy of Ogunquit Museum of American Art

The title of the Marin exhibition comes from the artist, who described Maine as being “on the verge of wilderness.” Marin arrived in Maine in August 1914 and spent the better part of two months in a tiny cabin on an island off the coast of Phippsburg, where he was vexed by the tides and tortured by the mosquitoes, which he described as “the Hell pest of this country, morning, noon and night.”

He lamented to his New York art dealer, “To go anywheres I have to row, row, row.” But Marin adapted, and his irritation with the “Hell pest” soon enough was replaced by his wonder of the Maine coast. He came back to Maine every summer but one until he died in 1953, eventually settling in the Down East village of Cape Split. This exhibition features 25 Maine paintings, most of them rarely seen, that explore his reverence for Maine, the coastal landscape and the ever-changing line of the horizon.

Barnet’s “Family Homage” is named for the source of the material for this exhibition. It all comes from his family members and the foundation created to sustain his career. They retained the most personal paintings by Barnet and are showing more than two dozen at Ogunquit. Many are family portraits that demonstrate Barnet’s ability to handle figurative and abstract elements together. Included is an image from Barnet’s “Woman by the Sea” series, which features his wife standing with her back to the painter looking out across the water.

• “John Marin: On the Verge of Wilderness” and “Will Barnet: Family Homage,” July 1-Aug. 29, Ogunquit Museum of American Art, 543 Shore Road; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; $10 adults, $9 seniors and students, free 11 and younger. ogunquitmuseum.org or 646-4909.

“Cafeteria,” by Dahlov Ipcar, pastel, 1933.

‘Dahlov Ipcar: Creative Growth’ and ‘Marguerite Zorach – An Art-Filled Life’

Dahlov Ipcar died in February at age 99, just a few months before the opening of the exhibition “Creative Growth” at the Ogunquit museum. The show includes early drawings, rare ceramic figurines and her first experiments with social realism that Ipcar made as a child in New York and as a young adult before she moved to her family farm in Georgetown, where she spent the rest of her long life. The exhibit presents 93 pieces in various media and attempts to trace her early development as an artist.

All of the art in this exhibition was part of her first solo exhibition, in 1939 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ipcar had moved to Maine by then and didn’t make it to New York to see the show.

In many ways, Ipcar was born to be an artist. The daughter of modernist artists Marguerite and William Zorach, she was encouraged to express her creativity as an early age and was given every opportunity to make art. As a companion exhibition to Ipcar in Ogunquit, the Farnsworth in Rockland opens “Marguerite Zorach – An Art-Filled Life” on June 17. This is a deep dive, with 60 paintings and textiles that highlight Zorach as a modernist and, by extension, as a role model for her daughter. The exhibition tells her life story through her art, highlighting her participation in New Deal-era mural projects, her autobiographical embroideries and her respect for her surroundings.

• “Dahlov Ipcar: Creative Growth,” though June 28, Ogunquit Museum of American Art, 543 Shore Road; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; $10 adults, $9 seniors and students, free 11 and younger. ogunquitmuseum.org or 646-4909.

• “Marguerite Zorach – An Art-Filled Life,” opens June 17, Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., Rockland; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 8 p.m. Fridays; $15 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students, free 16 and younger and Rockland residents. farnsworthmuseum.org or 596-6457.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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“City of Bath,” by Marguerite Thompson Zorach, oil on canvas, c. 1927. Collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; Gift of Dahlov Ipcar and Tessim Zorach