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Francoeur and Tokarski 30 Years Later

Charleston College, oil painting by Jan Francoeur

It’s been a great painting year for me. In the fall of 2021 I agreed to have a show at the Bank of the Arts with Carol Tokarski, former director of the Craven Arts Council. Thirty years ago we had a show together there so this is our 30 year anniversary show.

Carol and I are both from Michigan and went to the same small college, Siena Heights College (now University), in Adrian, Michigan. We were there at the same time but did not connect. When I arrived in New Bern in 1989 I went into the Arts Council and picked up one of their newsletters. One article said – Welcome to our new gallery director, Carol Tokarski. Wow I thought, what are the odds, since the graduating classes each year at that time were pretty small.

I called her up and said, ”I’m not really big on this alumni stuff but I went to Siena too.” The rest is history and we have been friends ever since. After the Craven Arts Council Carol ran the Kinston Arts Council for a few years but eventually moved back to ours. Carol has always been an oil painter. I’m just a new comer at it.

Dogwood on Johnson Street

Through the years I’ve done a successful oil painting here and there but always reverted to watercolors because I never really had the time to experiment and really learn the medium of oil. Not that I’ve conquered it but at least I’m beginning to get the hang of it.

Why do I want to work in oils? To paint bigger, faster, more drama, and you don’t have to frame them under glass, or frame them at all if you work on gallery wrapped canvases.

Two Icons on Craven Street – sold

My background is in ink drawing, doing very tight drawings (then later watercolors) of buildings. So loosening up, not having precise lines, is foreign to me! But slowly I’m making progress on that front.

Here are more of the paintings in the show.

My life in art has been a journey that started in the late 60s. I was a junior in high school and needed to take a foreign language to get into college. The only foreign language at our school was German and I wasn’t interested in learning that language for some reason (I CAN count to 10 in German!). A neighboring school had Spanish. I thought that would be more useful. We had an exchange program where we would be bussed to that school for two afternoons a week, Since we were already there we could take a second class. I chose art. We had art classes at our school, Addison, but the teacher was uninspired and not interested in anyone but the cheerleaders, so I too was uninspired. But the teacher in the other school, Hudson, Michigan, was fabulous.

Shades of Green, Bok Tower, Florida

We did wire sculpture, clay sculpture, drawing, etc. I was immediately hooked. I went home and told my folks I wanted to study art, and go to the American Academy of Art in Chicago. They said you need to get a real education. So instead I went to Siena, I still studied art, but had other college classes as well. I worked my way though school, going part time and working full time. It took me 10 years to get my degree! I do often wonder where I would be today if I had gone there. But I’ll have to say I have done pretty well as is.

Resurrection, Paynes Prairie, Florida – sold

Marie de Medici Fountain, Paris

In college I was not taught to paint, work in clay, or draw really. What college did was say, “here is your list of supplies, now paint, and afterwords we will tell you if its any good or not.”

Attmore Oliver Garden – sold
After Sorolla

Small watercolors from my Travel Series

I’m not a natural born artist. I’ve learned how to draw and paint and work in clay by experimenting, taking a workshop here and there, and studying other peoples work and figuring out how they did it. What I WAS born with, that comes naturally to me, is my sense of desIgn.

Pottery in the Show

Farm Series

I use underglazes like watercolors and the lines come from working in ink so long. All the pottery is dishwasher, microwave, and food safe. Fired to 2000 degrees.

New Bern Series
Flower Series
Dark Flower Series

Just a short history of my life in art

It started in the late 60s as I already stated. While in college my favorite things were drawing and printmaking. I started going to art shows and selling my work. I was mostly drawing buildings. I went through a phase where I would draw railroad depots and locomotives, then birds, but I’ve always mostly been interested in architecture. At one artshow a young man asked if I had ever used a rapidograph. I said no, didn’t even know what one was, bought one and used one of those drafting pens for the next 20 years. Somewhere along there a friend was going to watercolor classes once a month with a local teacher, so I started doing watercolors for a while, but eventually reverted to ink. We moved to Colorado and there I started to draw birds. The backgrounds were in ink but I added watercolor to the birds.

