A bumper sticker that says “Incite Art, Create Community” decorates quite a few cars here on Deer Isle (along with “Fish Forever”). Opera House Arts (aka the Opera House) has been selling it for about 20 years, and I experienced its full meaning just the other day.
Incite Art, Create Community
It all started last summer, when my friend Katy Allgeyer decided to incite art, create community by staging an exhibit at her Art By Katy gallery for me and another Leslie married to a Dan, Leslie Anderson. I didn’t know Leslie well, but got to know her during our show, which Katy called Leslie Squared. (You can see my paintings here.)
Then one day in the fall Leslie asked me if I’d like to go painting with her. Of course I did.
So on a gorgeous day in late September we climbed Kezar Mountain in Little Deer Isle and looked down at a smattering of islands. The children’s book author, Robert McCloskey, lived on the island that looked like a pie with a slice cut out – Scott Island.
I’d actually interviewed McCloskey, sort of, when I was an Associated Press reporter in Boston. Some kid from Boston College had stolen one of the bronze Make Way for Ducklings ducks in the Public Garden. When they found it – in the BC library, I think – I called up McCloskey and asked him what he thought of the theft. “No!” he said. Then he hung up on me. I didn’t blame him one little bit.
Up on Kezar Mountain I painted Scott Island on an Arches watercolor block, which has a flap that protects the paper. Then I took it home, left it on the block and forgot about it.
Six months later, the Opera House presented Sea Times – local actors portraying Deer Isle old-timers who’d been interviewed by middle school students in the 1980s. They told 20 stories of winter on Deer Isle in the olden days. One reenactor portrayed Robert McCloskey, who talked about the first and only time he spent the winter on Scott Island with his wife and infant daughter.
The next day I was looking for something in my messy studio and came across the painting of Scott Island. So I posted it on my Facebook page and wrote, “Funny thing…” and told the story.
Then a friend who lives on Deer Isle wanted to know if the painting was for sale. Of course it was. She had gotten to know Robert McCloskey’s daughter Jane and grown fond of her, liked the painting and wanted to buy it.
So hours later Dan and I dropped “Scott Island” off at her home. We had a nice chat about our community and then left with good feeling all round.
By the way, I later painted Leslie painting on top of Kezar Mountain.
That’s how it happens. Incite art, create community.