Here are 12 of our picks for the best art galleries in Maine. They’re sure to please any art enthusiast!
In 30 years of writing about art in Maine and New England (with an occasional foray into New York), I’ve naturally become attached to some of the art galleries I’ve visited repeatedly. Were I to conduct a guided tour of the best art galleries in Maine (which I have done on occasion), the following dozen would be on the itinerary. As it is an itinerary, the galleries are listed geographically, south to north along the coast.
1. Mast Cove Galleries. Every successful art gallery in Maine is essentially a reflection of the gallery owner, an extension of his or her personality and taste. For close to 30 years now, Jean Briggs has operated Mast Cove Gallery out of her home as something of a salon, with jazz and blues concerts augmenting the art. With more than 100 artists represented, there’s usually something to appeal to everyone in this friendly resort-town gallery.
1 Mast Cove Lane, Kennebunkport, ME. 207-967-3453
2. June Fitzpatrick Gallery. June Fitzpatrick opened her townhouse gallery across High Street from the Portland Museum of Art in 1992, and in 2001 expanded to a second gallery on Congress Street in the Maine College of Art building. Fitzpatrick often features edgy contemporary art in shows that change monthly. The intimate High Street gallery tends to focus on works on paper, while the MECA gallery features paintings and other media.
112 High St., Portland ME, 207-772-1961
522 Congress St., Portland ME. 207-879-5742 x283
3. Aucocisco. (CLOSED) Andres Verzosa is an ambitious and energetic art entrepreneur who programs his little gallery, next door to the State Theater, with adventurous contemporary artwork by both established and emerging artists. Three of my favorite Maine artists — Dozier Bell, Katherine Bradford, and Celeste Roberge — have shown at Aucocisco recently. The name derives from the old Abenaki name for the Portland and Casco Bay area.
613 Congress St. Portland ME.
4. Whitney Art Works. Deb and Peter Whitney’s gallery is the new kid on the Arts District block, a welcome 21st-century arrival on a Portland art scene that has seen galleries come and go over the years as the economy ebbs and flows. Whitney Art Works looks and feels more like a New York gallery than any of the other galleries in Maine, and the art it shows is less likely to have a Maine flavor. Not necessarily a bad thing.
492 Congress St., Portland ME. 207-774-7011
5. Greenhut Galleries. Peggy Golden started Greenhut Galleries in 1977 as Posters Plus, a little frame and poster shop in Portland’s Old Port. Since Frost Gully Gallery moved out of the city, Greenhut Galleries has staked a claim to being Portland’s oldest contemporary art gallery. Greenhut still does a brisk business in framing, but Golden also shows and sells some of Maine’s most popular representational painters.
146 Middle St., Portland ME. 207-772-2693
6. Frost Gully Gallery. Realist painter Thomas Crotty opened his gallery in Freeport in 1966, did business in Portland for many years, and is now comfortably back at home. Frost Gully was the first year-round contemporary art gallery of the modern era and once represented a who’s who of Maine artists. It’s still the place to go for Maine masters such as Dahlov Ipcar, Laurence Sisson, Stephen Etnier, William Keinbusch, and Tom Crotty himself.
1191 U.S. Route 1, Freeport, ME. 207-865-4505
7. ICON Contemporary Art. Artist and furniture maker Duane Paluska maintains a serious little gallery attached to his woodworking shop — or rather his workshop is attached to the gallery. Icon is the premier venue in Maine for abstract art. The spring and summer season will feature work by Mark Wethli, Jeff Kellar, photographer Michael Kolster, and David Row, a New York artist who grew up in Maine and returns summers to Cushing Island.
19 Mason St., Brunswick ME; 207-725-8157
8. Gleason Fine Art. Dennis and Martha Gleason’s downtown Boothbay Harbor gallery distinguishes itself by showing and selling both popular contemporary Maine art and art by 19th- and 20th-century painters such as James Fitzgerald, Robert Henri, Andrew Winter, and Jay Hall Connaway, artists associated with the Monhegan island art colony. At this writing, Gleason Fine Art was about to open a second location in Portland.
31 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor ME, 207-633-6849
545 Congress St., Portland ME
9. Caldbeck Gallery. Cynthia Hyde and Jim Kinnealey have operated Caldbeck Gallery across Elm Street from the entrance to the Farnsworth Art Museum since 1982. From the beginning it has been the go-to place for the art of Midcoast Maine. Caldbeck also handles the estate of the much-revered Maine artist William Thon. There’s no point in going to Rockland if you don’t stop at Caldbeck.
12 Elm St., Rockland ME. 207-594-5935
10. 10 High Street. John and Sarah Ames are longtime veterans of the Maine art scene, John having previously operated a gallery in Belfast and Sarah having served as executive director of Maine Coast Artists (now Center for Maine Contemporary Art) and chief curator and associate director of the Farnsworth Art Museum. These days, John and Sarah Ames run a very personal art and antiques gallery out of a space where Sarah’s grandmother started an antiques shop in 1947.
10 High St., Camden ME. 207-237-2770
11. Leighton Gallery (Closed – now home to Cynthia Winnings Gallery) Artist Judith Leighton is in her 28th year running her fine, eclectic barn gallery down a side street in the picturesque village of Blue Hill. Leighton usually features five artists a month during the summer season, but the gallery represents dozens and has a soulful little sculpture garden in the backyard. A very upbeat art selection.
24 Parker Pt. Road, Blue Hill, ME. 207-374-5001
12. Turtle Gallery. Elena Kubler started her gallery on Deer Isle in 1982, and a decade later moved it up the hill to the 1876 Centennial House, which once housed the galleries of both the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and the Deer Isle Art Association. Both the barn and the house are filled with paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, and crafts that reflect the creative spirit and heritage of the Deer Isle community, one of Maine’s art meccas.
61 North Deer Isle Rd., Deer Isle ME. 207-348-9977
What are your picks for the best art galleries in Maine?