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Arts and Culture

Early traders, colonists and fishermen knew the islands and harbors of this region of Maine well. Scotch-Irish settlers brought with them a strong musical culture that is still in evidence today in the music and performances of many local musicians. The building of ships in the 1800s produced skilled craftsmen whose focus on design and aesthetics, and whose ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills led to a thriving industry in the building of skiffs, fishing boats, lobster boats and sailboats as well as 18th and 19th century homes and commercial buildings.

Drawn by the region’s beauty and unspoiled nature, in the 19th century artists from Boston, New York and Philadelphia began visiting Monhegan Island to paint. By the 1880s, artists such as Eric Hudson, Alice Swett and George Wharton Edwards—Luminists who produced intimate landscapes and seascapes—and artists influenced by the Hudson River School—were attracted to Monhegan Island in the summers. After the turn of the century, the Ashcan painters and American Impressionists who set the foundation for what is recognized today as modern American painting, such as Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper and George Bellows also were working on Monhegan. Even today, painters such as Jamie Wyeth continue to live and work on the island.

Lincoln County has attracted numerous authors, poets and illustrators with national reputations such as Barbara Cooney, Elizabeth Coatesworth, Henry Beston, Rachel Carson, John Hay, Robert Lowell and Robert Creeley. Joe Fiore, a painter, and poet Robert Creeley, who lived and worked in the region, were also members of the Black Mountain School. Jake Day, a local resident and woodsman, used his knowledge of animals to develop Bambi and other characters for the Walt Disney Company. In Nobleboro, poet and bookstore owner Gary Lawless is caretaker of Henry Beston’s home, Chimney Farm. The Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson, grew up in Head Tide in Alna.

Over the years the area’s reputation for being a home to artists has continued to draw famous sculptors, painters, craftspeople, illustrators, musicians, authors and actors who have come to pursue their endeavors on a year-round or seasonal basis. The attraction of patrons for art, music and theater events, to purchase art or crafts, or to meet and hear authors who live and work in the region generates a steady revenue stream that is recognized by both residents and businesses as a boost to the local economy. The region is abundant with art and crafts galleries, musical and theatrical venues, and libraries, bookstores and other outlets where authors and poets can read and sell their work. The presence of this active and thriving community of artists provides the region with exceptional artistic and cultural resources.

The area is home to several performing groups and venues, the DaPonte String Quartet, the Salt Bay Chamberfest, Castlebay, Heartwood Theater, the Boothbay Harbor Opera House, Lincoln County Community Theater, the Waldo Theater, and the Boothbay Playhouse. The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, now at the top of Maine destinations, hosts many outstanding arts and cultural events. The region has several libraries including the national award-winning library in Damariscotta -- Skidompha (with the Barbara Cooney Children’s Wing); most all the libraries present public programming, especially children’s art exhibits and writing groups.