ARTnews

The Art of Maine: Where Tradition Meets the Cutting Edge

What seems to be an almost impossible range, from Maine to outer space, can be found within the repertoire of one artist, Barbara Ernst Prey, who shows in Port Clyde this summer.  Prey, who has been frequently commissioned by NASA to paint space missions, will have her work shown at Blue Water Fine Arts, located at the top of one of Maine’s many peninsulas.  She spends her summers in Maine, creating large watercolors of the land and coastal waters.  Recently, Prey has turned her attention to the fishermen who work the offshore waters.  But space shuttles land shrimp boats may not be all that different.  Both contemplate the nature of life, Prey says, adding, “I love to explore places where few people go.”  Having painted in Maine for more than 30 years, Prey explains that the fishing life percolated for decades before she sought to delve into it.  To undertake this series, Prey traveled up the coast of Maine and into Nova Scotia, interviewing fishermen.  “The more you know, the more life you can bring to it,” she says of the importance of her research in creating a painting.  But in looking at Prey’s fascination with shadows – whether behind windowpanes or within the watery depths beneath a fishing boat’s hull – there seems to be still more, as if the artist were trying to see something within the unseen.  “I’ve always been fascinated with what is inside, from the outside looking in,” she wrote to Sarah Cash, curator of American Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and author of the introductory essay to Works on Water, the catalog of Prey’s exhibit at Blue Water Fine Arts.  Adds Cash, “The landscape, seascape, structures and boats may be valued either for their considerable aesthetic appeal and technical mastery…or for their evocation of something deeper, more spiritual or personal.”