We left Aspen and spent the next 6 months traveling, ending up in the Keys (where we were on a previous visit and where Michael proposed to me). There I continued with the combination of ink and watercolor, again sticking to the bird theme. We told people we were looking for a place to move to that was on it’s way but hadn’t gotten there yet, was on the water, and had interesting architecture. A fellow we met on Big Pine said – “you should look at New Bern, it sounds just like what you are looking for.” So we started writing to organizations in New Bern and learned about Swiss Bear Projects, what the Arts Council was doing, and what was happening with the downtown.

We moved here in 1989, I started drawing the town, drawing East Front Street in ink. Having prints done of it, and then hand coloring the print. This is how I really learned to mix colors, I was unsure of how to do it after working in black and white so long. People would say ”I love your colors”, which I always found interesting since it was so new to me.

We moved here in our RV and stayed at the KOA (then it was a Yogi Bear), across the river, and decided yes we liked it but weren’t sure we could make a living. Michael said ”I’ve always wanted to live on a boat, if it doesn’t work out here we can move it somewhere else.” I said I guess If I can live in an RV I can live on a boat. So for the next 3 years we lived at what was then the Ramada. I really worked hard at my watercolors so eventually quit combining it with ink. We purchased a house on Pollock Street and I wanted to somehow put my mark on it and decided to learn how to paint on clay with underglazes to do a mural of town. That was the start of us working in clay. Michael asked to help me roll the tiles and said one day, ”I really like working with this clay.” I said ”why don’t you get a wheel and learn how to throw.” And so he did. He made the pottery, I decorated it. I painted pictures, he framed them, we were a great team. That was the start of our Celebration Pottery.

In 1990 we started Carolina Creations where we sold our work and that of other artists. That was on Middle Street, we moved to Pollock Street in 1995, and in 2002 purchased the building that Carolina Creations is currently in. I became interested in oil painting sometime around there and took a workshop here and there but due to the fact that I was running a business and also doing work to sell – I didn’t have time to experiment with learning a new painting technique so I might do one but not do another for a year.

Each time I started an oil it was like i had never done one before. Michael died in 2016, I sold Carolina Creations in 2017 and started working on the house we had built in 2007 getting ready to sell it. It was too big for just me. The only thing i really had to do was redo the floor of the two outside balconies and dress up the garden in the back of the house. I waited a year for a contractor who said he would do it, and did not. In 2019 I met a landscaper and I met a contractor.

The contractor tackled the porches and the landscaper not only helped me with the yard but also became my handy man and caretaker for the house when i’m gone. Still with all this going on there was no time to learn oil painting. By 2020 I was ready to put the house on the market, I found a house on Rhem which I purchased and renovated, once I had a place to move my kilns to I went to work to seriously sell East Front. Six months of moving stuff didn’t allow much time for painting. By then I was 2021 when we cooked up the idea for this show.

I thought to myself. It’s now or never, you’ve been talking about learning oils for years, now is the time. So here is the result.

I hope you will come to the show. It went up on November 19, 2022, come say hi to Carol and I at ArtWalk on Friday, December 9 and January 13 from 5-8pm. We will do a “Little Talk” on January 19, and the show will be up until January 26, 2023. The “Little Talk” is a ticketed event from the arts council.

It’s been a great year. Thank you for following me!

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Road Trip – Quick trip to Boston

I got to spend a few days in Boston with friends. Our accomodations were in a condo in the Navy Yard in Charlestown, right across the river from Downtown Boston.

Known also as the Boston Naval Shipyard and the Boston Navy Yard, the Charlestown Navy Yard opened in 1800 as one of the first navy yards of the US Navy. It consisted of 130 acres. It closed in 1974 and 30 acres became a national historic site and the rest are now privately owned. Many of the shipyard buildings have been turned into condos, restaurants, hospital, and shops. . Part of The Navy Yard belongs to the National Park Service. There is a museum, and it is the home of the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young. Both of which you can tour.

Some of the buildings are ronavated Barracks, one is a Chain Forge which is currently under development.

Reading about the Chain Forge was interesting. They made chains for large ship anchors, including one that each link weighed 360 pounds and the whole chain 26,000 pounds!

