Saturday, June 27, 2009

Portland, East End

I bought some art recently.

I had spent a weekday evening in Ogunquit, Maine, a sudden plan to take advantage of what looked like it might turn out to be a sunny day in New England at the end of this rainy June. Someone was looking over me, because the closer to the coast I drove, the clearer the skies appeared in the distance. I had reservations at an inn where I had stayed before, dinner plans at a favorite restaurant. My arrival gave me time to settle in Perkins Cove before dinner and sit within sight of the ocean and the start of the Marginal Way. I had brought a recent volume of Mary Oliver’s poetry and read some of her poems while I sipped a martini in the open air. Using my BlackBerry camera, I sent a friend a picture of the coast I was able to watch that evening in all its sparkling freshness.

I was excited about this venture.

I was not going to buy into a typical Ogunquit visit. I was not going to let anyone else set the agenda for this stay by the sea. I had booked a room that suited me and intended to be the one to enjoy it in the way I wanted that evening. I give myself credit for getting there and staying there and enjoying myself there. I smiled as I settled at a table on the porch of my bed and breakfast the next morning and ordered my frittata from the hosts.

My focus then became the trip to Portland and the gallery where a photographer’s work was being displayed.

The weather continued fine and strong and sunny as I parked in the Old Port section of the city and began to walk. I needed to get to an ATM, but this was a familiar city I covered in my stroll, the legacy of last summer’s visits with a friend eager to introduce me to lighthouses and restaurants and beaches. At one point fog briefly drifted in, and I realized that I had an image of Maine and its lure that the fog suited just fine.

And then the art.

The photographer is no one famous, but I headed to the gallery near the Portland Museum of Art and asked to see a particular work by him. What the photographer himself says is that the shot reminds him of a still from a black-and-white film, and I enjoyed the chance to enter into an artist’s perception of his own work. There were things I noticed on my own about his image of train cars in the East End of Portland – the different shapes of the cars, the different color and style of the lettering on each car, the background of trees and their branches and leaves against which those two single-gauge cars stand. In other circumstances I might have been more easily attracted to images in the gallery that showed beaches and fern leaves and a moon behind a steeple. I was aware, though, that I was looking at something different from the digital images displayed across this gallery’s walls. There was a softness in this print that only film and dark room could have produced.

So it’s mine now. Not yet free to travel from the exhibit where it is displayed in downtown Portland, but I am curious to see it on the walls of my home.

I suspect I will see more and more in it in the months to come.


Kimberly said...

And what is especially cool, in my book, is that YOU are a part of this photograph! Such a neat photo of a photo--you can see others on the back wall and the photographer right by the B.

The image itself is neat too. Trains are always going somewhere, aren't they?

Ur-spo said...

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. I am not surprised you enjoy her works.

John said...

I consider myself so much the more confident reader of poems than I am the astute reader of photographs. I watch good photographers go about their work, and I suspect something is able to happen when they look at a scene that I would have to hope might happen were a camera in my hand. I value the found photographs I own for those unsung photographers who stumbled into a way of seeing that I am fortunate years later to get to admire.