By Anthony Anderson
Note: This is the final weekly installment of Café des Artistes for the 2012 season. Look for Cafe to appear on the First Friday of each month in the Cafe blog and BDN Maine Living section beginning Nov. 2. Happy Columbus Day Weekend!
The pine-lined winding road to The Plummer Gallery in East Boothbay prepares you for something different – is that house actually shaped like a mushroom? Rounding a sharp curve on King Philips Trail reveals a breathtaking momentary view of green foamy water, rocky shore and jutting pines that is gone as quickly as it appeared. In a moment the Plummer Gallery entrance materializes, a handsome assemblage of stonewalls, mature rhododendrons and the signature Plummer Gallery sign.
The Plummer Gallery is a remarkable family compound on craggy ledges that go down to the sea in a series of garden terraces, studios, stone sculptures, and a multi-leveled home and gallery. For the Plummer family, it’s the center of the universe. Carlton Plummer first hung his sign “The Carlton Plummer Studio” here in 1963, while pursuing his Master of Fine Arts. In 1982, the name evolved to Plummer Gallery as he and artist wife Joan moved into their finally completed dream home overlooking an open sea.
Carlton Plummer is a physically intense person, compact and with the strength that comes from building miles of stonewalls by hand. He credits his decision to go to grad school for making his life as an artist a reality. “My advanced degree allowed me to teach and become a fine artist and not be stuck as an illustrator, always working indoors. How could I be stuck indoors?”
Plummer’s love of painting the outdoors has been lived out on a grand scale. He is a plein-air painter who has traversed the globe, crossed deserts, and climbed mountains and glaciers to capture rare sights and moments in nature. “I once fell in a crevasse that took three hours to climb out of,” he wistfully recalls. He also explained how his watercolor kit could be folded up into a small little package that would fit in a front pocket. A skier, hunter and naturalist, his kit allowed him to always be prepared to capture the right scene.
Plummer is a highly accomplished watercolorist, as is his wife Joan, and has won over 250 national and international awards. He is Professor Emeritus, UMASS at Lowell, author of “Create Dramatic Coastal Scenes in Watercolor” for International Artist, and has conducted over 200 painting workshops around the US and overseas, including his popular Maine Coast Watercolor Workshop in Boothbay Harbor.
The terraced gardens of the Plummer compound are an attraction on their own. Lovingly created and cared for by Joan, the perennial gardens have been the site of many popular Coastal Maine Botanical Garden tours. Son Gerry Plummer is a talented sculptor whose granite pieces make graceful focal points between the featured floras, delicate Japanese rock gardens and muscular stonewalls. Flowers, scrubs and curving stonewalls wind around the many leveled Plummer home and studio gallery. The salt air wafts, the gulls cry and Monhegan, the lodestar for Maine art, shines in the distance of the oceanside kingdom created by the Plummers. The Plummer Gallery is open daily June to September. For more information call 633-5212 or visit plummergallery.com.