Anchor chain is not measured by the width of the link. Rather, it is measured by the thickness of the metal rod used to make that link. Thus, the 4 ¾ inch anchor chain, the largest produced in the Chain Forge, is not 4 ¾ inches long as the name would indicate. Instead every single link is 4 ¾ inches thick and weighs 360 pounds.


Photo from the National Park Service

View from my friends condo.

I have only flown through Logan before I never exited the airport so it was neat to be able to take the shuttle to the ferry and ride across the river to Downtown or to the Shipyard where I was staying.

It’s been about 40 years since I walked around the city so we took the hop on hop off bus and barely scratched the surface of what there is to see.

Each year in the Ship Yard there is a display of sculpture. This years artist is Michael Alfano who is known for creating figurative + surreal sculptures that convey philosophical ideas and abstract concepts. 

Probably the most interesting thing we visited was The Mapparium. It’s is a three-story, 30 foot wide, stained-glass globe in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. It was lit in 1935. When you stand at the center of the perfect sphere, you can hear your voice in full 360-degree surround sound.

Mary Baker Eddy was an American religious leader widely known as the Discoverer of Christian Science. She is particularly recognized as the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the book that explains her system of Christian healing. She founded The Church of Christ, Scientist, which today has branches around the world. She also established The Christian Science Monitor, a respected global news source that has won seven Pulitzer Prizes.

This image is from the Mapparium Website since you are not allowed to take photos inside.

The chandelier below is also a calendar!

Boston Common is Americas oldest park established in 1634. ”Here the Colonial militia mustered for the Revolution. In 1768, the hated British Redcoats began an eight-year encampment. George Washington, John Adams and General Lafayette came here to celebrate our nation’s independence. The 1860s saw Civil War recruitment and anti-slavery meetings. During World War I, victory gardens sprouted. For World War II, the Common gave most of its iron fencing away for scrape metal. ”

The swan boats had already been put away for the winter but I still remember seeing them on my last visit to the park.

“In 1941, Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated a children’s book about a pair of mallard ducks and their search for an ideal location in Boston to raise their brood of ducklings. At first they like the Boston Public Garden and its little lake with an island but after Mr. Mallard is almost run over by a bicycle, Mrs. Mallard decides that this was no place to raise baby ducks. 

They fly around the neighborhood surrounding the garden and ultimately fly out to the Charles River and settle on a spot near the water. Mrs. Mallard lays eight eggs and they hatch into ducklings named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. 

Mr. Mallard then wants to discover the rest of the river and asks Mrs. Mallard to meet him at the Public Garden in a week. The book then details her journey back to the garden with her eight ducklings.

The window boxes on Beacon Hill were beautiful.

Trinity Church in Copley Square is pretty impressive. With all the exterior decoration it reminds me of the Cathedrals I’ve seen in Europe.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum through the years and now I see why. The building itself if amazing with the four story atrium.

“The Gardners loved Italy, and Isabella was especially passionate about Venice. In the summer of 1897, Isabella and Jack traveled through Venice, Florence, and Rome to gather architectural fragments for their eventual gallery. They purchased columns, windows, and doorways to adorn every floor, as well as reliefs, balustrades, capitals, and statuary from the Roman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance periods.

As much as any single work of art within the Museum, most visitors take away the experience of the Courtyard, where the stonework arches, columns, and walls create an unforgettable impression.“
Second to the courtyard, my favorite is this painting by John Singer Sargeant.

There was just not enough time to see more, we were off to Westfield and Springfield. I had no idea Dr Suess came from Springfield. They have a fabulous museum of his work and the sculpture garden with bronzes of some of his characters is charming.

The Big E had just opened in Springfield, a multi state Exposition. We didn’t go to it but I was interested in hearing about the Avenue of the States. There are replicas of each New England state’s original statehouse sitting on land actually owned by that state. In each of that state houses you can purchase food and other items from that state. It would be fun to go to the Big E just to see them.

Photo from Big E Website of some of the State Buildings

Lunch at the Student Prince was great. The interior is full of collections, including a huge collection of beer steins, the largest such collection in the US.

