June Fitzpatrick locks the door to her gallery for the last time in 2016. A longtime gallery owner and influential figure in the Portland arts scene, Fitzpatrick died Monday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

June Fitzpatrick, a former longtime art gallery owner in Portland and a fierce supporter of two generations of local artists, died Monday at the age of 83.

“June was like a mother to me,” said Blainor McGough, the partner of Fitzpatrick’s son, Nicholas, who died unexpectedly in 2019, and former director of Mayo Street Arts. “But she was a friend, too. Her influence on artists and on the culture here is just huge. June Fitzpatrick Gallery, that’s where everyone wanted to show.”

Fitzpatrick moved to Maine in the 1960s from England, where she studied art history. Photo courtesy of Blainor McGough

McGough said Fitzpatrick died of natural causes but had battled heart disease in recent years.

Artists and other gallery owners described Fitzpatrick as a “force of nature” and a “link between artists and their community.”

“She had a very discerning eye and a warm, graceful spirit,” said Rachael O’Shaughnessy, a painter who studied at Maine College of Art & Design when Fitzpatrick’s gallery occupied an adjacent space on Congress Street. “We learned very early in art school that she was the person to go see.”

Born and raised in Sheffield, England, Fitzpatrick majored in art history before coming to Maine in the 1960s with her then husband, Eddie Fitzpatrick, who had taken a job at the Portland Press Herald. He was features editor for years, overseeing arts coverage, before leaving to open a restaurant, the popular Pepperclub in Portland. They had been separated for many years when he died in 2017.


June Fitzpatrick worked at the newspaper for a time as well before owning and operating various businesses. Her first art gallery opened in the mid-90s and, shortly thereafter, she launched a second. Her gallery on High Street closed in 2011, and her space on Congress Street shut down in 2016.

Edgar Allen Beem, who has written about art in Portland for decades, said Fitzpatrick was unquestionably the city’s top gallery owner of her time.

“She had a really good eye, and she didn’t just show what she thought would sell, but what she thought was worthwhile,” Beem said. “I think the most important thing with June is that she was a good person. She was nice to everyone and made everyone feel welcome.”

Carl Little, another longtime arts writer and critic in Maine, called Fitzpatrick a “central figure in the arts scene.”

“The art world here is pretty tight, but she was someone who was always bringing people together,” he said. “And she really looked after people as well. That’s not something you have to do as a gallerist.”



For many years, Fitzpatrick also was a foster mother to several babies who were awaiting adoption, and she brought that same motherly nature to her galleries.

“I used to call her my art mom,” said Tanja Hollander, an Auburn photographer.

When Hollander was 22 and had just graduated from college, she moved back to Portland to open an alternative gallery. At that time, Fitzpatrick was well established.

“She was my biggest champion,” Hollander said. “She was so supportive and welcoming of other galleries and younger artists.”

Annie Wadleigh, associate director of development at Maine College of Art & Design, knew Fitzpatrick for three decades.

“I think her galleries were so successful because of her generosity of spirit,” Wadleigh said. “Her personality attracted people, and she created a wonderful community of talented artists and supporters. She was so central in the arts community.”


Wadleigh said Fitzpatrick often would offer gallery space for MECA students and for faculty shows as well. After her retirement, the school recognized Fitzpatrick with an honorary doctorate of the arts for her contributions to the art world.

Many fondly remembered dinner parties at her West End home.

“She used to do openings and afterwards, she would invite artists and their families to her home, so I would sometimes get invited,” said Ed Pollack, a fellow Portland art dealer. “It was like a cultural salon. Always interesting people and interesting conversations. She knew how to make people feel good with each other.”

Beem said her home was “like walking into 19th century London, with all this gorgeous art on the walls and antiques on display.”

Amy Stacey Curtis of Lyman was a young artist looking for a gallery in the early 2000s when she first met Fitzpatrick.

“I had no clue what was going on at that time. I was new,” Curtis said. “But June’s gallery was the only one I felt really fit. I could tell she would appreciate my aesthetic. I also liked how she presented the work she displayed – minimal and clean and professional.”



Curtis said she visited Fitzpatrick at her gallery every Thursday for years.

“It didn’t matter if she was really busy … she’d always stop and talk with you,” she said.

Hollander said one thing that stood out to her was Fitzpatrick’s reverence for artists, but also for people.

“It was never about commerce. She wasn’t about making a lot of money or becoming rich,” she said. “And I can remember seeing high-end collectors and homeless people in galleries – sometimes at the same time. She treated everyone the same.”

Even after she retired in 2016, lost her only son in 2019 and saw her own health deteriorate, Fitzpatrick didn’t stop championing local art and artists. She served as a guest curator for pop-up galleries at Mayo Street Arts during the first year of the pandemic.

McGough, who worked with her on those pop-up galleries, said the outpouring of support since Fitzpatrick’s death speaks to her impact.

“She always knew exactly what she wanted to do, and she did it,” McGough said.

A memorial for Fitzpatrick will be held June 28 at 6 p.m. at First Parish Church on Congress Street in Portland.

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