Amos, Wade, Lumper, Newman, Eliot and Barry. They work the local docks. They are Mainers, born and raised. They are coastal life personified. They are the iconic fisherman of David Witbeck. And from now until June 16, you will find these boys on the walls of Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture.
Through the years we have become quite familiar with Witbeck’s fishermen. Still, questions remain. Where did they come from? And more importantly, how did they find their way into Witbeck’s studio? Lucky for us, Witbeck is not only an artist, but a storyteller.
As a freelance photographer, he used to love to go out on commercial fishing vessels when he had free time. Often, he toyed with the idea of doing an extended photo-essay, but he could never justify the amount of time away from ‘paying jobs.’ “Truth be told, I usually had more fun talking with the crews and helping to sort fish than making pictures,” says Witbeck, thinking back on the memory.
When he later started painting, fishing seemed to be the natural subject matter for him. “I wanted my paintings to be iconic rather than descriptive. For descriptive focus, photography would have been a better way to do it. I wanted to paint.” Initially it was just for the fun of it, but then one morning about ten years ago, just before waking up, he found his inspiration.
“I had had one of those wonderful little REM sleep dreams. A guy was holding a fish. There just happened to be a sketchbook on the floor beside the bed, and I made this little ten-second doodle,” laughs Witbeck. “The rest is history.”
They have certainly come a long way.
And so goes the story of how Amos, Wade, Lumper, Newman, Eliot and Barry came to spend the first part of this summer at Maine Art in David Witbeck’s one-man show. We welcome you to come and meet these characters for yourself. They are even more spectacular in person. The gallery is open every day from 10am – 5pm at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk. If you aren’t able to make it in, view the entire show at www.maine-art.com. For more Witbecks, view our complete collection by clicking his Artist Page.
A David Witbeck Side Note –
“I also made another doodle, tentatively called, ‘The Last Fish.’ Yet, after ten years, and more than 300 fisherman paintings, I haven’t quite got to it yet.” For a few reasons we, as loyal Witbeck fans, hope the last fish never comes.
To read more about David Witbeck on our blog, click here.
To share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed click the links below.
On Saturday, May 28th, help us at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture to celebrate the beginning of summer in the Kennebunks the best way we know how; with David Witbeck, New Work.
Witbeck is an artist with a special talent, a unique eye and an unconditional love for coastal life. His canvases are full of characters from working fishing villages and harbor towns. He captures the fabulous personality of the lobsterman and the sarcastic sass of the seagull while maintaining the charm and appeal of New England. He has an appreciation for their hard work, but also for their humor. “I’m most pleased when my paintings evoke smiles. Humor is an element too often missing in art,” says Witbeck. Living and working the Maine coast takes a sense of humor. This is evident in the subjects of his paintings.
Witbeck is no stranger to the working man. From truck driver to school teacher, journalist to photographer, he held many a job before finding success as an artist. His path was not straight or easy, but lucky for us he found his way. “I never had a studio as a photographer, always working on location, but in 2003 I rented a mill space to paint in in my spare time,” says Witbeck. It wasn’t long before his spare time became full-time. “By 2007, I was selling enough art to turn down the occasional photo job that came my way… and the rest is history,” he says with a humility we have grown to love at Maine Art.
That same humility comes though when Witbeck speaks of his mentors and his development as an artist. “When I first started painting again in 2001, after not having painted since 1968, I painted watercolors,” he says. It started out as a practical decision. “I found painting en plein air with acrylics next to impossible. The paint dried so fast on hot windy days, and oils made a mess of the leather upholstery on my then brand-new Outback,” he laughs. All that was left were watercolors.
It was then David discovered Edgar Whitney, a kind of guru for many watercolor painters. “The most important thing I took from him,” says Witbeck, “is his definition of an artist.” It was an epiphany of sorts to discover he didn’t have to change the course of Art History. He didn’t have to have something earthshaking to say. He didn’t have to alter the world. “According to Edgar Whitney,” David paraphrases, “an artist is simply a shape maker, a symbol finder and an entertainer.” This was Witbeck’s proverbial “ah-ha” moment. “Wow! What a relief. I can do that,” he laughs.
And that he can. His new show is full of interesting shapes and symbols that represent coastal life, and even a few rare pieces influenced by of his own life. Witbeck doesn’t often work from photographs. “Every once in a while,” he admits, “a photograph will trigger an idea.” Lobstah for Suppah and A Fine Catch are examples of these triggers; they were both inspired by a dory built by the Landing School in Arundel and a fond memory shared with his wife from the summer of ’88.