Other than read a few of her books I really knew nothing about Edith Wharton. We visited her home in Lennox called The Mount. I was surprised to read that she won a Pulitzer Prize, and that she was a moving force for womens righs.

There is a sculpture show at the Mount called Sculpture Now. It runs through October 19.

So for a quick trip I think we did a lot. Next up? Key West the end of January but I can’t imagine I won’t go somewhere before then. Right now I’m preparing for my show at the Craven County Arts Council with Carol Tokarski (30 years after our first show there) which will open on November 18 and go through January 26..

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Road Trip – Mid-Coast Maine

I’ve been to Maine 5 times but never seem to have enough time, so this year my friend Pam went with me for 2 weeks. And there still wasn’t enough time!

Our adventure started even before we got there. We let Siri change our route, mistake, however we did end up in Morristown, NJ. where my great, great, great, great Grandfather David Trowbridge, lived from 1730s until his death in 1768. He and his children and many grandchildren lived on a mountain that was called Trowbridge Mountain.

Also Pam just happened to be reading a book about Alexander Hamilton and we saw statutes of Hamilton and many references to his time there.



We had lunch across the street from the Square and enjoyed the sculptures and the flowers at 1776 by David Burke.

Our first stop in Maine was at a neat garden shop I had discovered last year near Kennebunkport called Snug Harbor Farm. So beautiful! In fact we stopped there a second time on our way home. I can see several paintings coming from these photos!


We visited Maine Art Hill and saw some neat whimsical work by David Witbeck.

We saw A LOT of art during this trip!

And we swung by to see Bush’s home on Walker’s Point, which has been in their family for over 100 years.



BLUE HILL

Our first four nights in Maine were spent in Blue HIll at the Blue Hill Inn which was built in 1830.

Blue Hill was a convenient place to start our tour of the Blue HIll Peninsula. The town was incorporated in 1789. It was a ship building and lumber center, also the granite quarried in the area was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Stock Exchange.

This is the Peninsula just south of Bar Harbor.

We stopped by Nervous Nellies which wasn’t open but we did get some shots of the grounds. A very funky place indeed.

At the end of that road is Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, it was founded in 1950 as a research and studio program in the arts, offering one and two-week studio workshops in visual arts, music, literature and science. I’ve thought about going there for a clay workshop, and now seeing its location, I might just go.

I can never resist photos of weird signs and directional signs.

STONINGTON

Stonington is a sweet little town at the end of the peninsula on Deer Island with a working harbor.


A gallery in Blue Hill – Jud Hartmann’s Gallery – concentrates on Jud’s bronze work. We were lucky to meet him and hear about his work. He’s been working on a series of limited-edition sculptures entitled: The Woodland Tribes of the Northeast.

He was very interesting and also told us all about the Indians playing lacrosse. Who knew? 

He has been doing sculptures of Indians playing lacrosse for some time and is now working on a small clay sculpture to present to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (not far from my hometown) for a future installation there.

Here is a link to an article about him and his work. 

“The sport has its origins in a tribal game played by all Eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains tribes in what is now Canada. Among Native Americans it is still referred to as the “Creator’s Game,” and every tribe has its own mythology about it. I read that sometimes the games would include thousands of players covering miles.

You never know what you are going to learn on vacation.

We ran across these little sailboats going back and forth, just a few yards back and forth. When we got close we realized it was an art installation!

CASTINE

In addition to the flowers drawing me back to this part of the country, Castine was the other. Last year I had just a few minutes to spend there and I was enchanted by the storybook flavor of the town.

We took a walking tour of Castine offered by the Castine Historical Society, which clued us in on the history of this lovely town. This free tour is offered every Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10 AM during the summer for season 2022, and is run by knowledgable volunteers.

“Castine, Maine is a quaint and historic seaside village on Penobscot Bay with more than 400 years of history to explore. The town is on the National Historic Register and home to the Maine Maritime Academy, Dyce Head Lighthouse, several historic military forts, and much more. “

It is one of the oldest towns not just in the state but in all of New England. It was founded in 1613 by Claude de Saint-Etienne de la Tour as a small, coastal trading post. That’s seven years before the colony at Plymouth. There are more than 100 historic markers highlighting points of interest.

