Philip Barter: Forever Maine When, in his twenties, Philip Barter (b. 1939) discovered Marsden Hartley, he felt a calling: to further the vision of the great American modernist. This was an ambitious undertaking for a brash, self-taught artist from Boothbay, Maine, but Barter’s passion for Maine and its fiercely independent people gave his work a unique, unencumbered vision. Barter was prolific, and he spent a half-century painting the landscape of his home state, becoming the “painter laureate” of the region.
In Philip Barter: Forever Maine, award-winning author Carl Little traces the painter’s life from a formative trip to California in the 1960s; to downeast Maine where Barter and his wife, Priscilla, made a life immersed in art and built a funky home and studio from driftwood and barn boards for themselves and their seven children; to critical acclaim for Barter in the 1990s and his most recent paintings from 2016 and 2017.
This book highlights a choice selection of masterful works that reflect Barter’s increasingly abstract inclinations in depicting Maine landscapes, from the coastal estuaries and blueberry barrens of Washington and Hancock counties to the western mountains and lakes, and north to Hartley’s iconic Mount Katahdin. Barter also explored the world beyond Maine, painting in Spain, Newfoundland, Greenland, the American Southwest, and elsewhere, employing a palette as bold as his vision of his surroundings.
Of his narrative paintings Barter says, “The narratives I paint are historical documents of the characters of Maine and the places they frequent, a roguishly, independent people whom I seek out, and try to be with, and who make this place I know the one-of-a kind place it is—forever Maine.
[Barter’s] reduction of forms to suggestions of elements creates a new shorthand which plays against vibrant color,” wrote Isaacson, who noted that the resulting work, had “a feeling of rightness. —Philip Isaacson, Maine Sunday Telegram
The appeal of Barter's stylized renderings of trees and rivers, mountains and clouds, is powerful. His ability to extract the essence of the landscape provokes marvel. He sees the geometry of a peak, the jagged coursing of woodland streams, a snowfield's curving contours. His palette, often not for the faint of hue, underscores his lively vision. —Carl Little, director of the Bates College Museum of Art
From a virtual unknown artist in 1966, when he began painting at 26, Philip Barter has emerged as one of Maine's most imaginative, diversified, and prolific artists... his reputation as an innovative stylist and eye-wowing colorist borders on wizardry.. —Lyle Roger North, Philip Barter: The Maine Experience
...One of Maine's leading regionalist painters. A prolific artist, his paintings, nearly two thousand in number, are scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, in both individual and corporate collections... A leading regionalist folk-art painter and interpreter of Maine's Down East experience. —Davistown Museum, Maine