Barn Gallery in Ogunquit is set to open July 1. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

There’s something about honoring a legacy and keeping hold of tradition that compelled the folks who operate the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit to open this season. The gallery near the intersection of Shore Road and Bourne Lane plans to open July 1, the same day as the Ogunquit Museum of American Art down the street.

As much as ever, people need a place to come together – safely – to experience the healing properties and nourishing elements of art, said Deidre O’Flaherty, vice president of the Ogunquit Art Association, which has been around since 1928 when the painter Charles Woodbury and a group of his artist friends convened in his Perkins Cove studio. The association eventually helped build the Barn Gallery in 1958, and it has been hosting exhibitions since the following summer.

Since Woodbury’s day, artists in Ogunquit have helped people through difficult times in this country and their communities. Now is not the time to stop, O’Flaherty said.

Nancy R. Davison likely will show the watercolor “Minneapolis Police Precinct 3” at the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit when it opens for the season on July 1. Courtesy of Nancy R. Davison

“It’s important to open to help get people through a lot of pain and uncertainty that we’re all experiencing. We have a big building. We have space. We are not cramped. We were watching the news and listening to the governor and of course (Maine Center for Disease Control Director) Dr. Shah, and we thought, ‘We can do this,’ ” O’Flaherty said.

There will be no openings, no events and no gatherings, but the art of member artists will be on view through Oct. 12. There’s also a “Going Coastal” bicentennial exhibition and a show of small works, all by member artists.

Gallery volunteers have removed the fabric chairs and replaced them with metal chairs that are easier to clean. A plastic glass barrier has been erected around the reception area. Crowds will be limited, surfaces cleaned and the use of masks urged.

“It could all change in a moment. The phrase I have heard is ‘we can close on a dime, but we can’t open on a dime,’ ” O’Flaherty said. “We can’t do what he had planned, but if we are careful, we can do something and provide the community the opportunity to view art during the summer season, as they have for so many years.”

The gallery is now owned and operated by the nonprofit Ogunquit Arts Collaborative. And after more than 90 years, the Ogunquit Art Association remains a large and active artist-member group, with nearly 100 members. One of those members, printmaker Nancy R. Davison, said she advocated to open the gallery to give artists a place to show new work and to create opportunities for them to connect with each other – and with buyers.

Many artists are responding to the moment and are eager to show their work, she said. “We are blessed with a big, tall building with a lot of space and light. We need to be open for the artists and the public. This is not the year to hunker down and cower. We have to be out there and do the best we can,” she said.


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