“This show is going to be a great deal of fun,” says gallery director Amy Lewia. “David is a character himself. Having him at the opening on the 28th will allow our customers an exciting chance to meet the man behind the work.” The Artist’s Reception will be held at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, 14 Western Ave. in Kennebunk, from 5-7 pm, and all are welcome to join.
These larger-than-life works and this incredibly talented artist need much more than just a night, so the celebration will last for three weeks. Through June 16th, David Witbeck’s show can be seen at Maine Art. We are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information please call 207-967-2803. The show can also be viewed online at www.maine-art.com starting today. Works will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Come and celebrate summer on the coast of Maine. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Read more about David Witbeck and his work on Maine Art’s Blog.
See our entire collection of Witbeck work on his Artist Page.
To share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed, click the icons below.
As everyone in Maine begins to celebrate the coming of spring, here at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, we are already looking toward the coming summer. Which means… The Summer Show Schedule! We have planned four single-artist shows and one group show. All will contain new and unique pieces from many of our amazing artists.
Normally, our summer shows are held up on Chase Hill in the Maine Art Shows gallery. However, this year we are starting a bit early, and thought it would be fun to have our first show right on the first floor of the 14 Western Ave. location. And who will we be kicking off the summer with? David Witbeck, of course.
David’s solo show will run from May 28th to June 16th, and will not only feature his classic men of Maine and coastal working life images, but a few new perspectives on the wonderful state we love. You can still see many original Witbecks in the gallery and online on his Artist Page, but be sure to check his online show catalog for new work. It will be live soon! Even better, put your name on our mailing list to receive a reminder when his new work from the show is available. While you are waiting, please click here to learn more about David and his work.David Witbeck: May 28, 2016 – June 16, 2016
Maine Art Shows, at 10 Chase Hill Rd., will again host the Choice Art Show from June 11th through June 30th. This show not only features twelve of our top artists, it is also the only show that lets you, the public, vote for the work you want to see on our walls. Voting doesn’t begin until May 2. Again, watch for the link or join our mailing list to get a behind-the-scenes peek at this one-of-kind show.
On July 2nd, one of our new artists will open her solo show at Maine Art Shows. Holly Ready is no stranger to the gallery, but this will be her first solo show with us. A few examples of her work are in the gallery now and on her Artist Page, but for the first three weeks in July all the walls of Maine Art Shows will display her stunning landscapes and a few more wonderful surprises. We are happy to send you a reminder when this show catalog is available to view if you join our mailing list.Artist Page or click here to read more. Rebecca Kinkead: July 23, 2016 – August 11, 2016
There is no better way to end a perfect summer than a William B. Hoyt show. His timeless works capture his travels in both grand sweeping landscapes and with the tiniest of detail. He celebrates Maine and New England like no other. His show opens on August 13th and runs through Labor Day. Click here to read a bit more about Hoyt or visit his Artist Page to see our present collection of his work.William B. Hoyt: August 13, 2016 – September 05, 2016
This summer holds a plethora of talent and personality that embodies who were are here at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture. We look forward to celebrating this summer season with you and yours. There are so many ways to stay updated on what is going on here. Be sure to check out the links below. We look forward to seeing you soon here in Kennebunk, Maine.
Our Website – www.maine-art.com
Our Blog – www.maine-art.com/blog
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaineArtGallery
Twitter – https://twitter.com/maineartgallery
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/maineartgallery/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/maineartgallery/
“As a kid, I thought I wanted to be an artist… or maybe a musician,” says David Witbeck. “As a high school senior my choices were music school in Potsdam, NY (the boonies, -40 in the winter), or Art School in the Big Apple. What would you choose?”
Did he choose New York City? Yes. He studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for three years. Did he stay in New York? Yes. However, after quickly becoming “disenchanted with the crazy New York art scene of the time,” he read The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe, and photography seemed like a much more relevant pursuit. He became aware of, “nitty-gritty black and white street photography and photojournalism.” He transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology. Rochester was not only home to a photography program, but also to his then pregnant girlfriend. “Ah, the 60’s,” says Witbeck as he looks back.
“A very young marriage and parenthood necessitated finding whatever work I could,” says David. Darkroom assistant, wheelchair mobile driver, employment counselor…the irony! He eventually took a job as a yearbook photographer. Still not art, but getting there. After three years he quit and took a job with a small weekly newspaper. “The pay was less, but I could build up my photojournalism portfolio.” Art, right?
“Eventually frustration, poverty, disappointment, etc., led to divorce, at which point I decided to ‘bleep’ it all and just drive a truck,” says Witbeck. Sometimes taking a step back is necessary in order to take a step forward. After a year of driving a small fish-delivery truck, he made the decision to go big or go home. “As long as I am driving a truck, I should drive a ‘real’ truck,” he had thought. He took lessons, received his NY Class 1 license, and for the next six years was a Teamster driving tractor-trailers. Now that, ladies and gentleman, is an art.
