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We’re excited to announce our first unveiling of Maynard Bray’s photographs online. As many of our audience know, Maynard is still alive and well and living in coastal Maine. He’s been working on and around boats for most of his life and has gone out of his way to meet countless others of a similar stripe.
After landing a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, he went to work for Electric Boat in Groton, CT in 1956, followed by a six-year stint at Bath Iron Works. By the time he finished there in 1969, he’d become their Chief Mechanical Engineer. He spent the next six years at Mystic Seaport as their shipyard supervisor. Here he was in his element: up to his elbows in wooden boats. After leaving Mystic for Maine in the mid-1970s, he stayed involved with Mystic Seaport into the early 2000s: he continued sourcing wood for the museum’s endless restorations, serving on the Ships and Yachting Committees, rescuing important collections of ships’ plans from becoming landfill, and as one of the Museum’s trustees. Shortly after returning to the Maine coast, he landed a gig as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He’s also been writing the captions for Ben Mendlowitz’s Calendar of Wooden Boats since 1983.
Luckily for small boat aficionados—owners, builders, admirers—Maynard photographed his activities along the way, beginning when he was a teenager. He donated his collection of some 25,000 black and white negatives to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2013. The photos illustrate the fascination Maynard and his late wife Anne shared for traditional craftsmanship and their joy at being on the water.
This initial rollout represents Maynard’s own selection of his early medium format film work, and will be followed throughout the coming year by sets of his 35mm images.
But the best way to make this announcement is in the photographer’s own words. Maynard writes:
This first batch of 200 or so photos were mostly shot when I was in Junior High School (about 1947 and 1948) while my pal Don Merchant and I haunted the Rockland waterfront and our less geeky classmates were playing sports. Snow Marine Basin was then being created on Crocketts Point, across from where the Maine State Ferry terminal is presently located, and we hung out there, helping, immersing ourselves in boats, and taking lots of photos.
Fish processing in Rockland made for a working waterfront that fascinated us: its draggers and sardine carriers became so familiar that we knew which ones were in port just from seeing their mastheads as we peddled our bikes down Sea Street.
Don’s photos are also at PMM (collection LB2013.13), and by viewing his and my collections together you’ll get a good idea of what was going on along the Rockland waterfront in the days following the Second World War when fish were plentiful and yachts were few.
If you search for PIXIE/EAST WIND, PENOBSCOT, SEA WOLF, LELA, ALLSTON E., NABBY, CUCKOO, and BRUTAL BEAST, you’ll find what our own boats or the ones we used looked like. The steam lighter SOPHIA and the little tug HUGH were special to us even though they were on their last legs at the time. Search on Snow Marine Basin and you’ll begin to understand why both Don and I chose maritime professions.
My obsession with Herreshoff began with boats like DELIGHT, VENTURA, COCKATOO, and JOYANT, discovered after Anne and I were married and moved to Mystic, CT.
More recently, Maynard is one of the co-founders of OffCenterHarbor.com (or more commonly, OCH); OCH subscribers have access to engrossing and entertaining documentary videos the team produces. Their focus is on people who make, own, use, and repair small boats with a creative, DIY flair. PMM has often collaborated with OCH to share and mutually promote content.
Finally, we’re glad and lucky that Maynard spends a day a week during the cold months here in the PMM photo archives (as did his wife, Anne, before she died in 2018), donating his time to help us get his and other collections ready for our internet audience. We trust everyone will enjoy the fruits of this long labor. To browse his images, click here.
Marty Bartlett, now in his eighties, is done with the ocean, but he’s a character who was clearly shaped by his lifelong interaction with it. His photographs are a privileged on-deck view of tuna and sword fishing during a critical time for those fisheries. While searching for images from PMM’s National Fisherman Collection for a book he was writing (Wind Shift at Peaked Hills, a creative nonfiction account of sword fishing) , he offered to donate his work here. While the images don’t tell a Penobscot Bay story, their powerful place in the recent history of the Gulf of Maine made the choice of accepting his gift an obvious one.
Bartlett grew up fishing with his dad along the shores of Cape Cod. The pair missed a couple of years during the second World War; he recalls seeing columns of black smoke from burning tankers offshore. After the war, fish stocks rebounded somewhat; he could catch pollock with a mackerel jig off the beaches. The father-son ritual was finally abandoned after dad, in a lapse of attention, backed the Model A into the garage with the fishing rods standing like flagpoles, snapping all of them.
Bartlett enlisted in the Coast Guard for four years after high school. This intensive sea time gave him the chops to find work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he spent six years crewing on research vessels; there, he worked his way up to second mate. During this stint, he was lured into the WHOI game fish tagging program by its progenitor, research associate Frank Mather. Mather had achieved some renown for his project, which involved a novel tagging mechanism for large pelagic fish; his tags used a small barb which was embedded in the thick skin of a tuna or swordfish from the end of a long pole. In contrast to loop and other tag styles, these remained in place for four years or more. Tags, of course, allow scientists to track the growth and migratory patterns of fish, which in turn can provide insight into the impacts of fishing on the vigor of populations.
