November 3, 2013

Maine Observer: Maine artists/professionals dot landscape

They choose to combine business and beauty, poetry and production – and achieve at the highest levels in both.

I know a lawyer/photographer, a psychiatrist/painter, an ophthalmologist/tenor.

About the author

Mary E. Plouffe is a clinical psychologist and a writer. She lives in South Freeport.

They are not dilettantes. They are not amateurs. They are not independently wealthy folks who have no need to be concerned with finances. They are people who achieve at the highest levels in both of their chosen professions. They are Maine artists.

Maybe it is living in this exquisite place, where hard labor sits comfortably with beauty. Where loggers sweat in cathedral forests, and clam diggers bend their backs alongside blue herons in the mud. Maybe the silent spectacular landscape that frames our trips to the grocery store, and sits behind our children’s soccer games weaves magic while we are not noticing. Until, one day, it seems like breathing to combine business and beauty, poetry and production.

Or maybe it is something about them that is unique. Perhaps there is a gene for this, some mutant form of ambidextrous ambition that does not root well in city soil. “Recessive renaissance syndrome” I’ll call it. Yes, that sounds right. A rare and aberrant life form that craves complexity, and worships wovenness. It drives them to keep moving until they find each other, and the instant recognition that gives permission to their strangeness. In the comfort of community, there is freedom not to choose, and still pursue excellence. There is unspoken understanding that you cannot relegate half of your soul to hobby status.

I wonder sometimes what it is that makes Mainers so respectful of this. We call ahead to make sure the doctor won’t be in Paris for an art exhibit when we need an appointment. “In rehearsal” holds almost the same weight as “in court” as a request for our patience. We accept the rhythms of their two-pronged lives like we do the tides, and work around the inconveniences with little complaint.

I think it is their wholeness we honor. Their ability to create a life that seems to leave out nothing, and instead, weaves contradiction into complement, competition into counterpoint. It’s a little bit magical to watch them draw identities so large, and embrace so widely, and defy the rule that only single-mindedness can lead to the extraordinary. So silently we cheer them on, no matter what the cost. I think in their success we see ourselves, and all our wishful wonderings, cracked open once again to possibility.

They fit well here, these Maine artist/professionals. They fit among our own eclectic landscape where beauty comes from rock and sand, seashore and mountain, farmland and forest. Simple ingredients, present to us all. The art lies in what we choose to make with them.

— Special to the Telegram

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