New art society makes connections

By Christine Dunkle | Jun 06, 2019
Photo by: Christine Dunkle Some members and sponsors of the new Knox County Art Society gather to promote their new venture. From left are, front: coordinator David Blanchard of Camden; Dot Eesley of Rockport Blueprint; Holly Smith of Rockport; Pam Bardon of Camden; and Vero Poblete of Waldoboro (by way of Chile); rear: Ken Foster of Camden; Brian Beggarly of Boynton-McKay Food Co.; Lauralee Clayton, Kate Fitzgerald and Bob Richardson of Camden; Carol Douglas of Rockport; and Del Babb of Camden.

CAMDEN — Even if you aren’t an artist, you can picture one — working solo in a studio, surrounded by paints, brushes, canvas; colorful smudges on their hands and clothes from their creations.

Knox County Art Society announces summer show in Camden

The Knox County Art Society and Boynton-McKay restaurant in downtown Camden are mounting an art exhibition for the entire 2019 summer season. This show will offer the community a chance to view work by the diverse group of visual artists who make up KCAS. Each month will feature new work, which will range widely in subject, style and medium. KCAS participants are Del Babb, Pam Bardon, David Blanchard, Lauralee Clayton and Bob Richardson from Camden; Carol Douglas and Mary Whitney from Rockport; Erika Manning from Rockland/Owls Head; Ann O’Hara from South Thomaston; and Vero Poblete from Waldoboro. “Artists making personal connections in the digital age” is the primary concept behind KCAS. It is composed of and run by artists in Knox County and neighboring towns. KCAS’s mission is to foster in-person contact within the local community of visual artists by offering various activities and support for their creative endeavors, while providing opportunities to enhance their visibility in the community. For more information, visit the Knox County Art Society Facebook page, call 236-6468 or email davidblanchard555@gmail.com.

The operative word is “solo,” and a new group for artists is hoping to alleviate some of that solitary existence. The brainchild of David Blanchard of Camden, the Knox County Art Society is a way to bring artists together to socialize, be inspired and learn from each other.

“We want to create a community of artists that do things together,” Blanchard said. “We’re fighting back against this digital age. We don’t ever see each other; artists are particularly prone to working alone.”

The group will have meetings and guest speakers, not to mention summer soirées, but they’ll also carpool to art museums and galleries, even ones as far away as Boston or New York. Maybe even charter a plane. Blanchard wants to get the group large enough so a good number are available to attend outings. “Things that otherwise an individual couldn’t do,” he said.

Blanchard said the society will also create together in and around the Midcoast, with life drawing, plein air painting and urban sketching, where they may sit at a table in town and work. “It’s nice to find artists who want to paint on a regular basis,” said member Lauralee Clayton of Camden.

In the winter, members can enjoy art-related books and films and have discussions. KCAS will maintain a resource library available to members. No one in the group is paid, but there are modest yearly dues, Blanchard said. Most activities do not have fees, but there will be discounts for educational and other activities.

Blanchard clarified not only what the society is, but what it is not. “We are not a place, not an art center, and we don’t want to be one,” he said. “We’re not offering instructions or lessons.” Because if they were to tie themselves to one location, the group would have to worry about fixed overhead and hurt its minimal-cost model of dedicating resources to supporting artists.

As for its public face, the society has group exhibitions, its first now at Boynton-McKay, 30 Main St., Camden (see sidebar). Owner Brian Beggarly is happy to put on this show as an art lover. “I’m the consumer, not the creator,” he said. “I have no idea how to paint or how to draw, but I love it. You need that.”

While still in its development stage, KCAS is getting quite a bit of support already. Blanchard said the Maine Arts Commission is interested and helped point him in the right direction to get the group's nonprofit status and organizational grant. Owner Dot Eesley of Rockport Blueprint has agreed to be its official art supply store sponsor and will give members 20 percent off most art supplies all the time, when they present their membership card.

The society also plans to pay this support forward. “We all need to do stuff to help the community at large,” Blanchard said. They will raise grant money for school groups in particular, such as LEAPS of Imagination.

Many of the first members are from the Camden Life Drawing class that meets Wednesdays at the Camden Lions Club. The new group is wider in scope both geographically and artistically. The current 18 (and growing) members come from Camden, Rockport, Rockland, Monhegan and Lincoln, Neb. (a summer resident), and Blanchard hopes to have all the towns in the county represented eventually. “It’s great to get a group locally,” said Holly Smith of Rockport.

“Local boy” Del Babb of Camden agrees. He liked to draw as a kid and his parents were more than willing to expose him to painting. Once he retired, he dug out everything and began to paint again. He hunted for lessons to tune him up, extending his search to Damariscotta and Augusta.

“Most of these groups would dissolve after a quarter of a year,” Babb said. “Once there were two people in my drawing class, me and the model.”

While the artists need Blanchard’s experience and organizational abilities from his background in running nonprofits, this new venture isn’t all about him. He wants the society to become self-sustaining, with each artist motivated to keep it going and own a piece of its success. “My hope for this is that in 20 years it will still be going and no one knows who I was,” he said.

“Art opened my eyes and enriched my appreciation of people and the world,” Blanchard said, as he recalled starting to create art himself at age 60. “What is really important in life are the human relationships. Visual arts are one part that holds us together.”

KCAS thanks its current and future exhibition sponsors, Boynton-McKay Food Co. and Bay View Collection of Camden, and supply sponsor Rockport Blueprint.

For more information about joining, visit the Knox County Art Society Facebook page or contact David Blanchard at 236-6468 or davidblanchard555@gmail.com.

Knox County Art Society announces summer show in Camden

The Knox County Art Society and Boynton-McKay restaurant in downtown Camden are mounting an art exhibition for the entire 2019 summer season. This show will offer the community a chance to view work by the diverse group of visual artists who make up KCAS. Each month will feature new work, which will range widely in subject, style and medium.

KCAS participants are Del Babb, Pam Bardon, David Blanchard, Lauralee Clayton and Bob Richardson from Camden; Carol Douglas and Mary Whitney from Rockport; Erika Manning from Rockland/Owls Head; Ann O’Hara from South Thomaston; and Vero Poblete from Waldoboro.

“Artists making personal connections in the digital age” is the primary concept behind KCAS. It is composed of and run by artists in Knox County and neighboring towns. KCAS’s mission is to foster in-person contact within the local community of visual artists by offering various activities and support for their creative endeavors, while providing opportunities to enhance their visibility in the community.

For more information, visit the Knox County Art Society Facebook page, call 236-6468 or email davidblanchard555@gmail.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.