“Yes, by Jove, It Is Winter” by DeWitt Hardy, on view at Bates College Museum of Art. Estate of the art, courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco

Time is running short to catch “When There Was Another Me” by Harold Garde at the University of Maine Museum of Art, but an exhibition of watercolors by DeWitt Hardy remains on view into the fall. The two art shows offer deep, personal examinations of two longtime Maine art masters.

Garde, 96, is still active and making new work. He lives part of the year in Belfast. Hardy, who lived in South Berwick, died in 2017.

Garde’s exhibition, “When There Was Another Me,” includes what curator and museum director George Kinghorn described as “forceful and stimulating” paintings of figures and portraits. “Within these selected works one sees the authority of Garde’s mark making and his spirited use of color,” Kinghorn writes in the exhibition catalog. “The figurative pieces chosen for this exhibition are emotionally complex, challenging, and unharnessed. At times they are humorous, confounding, and even unnerving. Above all, they convey conflicting states of mind as well as the complex nature of humanity; topics that are particularly relevant in contemporary art and society today.”

The exhibition is on view through Aug. 31.

“Councils” by Harold Garde, a 1986 acrylic on canvas, on view in Bangor. Image courtesy of University of Maine Museum of Art

Garde populates his paintings with what Kinghorn calls “peculiar characters” who include the comical and grotesque. His paintings don’t mask emotions, and Garde is more interested in conveying the emotions of his subjects with color and texture, rather than with lifelike likeness.

In Lewiston, Bates College Museum of Art is showing 50 years of watercolors by Hardy through Oct. 5. The show was in the works before Hardy died, and in addition to being a significant exhibition because of its depth, it’s also the first major exhibition of his work since his death. It includes a catalog, with an essay by Hardy’s longtime friend Robert Flynn Johnson, who curated the exhibition, “DeWitt Hardy: Master of Watercolor.”

Johnson is curator emeritus at the Achenbach Foundation, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. He met Hardy when they were teenagers in Ogunquit, and remained friends.

Johnson makes the case that Hardy was among Maine’s best watercolorists, and indeed, one of the finest in the country. “In complex and original compositions, Hardy shunned the predictable picturesque in favor of harsh but often beautiful realities,” he writes. “These challenging compositions make us see his landscapes, buildings, still lives, portraits, figures and nudes in a whole new light.”

In a phone interview from his home, Johnson called the exhibition bittersweet. He is sorry his friend isn’t around for it.

Hardy showed his work in New York throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. But in 1991, his New York gallery closed, leaving him without an established dealer. It was a difficult time for him, Johnson said, and Hardy used it to shift his art on a more inward, personal track.


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