If you can’t find it in Maine, you’re not really trying.

It’s August: blueberries, lobster rolls, shimmering seas, lighthouses, ocean breezes and the rock-ribbed coast.
Breaking Storm, by Carol L. Douglas, courtesy Camden Falls Gallery.

Yesterday I drove south to deliver twenty paintings to Brunswick’s Local Market. Suddenly, it’s wild blueberry season in Maine. Little stands dot the shoulder of Route 1.

This show will be up for next week’s Artwalk, and remain up through September. It’s an opportunity to show something in addition to landscape. I brought several still lives, including my all-time favorite, my tin-foil hat. I suddenly realized it needed a new name, so Conspiracy Theory it is.
Conspiracy Theory, by Carol L. Douglas
I didn’t paint this as a political statement, but an experiment in reflective surfaces. Still, I work with social media daily. I’m not oblivious to its faults. Whenever I feel a blast of the inanities, I don that painting as a profile picture. Perhaps someone needs the real thing in their office.
Local Market is at 150 Maine Street in Brunswick. If you stop to look at the art, you can also get lunch or a gift while you’re there. It’s that kind of place.
Two Islands in the Rain, by Carol L. Douglas, is at Wyler’s through the end of September.
Farther south, there are a few of my paintings at Jakeman Hallin Ocean Park. The association holds unsold work from Art in the Park through Christmas. It’s not a hardship to visit Ocean Park; it has a long sand beach so you can combine your visit with sunbathing.
Last time I was in Camden, my painting, Breaking Storm (top) was in the window at Camden Falls Gallery. This large canvas features the schooner American Eagle passing Owl’s Head in a purely imaginary tempest. I like the wind and the water and, of course, the boat is a peach.
Fort Point Historic Site, by Carol L. Douglas, was last year’s Juror’s Choice Award winner at Wet Paint on the ‘Weskeag.
I’m also represented by the Kelpie Gallery in South Thomaston, which is the host of Wet Paint on the ‘Weskeag, a one-day plein air event to raise money for the Georges River Land Trust. I’ll be there next Saturday (August 17), but before that, I’m off to teach my annual workshop at Schoodic Institute.
And there lies the rub: while my paintings will be here, I won’t. Of necessity, my own gallery in Rockport closes while I’m on the road. From Wet Paint on the ‘Weskeag, I leave directly for the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, and from there to Plein Air Plus in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. I’ll be back near the end of the month.
I didn’t schedule my workshop to coincide with blueberry season, but it always seems to work out that way.
Meanwhile, the line at Red’s Eats snakes along the sidewalk, the blueberries are pie-ready, the fog curls its little fingers around the rocky points. I’m not sure why I’m leaving. I’m not sure how anyone can resist coming here. 

Building lightsabers

Steampunk and Star Wars both tinker with our headlong rush into the future.

Lightsaber built by Matthew Krahling, photo courtesy of Emerson Champion.

Sometimes when I fly, I wonder what life will be like when airplanes are obsolete. Will a few examples be lovingly preserved and sailed like the schooner fleet on the Maine coast? This weekend, I decided that those relics will probably look like Star Wars.

I might be alone among Americans in having almost no exposure to George LucasStar Wars franchise. I saw the first movie on its release. It struck me then as lovely, light and energetic, but I didn’t look for any deep themes. Nor did I feel the need to see the rest of them. While I understood the references to Arthurian legend, chivalry and the Samurai, these are universal themes.
Of course, Star Warsreferences are embedded in popular culture. We remember President Reagan calling the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” and people intoning, “May the Force be with you.”
Lightsaber built by Matthew Krahling, photo courtesy of Emerson Champion.
This week, I saw my parents’ godchild for the first time in many years. Matthew is one of a small coterie of enthusiasts who make lightsabers as a hobby. Why would a smart, engaged young person choose this as a creative outlet?
At age 34, Matthew has grown up in a completely digitalized media world. “People my age are sick of animation,” Matthew told me. “It all looks the same.”
That slickness reflects where he lives: the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan sprawl. It’s one of four mega-cities in America. However, its culture is shared by every large American city: excessively groomed landscapes, traffic jams, box stores and cookie-cutter houses. His generation’s longing and need for authenticity runs deeper than media.
For the original Star Wars film, the props were constructed by special-effects expert John Stears from old press camera flash battery packs and other bits and pieces.  Set designer Roger Christian found the handles for the Graflex side-attach flash in a photography shop in London.
Lightsaber built by Matthew Krahling, photo courtesy of Emerson Champion.
As Matthew talked to me about lightsabers and their devotees, I was keenly reminded of another contemporary aesthetic movement, Steampunk. It is often traced back to the science-romances of Jules VerneH.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley. It’s overtly Victorian in its trappings, but its most important hallmark is the way it mixes digital media with traditional craftsmanship. In that, it directly quotes Star Wars
Lightsaber built by Matthew Krahling, photo courtesy of Emerson Champion.
“The Star Wars universe is the universe in which some of the most respected things can be no greater than my old truck was in real life,” wrote an anonymous fan on the internet. “Lived-in, used, repaired, and somewhat dilapidated, but still of purpose.” In other words, it is a culture of tinkerers.
Steampunk answers the need to modify and control our headlong rush into the future. In 1977, we barely had a glimmer of what that future—controlled and controlling—would be. In retrospect, all that tinkering looms as a landmark aesthetic statement.

Support the Center for Maine Coastal Fisheries

 It’s time for Stonington’s nautical auction again, but this year the selection has gone wild.
Two Boat Rock, Jill Hoy
Regular readers know that I’ve supported the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries since before I moved to coastal Maine. A viable fisheries industry is crucial to Maine’s economy, but it also is the bedrock on which our tourism rests.
In past years, the Nautical Auction featured painted buoys. I enjoyed doing them, but I’m not a craftsperson. When they expanded their auction to include non-buoy items, I jumped at the chance to submit a conventional framed canvas. This year’s submission was painted off the deck of American Eagle last summer, and is of Scott Island off Stonington.
Fish, Peter Beerits
I like to leaf through the items on offer. This year the catalog includes more than 80 items across a wide range of categories, only tangentially related to buoys. There are gift certificates for seafood, and there’s pretty jewelry. You can get a one-year membership to the Farnsworth Museum. If that’s a little too arty for you, bid on a 3.3 HP Mercury Outboard Motor instead.
Andrew Gove’s, Bobbi Heath
There are B&B stays, personal boat tours and a sea-kayaking eco-tour. There’s a sail on the ketch Guildive out of Castine, or if you already work on the water, a gift certificate toward your boat’s lettering or a certificate for haul out or put in.
Cod Fishing, Siri Beckman
One lucky winner will see his or her name in Katherine Hall Page’s next mystery. There are antique, contemporary and cookbooks on offer, and an Opinel fishing knife.
Scott Island, High Tide, Carol L. Douglas
And of course, there’s art and a selection of buoys as well. But don’t take my word for it: the whole crazy array can be viewed here. The proceeds of the sale go to support sustainable, human-scale fisheries on the Maine coast.
Two Daughters Papercut, Larry Moffet
The bad news, for me, is the timing: the auction is Monday, August 7, at Opera House Arts. The preview starts at 5:30 and the bidding starts at six. I’ll be at Acadia National Park teaching my annual workshop.
However, we can also place silent bids by emailing Bobbi Billings or phoning the office at  207-367-2708. Bids will be accepted until August 4.