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Yarmouth art collector runs Fryeburg Academy gallery for free

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Yarmouth art collector runs Fryeburg Academy gallery for free

YARMOUTH — John Day retired a year ago after 28 years of teaching at Greely High School. He relaxed for three days, then accepted a position as the Director of the Palmina F. & Stephen S. Pace Galleries of Art at Fryeburg Academy.

For free.

Day, a Yarmouth resident, attended Fryeburg Academy as a teen and graduated in 1967. He is among a long line of relatives who attended the school dating back to 1792, the year the school was founded. In fact, his ancestors helped to incorporate the school.

"This is my way of giving back to the academy," he said. "I developed my love for art here, so it really comes full circle."

Rachel Andrews Damon, Fryeburg Academy's director of public relations and annual giving, said after a fire in 2005 destroyed the school's gymnasium, the future plan to update the gym, build a field house and a performing arts center was put into immediate action. The Phoenix Project is now complete, she said, and the school's first art gallery is housed inside the new performing arts center. She said Day was a member of the steering committee for the rebuilding, and as an art collector, had donated paintings to the academy in the past.

"John has a passion for the arts," Damon said. "He is perfect in this role and has opened up a whole world of art for a large group of people."

Damon said the gallery is a benefit to the school, and Day is the most fitting director. 

"While I think this campus is a sophisticated hub of wonderment, I think some may get the impression we are just a town that holds a big fair," she said. "To have this sophisticated gallery is good for the students, the community and alumni."

Day said he petitioned for a drawing class while at the academy, but his request was not met.

"Now, 42 years later, not only am I the art director, but there is an art gallery," he said.

Day said he hopes to attract people from the art world to visit the gallery.

"I think this gallery will be of interest to a lot of people," he said. "The themes are not all going to be Fryeburg related. It will contain quality works related to Maine, then New England, then nationally."

The Palmina F. & Stephen S. Pace Galleries of Art is named after a couple who are lovers of art, collectors and artists themselves. Day said he met them on Monhegan Island, and has since developed a close friendship with them over the years. When he asked them to take on a naming opportunity, they agreed, donating 18 paintings to the gallery and a considerable sum of money.

"They are major philanthropists in the country," Day said. "Wonderful, giving, good hearted people."

The first show at the Fryeburg art gallery, "Same View, Different Visions," featured six artists interpreting the White Mountains and Monhegan Island over the span of nearly 75 years.

The next show will open on Aug. 15, and will be called "Steven Pace, Artist and Philanthropist." It will include 19 paintings donated by Pace, and 30 more will come from around the country. The exhibit will run for three months.

Day has ideas for future shows and will feature local painters, senior citizens, and artists who use sculpture, water color and collage as a medium.

"It is work, but I really like it," he said. "I am having a wonderful time. People spend their whole lives trying to be a gallery director, and here I am."

Visit the Fryeburg Academy Web site for more information about the art gallery and upcoming exhibits.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net