December 30, 2012

In memoriam

The bright light cast by Maine's vibrant cultural scene grew a bit dimmer in 2012 with the passing of some of the state's leading artists, musicians, writers, teachers and activists.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Will Barnet threw his head back and laughed.

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Will Barnet at the age of 101 in July at the Rock Garden Inn in Phippsburg.

2012 Telegram file

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Wil Barnet’s “The Blue Robe,” 1971, etching and aquatint on Arches cover paper.

Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

Additional Photos Below

"Magic magic. That was a wonderful time in my life," he said of his 50s. "You're in good health. At 50, I was all over the country. Fifty was a very important time for me."

Barnet relished turning 50, and enjoyed an additional half-century of a well-lived life. The prominent painter and artist died in November at age 101.

He tops a too-long list of prominent artists from Maine or with significant ties to Maine who died in 2012. That list also includes a young musician whose brilliant career was cut short by cancer, a carpenter-turned-poet who inspired youngsters to write, and an outspoken art critic.

Today, we pay tribute to them and remember that even though they are gone, the work that they left behind and the lives they touched along the way endure. 

WILL BARNET, 101

BY AGE and accomplishment, Will Barnet lived as full a life as any of us could hope. That he died peacefully at home in his beloved New York City seemed somehow appropriate.

Barnet was born in Beverly, Mass., in May 1911. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before moving to New York in 1931, determined with absolute certainty that he would make his life in the visual arts.

Over the next eight decades, Barnet exceeded his dreams.

He taught at the Art Students League in New York for many years, and at Cooper Union, Yale University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His works are in the collections of museums across the country.

In 2011, President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for an individual artist in the United States. Before his death this year, France recognized him with the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Barnet lived in New York but spent his summers in Maine, and drew inspiration from his time on the coast of Maine. One of his most important series of work, which presented itself in paintings, drawings and prints, was based on a glimpse of his wife standing alone on their porch at dusk, her figure silhouetted against the sea. He called it "a moment to remember. I made a sketch of the scene and began a series of paintings of women and the sea."

As much as people appreciated Barnet's work, his friends and colleagues loved the man. He was gracious, generous and accommodating. He would discuss his art with anyone, and at every opportunity encouraged others to pursue their passions.

Barnet never stopped working. He was in a wheelchair in his later years, and painted from a seated position for as long as his energy sustained him. That amounted to about two hours a day, he told the Maine Sunday Telegram in July, during his annual summer trip to Phippsburg.

"It's like life itself," he said. "To be a painter and not paint is impossible. Painting is an inspiration."

B.K.

HOWARD HOPKINS, 50

HOWARD HOPKINS may not have the most name recognition in Maine, but that is only because he wrote 31 Westerns under his pen name, Lance Howard.

Hopkins, who wrote more than 70 novels, died in January at age 50. His Westerns, which included "The Dark Riders," "Pistolero" and "Coyote Deadly," mixed Wild West action with modern issues, true-to-life characters and original storylines.

Hopkins wrote his first Western, "Blood on the Saddle," in 1993. He wrote at home with books stacked floor to ceiling, and among posters of Captain America and Doc Savage.

Hopkins was also known for his children's series, "Nightmare Club" and "The Chloe Files," about a character derived from his novel "Grimm."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Howard Hopkins

2000 Telegram file

Hilton Kramer
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Hilton Kramer

The New York Times

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Nick Curran

2010 photo by Matthew Robbins

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Russell Libby

2012 Telegram file

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Michael Macklin

2012 Telegram file

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Thomas Cornell

2010 Telegram file

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Thomas Cornell’s “Girl with a Green Shirt,” pastel, 1992.

Courtesy photo

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Mac McHale performs with fiddler Erica Brown in 2000.

2000 Telegram file

Richard Lawlor

Courtesy photo



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