One thing we heard about, which is guess anyone who has studied American warfare knows about, is the Penobscot Expedition, which took place here. The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval armada during the Revolutionary War carrying more than 1,000 forces under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. Their goal was to reclaim control of mid-coast Maine from the British, and it was the largest American naval expedition of the war. We lost and the Expedition was the United States’ worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later. There were 560 killed, wounded, captured or missing, 19 warships sunk, destroyed or captured, And 25 support ships sunk, destroyed or captured.


While we stayed in Blue Hill, we met a couple that stayed at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine and raved about it.

In the Historical Society Building they had a beautifully presented and curated exhibit about Clark Fitz-Gerald, a name I was not familiar with. He was a brilliant sculptor, writer, and 2 dimensional artist.

When Fitz-Gerald moved to Castine in 1956, he had already made a name for himself as a sculptor. Throughout his long career, he achieved regional, national, and international renown for his work. There were also his drawings, historic photographs, and writings displayed.



Also on display is the Castine Bicentennial Quilt which is 6” x 24” which was created in 1996. The seven panels of the quilt depict the history of Castine from its settlement in 1613 to its bicentennial in 1996. It was designed and constructed by sixty members of the Castine community and presented to the Historical Society.



We also learned about their Elm trees. “In the 1930s a shipment of logs imported to Ohio by a furniture company for making veneer was infested with a bark beetle. This fungal infection wiped out 77 million elm trees over a period of decades. It was first detected in the Netherlands in 1921 thus the label Dutch elm diseease.

Castine is one of the few towns in the entire country where a large number of elms survived. Many are over 150 years old. A Dr Richard Campana of the University of Maine experimented on the trees with a serum he created to protect the trees from the disease. The town adopted a disease prevention program to monitor the health of the elms. A survey of the trees was done and each tree received a tag with a number.

An Elm tree committee was formed and an offical tree warden was hired and this continues today..

We really enjoyed everywhere we went but we both agreed that Castine was our favorite. 

SEAL POINT

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden was high on the list for our Maine visit.

“This unique garden at the Preserve holds a prominent place in American garden history, both as the work of a distinguished designer and as the representation of a time of significant growth and development in American landscape design. The combined artistry, imagination, and passion of the garden’s designer, Beatrix Farrand, and her clients, Abby and John D. Rockefeller Jr., gave life to one of the most impressive gardens in the United States. East meets West through the insertion of an English flower garden within an Asian inspired landscape.

Located in Seal Harbor, the garden is designed to be at floral peak in August. It is open from mid-July until early September.  Visitation is by reservation only.“

This garden is adjacent to the spot where their 100 room summer home, the Eyrie, was located. Younger Rockefellers didn’t want to live that way nor maintain it so it was torn down in 1962.

While on that peninsula we visited the Somesville Bridge which sits on the grounds of The Somesville Museum, the building overlooks an ancient mill pond and tranquil Somes Harbor with Sargent and Norumbega Mountains in the distance.

Beside the Museum and bridge, there is a Heirloom Garden surrounding it.

New exhibits featuring Mount Desert Island history topics are installed each summer in the Museum space. The Selectmen’s Building is often described as the most photographed site on Mount Desert Island. It was constructed during the 1780s by John Somes, son of Abraham Somes, who settled in the village in 1761.

Troughout its history it has been a cobbler’s shop, post office, and a museum, the building also served as the Town Office for Mount Desert during the 19th century and until 1911.

I wish we would have counted the post offices we saw, it seemed there was one at every turn.

BELFAST

We have painted bears in New Bern, Belfast has painted chairs and crosswalks.

Belfast is a Main Street Community, like New Bern and their Our Town Belfast is similar to our Swiss Bear Redevelopment Corporation. Some of their programs for public art include painted crosswalks and chairs. Sit Down Belfast provides lots of places to sit on chairs painted by local artists. I have to say the past few years I sit a lot more when traveling than I used to.

