Feature Articles and Media

Postcards From Maine

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In 1916 Maine Governor Oakley C. Curtis proclaimed April 19 “Post Card Day” and issued a proclamation requesting all Maine citizens send a postcard of Maine to friends and family outside the state with the message “come to Maine.” Something tells us Governor Oakley would make a good tourism ambassador.

Today, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maine Postcard Day, the Penobscot Marine Museum presents Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Through the exhibit, visitors are able to see Maine through the lenses of three Maine photographic postcard companies. The photography collection started with a group of Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company postcard glass-plate negatives, which were rescued from a flood and brought to Penobscot Marine Museum for preservation. Penobscot Marine Museum now has 50,000 of the company’s negatives, the largest Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company collection under one roof, as well as several hundred additional postcard negatives. Hey, if pictures are worth a thousand words, Penobscot Marine Museum is in possession of tens of thousands of “wish you were here” sentiments.

Read the full story at visitmaine.com

Maine’s Largest Pinhole Camera

People check out the giant camera obsura constructed on at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport.  When the camera is complete, several people will be able to go inside to experience how the image is projected inside real-life cameras.   Gabor Degre | BDN

People check out the giant camera obsura constructed on at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. When the camera is complete, several people will be able to go inside to experience how the image is projected inside real-life cameras. Gabor Degre | BDN

Photos and Text by Gabor Degre of The Bangor Daily News

Did you ever wonder how cameras work? With the marvel of digital equipment, it seems almost like magic. You push a button and the image appears instantly. Photo archivists with the Penobscot Marine MuseumKevin Johnson and Matt Wheeler came up with the idea of having a very large camera obscura built, allowing people to walk inside to experience first hand how the image is created and the basic concept of how cameras work.

Kevin Johnson (right) and Matt Wheeler photo archivists at the Penobscot Marine Museum pose for a portrait with a giant camera obsura that is constructed on the lawn of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Gabor Degre | BDN

Kevin Johnson (right) and Matt Wheeler photo archivists at the Penobscot Marine Museum pose for a portrait with a giant camera obsura that is constructed on the lawn of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Gabor Degre | BDN

The first written record about viewing an image like that dates back roughly 2,400 years in China. Later, Aristotle wrote about the use of the principal of the camera obscura , while observing a partial solar eclipse. In the 13th century Leonardo da Vinci gave a detailed description, and using a pinhole camera, in the mid-1820’s Joseph Niepce, a French inventor, captured the first known photograph on bitumen-coated metal plate.

You might be surprised that the principal of the camera remains the same today. With the advancement of technology, pinholes were replaced by lenses made of very high quality glass, to project a tack-sharp image. The recording of that image also went through several changes and now a computer captures the image with the aid of sensors, that replaced the light sensitive materials.

Read the full story at the Bangor Daily News.

Three for the road: Art shows worth abandoning the beach for

Story By Kathleen Pierce in the Bangor Daily News

Blue Fish, 1988, painted wood, 48"x56"x30"

Blue Fish, 1988, painted wood, 48″x56″x30″

Besides the line at Red’s and mounting traffic on Route 1, there is another Maine mainstay in overdrive this summer — art shows. It’s tough to wade through the onslaught of openings between trips to the beach, but here are three shows worth ditching your blanket for on the coast. Rockland artist Eric Hopkins, known for playful paintings of Maine islands, hosts a retrospective at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport called “Shells, Fish & Shellfish.” The varied solo exhibit, which opens this week, provides a deeper look into the beach detritus that has inspired the North Haven son of a fish monger. Anyone familiar with Hopkin’s abstract island-scapes will enjoy seeing these elegant wood and glass sculptures along with paintings and monotypes that are rarely on view.

Learning to blow glass from rockstar artist Dale Chihuly while a student at RISD, Hopkins jumps from the frame to the pedestal with ease. Like many artists he was informed by the surroundings of his childhood. “The rocks and shells and bones and branches were my play things,” he said in a prepared statement. “I’d see the patterns of clouds repeated on the waves on the water and later in the flesh of the filleted flounder.”

Read the full story in The Bangor Daily News

‘Shells, fish, shellfish’ inspire art Eric Hopkins draws on a life by the water

Story by Carl Little in The Working Waterfront

Broken Shell Form #1, by Eric Hopkins

Broken Shell Form #1, by Eric Hopkins

Let’s get the punning out of the way, pronto: Eric Hopkins is a shellfish artist. To be more precise, he is a renderer, in many mediums, of shells and fish and shellfish, as the title of his show at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, “Eric Hopkins: Shells—Fish—Shellfish,” puts it.

