Lobster fishing isn’t just an economic way of life for some 5,000 people throughout the coast of Maine, it’s also an iconic industry that inspires artists throughout the state.
Here are three Maine artists using lobster in their art.
Abbie Read’s Lobster Trap Sculpture
Abigail Read, an Appleton mixed-media artist, sees beauty in the debris of old, junked and destroyed lobster traps, much of which washes up on the shores of Matinicus Island, where her family owns property. “All of this stuff washes up on the shores and I’ve been collecting these little pieces of broken, rusted traps and all of the parts for years,” she said. Only, she didn’t know what she planned to do with it. Hauling back piece by piece by boat, she deposited the debris in her studio. Then, she got the opportunity to put together an installation with the theme of honoring the Tidal Zone from a local Belfast gallery, Waterfall Arts. Her unnamed lobster-trap sculpture, which now hangs on the second floor, is constructed with bits of bait bags, nylon netting, a plastic escape hatch, and an old frayed warp. Her sculpture is “a tribute to the many unknown generations of lobstermen.”
Abe Goodale’s Watercolors
Abe Goodale, born and raised in Maine, got his hands dirty in the name of art by asking some lobster fishermen if he could work alongside them for free as a way to gain reference photos for a project. “Engaging with people before I photograph or paint them is very important to me,” he said. “I want to develop a relationship and gain a level of respect before I pull out my camera.” Specifically drawn to the older generation of Maine lobstermen, Goodale worked from his photographs, painting the men in action in stark watercolors. “It’s the salt and grit that drew me to them and it was an opportunity for me to honor the people who contribute a great deal to the Maine experience,” he said.
Richard Allen’s Lobster Sculpture
Richard Allen, a Rockland-based sculpture artist, created a 4-1/2-foot lobster out of cedar with a chainsaw and hand tools and nicknamed him—what else—“Red.” Red is now the centerpiece sculpture for Claws seafood shack in Rockland, weighing several hundred pounds. The sculpture comes out when the shack re-opens each season. With “whimsical details such as teeth inside the lobster claws, garden hoses for antennae and a bright blue saddle, so people can take photos of themselves riding it,” Red is a huge hit for customers waiting in line.
If you love Maine lobster (and the Maine Lobster Festival!), stay tuned to our blog for other fun facts, cool stories, and locals’ tips about America’s favorite crustacean.