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Maine the muse for 5th Yarmouth Art Festival

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Maine the muse for 5th Yarmouth Art Festival

YARMOUTH — Maine's beaches, boats, vegetation and wildlife are the stars of the fifth annual Yarmouth Art Festival, which opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church.

The show features 74 artists from across the state. Pieces ranges from portraits to abstract art, but it's clear that most of these artists have taken Maine's coast and landscape as their muse.

"I think it's because it is such a beautiful physical environment, and there is a tradition of outdoor painting in the state of Maine for over 100 years," said Elizabeth Moss, a gallery owner and one of the show's jurors. "It's a continuation of what has been here and continues to be of interest to audiences."

Moss is joined on the panel by Maine painter Suzanne Harden and Anne Haas, the art librarian at Bowdoin College. Together they whittled down nearly 350 submissions to the 163 works that appear in the show.

"We looked at each artist's submissions as a whole and then chose the most skilled pieces," said Moss, whose gallery on U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth was recently named one of the top 500 galleries in North America by the website Blouin ArtInfo. "We took into account interest and diversity and medium, as well as technique. It's a great venue for amateur artists to gain exposure."

Works include photography, textile art, sculpture and paintings of all kinds.

"There's a nice variety of media here," said Anne Macleod, of Yarmouth, who has pastel paintings of Kresge Point and Portland Head Light in the show. "A lot of oil paintings and watercolors, some fabric artists and quilters. This year we have sculptures made out of driftwood."

The show has grown steadily since its inception in 2009, but one thing that has remained constant is the space.

"It's a big open space, a fairly modern post-and-beam building with glass windows and good light," Joe Michaud, the festival's co-chairman, said of the church. "There are lots of small venues and coffee shops where artists can show their work, but there aren't many places where a lot of different artists' work can be displayed at once."

The event is a fundraiser for St. Bartholomew's, which puts the proceeds toward  service programs, including the Yarmouth Community Food Pantry and St. Elizabeth's Essential Pantry in Portland. Artists pay a modest entry fee and the church keeps a 30 percent commission on works sold, less than most galleries would charge. In the past, nearly 25 percent of the work exhibited has been sold.

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free and donations are accepted. Thursday night there will be an artists' reception, also free and open to the public, featuring music and refreshments from 5:30-8 p.m.

"A lot of the artists know each other," said Alice Ingraham, a painter from Yarmouth whose work is appearing in the festival for the third consecutive year. "So the reception is fun. There's a lot of camaraderie."

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or btwist@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.