BELFAST, Maine — For nearly 20 years, photographer Neal Parent has been a downtown mainstay, where he has seen many changes to the city from his gallery at the corner of High and Main streets.
The next change will come from him.
But for those who look forward to his friendly presence and seeing his fine photos that showcase the beauty of Maine, don’t worry. He’s not going anywhere.
He and his daughter, artist Joanne Parent, are revamping the gallery. It will have a new name, Parent Fine Art, and something of a new look, with a revolving group of other artists showing their work at the gallery.
“I’m tired,” said 72-year-old Neal Parent, adding that he plans to work part time while his daughter picks up the artistic slack.
Joanne Parent, whose art tends to serene, ethereal paintings of the ocean and sky, started the gallery with her father 18 years ago. But because she was busy raising her children, she was not able to be as much of a hands-on presence there. Now, with one child in college and the other in high school, she’s ready.
“The cool thing about it is that we’re still going to be working together,” she said.
When Joanne was just a girl, she began drawing pencil portraits under her dad’s watchful eye, and with his help learned the balance between light and dark.
The promising artist spent most of her 20s sailing the world as a cook and stewardess on privately owned yachts. She got her captain’s license, learned to scuba dive and surf, and fell in love with the colors and light that surrounded her.
“It was amazing,” she said of those years. “That’s what got me into the ocean and sky. It’s just completely a spiritual moment, where you feel at one with the universe. It sounds cheesy, but that’s what started this whole thing.”
When she came back to Maine, she took up her paintbrush and put those colors and feelings on paper. These days, in addition to her shows at Parent Fine Art in Belfast, she displays her work at galleries in Portland, as well as Massachusetts, New Jersey and Florida.
The Parents will teach workshops and classes in their local gallery, where they will continue to keep an eye on the Belfast, which Neal Parent says has become more of a tourist draw over the years.
“It really has grown,” he said of the city. “What people like about Belfast is that it’s kept the Maine flavor. People love it here.”
Parent Fine Art will host an opening celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at 92 Main St., Belfast.