BATH — Local printmaker and gallery owner David Morgan has found a way to tap into the synergy that exists in contradictions. After winding his way from the deserts of New Mexico to Maine’s peninsulas and islands, he finds himself bringing together nationally recognized printmakers and emerging local artists at Green Lion Gallery in Bath. His goal: to make Bath a destination for printmakers far and wide while enhancing the accessibility of the arts.

Morgan’s life in New Mexico and beyond was diverse, to say the least. While developing his career as a printmaker, he spent time as a woodworker, cabinet and furniture maker, carpenter and an archaeologist in England. He wanted to find out what life in New England was like, and though he loves the mountains, Morgan most looked forward to experiencing winter on the North Atlantic. After hopping between winter rentals for a few years in Blue Hill, Peaks Island and Woolwich, Morgan found himself in Bath, where he arrived after what he calls a series of accidents.

Morgan began integrating himself into the local arts community by renting studio space on Centre Street in 2016, which he eventually turned into a gallery with a studio. The space quickly took on a life of its own, which led to the establishment of Green Lion Gallery on Front Street.

“That’s how it all happened – one step at a time, not having any idea of where I was going,” Morgan said.

This progression of events, and the evolution of the gallery, is similar in nature to the process of printmaking. Printmaking is different from painting or drawing, which is done directly, because it employs an element of alchemy and unpredictability. The process begins by creating a block or plate with a design—using wood or linoleum, primarily—which is then printed in reverse; this causes an indirect middle process over which the artist has very little control. Many printmakers use the reduction technique, in which layers are removed from the block after each application of color. This is an important part of the printmaker’s creative process, differentiating it from other mediums.

“It accentuates the fact that there’s an element of art that you’re not actually doing. It happens through you and it happens on its own. You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get until you print the thing. Somehow that’s an important part of the process as printmakers,” Morgan said.

Green Lion Gallery expanded one artist at a time. Through coincidence and connection, Morgan became familiar with renowned printmakers, including Siri Beckman, Brian Keegstra and Jean Gumpper, whose work is currently on display at the gallery. Morgan enjoys displaying work from the best printmakers and a variety of artists from Maine, but also from places as far away as California, Wales and Russia.

He is intrigued by the printmaking being done in other countries, including Peru and Great Britain, and he looks forward to bringing printmaking from around the world to the gallery, while highlighting the printmaking that is currently happening in Maine.

“This would be the place for people to come in and see the cool printmaking that’s going on in Maine and the cool printmaking that could be from anywhere. We really just highlight the possibilities of printmaking as an artistic medium, and this is the place. We’d like to do more of it,” he said.

Although Morgan hopes to bring the best of printmaking to downtown Bath, he also prioritizes accessibility to the arts and local community involvement. Morgan values the affordability of printmaking, with some pieces priced as low as $20; this creates the sense that the gallery is approachable and fun in a way that appeals to the general public. His commitment to accessibility also includes showing the work of emerging artists, and he looks forward to discovering artists who are developing their own visual language in a way that is unique and innovative. The gallery will continue to grow and enhance the local arts presence by hosting and participating in community events, including artist lectures, educational workshops for children and adults, art walks and exhibitions.

The nature of contradiction can mean many things. A small town on the coast of Maine known primarily for its shipbuilding presence also happens to be the home of a thriving arts community. The collaborative energy that exists within the historic brick buildings promises to grow and evolve, one emerging artist at a time. Green Lion Gallery shows the creative energy of nationally known printmakers whose lives are built upon layers and layers of work, while ensuring that even the youngest artist has the opportunity to experience something new. This small town on the coast of Maine is rich with creative opportunity—it’s not just one community, Morgan said, but a series of overlapping communities that you feel like you can be apart of.

Green Lion Gallery is featuring a community exhibition by Park Street Artists, a local life drawing group. For more information, visit greenlionart.com.

Kelli Park can be reached at [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.