“Driving trailers could be great fun in good weather, but a little terrifying in Rochester winters when, by March, there could be ten feet of accumulated snow,” David recalls. With the threat of becoming an old Teamster, he applied and was accepted to Rhode Island School of Design in 1980. Finally, the world of art had found its way back into his life.
He sold just about everything he owned and moved to Providence. “I graduated with a BFA in photography in 1982 at the age of thirty-five.” He had a couple beat-up cameras, a few sticks of furniture, his clothes, a few thousand in debt… and the promise of a job with a major daily newspaper to his name. “The job failed to materialize. The photo editor wanted me, Human Resources demanded a woman… I was the wrong gender. What now!?”
Lucky for us the “what now?” ended up eventually putting him on a path to the larger-than-life seaside fishing and lobstering paintings that grace the walls of Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture. Alongside them hang the picturesque scenes of harbor villages and coastal life that Witbeck is known for in New England. In May, Maine Art is lucky enough to be hosting a one-man show of David Witbeck’s work; offering more insight into this fascinating man, his history and the what, where and who that finally helped him find this Artist’s Life.
Please click the links below to share on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a painting is worth a million. Why? It has freedom. It doesn’t have to be exact. It is better – above what can be captured on film. David Witbeck was a freelance photographer for almost thirty years, so it is not a surprise that he is sometimes asked if he works from photographs. “I don’t,” says Witbeck. “It’s a joy to be freed from the bonds of the objective reality and just make stuff up.” However, as we all can attest to, rules are made to be broken. “Every once in a while though” he admits, “a photograph will trigger an idea.”
“Several months ago my wife and I were looking through piles of old snapshots and came across a picture of us, circa 1988,” shares David. In the background of the photo a beautiful 17’ Swampscott Dory can be seen. It was built by the Landing School in Kennebunk. “We used to rent a house in Tenant’s Harbor for the month of August. We rowed almost every day, regardless of the weather. We had many wonderful times with that little boat.”
David thought it would be fun to somehow use the photo in his art and started a painting. “It became too much of a copy of the photograph, so I abandoned it. It still sits unfinished, face against my studio wall.” Luckily for us, the photograph continued to poke at his imagination. “I kept looking at the photo. I knew there was something that eventually would come from it.” One morning, months later, he walked into his studio, picked up a piece of charcoal and in an hour or so had a drawing that resulted in one of his most recent woodblock prints, “Fishwife”.
Presently, this woodblock print hangs in the Holiday Show at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture. We welcome you to come to the gallery on 14 Western Ave. in Kennebunk to get a first had peek at this print, as well as the rest of the Holiday Show. We are open from 10 – 5 everyday. The show will run until December 31st. Remember, you can also see the show on-line at www.maine-art.com.
Please click the icons below to share this on your Facebook Page or Twitter Feed.
David Witbeck by Ric Kasini Kadour
The gull perched on the bollard in David Witbeck’s Harbor Gulls is watching you. They are fighting over chum in Free Lunch. And one is calling out to the sunrise in Morning Gulls. When they are not the subject, Witbeck uses birds in his paintings as a call to action, a source of drama, and sometimes a point of humor. David Witbeck studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design, and photojournalism at Rochester Institute of Technology. He worked as a freelance photographer for over twenty-five years. He took up painting in 2000 and has steadily exhibited his work across New England.
Witbeck paints with the wit and eye of a freelance photographer always on the lookout for the perfect constellation of elements that will make a composition tell a story. Often the birds in his paintings obscure and temper the scenes around them. This allows the viewer to parse the painting in a different way. For example, the prominence of the birds in Morning Gulls distracts the viewer from the fact that the painting is a landscape, a simple rendition of the sun rising over an island out in the water. The quieter of the two birds stares at the viewer, almost daring you to notice what is going on. Look closely at Free Lunch and you will see that the fisherman is sacrificing his chum to distract the birds from the large lobster he holds in his hand. By contrast, when birds are the only subject, Witbeck portrays them with humility, as in the simple rendering of gulls in Conspirators, or with nobility, as in his paintings of cormorants where he shows the birds perching, wings spread, nodding to the heavens.
Click on David’s Artist Page to see Maine Art Painting and Sculpture’s entire Witbeck collection or visit us at 14 Western Ave. Kennebunk, Maine.
Click on the icons below to share on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.
David’s work is very unique and easy to distinguish. The charm and love of the coast comes through. For those of us born and raised on the New England coast, we have seen the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” of the fishing harbor our whole life. However, if you are from away, it only takes a few minutes down on the docks to discover it.
