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
Staff Writer

and Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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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

"Libby was an iconoclast," wrote Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. "Not many poets can claim to having their poetry published in FEDCO Seeds Catalog, but there it is on the acknowledgments page of Libby's 2007 collection, 'Balance: A Late Pastoral.' "

In that collection, Libby wrote, somewhat prophetically, the following:

"My last breath will still carry hope

for the future,

and love for the present, and you,

though many dark days may yet pass."

Gary Lawless of Gulf of Maine Books of Brunswick published that collection. In his blog, Lawless wrote of his last reading with Libby at the Common Ground Country Fair at Unity in September.

"This year a scheduling error put Russell in two places at once, but at the last minute, he decided that we should read together, saying that he would do it because he really wanted to do it," Lawless wrote. "His body was weak, his vocals were diminished, but his voice, his voice was still strong, his spirit, his grace.

Will the apples miss him now,

will the bees?

Will the hayfields know he's gone,

will the trees?

We love you Russell. Thank you. Travel well."



IN MAY, the Waynflete School mourned the death of Michael Macklin, a beloved poetry teacher who died at age 62 while on a trip with students to the New England Young Writers Conference in Vermont.

Waynflete hired Macklin in 1997 to work in the school's facilities department. His interaction with students inspired him to pursue his own writing. At age 50, he returned to college and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Soon after, he began teaching poetry, and served as a mentor to hundreds of students.

"Wherever he was, when he walked away, he walked away as a friend," said Peter Piattoni, a family friend. "He always left having met a new friend."

Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, memorialized Macklin in an Alliance newsletter.

"One of the first times I ever met Michael, a couple dozen people had gathered in Biddeford for an intimate reading during National Poetry Month," he wrote. "In what I would soon discover was his typically egoless self, Michael began his reading not with his own poems but by sharing poems he loved by other poets. He read Adrienne Rich, and then he read Phillip Levine's masterful 'What Work Is,' one of my favorite poems of all time, and that's how I'll always remember him: there in that small room, sharing his love."



THOMAS CORNELL, a nationally known artist and longtime art professor at Bowdoin College, died at age 75 in December after a long battle with cancer.

Cornell began his career at Bowdoin in 1962, and established the college's visual arts program. He worked his way up from assistant professor and associate professor, and was named a full professor in 1975.

In 2001, Cornell became the Richard E. Steele professor of studio art. He was named the Richard E. Steele artist-in-residence in 2008, and retired this past June.

Cornell's legacy in the visual arts extends far beyond Bowdoin and Maine.

He was an early member of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, and had about 30 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group exhibitions throughout his career. The New York Times reviewed his work, and his art was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of American Art, in Paris and elsewhere.

His final show as a living artist was held this past summer at Aucocisco Galleries in Portland.

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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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