pace yourself

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Maine College of Art, pastels | 3 comments

When I got word from Maine College of Art that I’d won a three night residency at the Pace House in Stonington, Maine…I did a jig of complete joy.

A break in the action is always welcome, and Stonington is a quiet village. But did I have any clue how amazing the Pace House is? Let me tell you. The four hour drive from Portland slowly unties your burdens, across miles of open fields, rounds of hay, glimpses of ocean, and past curious flea markets. Upon reaching the yellow farm house, I felt blessed beyond belief.

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The rooms are filled with lively works by Stephen Pace, who became famous as a member of the New York School for his Abstract Expressionist paintings in the mid-Fifties. Like many artists, he found Maine, buying this place in 1973, while his approach became more figurative.

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I roamed around the house, falling in love with his vivid paintings.

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Art left by previous residents were like an altar of offerings.

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Looks like the photography department has been here, too.

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The barn where Pace worked remains filled with his tools, painting smocks, dusty books, a couple of animal skulls.

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Look, even some pastels.

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Before sundown, I walked up Indian Point Road to Ames Pond where the lilies were closed but the golden light was wide open.

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I spent the evening reading about the Paces, becoming immersed in their spirit of artful beauty. Stephen became a friend of Milton Avery’s, whose wife Sally was an illustrator who “provided for the family” so Milton could pursue his art. She was a role model for Palmina, Stephen’s wife, who worked as an art buyer at McCann Erikson, an ad agency in New York. Palmina (known as Pam) also made ceramics; I ate and drank from her earthy bowls, plates, and mugs.

In the morning, I unpacked my pastels and papers, but was distracted by their collections of books. A rather small batch of children’s books happily includes a couple by Scott Nash, our intrepid Chair of the Illustration Department.

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I eventually warmed up by drawing some objects. Found these little tin sculptures by Stephen in the kitchen.

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Then I drew the view from my bedroom window.

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Flea Island is as iconic as you can get, with boats floating by.

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After lunch, I noticed a substantial collection of books on mushrooms. Apparently Pam Pace was a devoted mycologist. I read that she claimed, “Italians are mushroom people.”

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How coincidental that my guest, Kirsten Cappy, showed up wearing a mushroom t-shirt! She discovered a wooden sculpture that matched nicely.

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We ventured up a trail behind the house, where fungi clung to a tree.

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The path led through a silver wood.

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I showed Kirsten the lily pond, now bursting with blooms.

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We returned to the Pace House, where Kirsten’s guest found his spot.

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Full of fresh inspiration. I began drawing a pastel, commissioned as a Peaks Island wedding gift.

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Here’s it is: Wildflower Moon.

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Meanwhile, Kirsten wrote, waving to anyone passing by.

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We dined on the porch as well.

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I loved the personality of this wall of hats in the hall entrance.

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I asked Kirsten to pick a hat and model for me.

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Out in the barn, surrounded by Pace’s spirit, she sat for a quick drawing.

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I wanted to document the building before leaving. By then, it was steamy and sunny. I found a shady corner in the back yard.

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We were reluctant to leave, as I suspect the Paces were when they left for Indiana in 2007. What a legacy for MECA! I’m grateful for the opportunity to share such a special place, where Stephen and Pam made a life of beauty and purpose. Thank you!

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3 Comments

  1. Looks incredible!! Sounds like you guys had an amazing time!

  2. Jamie Peeps,

    What a wonderful and well-deserved treat–for you and for us, with your evocative narrative and imagery a feast to behold.

    Thanks & congrats!

    Geddy Peeps

  3. Loved seeing this! You know those orange mushrooms on the tree are edible. I’ve had them.

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