Since 1990, artist Connie Hayes has been painting landscapes, still-lifes and interiors in and around houses where she has stayed as a houseguest, methodically borrowing the homes of friends and friends of friends in order search out new subject matter. In 2004, Hayes documented her peripatetic paintings in Painting Maine: The Borrowed Views of Connie Hayes, a handsome monograph alas now out of print. The self-published book coincided with a pair of solo shows at Greenhut Galleries in Portland, Maine, where Hayes used to live, and at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, where she now lives.
Currently, Connie Hayes’s vibrant paintings are again the subjects of a pair of exhibitions, A Decade of Views at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland (through September 7) and Paintings by Connie Hayes at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay (through September 30). The Rockland show features 150 paintings from the past ten years, while the Boothbay show presents 20 new paintings with an emphasis on the floral paintings Hayes has been making over the past two years.
I see Connie Hayes as the quintessential Maine painterly realist, aesthetic heiress to artists such as Fairfield Porter and Alfred Chadbourn, painters who transformed the familiar terrain of coastal Maine into deeply personal, intimate visual experiences. All three painters were heavily influenced by the French, but Porter accomplished his painterly poetry with a more naturalistic palette, while Hayes, like Chadbourn before her, makes free use of color to both jazz up and tone down things seen.
In Connie Hayes’s Maine, lobster traps may be bright yellow in the sun while an East Boothbay bedroom is merely jaundiced by morning light. Indeed, room interiors may glow pink, blue, gray or yellow, the chromatic mood of the moment determined by natural light, d