February 17, 2013

Portland artist's broom illustrations sweep away judges

Daniel Minter won a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations for a children's book about a generations-old African-American tradition.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Daniel Minter with a broom in his Portland home. “I didn’t know the author, but I loved her story,” Minter said of Kelly Starling Lyons and “Ellen’s Broom.”

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Image reprinted with permission

Additional Photos Below


TO LEARN MORE: danielminter.com

In addition, he is coordinating an exhibition at the Museum of African Culture in Portland that will involve three contemporary African-American illustrators working in Maine today: Himself, Ashley Bryan of Isleboro and Rohan Henry of Portland.

Minter wants to call the show "Lions Converge, Colors Dance." It will honor Bryan, whom he views as a pioneer in African-American illustration. "He opened the door for illustrators like me to work in the industry," he said.

Minter and his wife, Marcia, have lived in Portland for nine years. They occupy a John Calvin Stevens-designed home on Deering Avenue.

They came to Maine because Marcia took a job at L.L. Bean. But after he had been in Maine for some time, Daniel realized he might have been called here artistically.

When he was in elementary school in Georgia, Minter laid eyes on a reproduction of Winslow Homer's painting "The Gulf Stream." The original hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The dramatic oil painting made a huge impression. It shows a man in a rudderless fishing boat, its mast broken. The boat is struggling against the sea, and open-mouthed sharks stalk the troubled vessel waiting for their chance to pounce.

Homer made the painting at his studio at Prouts Neck in Scarborough, just south of Portland.

Minter was reminded of Homer and his influence when he saw the Portland Museum of Art's major Homer exhibition last fall in conjunction with the opening of the artist's restored studio at Prouts Neck. "The Gulf Stream" was not part of the PMA show, but Minter nonetheless spent a lot of time looking at the many seascapes hanging in the gallery.

That act of viewing forced him to reconsider his own work. Looking back, Minter realized he had included water in many, if not most, of his works over the years. In some paintings, the water is obvious and readily apparent as a theme. In others, it is more subtle, perceptible perhaps only to Minter himself.

But it's almost always present.

He attributes that to Homer.

Minter would not be the artist he is, or even an artist at all, if not for that jaw-dropping moment when Homer's "The Gulf Stream" stirred awe in his third-grade imagination.

"I credit Homer with sparking my interest in painting," he said. "That's the painting I was first curious about. How could I paint like that? I was no longer satisfied with my crayons after that."

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


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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Additional Photos

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“It will always be part of who we are. Come on, Papa. Let’s show these young folks how it’s done.”

Image printed with permission

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“This broom was there from the start,” Mama said. “So it should come along too, don’t you think?” she said with a wink.

Image reprinted with permission

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“Where are you taking me, Ellen?” her big sister asked. “I have an idea,” Ellen said as her eyes twinkled. “Did you see that patch of flowers outside?” Ruby nodded and a smile stretched across her face.

Image reprinted with permission

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