The great Modernist painter John Marin spent his most important days on the Down East coast of Maine, in the tiny village of Addison.
Although he was closely associated with New York, Marin found his painter’s voice in Maine and made his most famous paintings here. On Saturday, the town of Addison, which includes the village where Marin bought a home in 1934 and died in 1953, will honor him and the time he spent there with a stamp cancellation ceremony at the post office.
This spring, the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of stamps featuring the work of Modernist painters, including Marin. His 1919 watercolor “Sunset, Maine Coast,” is part of the series. The abstract painting features a sky streaked in red, yellow and orange, offset by an island and water.
On the back of the sheet of stamps, which includes an image by another Maine painter, Marsden Hartley, the post office notes, “Marin once wrote in a letter that the sunsets on the coast were ‘the kind no artist can paint.’ But that didn’t stop him from trying.”
The post office will offer a commemorative cancellation of the colorful stamp Saturday during the town’s annual Addison Day Celebration. The civic festival includes a parade and fireworks. From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the post office, at 297 Water St., will cancel the Marin stamps with a special postmark.
Stamp cancellations are popular with collectors. A cancellation is a marking applied to a stamp to prevent people from using it again. Saturday’s cancellation will include the date and post office location. The commemorative cancellation will be available for a month, said Postmaster Teresa Beal.
“There are a lot of people in town who appreciate the fact that we have a famous artist who lived in our town,” she said. “We’re very happy about it, very proud and very excited.”
The Modern Art in America stamp series has been available since March. It consists of a dozen stamps by artists who were part of, or influenced by, the Armory Show in New York City in the winter and spring of 1913. That exhibition introduced modern art to American audiences.
Besides Marin and Hartley, the artists in the series are Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Stella, Marcel Duchamp, Arthur Dove, Charles Sheeler, Aaron Douglas, Man Ray, Charles Demuth, Stuart Davis and Gerald Murphy.
Beal contacted the Marin estate when she became aware of the series in the spring to talk about an appropriate way to call attention to the Marin stamp.
“Addison Day is a big celebration for us, so it made sense for us to do this pictorial postmark to coincide with it,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of interest and a lot of inquiries already. I think we’re going to have a big turnout.”
Addison is home to about 1,200 people. It is in far Down East Maine, on a remote stretch of the coast known for its ruggedness and beauty.
This is the second time in a week that Maine has been in the news for a stamp. On Saturday, the U.S. Postal Service introduced a stamp honoring Portland Head Light in a series featuring East Coast lighthouses.
Norma Marin, the artist’s daughter-in-law, who splits time between Portland and the Marin home in Addison, said she was touched that the town included the Marin stamp in its Addison Day Celebration.
“This was his home, and I’m very pleased that the people of the town wanted to do something to honor him,” she said.
Jody A. Rose, who works with Norma Marin on various art projects, helped coordinate the stamp cancellation with the post office. She called Addison Marin’s “spiritual home,” and said Saturday’s ceremony will give art lovers and others a way to create a Marin keepsake that’s unique to Maine.
“John Marin spent significant years of his life in Addison and represented the beauty of Addison to the world. We wanted to celebrate Marin in context with Addison and his place in it,” she said. “This was the place he chose to call home.”
Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: