Nearly 200 art lovers celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art at the Art by the Sea Gala and Auction on Aug. 18, the museum’s largest annual fundraiser.

During the cocktail party, artist Alan Bull was on the back lawn putting finishing touches on “Plein Air View from Narrow Cove,” which was auctioned for on the spot for $4,000.

“Art by the Sea used to be an auction with about 40 pieces, and now we’ve sort of pared it down to a lighter cocktail party with 20 pieces,” said board member Mike Zamojski, noting that the $165 tickets sold out in advance. “It has become the big social event in Ogunquit.”

“We come every summer,” said Sebastian White, who grew up in Maine and lives in New York City. Gala attendees also included visitors from Boston, Chicago and San Francisco – cities with no shortage of art museums.

“We make a house party of it every summer,” said Sarah O’Leary of Melrose, Massachusetts.

“I love the museum, I absolutely do,” said Karla Emmerling of Newburyport, Massachusetts. “And my husband and I have spent our entire lives visiting museums.” Her husband is modern artist Ron Emmerling, who donated a painting entitled “Turbulent Sea,” one of 20 works auctioned during the gala.

“Tonight is an invitation to celebrate the arts in Ogunquit and to look forward to the next season,” said director and chief curator Michael Mansfield. “This place is beloved, and everyone has thrown their full support behind our programs.”

“This is a wonderful way to support the museum, which, under Mike Mansfield, seems to be growing so much,” said Tim O’Brien of Ogunquit. As an example of innovative programming, he mentioned the current collaborative visual literary project between presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco and contemporary landscape photographer Jacob Bond Hessler. That exhibit, called “Boundaries,” is on display through Oct. 31.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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