Belfast was a center of shipbuilding and manufacturing and surpisingly photography. In the early part of the 19th century real photo postcards were just coming out and Belfast made a name for itself in that genre. The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a pioneer in producing them, “unlike the mass produced variety, EIP’s postcards were the type known as “real photo postcards” meaning they were actual photographic prints, products of the chemical reaction caused by light onto a light-sensitive surface. “

We saw the former Presidential yacht Sequoia under wraps waiting to be restored, at the base of Maine street. It is 104 feet. It was known as the Floating White House during eight administrations. Even though we didn’t see it uncovered it was neat to see all the same. Somewhere I read that during restoration it will be available for viewing.

I met an artist – Kerstin Engman – and had a long conversation with her about her art. She uses cold wax with her oil paint. I’ve done a little cold wax but it was doing abstracts. Now I’ve got and another thing to experiment with, using it to produce representational work. Just what I need, another project (not).

We loved the architecture in that city.

ROCKLAND

While in Rockland we stayed at the Rockland Harbor Inn which is right on the main drag so it was easy to walk to the shops, galleries, and restaurants.

My favorite gallery in Rockport is Harbor Square Gallery, not only for the art but for the building itself. I is 3 stories with a rooftop garden.

While there we got to see old friends who took us for a ride on their boat, an old lobster boat now converted into a picnic boat! It was lovely to see them and great to be on the water. After we went on the ride we had dinner at the famous McLoons and had their lobster rolls. It was like eating a lobster without the work, huge chunks of meat!

I had been to the Langlais Sculpture Preserve before but the house and studio were not open. It was worth the return trip to see those.



THOMASTONl

Random shots of our touring.

Even though the Olsen House is not currently open this season – 2022 – it was still interesting to see where Wyeth painted his famous ”Christina’s World” painting.

THOMASTON

A European sea captain found what is now Thomaston in 1603, in 1630 a trading post was built, and it was another century before Fort George was built in 1719 at the base of what is now Knox Street. There are more than three hundred 19th century homes , many of which whre contstructed for over 100 sea captains that lived there.

Thomaston is known as a town that went to sea. It seems more wooden, ocean going ships were constructed there than any any place in the country. Ships such as tall masted schooners, and full rigged ships some with as many as five or six masts.

In the 1840 census it was reported that there were seven millionaires in the country and three of them lived in this town. They were sea captains and shipbuilders. Their homes are still in existence and are beautiful. We took a walking tour of the town following the signs of the Museum in the Street signs.

We discovered several towns having Museum in the Streets programs.

Working closely with town historical societies, the company designs a free walking that “foster a sense of historical identity, educate, encourage preservation of local historic sites and promote knowledge of stories, events and traditions.” Most of the Museum in the Streets are in the Northeast US and in France. There is a main sign like the one above then smaller signs in front of the buildings with information about each structure. This program was developed by a local fellow who lives in the area and in France.

If we had this program in New Bern there would be a sign in front of most of the homes in our historic district.

One of the many beautiful homes in Thomaston is Monpelier which was built by General Henry Knox in 1793. It is now a museum.

PEMAQUID

The drive around New Harbor is beautiful and you get yet another glimpse of the fishing industry, while on the way to Pemaquid Point.

I first visited Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in 1973, it’s my favorite one anywhere. Not because the tower is so tall (it is short!) but because of the setting with the rocks below. The museum was very interesting and the movie they show is worth the time. It talks about all the lighthouses up and down the Maine coast, beautifully done.

DARMASCOTTA

This is a sweet little town on Route 1. We mostly shopped there.I love a shop where there are hand written descriptions about some of the pieces and quotes scattered about.

This shop was one of those…

We could not pass up the Waltz Soda Fountain on a block away, they have egg creams, real ice cream, and real sodas. We also enjoyed “Gifts at 136”, they have nice crafts and paintings.

BOTHBAY HARBOR

The Five Gables Inn was the place we stayed we liked the best. It was in East Boothbay, away from the fray, on a deadend street, above the Linekin Bay. You can have your morning coffee watching the boats from the large porch, and watch the fog rolling in.

Five Gables Inn was built in 1896 and underwent an extensive restoration in 1989. Now it is a boutique hotel with a multiple course breakfast. They also serve afternoon tea and homemade treats.

I will say the food was amazing. 

