YARMOUTH — Page Eastburn O’Rourke said her artwork is meant to simply make others smile.
Her colorful, pop-art style has caught the attention of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce not once, but twice: the Chamber selected O’Rourke to design and paint the town’s annual Clam Festival poster in 2012 and again this year.
The 53rd Clam Festival runs Friday-Sunday, July 20-22. New this year will be expanded Kid’s Area programming and a police K-9 demonstration on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Village Green, featuring handlers and dogs from Yarmouth, Freeport and Windham. A division for professionals has also been added to the Maine State Clam Shucking Contest.
But, as tradition has it, Maine and New England artists will be stationed on Library Lawn for the invitational fine arts show throughout the weekend. This is where O’Rourke, a Yarmouth resident, has watched the festival for the past eight years.
Previously an illustrator for children’s books, she made the switch to full-time, self-represented artist 10 years ago, painting scenes from around the state at her home studio.
“I use that pop-art style to really capture the energy of the Maine landscape,” O’Rourke said in a July 16 interview.
She sold her first painting at an auction in Yarmouth and later held her first art show at Clayton’s Cafe and Bakery.
“There was a bidding war on the piece and I realized, ‘Wow, maybe there’s something here’,” she said. “That really got it started.”
Whether driving by or hiking past, O’Rourke said once she sees a landscape or scene she hasn’t previously painted, she’ll immediately outline it with pen in a sketchbook or take a snapshot in her head.
“When I first started painting Maine landscapes, I thought I’d run out of ideas,” she said. “(But) I’ve realized that even if I live to be 150, I still wouldn’t run out.”
Recently, she’s begun incorporating people into her paintings, including one of a line of customers waiting for lobster rolls at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset.
This year’s Clam Festival poster is meant to celebrate the community by capturing the parade coming down Main Street under the Route 1 overpass.
“The whole town working together … is amazing. This is a town of (roughly) 9,000 and we basically entertain 120,000,” O’Rourke said. “It’s a huge feat to pull off, so I wanted to capture that.”
O’Rourke said she’s loved creating art since she was a young girl. Her mother, who was also a painter, would ask for her opinions on how to improve or add to pieces she was working on.
While watching her two sons grow up from her in-home studio, O’Rourke said she’d do the same. Now 23 and 20, O’Rourke said Griffin and Duncan will both be spending the week at home for Clam Festival and will help in her booth.
O’Rourke first remembers being drawn to pop art while walking through the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a high school student.
“I saw a pop-art exhibit and just fell in love,” she said. “It’s this really graphic, exciting, bright, big style. I fell head over heels.”
The style, which celebrates everyday images with eye-catching colors, makes people smile, O’Rourke said.
“This is why I love the outdoor shows,” she added. “I’ll be sitting at my booth and see people walking along. … When they walk by my booth and look in, they’ll just light up. … That’s a connection I have with them.”
O’Rourke said she plans to bring about 30 of her paintings to the festival. She’ll also participate in South Portland’s Art in the Park on Aug. 11, Freeport Fall Festival on Oct. 5-7 and in November at the Brunswick Library Show.
While taking a class at New Ventures Maine on the business aspect of being an artist, O’Rourke said she began to focus on how to market her work, besides outdoor shows. She has her own website, pagespaintings.com, and uses her Instagram page to show her work and connect with artists from around the world.
“I love it. This morning someone from Russia saw my photo,” she said. “… It’s inspiring.”
Still, O’Rourke said what she values most is the sense of community she’s found with local artists at home in southern Maine, especially at Clam Festival.
“There’s a whole world that goes on,” she said. “Everyone’s really supportive of each other. There’s a sense of camaraderie.”
YARMOUTH — Construction of the Main Street bridge will be on hold during the 53rd Annual Clam Festival from July 20-22.
Parking areas to benefit various local nonprofits will be located throughout town and marked with white and blue signs. Accessible lots include those on Route 1, Forest Falls Drive, Mill Street, Bridge Street, Railroad Square and Main Street.
Street closings during Friday’s parade from 5-7:30 p.m. will include, Main, West Elm, Portland and McCarthy streets.
Main, East Elm and Bridge streets will be closed for the Kid’s Run and Pat’s 5 Mile from 6:30-9 a.m. on Saturday.
And Main Street will be closed for bike races from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday.
Route 1 will be open in both directions, but may be slow at peak times. For suggested alternative routes, visit clamfestival.com/news/know-before-you-go/.
Yarmouth artist Page Eastburn O’Rourke in her studio, with her painting of Main Street, which is the poster for the town’s 53rd annual Clam Festival, July 20-22.