Bangor the model for painting event

Posted July 28, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine&nbsp- Old Town artist Anthony Watkins won first- and second-place honors in Saturday’s “Paint Bangor,” an event that was part competition, part fundraiser and part promotion for the Bangor Art Society.

Watkins was among nearly 50 artists ages 9 and up who took part in what organizers hope will become an annual event for the art group.

“If this is an indication of the first year, oh my gosh,” David Haskins, one of the artists who took part, said as he surveyed the finished products lining the walls of the Bennett Gallery on Central Street.

Some of the works were so fresh the paint hadn’ t had time to dry.

With only 7? hours in which to work, participating artists had to register, get their paper or canvas stamped, select a scene, complete an entire painting and submit it at the Bennett Gallery, which hosted the event, before the 3:30 p.m. deadline.

“We call them ‘ paint-outs,’ ” Haskins said of the free-flowing art event.

The idea was to paint “plein air,” or outdoors, which proved challenging to those who do most of their painting in their studios or homes.

Paint Bangor Day was modeled after a similar activity held last August in Eastport, according to Leigh Butler, an art society member who spent her time painting a view of St. John’ s Catholic Church as seen from Bangor’ s waterfront.

Butler said she usually paints from photographs she has taken. Painting outdoors proved tricky because of the ever-changing light and all the hubbub at the waterfront, where the Penobscot River Revival festival also was going on that day.

Early Saturday evening, the paintings — done in oils, acrylics, pastels and colored pencils — were put on display for voting and a silent auction. Those who went were able to buy original, locally produced art for starting bids as low as $15, though some painting’ s starting bids were in the $300 range.

“I try to pace myself,” Watkins said shortly before the voting results were announced. He said his goal usually is to complete a painting within two hours. On Saturday, he managed to finish three, all of them painted within one downtown block.

The two prize-winning works were depictions of Giacomo’ s Groceria at 1 Central St. with its distinctive green awnings, and the outdoor cafe tables at the restaurants at West Market Square. Watkin’ s third painting was a view of the Kenduskeag Stream canal.

Watkins, who is a full-time artist, said he hopes to organize a workshop to teach “painting on the spot because everything you need, all your tools, are right there in front of you.”

Leia Pinnach, 9, of Orono was the winner in the youth category for artists 15 and younger. For her painting, Pinnach chose a spot at West Market Square. Her painting featured a girl standing in front of the “Continuity of Community” sculpture by Clark Battle Fitz-Gerald.

Complete works depicted a variety of Bangor scenes, among them the footbridge over the Kenduskeag Stream, Mount Hope Cemetery, novelist Stephen King’ s home, the fountain at Cascade Park, the historic Bangor Waterworks, a stretch of Grove Street, a view of St. John’ s Catholic Church from the Bangor waterfront, the Hannibal Hamlin monument, and the Palmer homestead on the Burleigh Road.

The event also offered opportunities for artists to learn from one another.

Renata Caraballo, an artist from central Maine, took 9-year-old Gabe Oldfield under her wing.

Oldfield was downtown Saturday morning for a piano lesson when he and his family ran into several artists at work.

After some encouragement from Caraballo, Oldfield had his mom, Kathryn, go home and fetch his painting supplies so he could participate in the event.

For his entry, Oldfield painted the brick building that houses the University of Maine Museum of Art, as seen from Norumbega Parkway.

Bangor Art Society president Kristborg Whitney, another full-time artist, was pleased by the community’ s response to the event.

“We had a wonderful turnout. I’ m so thrilled,” she said, adding that painters from as far as Belfast and Ellsworth came to Bangor for the event.

Asked if the event would take place again, she said, “Oh, you’ d better believe it.”

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