April 06, 2020
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Reckoning with Nature: Andrew Winter at Monhegan Island

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Jenn Pye | BDN
Jenn Pye | BDN

This summer’s art exhibition at the Monhegan Museum of Art and History is a retrospective of Andrew Winter’s Monhegan paintings. Andrew Winter was an acclaimed mid-twentieth century artist, born in Estonia, who sailed around the world before immigrating to the United States, establishing himself as a New York artist, and ultimately making Monhegan Island his year round home. Winter’s decision to live on Monhegan shaped his art in ways that distinguish him from the many artists of the summer art colony. He painted snow-covered vistas, rough winter seas, and fishermen at work hauling lobster traps.

Winter’s love of the sea began during his childhood spent near the northern reaches of the Baltic Sea and expanded as he worked as a seaman. In 1920 he settled in New York and became a U.S. citizen. He was then able to enroll in the School of the National Academy of Design, and establish himself as an artist, living in New York’s famous Tenth Street Studio building.

After visiting the island in the 1930s, Winter and his wife, Mary gave up their New York apartment and bought a home on Monhegan where they lived and painted there until his death in 1958. Winter regularly rowed his small boat out into heavy seas to gather material for his paintings of working lobstermen. He also painted many shipwrecks that no doubt reminded him of ones he had seen during his years as a seaman.

Winter’s attraction to this remote island off the Maine coast was not a rejection of the art world. He continued to exhibit his work, including at the international Venice Biennial in 1938, with other noted painters such as Winslow Homer.

The Monhegan Museum of Art & History is located in the historic Monhegan Island Light Station, 12 nautical miles off the coast of Maine and exists to steward and showcase the art and artifacts that represent the collective values of its community and to educate and communicate its meaning. The Monhegan Lighthouse Keeper’s House contains exhibits of Monhegan’s history. The Assistant Keeper’s House has an art gallery that displays annual art exhibitions featuring the museums’ art collection that spans more than 150 years. Additionally, the Rockwell Kent/James Fitzgerald Historic Artists’ Home and Studio display a collection of works by Fitzgerald. The museum is open daily from June 24 through September 30 and the Kent/Fitzgerald Home and Studio are open Tuesday and Saturday and by appointment throughout the summer.