“Bright Sunset in August, Chamberlain Lake, Allagash Wilderness Waterway,” by Michael Vermette.

Gleason Fine Art will host a reception and book-signing for the gallery’s August show, “Michael Vermette: 50 Plus One,” from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 6.

The show celebrates the 50th anniversary of the creation of Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway and plein-air artist Michael Vermette’s selection as its inaugural visiting artist. The show’s title refers to both the number of years the waterway has existed as a protected park and the number of paintings Vermette committed to painting during his residency. “50 Plus One” is also the title of Vermette’s book on this first-ever Allagash adventure.

Vermette, who is as eloquent in words as he is in painting, describes becoming the Allagash’s first artist in residence best:

In April of 2019, I received two emails encouraging me to apply for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway visiting artist program. I would be the inaugural artist to experience the 92-mile-long wild river system that is the Allagash. The two-week residency was hosted and designed by Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, which established the program to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of this spectacular, scenic waterway.

Weeks later, when I was informed that I was selected, I was utterly astounded that they would pick me out of the hundreds of applicants who had applied. My application had described my residency in four parts.

First, I would paint three to four, 8 by 10 oils each day, each at a different location. Second, I would focus on the joy of painting, no matter the difficulties or circumstances. Third, I would arise each day with two hands in the present and not be distracted by past paintings or even future ones. Last, I would finish well, capturing the ‘life force’ of the Allagash, as best I could.

As an inter-related member of the Penobscot tribe by marriage, I fully agree with the philosophy of my First Nation wife that the River is more than what runs through a village, but it is its very ‘Life Source.’ In hindsight, I now know that sometimes the most absurd idea at the most inconvenient time can be the very breakthrough you are looking for. It was such for me in this residency.

The exhibit runs through Aug. 31.

Gleason Fine Art is at 31 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call Gleason Fine Art at 207-633-6849, email the gallery at info@gleasonfineart.com. To view the show, as well as the gallery’s inventory of contemporary and estate art, visit www.gleasonfineart.com.

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