Susan Parish Adam’s portrait of Dr. Nirav Shah hangs in the front window of the Adam Gallery Downtown in Castine.

As Susan Parish Adam prepared paintings to display this summer in a new downtown gallery in Castine, the coronavirus was in its early stages of creating fear and anxiety and disrupting the world with widespread death. Maine was in lockdown mode, and people were tuning in to the daily news updates coming from Augusta and Washington, D.C.

A portrait painter, Adam felt moved to make paintings of the doctors in Maine and across the country leading the effort to fight the virus. She made portraits of Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the embattled director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases; and Dr. Deborah Birx, the nation’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator. This summer, those three portraits, along with a painting of former President Barack Obama, hang in the front window of the new Adam Gallery Downtown in Castine.

Adam made the portraits out of admiration and concern, and as a tribute to the work of her subjects to make the world a safer and better place. “Most of the portraits that I paint are commissions, but I really wanted to paint these people. I was just so worried about people coming up to Maine, and just the whole state of people not paying attention to the coronavirus,” she said.

The new gallery at 7 Main St. opened in early June and features the work of Adam, her husband, the painter Josh Adam, and their sister-in-law, the jeweler Julia Parish. It is situated among other Main Street galleries, bookstores and cafes. In addition to the downtown location, the Adams also operate the Adam Gallery in the carriage house of their home around the corner, at 140 Battle Ave. Both galleries are open.

Josh Adam enjoys painting the wooden boats and nautical markers of Penobscot Bay. Courtesy of Adam Gallery Downtown

In this summer of staycations, Castine is a compelling destination for Mainers seeking a getaway with its art, history and natural beauty. Castine, home of Maine Maritime Academy, has existed as a town since 1796 and been populated by Europeans since 1613. Indigenous people lived there before that. It has been home to many forts, missions and trading posts and hosted settlements of France, Holland, England and colonial America.

Josh Adam said they decided to open the downtown gallery to create a larger presence for their art. “We’ve had a gallery in the carriage house next to our home since 2003, and we were just curious how much foot traffic there would be if we tried something downtown. A lot of people arrive in Castine in their boats and explore downtown, but don’t make it up the hill,” he said.

A turquoise and diamond necklace made by Julia Parish.

As the couple considered their options, Julia Parish, who lives most of the year in New York and has spent summers in Maine for 30 years, decided she wanted in on the new space. She opened her own gallery, Julia Parish Jewelry, in the ell of the downtown gallery, so it’s actually two side-by-side galleries in a single space with the same address.

“This is the first time I have had a gallery of my own,” she said. “I have had other people representing my work, but this is the first time I’ve been able to display it all together. I’ve never wanted to have my own shop in New York, because it is too much of everything. But Susan, Josh and I are great friends and have been for many years. If I could do it with anybody, I can do it with them.”

In addition to portraits, Susan Parish Adam paints colorful, abstract landscapes. Josh Adam is drawn to painting Penobscot Bay and particularly wooden boats and nautical markers. Julia Parish is a goldsmith who makes all of her jewelry by hand, using pearls, diamonds, sapphires, rubies and other material.

Per the recommendations of the doctors whose portraits hang in the front window, the gallery is limiting visitors to five at a time.

The Adam Gallery Downtown, 7 Main St., Castine, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The original Adam Gallery, at 140 Battle Ave., is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, visit adamgalleryonline.com or juliaparishjewelry.com.

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