- Peter Beerits shows fantastical sculptures at Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies on Deer Isle.
The rolling, pine- and spruce-studded landscape of Maine’s Blue Hill Peninsula can’t be contained by the mapmaker-challenging coastline. It repeatedly furls and unfurls itself, befuddling drivers and confounding direction mavens. Causeways and bridges connect islands, coves cosset sleepy fishing villages, and blueberry bushes and artists’ studios and galleries dot the byways.
This inspired and inspiring landscape is home to dozens of talented artists, many lured here by the internationally renowned Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Touring provides opportunities not only to see work by up-and-coming craftspeople and established artists but also to visit their studios.
Blue Hill, a small town that serves as the area’s hub, provides a good entry to the region’s riches. Within steps of one another downtown are three studio-galleries: Handworks Gallery, North Country Textiles and Jud Hartmann Gallery. Handworks has been representing Maine artists for 30 years, including jewelers, potters, woodworkers and weavers. North Country Textiles sells “handwoven textiles and everything to complement them … 99 percent by regional artists,” according to owner Lois Quinn, who often works at her in-store loom.
Jud Hartmann’s goal for his limited-edition cast-bronze sculptures is to “impart life and capture the soul.” Every person or event depicted in his “Woodland Tribes of the Northeast” series is based upon historical fact, and he loves telling the stories. “I feel I connect with the spirit,” he says of his Native American subjects.
“Devilish fun” is how Laura Balombini describes both the playful, figurative sculptures she makes of polymer clay and handwoven wire in her downtown studio, and her sculptural teapots, which have a sophisticated yet circus-like appeal. Just off Main Street is Leighton Gallery. Owner Judith Leighton’s selection of contemporary art from about three-dozen nationally known and emerging artists draws serious collectors from New York and San Francisco. Don’t miss the backyard sculpture garden.
A small sign denotes Mark Bell’s gallery, about two miles south of downtown Blue Hill. Bell, who has exhibited widely, says the clay he uses for his vibrantly glazed and elegantly shaped, fluid porcelain forms is chemically similar to glass, so the process “is like being a glassblower and working at room temperature.”
North Brooksville potters Scott Goldberg and Paul Heroux share a studio and gallery overlooking a tidal cove well off the beaten path, but are well worth finding. Goldberg’s functional pots ref lect a mix of European and Asian styles, while Heroux’s vases echo his love of gardening.
Melody Lewis-Kane specializes in porcelain. The works at her Clay Forms Pottery, on Route 15 South, are more functional than Bell’s, reflecting her belief that “it’s important for people to use handmade items in everyday life.”
Fiber artists dot Route 175 from Sedgwick to Brooklin. Eggemoggin Textile Studio is a visual and textural treat, filled with scarves, wraps, hangings and pillows, all woven from hand-dyed silk, wool and alpaca by Christine Leith. “My work is all about landscape and light,” she says.
Just down the road is Reach Road Gallery, where Holly Meade (not to be confused with art quilter Holley Mead on Deer Isle) sells her detailed woodblock prints. “My favorite surface is to find old pastry boards that are worn, because the marks come through when I print,” she says. She also sells original watercolor collages, many from children’s books she illustrated.
Return to Route 15 and cross the soaring pray-as-you-go bridge onto Little Deer Isle, home to Morrow Wilson Studios. Douglas Wilson approaches blacksmithing as an art form. His detailed works, including railings, fireplace tools, candlesticks and sconces, are often inspired by the landscape. Jennifer Morrow Wilson’s eye-catching three-dimensional paper collages are hard to resist. She makes the papers, paints them, then stitches them together, often resulting in quilt-like works. Many are lighted from within.
Cross the serpentine causeway onto Deer Isle to find Ronald Hayes Pearson Design Studio. The gifted jewelry designer’s works are among those in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Pearson died in 1996, but a team of talented artists continues to create his nature-inspired works in silver and gold. Behind the Pearson Studio is a forge where Farrell Ruppert creates sculptural and architectural steel.
Another double treat is the Greene-Ziner Gallery. Melissa Greene shows her painted and carved ceramic vessels at the Smithsonian Craft Show. Her “IDLUK: Fabulous Fish” vessel is part of the Renwick Gallery’s permanent collection. Her pots evoke classical Grecian vases, but the narrative scenes are sophisticated in style and color, with African, Native American and Asian influences.
Greene’s husband, Eric Ziner, is another of the many blacksmiths lured here by Haystack. Ziner designs and forges handrails, balustrades and chandeliers on commission, but for fun he scrounges dumps for odd parts and welds them into shapes. “I hope these turn into representational items of artifacts of our century,” he says. “Young people don’t know what a brake drum is… I’m creating a kind of time capsule.”
