Freeport retrospective celebrates gift of time on Monhegan for artists

The works on view at Thos. Moser reflect 25 years of an island residency program.

Michael Vermette’s  Monhegan Lobsterman Rowing  Courtesy The Monhegan Museum

Michael Vermette’s Monhegan Lobsterman Rowing Courtesy The Monhegan Museum

FREEPORT — Back in the day, making art on Monhegan was a fairly simple proposition. Artists could rent a cottage for the summer, and many had the means to buy seasonal homes.

But as the island became a destination for the wealthy and well-endowed, the costs associated with island life eclipsed what most artists could afford.

For 25 years, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency has given artists the ability to live and work on the island, which sits about 12 miles off the Maine coast.

This summer, Thos. Moser in Freeport hosts a 25-year retrospective of work by artists who have benefited from the residency program. For five weeks each summer and fall, two Maine artists are given the opportunity to live and work on the island. Recently, the residency also has awarded Maine art teachers a two-week stay.

“Monhegan has been an artist colony for more than 100 years. It’s had this strong tradition, but it’s become financially out of reach for a lot of artists, particularly emerging and mid-career artists,” said Susan Danly, president of the Monhegan Artists’ Residency Corp., based in Lincolnville.

“It’s just such a beautiful place. To spend a week there is a drop in the bucket. This gives them a longer term.”

It also keeps the art tradition alive on the island.