Thursday, August 4, 2011


With the boat moored and all passengers and provisions delivered to the island by multiple dinghy trips, our island adventure begins. We land on the rocky north shore of the island.
Baker Island, now part of Acadia National Park is in Frenchman's Bay and is one of the Cranberry Islands. Stepping out of the dinghy into the water we find the water cold , but not chilling. The dinghy is tied to a rock. We all gather our bags and make our way up a mowed path through a vast meadow, probably once a meadow for grazing cows.
Every few yards everyone stops to look in awe at the utter beauty of this place.

It was in 1806 when the first settlers, the Gilley family, came to the island. They came here to farm, a labor intensive endeavor. The idea of transporting animals and crops to and from the island to the main land for marketing is daunting. They were certainly a hearty and determined group and must have cherished island life to withstand the hardships of daily tasks. It must have been love or being overcome by beauty that kept them here.
The view over the Gilley house out across the field and bay is so quintessentially Maine.
Images painted by Fairfield Porter, N.C. Wyeth, and John Marin fill my head.
It's spectacular here.

Time to continue on. Trees begin to line the path, tall fir trees, and spruce. A lighthouse becomes visible, sort of, as it is now overcome by the surrounding woods. The wooded path across the center or the island is cool and moss filled, it is magical and lovely.
The sound of the ocean can be heard.

The shadowy wooded path opens to huge rocks, open sky and an ocean that goes on forever, or at least to the Canary Islands!

The Dance Floor

Gigantic flat granite boulders became known as "The Dance Floor". The name originating when in the past island settler's would hold dances here on these pink granite dance floors. It is quite an amazing structure that the sea and nature have created.
Beyond dancing this makes a great site for a picnic, followed by some sketching!

For a look at a sketch that James drew from here, and then took back to the studio where he made a painting
click on Aponovich 52, week # 19

Timing is everything. Our "Dance Floor" picnic was delicious and some sketches made, the weather's turning..... time to head back to the boat. Retracing our steps back, the island is again breathtakingly beautiful and even more dramatic with the
weather over Mount Desert .

Tide going out, weather changing, it is time to board to boat and return to Northeast Harbor.
This has been one of those "days of wonder".
This day will make for memories of a day spent with special friends on a classic Maine Island. I am certain more than one painting will be created from this group to remember our island adventure.

The excerpt below is from a letter written by artist John Marin, to photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1932), might just reflect the thoughts of the Gilley family and early island settler's of Maine's islands.

she makes you to - pull - pull - pull - she makes you to - haul - haul - haul -
and when she's thrashed you a plenty - between those thrashings
she's lovely
she smiles
she's beautiful
with an unforgettable loveliness - an unforgettable beauty
turns masculine - borders big and mighty - against - the big and mighty Atlantic."


Bob Haven said...

Elizabeth, This is a blast from the past...June 16, 1988 to be exact. While cleaning a file cabinet I found the receipt and invoice for your pastel,"Still Life with Blue Marbles". At the time you were teaching at the Nashua Center for the Arts and I was running the KID theater program there. That painting graced the living room of my parents home till 1998 when we sold the house after my dads death. It has since followed me from Illinois to KY and continues to amaze me every day! Now as a professional costumer and embroidery specialist your paintings of ribbon spools make me think its time for another Johansson!

Anonymous said...

James, saw you this evening on Chronicle. Excellent story and it is great to see a local artist getting that kind of exposure. Congratulations and good luck on your 52 week challenge.
Matt Ciardelli
Ciardelli Fuel Company