And this fact may well be a revelation to visitors who only know Hopkins by way of his often transcendent aerial views of the Maine archipelago. Indeed, the exhibition makes a powerful case for a body of work deserving of equal attention and acclaim.

The Bangor-born, North Haven-bred artist began exploring shells and fish as a youngster. The earliest piece in the show is a watercolor made in 1955 when Hopkins was four years old. While reflecting a boy’s fascination with fish—he has often told the story of painting directly on a codfish he had caught in order to keep its colors from fading, only to have his “artwork” disposed of by his mother when it began to stink—this piece of juvenilia already displays the energy of his later work, in particular, the darting fish with its craggy fin.

Read the full story

art current: Gee’s Bend Quilts at the Penobscot Marine Museum

Story by Britta Konau in The Free Press

Crazy Quilt by Lucy Mongo

Crazy Quilt by Lucy Mongo

The story of Gee’s Bend quilts is a complicated, sad and happy one. Gee’s Bend, a remote, historically African-American village on a peninsula formed by the Alabama River, originated in the early 1800s from slave cabins of Joseph Gee’s cotton plantations. Women slaves and their emancipated descendants made quilts from worn-out clothes, feed sacks, and whatever scraps might be usable to provide warmth in unheated housing. Poverty was rampant and interaction with neighboring towns limited (ferry service was suspended by the cross-river town in response to Benders’ civil rights protests). How the rest of the world found out about those quilts has been recounted many times. In 1997, William Arnett, an art collector and scholar, tracked down the women after having seen photographs of some of their quilts. He bought nearly 700 old quilts and contracted for intellectual property rights to all quilts made before 1984, which he transferred to his non-profit promoting vernacular art, Tinwood Alliance. In 2002, the nationally touring exhibition of 70 quilts from that collection, “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend,” took the art world by surprise and was followed by commodification of the quilts’ designs into home products (postal stamps, too, were issued).

Read the full story in The Free Press

Students build boats in new museum learning center

students-build-boat-news

SEARSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER)– A Searsport District High School course is teaching students problem solving skills and maintaining the tradition of boat budiling in Seasport.

“To have a new generation of young people involved in the maritime field is just super. To have them get excited about maritime- who knows where it will lead,” says Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine.

Wayne and Loraine Hamilton donated their old Hamilton Marine store to the Penobscot Marine Museum in December. Since then, students have been working with long time boat builder, Greg Rossel.

Read the rest and watch the video at WCSH 6.

Abandon ship!

Working-Waterfront

Don Wagner of McMillan Offshore Survival Training climbs into an immersion suit. Photo by Tom Groening

SEARSPORT — At 2 a.m., 35 miles out to sea, with winter winds howling and water temperatures around 40 degrees, there can be no two more frightening words.

On a perfect summer day off the town dock, though, “Abandon ship!” was more educational than terrifying.

Sponsored by the Penobscot Marine Museum, the demonstration by Don Wagner of McMillan Offshore Survival Training of Belfast gave visitors a glimpse into how important training and equipment are in surviving a sinking. A six-person raft that was to be used in the demonstration failed. But Wagner turned that into part of the lesson.

At sea, the raft would be removed from a canister and by pulling a line, would be filled by a charged tank of C02. The raft has a safety valve that opens if the pressure from the tank is too great, and then it closes once filled. On the raft Wagner brought, the valve failed to stay closed and so it would not hold air. The 15-year-old demonstration raft had been condemned during an inspection several years ago, he explained. “This is why it’s so important to have a raft inspected and to have survival suits,” he said.

Click here to read the full story by Tom Groening at The Working Waterfront

Daring Rescue at Sea

SEARSPORT – The story of an incredible ocean rescue was the topic Thursday night at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Captain Skip Strong rehashed that historic rescue and salvage which happened almost twenty years ago.

“It was sort of the pinnacle of my career. It was taking everything I’d learned at that point in time, putting it to use. I had an excellent ship, a very good crew, and the guys in the tugboat also did everything they could,” Captain Skip Strong, of the Cherry Valley oil tanker, says.

It was a combination of skill, luck and a solid crew working together that enabled the salvage of the tugboat out of a tropical storm in November of 1994.

Click here to read the full story and watch the video by Karina Bolster at WFVX TV 7