He’d bought a Leica and was shooting some 35mm film showing the work he was a part of, but boat crew and research personnel don’t often have the luxury of being observers, or “tourists”. It wasn’t until a few years later, when he started getting invitations to act as a guest artist on commercial fishing vessels, that his moment came to document the dynamic realities of harvesting large predator fish. These captains were of course in pursuit of profitable landings, but research entities like WHOI were willing to pay them to tag some animals and throw them back. Bartlett captured scenes of both longlining and seining; US fishermen in the North Atlantic were late adopters of these practices, both of which had a devastating impact on swordfish and tuna stocks.
Bartlett’ career had further significant chapters; he eventually bought his own boat, the Penobscot Gulf, a burly steel-hulled workhorse which had been used to haul fuel to the islands of Penobscot Bay during WWII. He fished commercially from the Gulf with a crew for several years until swordfish, tuna, and groundfish stocks began to disappear in the 1980s.
The group of images we’ve rolled out this month can be viewed here:
This is the only the first wave of Bartlett’s archive; keep an eye out in the coming months for another announcement as we continue to digitize these important and engrossing photographs.
In Scaling Up: The Canoa da Picada Plan Goes Full-Size, João Bentes has recreated a workspace to traditionally loft, or scale up from a paper plan to a full size work plan, the “Canoa da Picada,” a Portuguese Sailing Sardine Carrier, in sections. Break the Anchor, a Portuguese nonprofit, is building the “Canoa da Picada” in collaboration with The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine. After construction, launch, and sea trials, the vessel will cross the Atlantic through the Azores, landing on Portuguese shores to establish a seamanship and boatbuilding apprentice-based school in Portugal using the vessel as an itinerant workshop. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
Weather or Knot? gives visitors a chance to imagine life at sea in calm and stormy seas. They can watch storm clouds slowly gather and waves and wind increase through a collection of paintings chosen to depict the thirteen wind forces of the Beaufort Scale. Visitors will learn the importance of knot tying, the difference between vessels, as well as sail shapes, configurations, and rigging. Weather or Knot? is sponsored by Diversified Communications with grant support from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
Where in the World? features paintings of Maine cargo ships in foreign ports and the navigational charts that guided the way. Captains and owners commissioned paintings of their vessels as a point of pride to ensure a successful voyage. Today, these port paintings provide viewers with a tour of the ports as they looked in the early- to mid-1800s. Navigational charts with hand-written course notations from the Museum’s collections accompany the port paintings, putting the voyages of Maine sea captains into geographical context. Where in the World? is sponsored by Diversified Communications with grant support from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
Animal Tales uses photographs from the Museum’s extensive photography archives and the intriguing stories behind the images to explore the fascination people have with animals. Since the beginning of photography, people have enjoyed using their lens to forever capture beloved pets, livestock, wildlife, and fishing and hunting successes. The exhibit features a range of photographs from casual snapshots taken by amateur photographers, to carefully conceived photos taken by professional photographers like Kosti Ruohomaa. Animal Tales is sponsored by Sally Savage. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
Sponsored by Sally Savage
From the Cradle to the Grave: Mining the Ed Coffin Collection showcases 28 of the more than 2,500 photographs Ed Coffin collected throughout his lifetime. There are many themes to explore in the Coffin collection, but two that stand out as crowd pleasers are ship launches and ship wrecks. The “birth” and “death” of ships have long held the public’s fascination. Most of Maine’s Midcoast towns have been involved in building boats, ships and schooners. Watching the culmination of a year or more of construction and investment has been a spectacle not to be missed. On the flipside, the wreck of a ship evokes entirely different feelings, but the pull to see the tragic scene and to learn the grim story can be just as strong. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
In Lobstering Women of Maine, Belfast artist Susan Tobey White captures Maine’s lobster industry through her brightly colored paintings of lobster women at work. The exhibit showcases the lobster industry, explores Maine’s traditions and heritage, and reveals the strength of women. White appreciates the hard working women in the lobster industry, and was inspired to depict them in her art. She portrays women from the coast and islands of Maine from Ogunquit to Stonington. Lobstering Women of Maine is sponsored by Hamilton Marine. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.
Penobscot Marine Museum has recently launched a new microsite dedicated to their Kosti Ruohomaa photography collection. The site highlights the photographer and his collection, and features standout examples of the photographer’s work in a virtual exhibit. The site will also provide updates on the effort to digitize, preserve, and make this resource accessible to the public.
The archive of the Rockland, Maine photographer was donated to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2017 by Black Star of New York, Ruohomaa’s photography agency. The collection consists of thousands of medium and large format negatives, 35 mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints.
Ruohomaa’s work graced the cover of Life magazine numerous times, and was used frequently by other major magazines such as National Geographic and Look. While his published work is fairly well known, it represents less than 10% of his photographic collection; the rest have never been seen by the general public. This multi-year digitization and preservation project will allow these previously seen and unseen works to be accessible to the public.
The Kosti Ruohomaa project has been generously funded by Linda and Diana Bean, the Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
To view the Kosti Ruohomaa microsite, visit https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti-ruohomaa-collection/. For more information on this collection and any of the Penobscot Marine Museum photo collections, contact Photo Archivist Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext. 210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.