Portland artist captures Back Cove neigborhood in paint, ink

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PORTLAND — John Santoro was pedaling his bike around the Back Cove neighborhood with his daughter last summer when he decided to put his chosen work – plein air painting – to use in a very local way.

“I’m always taken with how unique the neighborhood is,” Santoro said. So he set out to paint and ink the streetscapes, stone walls and Back Cove views that contribute to the area’s identity.

The artist began capturing scenes of the neighborhood in the fall, working on site and with the aid of photographs in his studio. What he ended up with is “In the Neighborhood of the Back Cove: A Celebration of Place.” His finished pieces, some in oil paint and some in pen and ink, will be on view at Borealis Bistro beginning April 1.

“They are the places that strike me everyday as I go by,” said Santoro, who lives near Back Cove with his wife and 11-year-old daughter. In addition to streetscapes, Santoro painted some of churches and details, such as part of a stone wall or a section of Baxter Boulevard.

“The intent is to make people more aware of how special a place it is,” Santoro explained.

The neighborhood collection includes 22 pieces, and Santoro said he even looked at a city map to determine the boundaries of the neighborhood. The paintings are for sale.

Santoro’s work has been exhibited at Fore Street Gallery in the past, and in 2009 he earned a master’s degree in visual arts from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. The artist, who is also a graphic designer for Idexx, has contributed to many local nonprofit art fundraisers, including Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s Paint for Preservation, Portland Trails and Laudholm Trust in Wells. He has also participated in the Maine Artists at Maine Audubon fundraiser.

The show will hang April 1 through May 31, with an opening reception April 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Borealis is at 182 Ocean Ave.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net

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“Portland Skyline from Baxter Boulevard,” an oil on panel painting, is one of several works by John Santoro that will be on view beginning April 1 at Borealis Bistro on Ocean Avenue.

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