The week started off with the expectation of a completely preplanned July art festival week. It was tragically interrupted when a house fire on the Intervale Road left Bob and Jackie Schuesler homeless and with the only personal items left being the clothes they were wearing. I was on my way into Bethel village when fire engines were going by on their way from Newry. It was easy to see the fire’s location with the pillar of smoke rising across the river.
I made it to the fire scene – at least a dozen fire engines and crews were there. At that point the fire was at the blow torch level. Luckily the fire was contained and the woods around the house did not catch fire to any extent. The next day when I went back to see what was left, it was amazing to see that the nearby outbuildings were saved.
Luckily this time the fire was contained. In May 1944, the planer mill, lumber yard, office and home of Leslie E. Davis on the Middle Interval Road were “destroyed by a fire which spread to the woods and threatened to burn several others nearby homes. Losses: Davis’s two and one-half story house which contained his office and their home, a large truck garage with an upstairs rent, and 60 by 120 foot lumber sheds plus between seven and eight hundred thousand feet of lumber”.
Comments about the fire on Facebook indicated that some type of support program for the Schueslers would be started. Debbie Brown’s shop was mentioned as a collecting point for clothing donations. Hopefully, there will be more news in this week’s Citizen.
The art shows
This year’s art fair week must have set a record for advertising and promotion. The Bethel Inn’s major push to celebrate its 100th anniversary added more fizz to the week’s cheerleading. Roughly, the weekend art shows could be described as art for and by professionals at the Moses Mason House; art for consumers at the Bethel Art Fair on the Common and a public get together at Janet Willies’ place on High Street for a show-and-tell by local amateurs who are proud of their work.
Starting with the pros – the showing of work by the BHS exhibit also highlights the work of Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq, nationally-recognized plein air artists whose painting is in the Hudson River style. Lauren had a painting of Mount Chocorua on exhibit which she said took about four and one-half months to do. This painting was available for purchase – price $8,500. Besides the work on form and perspective, creating such a painting involves periods of days while the colored glazes must dry before work can resume. Erik told me that the Hudson River School landscape artists were prominent in the 19th Century period before impressionist art which was born in France then made its way to America.
Besides the work of Erik and Lauren, the Bethel Historical Society exhibit included a number of Hudson River School works. This exhibition will continue through August.
On the Common
Saturday’s traditional art show on the Common could probably be more accurately called an outdoor mall, complete with food and entertainment. Three exhibitors were repeats; they showed exceedingly fine work – one was watercolors by Irene Duplissis of Auburn, another was an exhibit of beeswax paintings by Lori Austill of South Portland and the third was reverse glass painting.
Are There Modern Gas Stations in Bethel?
One of the Bethel Art Fair visitors (apparently here from Vermont) who is a member of my age group, asked me if there were any modern gas stations in Bethel (village). Listening to him I found out that he must have gassed up at the Big Apple on Railroad Street. He thought it odd that there you had to go into the store and run your credit card there instead of at the pump.
I told him that Irving on Route 2 about two miles away had very modern facilities (as well as Mallard Mart). But our visitor meant in the village. So I explained to him about the good old days when there were lots of small stores and three gas stations on or near Main Street – Pete Chapin, Dick Young and Central Service. Then I found out that he had skied at Sunday River in the early ‘60s when the only lift was a T-bar. Well we had a good time chatting.
Shy, Novice and Closeted Art Show
Janet Willie seemed very pleased with the turnout of artists exhibiting this year – 46 came with work to display. At the Friday evening reception held for contributing artists, Steve Seames came dressed as a gentleman from Saudi Arabia. He had an excellent, different three piece exhibit – sculpture, wood carving and stone.
By coincidence, considering the nearby Hudson River School exhibit, the artist who I thought was best of show this year was Dwight Mills of Greenwood whose work showed mountain landscapes that were strong reminders of the paintings I had just seen at the Hudson River School exhibition.
To see more of the weekend art shows, Bethel’s 2013 Art Weekend, will be reported in a video to be posted by July 10.
No covered bridge paintings
Surprisingly enough there were no paintings of Artist Bridge shown in any of the three shows in Bethel. Artist Bridge was named for a professional artist who once had a camp in North Newry, frequently painted in the Sunday River valley, had studied in France, was for a time a summer boarder at the Locke’s Farm in Bethel and then for a number of years was the artist in residence at the Iron Mountain House in Jackson, N.H. His name was John J. Enneking (1841-1916).
Enneking became known as the “sunset painter”. He was also well known for his paintings of blossoming apple orchards. You can read more about Enneking at http://www.oxfordgallery.com/Period_Artists/enneking.html and http://www.thebetheljournals.info/Names/Enneking.htm.