Joe Cousins stands in front of his painting “Along the Bank,” which depicts the Kennebunk River, at his art studio in Freeport.

Longtime Freeport resident Joe Cousins landed at the Yarmouth Clam Festival when he was a budding artist in the Old Port, four decades ago. Cousins liked all he saw, and came back every year, entering his watercolors in the show.

For the past 30 years, he has served as art show director for the clam festival, which this year begins on July 15.

Born in Bangor, Cousins, 66, grew up in South Portland, where he graduated from high school. He attended a small art school in Boston for a year, then headed for the Old Port. There, he lived in an apartment that also served as his studio.

Cousins’ wife, Linda, handles the technical end of Joseph Cousins Studio Gallery, which he operates from his home on Lambert Road, just off South Freeport Road, on the U.S. Route 1 end. They have a son, Joseph Cousins Jr., who lives in Durham and works at L.L. Bean’s manufacturing facility in Brunswick.

Cousins answered questions regarding his long association with the Yarmouth Clam Festival for the Tri-Town Weekly.

Q: How did you become involved with the Yarmouth Clam Festival?
A: In the mid 1970s, I was an artist in the art show. At the time, the art show was run by a group of artists from Little John’s Island. I was 25. As time went on, they were having a hard time attracting artists. Because I was a traveling artist, they knew I had connections, and I helped bring more in. The director of the clam festival at the time, Bill Goddard, came to me because he had bought some of my work and asked me to come to a meeting to grow the show, and make it better. On the itinerary for the meeting, it had my name as the art director. So that’s how it started.

Q: How important is art at the Yarmouth Clam Festival?
A: It’s a big part of the festival. We have people who come every year just to see the art. One of the nicest small art festivals in the state is at the Yarmouth Clam Festival. We have about 30 exhibitors, and they’re all award-winning artists. They come back every year. For a people-friendly event, all members of your family can find something they enjoy at the clam festival.

Q: What are your responsibilities? Do you have any time to enjoy the festival?
A: To find people their sites, to make sure that they show up on time and to make sure everything is in an orderly fashion. My responsibility is to the artists, really, and to find the three or four new artists we need every year. No, I don’t do the rest of the festival. My duties are right there. We have to keep an eye on the skies. I also have art in the show, with about 20-25 originals, plus prints.

Q: Describe your art, and your beginnings as an artist.

A: I was living right in the Old Port, in a studio, in the early 1970s. That’s when it really gripped me. I was known for many years for my watercolors, and then recently I switched over to acrylics. It’s the challenge of it. I’ve got no set hours in my studio. I do 35-40 shows in Maine.

Q: Are you in South Freeport for any special reason?
A: The location is wonderful. I’m close to my subject matter. We’ve got a little corner of our own here. And I serve my customers here.

Q: Got to ask, what do you eat at the festival?

A: People come for the clams. We like the fish, and of course we always have a lime rickey – that’s the tradition there.

Joe Cousins stands in front of “Along the Bank,” a depiction of the Kennebunk River, at Joseph Cousins Studio Gallery in Freeport.

Joseph Cousins, at his art studio in Freeport, stands next to his painting “Church on Main Street, Yarmouth,” which depicts the First Universalist Church there.

A closer look

The Yarmouth Clam Festival opens at 10 a.m. Friday, July 15 and runs through Sunday, July 17. For the complete schedule, see www.clamfestival.com.


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