We stayed in Camden longer than planned so we could go see the Olson farm that captivated Andrew Wyeth and was the setting for Christina’s World. Inspiration for this painting came when Wyeth, standing in an upstairs window, saw Christina crawling across the field. (Internet photo)
“The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless,” he wrote. “If in some small way I have been able in paint to make the viewer sense that her world may be limited physically but by no means spiritually, then I have achieved what I set out to do.” – Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth spent many hours at the Olson farm where Christina and her brother Alvaro lived. Despite a degenerative muscular condition that left her unable to walk or use her hands, Christina was a formidable personality that fascinated Andrew. The house is large and sparse, echoing the feeling that Wyeth captured in over 300 paintings of the Olsons, their home, and the land.
“In the portraits of that house, the windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost. To me, each window is a different part of Christina’s life.”
Per his wishes, Andrew Wyeth is buried near Christina in the family burial ground not far from the house.
We’d heard good things about the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport just north of Camden, and it turned out to be an interesting place to spend a dreary day. Housed in several buidings, it tells the stories of maritime businesses and merchant sea captains that made their homes and fortunes here. History, art, and interactive exhibits wove a fascinating tale of life on the sea.
Ten percent of the nations merchant sea captains hailed from Searsport in the 19th century, and boat building was a booming business. More recently, controversy erupted when it became apparent that the waters that supplied the fishermen’s livelihood were being overfished. It was finally decided to follow the lead that lobstermen had already employed: throw back the smallest, the biggest, and egg bearing females. Spawning areas were declared off-limits and recovery is underway.
The museum houses an impressive collection of James and Thomas Buttersworth paintings that attract visitors from all over the world.
Andrew and Betsy Wyeth spent their summers in Maine, where artist and landscape merged and melded. The Olson farm is here, inspiration for over 300 paintings, including Christina’s World. The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland began collecting Wyeth’s work early on, and currently has a special exhibition in honor of his 100th birthday. One of the featured paintings is his 1963 tempera, Her Room, with over a dozen studies displayed around the room that demonstrate his remarkable expertise as a draftsman. We were so enamored with the exhibition that we’ve extended our visit here so we can tour the Olson house on Wednesday. (Apologies for the blue/green glare seen on the painting below.)
Yesterday we met our friend Lee in a coffee shop in Damariscotta before attending the Unitarian service just around the corner. The topic, “Toward a New Understanding of Being Male” was thoughtful and thought provoking.
Lee’s imaginative artwork fills their home that’s perched over an art gallery and overlooks the bay.
Sally and I have been friends since 1975 when we both worked at the local newspaper in Skaneateles NY. She and Bill now call Maine home, and today they treated us to lobster at their favorite haunt. Broad Cove Marine Service is a wharf where you buy the cooked lobster, but bring the rest in your picnic basket.
We’re not ashamed to admit that following our leisurely lobster lunch with Sally et al, we went directly to a lobster dinner sponsored by our campground owners.
This past year Sally has taken to writing poetry and is currently working on her second volume. Opus 89 is her latest offering:
After leaving Janie at Chimney Pond, I had 2353 feet of elevation gain in 2.2 miles to the summit and 5 hours to make the round trip. Sounded doable. With no sit down breaks, sipping water from my camel-back and only 20 minutes celebrating at the summit, it just barely happened. Rock scrambling, loose rock on steep slide areas made progress, at times, painfully slow, knowing we had to get off the mountain before full darkness.
Every once in a while I need to remind myself that mountain climbing just isn’t my thing. It was a beautiful day at Baxter State Park, with another one promised for the following day. Russ was itching to climb Katahdin, but I wasn’t too keen on his going it alone. Hiking part way up with him on the Chimney Pond Trail seemed reasonable. I’d wait while he summited, and we’d hike back out together. Besides, there was talk of nice views from Chimney Pond, and sometimes it’s worth putting your head down and doing the hard work to get there.
We left Chimney Pond with just enough time to get out before dark. Our day had started at 4:15 a.m. and when we got home, we took a quick shower, downed a couple of Advil for dinner and were in bed by 8:30.