Art Gallery in Bookstore’s Former Somesville Location Hosts Artist Talk

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Jul 222012
Port in the Storm bookstore

Until 2009, this location in Somesville was home to Port in the Storm bookstore.

When Port in a Storm bookstore in Somesville closed in 2009, the “sad news” reverberated not only among Mount Desert Island’s villagers, but online among fans who had visited during every trip to Maine.  “We will miss the wonderful views just as much as the wide selection of books,” echoed the lament.

For seventeen years Port in the Storm, with its two-story windows opening on to Somes Sound, had functioned as a cultural gathering spot as well as a bookstore. Authors including Pulitzer Prize winners Richard Russo and Jhumpa Lahiri read from their work there.

Finally this summer, three years having passed since the closing, the views from the 1920 buildingThe Galley at Frenchman's Bay overlooks Somes Sound at 1112 Main Street are once again available to the public.  And it appears that the proprietor of thenewly opened Gallery at Frenchman’s Bay has some of the same cultural commitment to the community.  On Wednesday, July 25, well-known Maine artist Judy Taylor will be giving a brief talk during a reception for her and furniture maker, Hank Gilpin. The reception runs from 4 to 6.
Ms. Taylor has several paintings on display at the gallery, including the gouache on paper of Boathouses on Islesford, a frequent location for her workshops.

Judy Taylor, Boathouses on Islesford, gouache on paper

Owner Tyra Hanson decided to move her gallery from Ellsworth to Mount Desert Island after a successful exhibition in Bar Harbor last year.  The new gallery, which opened May 1st, features painting, handcrafted furniture, and glass works.  Among painters alone, over 15 artists are represented, most of whom have some connection to Maine.  In addition to Judy Taylor, they include Colin Barclay, Eline Barclay, Helen Douglas, Emily Fleisher, Margret Jaquemot, Barbara Joy-Hare, Jeff Joyce, Joseph Keiffer, William Landmesser, Molly O’Rourke, Michael Pennell, Tom Stewart,  Kim Tomlinson, and Peter Yesis.

Paintings and handcrafted furniture are both exhibited at the gallery.

In addition, Ms. Hanson, who also offers design services from the space at 1112 Main Street, features  accessories for the home, such as Swan’s Island blankets, distinctive lamps, and Gola glass, as well as a few gifts, including some attractively priced tote bags made from recycled sails.

Somesville’s new gallery is open seven days a week from May to December.

This makes it a perfect last-minute option for what to do on a rainy day in Acadia National Park, although you will probably want to visit in full sunshine, too.


9 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Acadia National Park

When It Rains, Take the Kids to the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor

Where to Stay on a Trip to Acadia National Park: A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Where to Stay on a Trip to Acadia National Park: A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages
May 062012

Mount Desert Island is shaped like a pair of lungs.

On the eastern side are Bar Harbor and some of the most popular places in Acadia National Park, including Eagle Lake, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and Jordan Pond.

The western side, known as the “Quiet Side,” also has two glacial lakes, Echo Lake and Long Pond, as well as mountain hiking. Its best-known landmark is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, and its largest town is Southwest Harbor.

In the area between the two “lungs” is Somes Sound, seven miles long.  This glacial bay, often referred to as a fiord, is the geological star attraction of many hikes on both sides of the island.

But, in the most practical sense, Somes Sound makes navigating around Mount Desert Island a challenge and consideration of where to stay a key component of successful vacation planning.  Choosing the village in which you’ll be based should be your first step before researching any particular inns or real estate rentals.

Start by looking at a map and considering your priorities:  Which is more important — quiet or convenience?  Proximity to shopping or swimming?  Will you always eat out or sometimes cook in?

Also having a sense of the particular activities you want to pursue on vacation, from napping on the porch to sampling the local micro-brews to sightseeing (or maybe all three, but in the reverse order), will be very helpful as you familiarize yourself with Mount Desert Island’s diverse towns and villages.  Each has its unique personality.

The town of Bar Harbor has six villages — Town Hill, Eden, Salisbury Cove, Hulls Cove, Otter Creek, and downtown Bar Harbor.  It’s no wonder that Bar Harbor has
greater name recognition than Mount Desert Island itself because it is where the cruise ships drop anchor and where you’ll find the greatest concentration of shops, restaurants, lodging, and important community facilities such as the Mount Desert Island Hospital and the Mount Desert Island YMCA (which, by the way, offers
day passes and temporary memberships – great options for rainy days in Acadia National Park).

While detractors complain that Bar Harbor can be “choked with people” when cruise ships come in during July and August, others wouldn’t stay anywhere else, citing the convenience of being close to so many restaurants, shops, and night spots.  Hospitality options are the greatest here, ranging from Victorian mansions in the village to chain motels along Route 3.

Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium Bar Harbor Maine


South of Bar Harbor, still on Mount Desert Island’s eastern side, is the tiny, charming village of Seal Harbor.  It has a lovely village green and harbor showcasing the classic yachts of its summertime residents.  Among those with homes in Seal Harbor are long-time resident David Rockefeller and relative newcomer Martha Stewart.  Her house, called Skylands, was owned by Edsel Ford and sits on 63 acres overlooking the harbor.

Northeast Harbor is also a wealthy summer colony, with roots dating back to the late 1800s.  Its village center has antiques shops, art galleries, and several stores (The Kimball Shop and Boutique is a personal favorite for tableware).  Another key attraction is Asticou Gardens, featuring both the Asticou Azalea Gardens on Route 198 and Thuya Garden, accessible to both autos and walkers from Route 3.

