Maine artist gets national post

Posted Jan. 07, 2009, at 3:32 p.m.

WASHINGTON, Maine — Maine artist Barbara Ernst Prey has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment of the Arts.

Prey, a New York native who has a studio in Tenants Harbor and runs Blue Water Fine Arts gallery in Port Clyde, will serve a 6-year term until 2014. She replaces outgoing council member Mark Hofflund, the managing director of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

Prey, who follows in the footsteps of Maine artists such as Jamie Wyeth, was nominated for the post by President Bush. As a member of the council, she will advise the NEA chairman on programs and policy. Council members review and make recommendations to the NEA chairman on grant applications, funding program guidelines and national initiatives.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has also been involved in the council as an ex officio officer in 1998.

General selection criteria include a widely recognized knowledge of the arts, expertise or interest in the arts, and a record of service and achievement in the arts.

A painter who specializes in watercolor, Prey’s work is in the collections of the White House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, both Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the Farnsworth Museum of Art in Rockland.

She was chosen to participate in the United States ART in Embassies Program with work on display in embassies in Korea, Iraq, Colombia, Mexico, Greece, Egypt, Burma and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries. Recently Prey was commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to paint four pieces for its collection.

A Fulbright scholar, Prey is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and the Harvard Divinity School.

The council is made up of 14 members and six ex officio members of Congress. Other current council members include poet Dan Goia, country singer and songwriter Lee Greenwood, illustrator Jerry Pinkney, author Bret Lott, film and television producer Frank Price, critic Terry Teachout, and other academics, arts presenters and curators.

“Barbara Prey’s nomination continues our tradition of having prominent visual artists as members of the National Council on the Arts,” council chairman Goia said in a statement.

Past council members include Marian Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, David Brinkley, Clint Eastwood, Duke Ellington, Martha Graham, Helen Hayes, James Earl Jones, Gregory Peck, I.M. Pei, and Isaac Stern.

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