Last month we explored how the iconic crustacean got its close-up in our blog, “Lobster in Pop Culture: How Lobsters are Portrayed in Movies.” To continue the series, this month we’re spotlighting Maine artists who have portrayed lobster and fishermen as the subject in various forms of artwork.
Paintings & Drawings
Many artists draw inspiration from their surroundings, including the following artists who incorporate lobsters into their work.
We’ll start with Maine’s most notable painting family, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth — all three artists created multiple paintings featuring lobstermen at work. N.C Wyeth’s “The Lobsterman (The Doryman)” created in 1944, is set in the coastal regions of Maine, depicting a solitary lobsterman in a dory. Andrew Wyeth’s 1937 watercolor “Lobsterman” tells the story of a hard-working lobsterman tending to his wooden traps. And in 2019, Rockland’s prominent cultural institution, Farnsworth Art Museum, featured an exhibition by Jamie Wyeth that revealed a man enjoying his just-cooked lobster in the 2013 painting “The Lobster Bib-Third in a Suite of Untoward Occurrences on Monhegan Island.”
Belfast artist and educator Susan Tobey White has painted a series called Lobstering Women of Maine featuring women who work in today’s lobster fishing industry. The series, now turned into a book, also highlights Maine’s oldest female lobster fisherman, Virginia Olivera, 103, who still works on a boat and is known worldwide as the “Lobster Lady.”
Native Maine artist Andrew Cook takes a whimsical approach to his art under the name “Lobstering is an art.” Each design features the shape of a lobster, but every drawing is interpreted through a particular concept — whether it’s sea glass, a NYC subway, or an island. You have to see it to understand. Hollis believes in the industry’s value to Maine so much that he donates regularly to various organizations, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
Ogunquit artist Amy Kelly has a fascinating story: At age 56, she asked a local lobsterman if she could work as a sternman for him to maintain her sobriety. She went from being homeless to working hard on the harbor, gaining back her sobriety, and photographing and printing large-scale lobster tail artworks, which are now sold all over the country. After that, she became a gallery owner of TaleSpinStudio.
Tenley Seiders, a Midcoast jewelry maker, got inspired to make jewelry and ornaments from discarded lobster shells after sterning on a lobster boat when she was younger. Her process involves pulverizing the shells with a mortar and pestle, then sifting the crushed shell with a strainer, according to a profile in PenBay Pilot. Her business, called Lobster Designs, features vivid, handcrafted jewelry with each piece unique in color, texture and markings.
Wall Hangings & Sculptures
Appleton artist Eric Darling upcycles discarded lobster rope he finds on the shore into artistic wall hangings and sculptures featuring nautical themes. Calling it his “drift rope project” as seen on wmtw.com , this colorful rope, which would have ended up in a landfill, is woven into scenes, which he describes as “painting with rope.” He prefers to work with old rope that’s been handled by lobstermen and has been seasoned in the ocean for a few years. See his work at his website.
MLF Lobster Posters
Beyond Maine Lobster Festival’s support of local working artists with its annual Arts & Crafts Tent, the Festival has commissioned numerous artists over the years to use their paintings in each year’s Festival poster. For example, Jean Kigel was the artist for the 2023 Maine Lobster Festival poster. Her painting depicted two red lobsters shaking claws. And check out the gorgeous posters from past years in our Poster Store (only $10 each!)
Come to the 77th Maine Lobster Festival for free again this year (July 31 to Aug. 4, 2024) and you will be sure to meet some of the most interesting local artists, writers, lobstermen, and colorful community volunteers you’ve ever encountered! For more info, visit: https://mainelobsterfestival.com