Thuya Garden Northeast Harbor Maine


If you want to base your vacation in Northeast Harbor, there are certainly memories to be made at the Asticou Inn, located at the north end of Northeast Harbor, a classic resort with much history and no TV’s in the main inn.  Rentals in Northeast Harbor can start as low as $2000 weekly and soar to $50,000 monthly for grand shorefront homes.

The western side of Mount Desert Island is home to many year-round residents, including lobstermen and artists.  It also has a large stock of attractive rental

Somesville is the first village you’ll see coming south on Route 102 along the western side of Somes Sound.  Somesville is where I live, in a house where Teddy Roosevelt reputedly was a guest in 1880.  Founded in 1761, the village has a library, museum, repertory theatre, and one of the most photographed spots on the island – the Somesville bridge.  Renters in this area have easy access to Acadia’s Echo Lake and Acadia Mountain.

Somesville Bridge Mount Desert Maine


Southwest Harbor is one of my favorite places on the island.  The home of Hinckley Yachts, it’s known for boat building, unique shops, great restaurants and cafes, and a beautiful working harbor.   I particularly like the hardware store, which reminds me of the Maine state slogan: The Way Life Should Be.  In Southwest Harbor it’s possible to rent a place where you can see the harbor and still walk to town.  There are charming inns, as well as another classic summer refuge, The Claremont Hotel, which has a restaurant overlooking Somes Sound that is open to the public.

Claremont Hotel Southwest Harbor Maine


Bass Harbor is an authentic fishing community, widely recognized for its lighthouse, great lobster pounds, and get-away-from-it-all inns.   It is my favorite place on Mount Desert Island to visit at sunset – not to see the sun itself descend, but to witness its beautiful work on the harbor and its boats.  My first rental on Mount Desert Island was a sunny condo overlooking the harbor.

Lobster boat Bass Harbor Maine


Just on the other side of Bass Harbor is Bernard, home of Thurston’s Lobster Pound, a “must” for any visit to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

Tremont, Seal Cove, and Pretty Marsh are the quietest villages on the “Quiet Side”!  The distance from Bar Harbor discourages many visitors, who miss out on picnicking at Pretty Marsh, hiking the quiet trails of Western Mountain, and kayaking on Long Pond.   Rentals here include cottages and cabins overlooking Seal Cove Pond or the quiet coves of the western shoreline of Mount Desert Island.

In love, real estate, and where to stay on Mount Desert Island, there are always trade-offs.  I invite you to join the conversation and comment on which villages you’ve enjoyed on your visits to Acadia National Park.




Jun 122011

When I was a little girl, my sister, my best friend, and I would go every week to Mrs. Moore’s house for sewing lessons. We started with pin cushions and progressed to aprons.  It wasn’t formal or school-sponsored, just something an old lady, whose middle name was Thankful, did for the young girls in the neighborhood.

The good feeling of those sewing lessons came back recently when I attended an exhibit of the Island Quilters at the fire station in Somesville, Maine, on Mount Desert Island.  The admission price of $3 included a potholder of your choice.  I got a great one — with sailboats.

The Island Quilters, I learned, have been getting together twice a month since 1992.  Women from the villages throughout Mount Desert Island join to learn skills and participate in special projects, many of which were on display.

Quilting is an art that combines thriftiness, skill, and sentiment to create something both beautiful and practical.  Although materials can be purchased for the purpose of making a quilt, it’s more traditional to accumulate fabric over time and then repurpose it into something new and wonderful.  “Stacked Coins” below, made by Pat Brown in July 2010, is “what you do with a container full of odd-sized strips left over from other projects!”

Pat Brown also recycled old jeans by cutting six-inch squares from the back of the legs and combining them with left-over flannel to make a sofa throw.  With each washing, she said, its seams ravel more and it becomes softer – perfect for keeping you warm on cold winter nights.

The organic process of quilting sometimes reflects the wishes of the child who is selecting the scraps from Grandma’s basket.  Many of the quilts in the show were gifts for children.

Others commemorated special occasions.  Mary Booher made this quilt in 1995 for the 50th birthday of two friends.  At the first of the two birthdays, she collected the outlines of the hands of all of the family members.  Then she selected fabrics representative of each person’s interests.

Sometimes quilts themselves are recycled.  One on display was Ted and Ann’s Quilt of Appreciation, made by Mary Vekasi.  Ted is the Senior Warden of the St. John and Andrew Episcopal Church in Southwest Harbor; Ann is the former Priest of the church.  The quilt blocks were left over from a quilt made in 1996 by the women of the church for Reverend George Price on his retirement.

One special project of the Island Quilters is to make pillows for the troops leaving Bangor International Airport, who had previously been charged to get pillows for their flights.  So far Island Quilters has donated more than 150 pillows.  The project continues this fall.

Another project of several members of the Island Quilters is to make lap robes for the Oncology Department at Mount Desert Island Hospital.  The patients who receive them get to keep them.  This child’s quilt made by Alice Philips is one which will be donated to a medical center.

Finally, the Island Quilters wouldn’t let us forget where we were – on Mount Desert Island, Maine, a hiker’s paradise, where the people care about each other, as well as the beautiful place where they live.

For more information about what goes on on Mount Desert Island and how you can enjoy a vacation there, visit OUR ACADIA.