Gallery Director Elizabeth Moss
Elizabeth Moss came to Maine on a summer vacation and devised a way to make Vacationland her home. Trained in museum studies and with experience working with the Smithsonian, Moss visited Monhegan island, which has been a summer artist colony and destination since Robert Henri first visited in the 1890s.
“Artists will tell you the light in Maine is just so incredible—sunsets, sunrises, the light on the water, the light on the land, those intense pinks and purples,” Moss says. “If you closely observe the sky, it’s really exciting, and that’s not the case everywhere.”
On that Monhegan vacation, Moss met her first husband, who happened to be the son of the late Monhegan artist Henry Kallem, an esteemed abstract expressionist. When Moss first established Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth 14 years ago this month, she specialized in representing Monhegan artists, including Kallem and his contemporaries. Many of them were Jewish men from New York City who painted on the small fishing and lobstering island all summer, every summer, for decades.
“Maine is pivotal in the story of American art,” Moss says. “You can’t tell the story of American art without including a lot of Maine in it—there’s Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, Robert Indiana, Will Barnet, Rockwell Kent. There’s just so many. And everybody who has come before has impacted the artists who I represent now.”
As fewer works by those late greats become available, Moss has widened her geographic scope to the Northeast and turned to younger generations—including more female artists—who paint the same seas and the same skies in revolutionary ways and are breaking into the international art scene.
“I’m trying to show the most important contemporary art being made in Maine or with ties to Maine,” Moss says. “It tends toward landscapes and seascapes and can be realistic as well as abstract, but with an awareness of Maine’s influence on American art.” Rising Maine-based artists include Emilie Stark-Menneg, Lea Peterson and Lindsay Hancock.
“When I choose contemporary artists, I hope they are continuing in that established legacy but also pushing the boundaries of that aesthetic. What do people want to live with now? What do people find exciting today? But, what will also stand the test of time?
Upcoming exhibits feature abstract painters Richard Brown Letham of Bath and Stephen Walsh of Portland, April 12 through May 15, and landscape painters Lea Peterson of Georgetown and Lindsay Hancock of Portland, May 10 through June 9.
Elizabeth Moss Galleries is located at 251 US Route 1 in Falmouth and is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information: elizabethmossgalleries.com