In Boothbay Harbor we had to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I discovered it was started with donations. Planning for the garden began in 1991 when a group of residents dreamed of building a public garden. They were so dedicated that in order to purchase the initial 128 acres of land in Boothbay, they used their own homes as collateral. After sixteen years of devoted work by the initial group of founders and supporters, the Gardens opened to the public in 2007 and welcomed 35,000 visitors. As the largest botanical garden in New England, the Gardens covers 295 acres, 17 of which are gardens featuring native plants of Maine and other plants suited to northern coastal conditions.

It is the most extensive botanical garden I’ve been in in the US.

There is a lot of stone in the area, so there is also a lot of stone sculpture. The Boothbay Harbor Region Sculpture Trail wanders through town and points beyond. There is even a Maine Stone Symposium the end of July.

WISCASSET

Wiscasset is a tiny town less than 15 miles from Boothbay Harbor. It has galleries, Sylvan Gallery-was my favorite, and several very nice shops, including Rock Paper Scissors and Birch Home Furnishings. You may think I shop a lot but what it really is is that the retailer is still in me. I love seeing how people do their displays, how they curate what they have, and I still like seeing what is new out there.

One of Wiscasset’s claims to fame is Reds. You can never go by there that there isn’t a long line waiting to place their order, but I know it can’t beat McLoons.

There has been a food stand on this spot at the base of the bridge since 1938 and the red shack dates back to 1954. It has been Reds since 1957, home of one of the best lobster rolls in New England.

On our way home we spotted a sign for Walkway Over the Hudson. It is part of a multi use trail that reaches 750 miles across New York.]

There was one last stop in Charlottesville, VA and that was at the Ivy Nursery. They have an extensive collection of unusual plants.

You can read about my 2021 trip to Maine by clicking here.

Up next – a week in Massachusetts!

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Road Trip – Porto To Barcelona To the Basque Region of Northern Spain – Part 2

Continued from Part 1! Barcelona

Barcelona did not disappoint in any way. It’s a much more intimate city than Madrid and very walkable. We put on over 10 miles in one day!

Of course the highlight was the work of Gaudi.

The Sagrada Familia facade that you currently enter through is almost too much to look at in one photo so I’ve added some closeups. When the Basiciala is finished (they hope by 2028, it was supposed to be done in 2026 100 years after Gaudi’s death but because of covid that will not happen), the main entrance will be to the left. They will need to tear down an apartment building to finish it. People that live there are protesting but documents were signed when that building was built that eventually it would have to be torn down. The people that lived in the building and signed the paper beleived the basiciala would never be finished.

I read that a lot of people that go to The Sagrada Familia never go inside – big mistake – it’s amazing.

As you move around the exterior, well the interior too for that matter, the style changes, as was Gaudi’s plan.

We also visited Casa Milà (La Pedrera), another Gaudi creation built for a wealthy family.




The chimneys, staircase exits, and fans, on the roof were the inspiration for the look of some of George Luca’s characters in Starwars. This is a wonderful place to visit. There is a gift shop on the first floor, the current owners live on the second floor, other floors contain apartments – you can visit one – go up on the roof where you can see across the city and there is also a museum in the attic.

And lastly Park Güell I’ve seen many pictures through the years but guess I never read much about it. It was a failed realestate venture. It was supposed to be a gated community for some very wealthy people. Gaudi built the infrastructure but it was too far out of the city and way up on a hill so only 3 houses were ever built there. It then became a park.

The park is named after Eusebi Güell, the rich entrepreneur, who commissioned Gaudi to build the luxury residential complex. When the project was abandoned, Gaudí redesigned it as a park. Created between 1900 and 1914, Park Guell has been open to the public since 1923. There are viaducts to connect different levels, A huge long bench with mosaic work, and a covered area that was going to be a market.

In 1984, it was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The park was made following the architectural style that made Gaudi famous: Catalan Modernism.



Other things I enjoyed around the city was the Gothic Quarter and seeing where the 1992 Olympics were held. We weren’t there long enough to do everything – it was just a taste to see if I want to go back. And I do. There is the Picasso Museum, Miro Museum, buildings from the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition, lots and lots of great shopping, the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, and lots more.

Here are some random shots around the city.