Monthly Archives: July 2012
William Oberst’s Island Diary
Perched on East Shore Road with a view to Long Cove sits an 1860’s barn moved to Westport Island from Pennsylvania. The distinctively-renovated barn houses the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation’s artists’ residency program. Since 2002, as finances have allowed, small groups of artists – fine artists, crafts persons, writers, and photographers – have been awarded “sabbaticals” allowing them expense-paid time to develop their crafts here on Westport Island.
The “art-colony” program was the realization of a dream for Maureen MacNamara Barrett: a dream unknown to many on the Island.
One of the artists who has benefited from the MacNamara program, is William Oberst, a painter now living in North Adams, Massachusetts. He spent six weeks here in 2007 and is sharing some of his thoughts.
Although always a painter at some level, Oberst didn’t pursue a formal education in the arts until his late 40’s, after which he taught college-level painting and drawing. Until coming to the artists’ program on Westport Island, he was an oil painter who focused on portraits of people. The Island, as a place, changed his focus. When he arrived here: saw the rocks, the water, his spectacular cottage, the dark of night lit only by stars — and he heard only lobster boats and birds at the break of day — he didn’t want to be tied to a canvas. He wanted to take advantage of where he found himself.
When Maureen Barrett brought him and fellow residents to an art supply store in Portland, he bought watercolors. In the ensuing weeks, he ferried a portable chair and his watercolors along our shore where he painted 12 of his first watercolors.
Oberst spent much of his painting time at Kehail Point where he was transfixed by a shoreline of rocks, gravel, high and low tide bands, and the different zones of rock. He also became fascinated with the portability, the spontaneity, and the “gesture” of watercolors.
Like the other artists who came here to discover something new about their craft, he discovered our Island. In appreciation for his experience here, he is sharing his visual Westport Island diary…
Back to some basic neighborhood fun
The Fire Department and the Community Association joined efforts to serve up an exceptional summer barbeque last Saturday. A good turn out, good food, good music, and good fun… As my ex-partner used to say, “it was all that and a bag of chips” — because the annual fundraiser brought in about $1,700 for the fire department’s annual operating budget.
Fire Chief Bob Mooney was the organizer in chief of all the work that went into turning out 200 servings of chicken and accompaniments. Chaplain Valerie Lovelace spoke for all of us in a thank you to her fire department co-workers: “thanks for all the hard work par-boiling, cabbage chopping, corn-shuckin’, onion slicin’, chicken-n-dog grillin’ and the list goes on…”
The community thank you extends to the Westport Island Community Association and the Back to Basics Bluegrass Band who contributed the site, the sweets and the summer sounds. If you missed the barbeque and would like to make a tax-deductible donation to benefit Island fire and rescue services, checks should be made out to the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and mailed to the Westport Island Town Office, 6 Fowles Point Rd., Westport Island, ME 04578, ATTN: Fire Department.
Although Westport does not have its own fireworks display to close this celebratory day (with the exception of a small display near Long Cove this year) fireworks can be viewed in any direction: from the bridge, from the north end boatyard, from East Shore Road….
Many ways to say good night
Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July
spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes.
They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit.
Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue
and then go out.
from Good Night by Carl Sandburg