A top-notch craft gallery in Deer Isle Village is Elena Kubler’s Turtle Gallery, where shows rotate in the barn, exhibits continue in the farmhouse and sculptures cluster in the front and back gardens. Call ahead to make an appointment with Carol Scott Wainright of nearby River Horse Rugs. Her handwoven, tapestry-like designs feature organic or geometric shapes on linen warp and hand-dyed wool in deep, vivid colors.
Just south of the village is Dock- side Quilt Gallery, where native islander Nancy Knowlton, daughter Kelly Pratt and daughter-in-law Rebekah Knowlton create oneof- a-kind heirloom-quality cotton quilts.
On Sunshine Road, which leads to Haystack, is Peter Beerits Sculpture at Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies. Giant dragons, old men playing cards and other fantastical creatures fill the woods and fields around the jam-and-jelly kitchen, tea room and studio gallery. Time a visit to coincide with a tour of Haystack, offered Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ($5).
Stonington, a traditional fishing port, is shedding its rough-andtumble image. Isalos Fine Art and gWatson Gallery are especially worth visiting. Just outside downtown is cabinetmaker Geoffrey Warner’s workshop gallery. Warner combines classic techniques with contemporary style accented by Eastern, Arts and Crafts and nature-based inf luences. He obviously had fun with “Which CD Do I Listen to Now,” a CD cabinet accented on the exterior with recycled CDs. “It’s about decision making, and all the choices we have to make,” he explains, calling it a “metaphor for life.”
Perhaps it’s also a metaphor for the decisions faced by collectors desiring to visit the multitude of inspired and inspiring artists on Blue Hill Peninsula. Better book two weeks.
Galleries and Studios
48 Main St./Route 15
Jud Hartmann Gallery
79 Main St./Route 15
Main St./Route 15
24 Parker Point Road
232 Falls Bridge Road
Represents nearly two-dozen established and emerging artists.
Mark Bell Pottery
289 Mines Road/Route 15
Bell hosts kiln openings in July and August.
North Country Textiles
Levy House, Main St./Route 15
Known for its vivid blue pottery.
Kiln in operation since 1934.
7 Main St./Route 175
Glass bead and jewelry maker next door to Naskeag Antiques and Artisans.
Virginia G. Sarsfield Handmade Papers
Sarsfield creates lampshades, books and other goods.
Conary Cove Glassworks
3 Black Point Road
Glassblower Joleen Dodge shares her studio with her husband, Casey, a woodturner.
Deer Isle Artists Association’s Gallery
13 Dow Road
Dockside Quilt Gallery
33 Church St./Route 15
19 Dow Road
Pottery, tinware, jewelry, wire baskets and more by Ellen Wieske, Carole Ann Fer and Susan Webster.
73 Reach Road
Holley Mead/Bruce Bulger
Seamark Building, Church St./Route 15
Mead makes art quilts and Bulger crafts furniture.
John Wilkinson Sculpture
41 Church St.
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Parish House Antiques
7 Church St./Route 15
Janice Glenn carries vintage textiles.
Peter Beerits Sculpture
Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies
600 Sunshine Road
Pitcher Masters Studio/Gallery
Good Dog Run, 45 French Camp Road
River Horse Rugs
Call for directions and appointment
Ronald Hayes Pearson Design Studio
29 Old Ferry Road
Little Deer Isle
Fine craftwork and an enormous selection of handmade tiles.
Morrow Wilson Studios
455 Eggemoggin Road
140 Ferry Road
Joseph Meltreder forges both the practical and whimsical.
Scott Goldberg and Paul Heroux Pottery
2032 Coastal Road
Clay Forms Pottery
Eggemoggin Textile Studio
Reach Road/Route 175
Gallery at Caterpillar Hill
Fine art and craft with stupendous views over Penobscot Bay to the Camden Hills.
34 Reach Road/Route 175
Elizabeth Coakley hand-knits vibrantly colorful vests, socks and sweaters.
Reach Road Gallery
Reach Road/Route 175
68 Main St.
Geoffrey Warner Studio
43 N. Main St./Route 15
Green Head Forge
5 Old Quarry Road
Upstairs, Harriett Hemenway’s jewelry and sculptures all emphasize form. Jack Hemenway’s free-form metal sculptures fill the downstairs.
Isalos Fine Art
26 Main St.
26 School St.
Contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories.
Call for directions and appointment
Fine woodturning by Joaz Hill.
Call for directions and appointment
Heirloom-quality furniture by a classically trained cabinetmaker.