April 8, 2012

Winslow Homer: The artist's place in Maine

As a $10.5 million restoration of the painter's Prouts Neck studio nears the end, Portland Museum of Art prepares a big celebration.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

An albumen print from around 1900 titled “Winslow Homer with ‘The Gulf Stream’ in his painting room at Prouts Neck,” by an unknown photographer, shows the Maine studio where the artist created some of the most iconic images in American art history.

Bowdoin College Museum of Art/Gift of the Homer Family

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Winslow Homer converted a stable designed by John Calvin Stevens into a home and studio at Prouts Neck in Scarborough, seen here last month. A six-year renovation project is almost done.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


For more information about the Winslow Homer Studio Campaign or to make a donation, go to: portlandmuseumofart.org/about/homerstudio

The museum has raised more money for other campaigns, but never during such difficult economic times, Bessire noted. The anatomy of the Homer campaign offers a lesson in the importance of the artist, the scope of his influence and the allure of the studio itself, which has been a National Historic Landmark since the 1960s.

The PMA remains about $400,000 shy of its $10.5 million goal. If it raises the remaining $400,000 by June 30, two challenge grants – one for $700,000 and another for $250,000 – will kick in, enabling the museum to exceed its goal.

It recently received a pledge of $100,000 from the Portland-based Libra Foundation, bringing the total raised to more than $10 million.

"I can see it. We are almost there," Bessire said.


About 45 percent of the money raised so far has come from outside of Maine, said Jeffrey D. Kane, chair of the Winslow Homer Studio Campaign.

"Homer translates as a national figure. Because of his status in the art world, this is of interest beyond Portland, beyond Maine and even beyond New England," Kane said. "A lot of people who are aware of what is going on in the art world have seen a lot of artist studios just disappear from the scene. This campaign is about preserving a vital link to our past."

The percentage of out-of-state money is unusual for a cultural organization in Maine, making the Portland museum the envy of its peers across the state, said Scott Schnapp, executive director of the Maine Association of Nonprofits. One unnamed national corporation has pledged $100,000 to underwrite the "Weatherbeaten" exhibition. That pledge is over and above the money raised for the studio restoration.

Maine's large environmental groups raise significant sums of money out of state, but few others succeed in tapping the resources of summer residents and out-of-state foundations or corporations, Schnapp said.

"Most of the rest of us tend to look for support within the state. This speaks extremely highly of the PMA's ability to make this happen," he said.

The money breaks down like this: The museum's Committee of One Hundred is responsible for $3 million; foundations have given $2.6 million; museum trustees have donated almost $2.5 million; gifts from other individuals total $1.8 million; and corporations have given about $170,000.

In addition to the Libra Foundation, among the philanthropic foundations that have donated to the campaign are the Henry Luce Foundation Inc. and the Wyeth Foundation of American Art.

Bessire is particularly proud that the museum has reached the state's wealthy summer residents. They come to Maine for much the same reason that Homer himself did.

"A lot of people who come to Maine in the summertime love Maine for what it is," Bessire said. "They love what Maine represents, which is something very important in their life, whether it's a simpler life, a quieter day or a place that is important to their family. If we want Maine to stay that way, we have to find ways to encourage our summer residents to support us so we can keep Maine great.

"Because of its broad appeal and because of Homer himself, this campaign has helped us tap into a group of people who love Winslow Homer and love the state of Maine. We're very proud of that."

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


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Geoffrey Goba, site superintendent for construction managers Marc Truant & Associates, works on the second floor of Winslow Homer’s studio at Prouts Neck in Scarborough last month. The restoration of the National Historic Landmark will be the centerpiece of the Portland Museum of Art’s tribute to Homer later this year.

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The wraparound porch at Winslow Homer’s studio at Prouts Neck has been restored to the way it appeared when the artist himself sat on it and gathered inspiration from the sea for his paintings, from the end of the 19th century until his death in 1910.

click image to enlarge

The fireplace and mantel also required significant restoration. As these photographs from last month show, workers are nearing completion of their renovation project, which is one of the most ambitious the Portland Museum of Art has ever undertaken. “A lot of people who are aware of what is going on in the art world have seen a lot of artist studios just disappear from the scene,” said Jeffrey D. Kane, chair of the Winslow Homer Studio Campaign. “This campaign is about preserving a vital link to our past.”

Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

“Weatherbeaten,” an 1894 oil on canvas by Winslow Homer, will be included in a Portland Museum of Art show that opens Sept. 22. Homer lived in Maine from 1883 until his death in 1910.

Photo by Melville D. McLean/Portland Museum of Art


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