Contemporary Art by the Bethel Plein Air Painters

Robinson House:

An exhibit featuring the works of the Bethel Plein Air Painters: Betsey Foster, Melody Bonnema, Linda Isham, Peter Musso, Mary Isham, and Saranne Taylor. Artworks in watercolor, oil, pastel, ink, and graphite will be on view through Friday, June 23, with selected works available for purchase (a portion of each sale helps support educational programming at MBHS).  Photo courtesy of Erik Koeppel.

The Mountains of Maine: Skiing in the Pine Tree State

Robinson House (through spring 2018):

Created by the New England Ski Museum and recently transferred to Ski Museum of Maine ownership in memory of John Christie–legendary ski racer, former general manager of Sugarloaf, and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame–this exhibition features some 60 photographs and artwork with text and captions drawn from the collections of the NESM, with considerable assistance provided by the Ski Museum of Maine.

In the annals of New England skiing, the State of Maine was both a leader and a laggard. The first historical reference to the use of skis in the region dates back to 1871 in New Sweden, where a colony of Swedish immigrants had been induced to settle in the untamed reaches of northern Aroostook County. The first booklet to offer instruction in skiing to appear in the United States was printed in 1905 by the Theo A. Johnsen Company of Portland. Despite these early glimmers of skiing awareness, when the sport began its ascendancy to popularity in the 1930s, the state’s likeliest venues were more distant, and public land ownership less widespread than was the case in the neighboring states of New Hampshire and Vermont, and ski area development in those states was consequently greater. Only in the 1950s did the construction of alpine ski sites become commonplace in Maine, many of them conceived as economic development initiatives. From 1950 until the mid-1970s ski areas sprouted all over the state, until ski area creation slowed nationwide. Maine’s relatively late start allowed its ski area builders to benefit from the expertise of ski resort planners like Sel Hannah and the Sno-engineering firm, and permitted its state government to enact environmental legislation before overdevelopment marked the landscape as it had elsewhere. Numbered among Maine’s distinctive impacts on skiing are far-ranging Nordic marathons; inventions and improvements in snow grooming tractors and implements; a unique university program that trained students for varied careers in the ski business; and the organizational and financial know-how one ski area owner employed to create an assemblage of ski areas on a national scale.

Members: FREE   Non-members: Donation

Hooked Rugs: Art, Craft, and Design

Robinson House (January 31 through December 29, 2017):

The first publication acknowledging the craft of rug making was a pamphlet listing the exhibitors at the First Exhibition and Fair sponsored by the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association in 1838 at City Hall in Portland, Maine.  Even before that date, however, yarn-sewn or shirred “hearth rugs” were commonly produced to brighten up unused winter kitchen fireplaces during the hot summer months in Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  Unlike some early home crafts, rug-hooking survives today, having long ago transformed itself from a strictly utilitarian production to a major role-player in the history of American decorative arts.  Featuring a variety of antique, vintage, and contemporary rugs –plus other hooked items — this year-long display explores the unique story of non-woven rugs.  Members: FREE Non-members: Donation

Portions of this exhibit and its associated programming have been supported by the Florence Bickford Hastings Traditional Crafts Fund.

Image: Circa 1890 hooked rug made by Hannah J. Noyes (1862-1956) of Greenwood, Maine.