The new interim director of the Art Students League of New York, which has trained many great U.S. painters over the past century and a half, is a part-time Mainer with a painting studio on the New Meadows River in West Bath.

Timothy J. Clark married into the Small family from Bath and has been painting in Maine for 30 years.

“My studio is a converted boathouse with north light,” he said. “It’s not fancy, but when I go there I can see water, trees and land, and it does something to me. It connects me with nature. It’s a perfect contrast to the stimulus and the inspiration of the city.”

Clark, who lives in New York and California when not in Maine, was appointed interim director last month. The Art Students League in Manhattan has attracted renowned faculty and students since its founding in 1875. It has historic ties to Maine. Among its past directors was the late Will Barnet, a modernist painter who lived in New York and spent his summers in Phippsburg, just downriver from Clark. Past faculty with ties to Maine include Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Rockwell Kent and William Zorach. Winslow Homer studied there, as did Marsden Hartley.

The school also appeals to amateurs by offering classes for painters with a range of talent and ambition in an informal atmosphere. There are no grades, and the league does not confer degrees.

The Art Students League is part of the art continuum between Maine and New York that dates to the mid-1800s, Clark said. Many artists who taught and studied there came to Maine to paint and brought their enthusiasm for Maine with them when they returned to New York.

“They didn’t just go to Maine for inspiration. They brought back the best of Maine and exhibited their paintings in every museum in the city and most of the galleries,” Clark said. “The spiritual cleansing of Maine was brought back to a greater urban population.”

Clark paints in oil and watercolor. His paintings are in the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and he’s had solo exhibitions at Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago in 2015 and the Laguna Art Museum in California in 2014. He is part of the San Diego Museum of Art’s “Venetian Views” exhibition on view now.

He graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and the California Institute of the Arts. He has taught at the Art Students League for 20 years. In a news release, league board president Ellen Taylor called Clark “a dynamic and much-loved teacher (who) is well-positioned to forward the league’s mission of training professional artists, while at the same time welcoming anyone with a passion for making art.”

Clark is a candidate to become the league’s permanent director.

His next trip to Maine will come in April, Clark said. “Having that huge dose of nature puts me in touch with my own positive feelings,” he said. “I can really focus on what’s inside me. Maine gives me that sense of peace that lets me be myself.”

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

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