“I wanted to paint something other than my usual fisherman. I love to watch boats tugging at their moorings on blustery days as if they’re trying to get free,” says Witbeck about how “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was born. There is no doubt that the Atlantic Ocean and the boats are in cahoots in the battle for freedom in this piece. There is also no doubt that these boats belong with David’s fisherman. Eliot, Walt, and Amos would be happy that the moorings are holding strong.
On June 13th, these whimsical lobster boats can be found on the walls at Maine Art Shows. The heart of David’s work is best seen in person. Each piece has a life of its own. If you can’t make it to the gallery, many pieces can be found on David’s Artist Page at www.maine-art.com. In the end, when it comes to judging David’s work, he sums it up best. “I know I have a good painting when it makes me smile. This one made me smile.”
Please click on the icons below to share on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Before we start in on what today brings, we have to give a huge Thank You! to a few folks for last night. First off, One Dock Prime rocked it! What a perfect way to start of this week. After cocktails we were lucky enough to spend the evening in Jay and Erica Knudsen’s home with a crazy group of wonderful people. Artist Jill Valliere, Sponsor Tom LaPierre from LaPierre Stone, Maine Media Collective’s Emily McConnell, and of course the fabulous Chef Cara Stadler from Tao Yuan, thank you so much. Kudos to everyone involved in the Kennebunkport Festival, last night was amazing.
Today’s calendar of events is just as crazy and just as wonderful as yesterday’s. And, of course, Maine Art Painting and Sculpture will be celebrating the best of it. Our artists, David Witbeck, Ellen Welch Granter, Henry Isaacs, Jeffrey T. Fitzgerald, and Philip Frey are all having artwork delivered as we speak to the homes hosting dinners tonight and they will be in on the festivities tonight, as well.
Everything begins at the Colony Resort at 140 Ocean Ave in Kennebunkport for cocktails around 5pm. John and the artists will be milling around enjoying all the wonderful treats the Colony has to offer, and listening to the wonders of Dominic Lavoie, a Portland area musician. It is sure to be a perfect way to kick off the second night of the Art of Dining. There are still a few tickets available at the Kennebunkport Festival website.
Tonight you will find David Witbeck and his collection of fun and interesting Maine characters at the home of the Raffaellis, whom have graciously opened their home yet again this year. Chef Harding Lee Smith from The Rooms will be joining them. The Rooms, refers to several of Smith’s Portland restaurants. All of which are worth a visit if you are in Portland. This is sure to be a dinner to remember.
Ellen Welch Granter and some of her new work will be found at the Turner/Bull residence tonight. Chef Jeff Buerhaus of Walters will be wooing the guests with his Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean inspired menu. This is a lucky crowd to be feasting on such fabulous artwork and food all in one beautiful place.
Dinner at the Hurlbutts’ is sure to be one of the highlights of the Festival again this year. They were gracious enough to open their home to both artist Henry Isaacs and Chef Guy Hernandez of Lolita. Henry will be sharing some of his best and newest pieces from the Choice Art Show and Guy will be offering up the flavors, traditions, and simplicity of the Mediterranean cuisine from his restaurant on Munjoy Hill in Portland. Everyone will be very well taken care of at the Hurlbutts’ tonight.
The stunning artwork of Jeffrey T. Fitzgerald graces the walls of the Taranto/Ellms home this evening. Fitzgerald will be joined by Chef Chris Wilcox of the Velveteen Habit in Cape Neddick. The Velveteen Habit is said to be a place that invokes, “…memories of family gatherings where food was made for comfort and nourishment and families gather together to share stories and make memories.” A few more memories will be made tonight thanks to all involved with making this dinner happen.
Even though Philip Frey isn’t a Choice Art Show artist, he is one of Maine Arts Paintings and Scultpure’s featured artists this summer. He also loves a good time for a great cause and is happy to be a part of the Art of Dining party at the Rice home. Chef Emil Rivera of Sur Lie on Free Street in Portland is the second half of the talent joining this gathering. While Frey will be sharing pieces from his extensive collection, Chef Rivera will be sharing the progressive and delectable plates and snacks from the cool new restaurant that is rocking Portland.
The Philip Frey Show, New Works, will start June 27th at Maine Art Shows and run to July 16th.
Well…that is what we are eating tonight.
Then its on to the After Party!
Stripers at 133 Ocean Ave., right here in Kennebunk, is hosting this complimentary event starting at 9pm. It will be a great way to work off some of this food! Todd the Rocket will be our DJ and Maine Art will be there to celebrate the end of another successful day of the Kennebunkport Festival. Come wrap up the night with us – you can sleep next week!
Remember to stop in at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture as you wander around Kennebunkport, or visit us on line at maine-art.com.