December 30, 2012

Art Review: Inside Homer's local artistic community


(Continued from page 1)

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John Calvin Stevens’ “Joe Pye Weed (Delano Park),” 1908.

Images Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

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Winslow Homer’s ”Young Farmers (Study for ‘Weaning the Calf’),” 1873-74

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

WHEN: Through Feb. 3

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday to Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday

COST: $12; $10 for seniors and students with ID; $6 for ages 13 to 17; free for ages 12 and under; free for all after 5 p.m. Fridays.

INFO: 775-6148;

While "Homer's Legacy" is a didactic home run, it's dense enough that you can't follow every chapter. It features, for example, many images by members of the Portland Camera Club that was folded into the PSA in 1915 -- a bold and prescient move.

This review could be about just the photography, the development of the PMA, the community's artistic leaders, the history of the PSA, the Brushians or just Homer's impact on local artists.

Instead, this show opens dozens of worthy doors.

Then, of course, there is Homer -- not the bold coastal oil painter, but the great watercolorist, the innovative genre painter, the extraordinary portraitist, the exciting journalist and the charming figurative master. There is a room of Homer's paintings that's more than worth a visit by itself.

Look to privately owned works and collections from away -- pictures we may never see again, such as watercolors of two girls picking berries, two boys in a rowboat checking out a sloop or sunflowers in a summer yard.

There are delicious little oils of a boy picking apples, a girl carrying a bucket of water and a study for the "Weaning of the Calf." I love the drawings too, but I was most impressed by a great Eakins-style 1883 oil portrait of Lucy Valentine that I had never seen before. Homer didn't do many portraits, but he excelled at the genre.

Because it conveys so much information from so many perspectives, "Homer's Legacy" is a surprisingly hefty little show that can feel like a textbook. But it's worth it just to get a whiff of the rich heritage of the local artistic culture, the backstory of the PMA, Maine's most important architect -- and, of course, America's greatest painter.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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John Calvin Stevens’ “Winter Sunshine,” 1907


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