2012-07-27 / Front Page

Cape provides inspiration to save area land

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Guests and artists enjoy the waterfront view at the “Paint for Preservation” wet paint auction, held this year at Breakwater Farm in Cape Elizabeth, located directly beside Crescent Beach State Park. The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, which runs the event, raised over $50,000 this year. (Jack Flagler photo) Guests and artists enjoy the waterfront view at the “Paint for Preservation” wet paint auction, held this year at Breakwater Farm in Cape Elizabeth, located directly beside Crescent Beach State Park. The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, which runs the event, raised over $50,000 this year. (Jack Flagler photo) The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust works to preserve areas of its town for future generations to enjoy. So to raise money, the land trust invited supporters of its cause to buy a painting of familiar areas the organization hopes to protect for years to come.

The land trust held its fifth annual “Paint for Preservation” wet paint auction at Breakwater Farm on Sunday, July 22. Dozens of landscape artists from around the state began work at various locations in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday morning, and had to finish their work by 3 p.m. that afternoon.

The reception and auction began at 5 p.m. at Breakwater Farm, a secluded location at the end of a long dirt road along the coast, located next to Crescent Beach State Park. There, attendees could bid on the paintings created that morning and mingle with the artists who created the work.

Chris Franklin, executive director of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, said the fact that the artists work in town the day of the event is especially appealing for the Cape Elizabeth residents who attend the auction.

“The painting might be a place that they go a lot, or a place near their home. Some of the guests’ homes were actually depicted in the paintings,” Franklin said. “The artists really are able to capture that aspect of the work that we do, preserving places not just because they’re trails or marshes, but because they’re beautiful.”

Franklin said he is inspired by the artists’ ability to interpret and capture Cape Elizabeth’s beauty, which reinforces the land trust’s message.

This year, Franklin said the total proceeds from the art sales were $61,000. The total raised for the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, which includes ticket sales and proceeds from a raffle held at the event, was over $50,000 because the artists retain part of the proceeds from the sales.

Attendees Caroline and Phil Licari are originally from Massachusetts, but bought a house in Cape Elizabeth when they retired. They said they have consistently supported the land trust since they’ve lived in Cape Elizabeth, and the auction is a fun way for them to show their support and get to know their new community.

“You see some of the work that the artists do, and we’ve started to get to know the town a little bit, so we’re familiar with some of the locations,” Phil Licari said.

“I like the idea that you have these people in town. You can drive by them, and then you can come tonight and talk to them here,” added Caroline Licari.

The accessibility of the artists is an advantage for people who want to bid on a painting, but for some artists, the abbreviated schedule is not ideal. The artists in the event submitted their work to be judged in order to participate.

“It’s not my favorite experience,” said Holly Ready, an artist from Cape Elizabeth who participated in the event for the second year.

“It’s a good cause and that’s why I’m here. I think it kind of goes against the grain for how artists work, but I suppose it’s good to for artists to be uncomfortable. It makes us grow so maybe that’s a good thing.” Ready said.

Ready arrived at Zeb Cove around 5 a.m. to paint the sunrise over the water. Her painting was sold for $2,800 at the auction.

Paul Bonneau, an artist who lives in Cape Porpoise, joined Ready at Zeb Cove. Bonneau said the start of the day was easy and relaxing for him, but it got tougher as the time went on and the deadline drew closer.

Bonneau has participated in all five of the “Paint for Preservation” auctions. He said his work usually sells for about $500 above retail value because “people here want to contribute.” This year, his painting sold for $3,300.

Bruce Habowski of Waterville echoed Ready’s opinion that the wet paint auction took the artists out of their comfort zone. Habowski said he usually paints urban scenes. He is used to train cars and angular shapes rather than trees or farmhouses.

Sunday morning, he went to Turkey Hill Farm on Old Ocean House Road and a set of stacked wheelbarrows caught his eye. But the farm owner suggested he look at the flowers in her garden, and Habowski figured he would try something new.

“Sometimes you’ve got to shake it up. Maybe you’ll find a new angle,” Habowski said. “You don’t know what that might bring to your other work. So it’s worth a shot.”

Despite the short time schedule, Portland artist Debra Yoo said there are no shortage of subjects in Cape Elizabeth.

“What’s not going to be gorgeous on a day like today?” Yoo said as she worked on her piece on Zeb Cove, her first-choice location she marked before the event. “I could paint a garbage can,” she joked.

Yoo said the landscape painters involved in the wet paint auction are willing to take themselves out of their comfort zone because of the respect they have for the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s cause. As artists, they understand the importance of preserving beautiful areas like Zeb Cove for the future.

Staff Writer Jack Flagler can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 219.

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