Haynes Galleries Presents a New Exhibit by Painter Gary Akers That Celebrates the Magic of a Maine Morning

Exhibition Features 25 Tempera and watercolor paintings. Opening reception: Saturday Morning June 4th, 9 to Noon.

THOMASTON, Maine — There is nothing quite like a Maine morning. The sun rises earlier here than anywhere else in the nation, and for a few quiet moments, you feel as though you’re the only person awake, anywhere. For the artist Gary Akers, there’s no better time to capture the romance of this place.

“It’s a beautiful time,” Akers says. “The morning makes it a little more special. The mist from the ocean, the sea air — there’s a little more magic here than other places.”

A new exhibit of Akers’ work at Haynes Galleries in Thomaston, on view through June 29, celebrates that magic. There will be an opening reception for “Gary Akers: Maine Mornings” from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 4.

Akers has been coming to Maine since 1976, when he received an international grant from the Greenshields Foundation, awarded to only four artists worldwide. He studied egg tempera at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, as well as, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the time, Akers, who hails from Kentucky, had never seen egg tempera in person. One of his major influences, Andrew Wyeth, was a master in the medium and many of his most famous paintings were completed in Cushing and housed at the Farnsworth.

After that first visit, Akers was hooked. The painter, who has become a master of American Realism in his own right, has since made Maine his summer home, first in the Cushing area, and today on a private island in Spruce Head.

“I’m drawn to the simplicity of the place,” says Akers, “I really like the rural aspect. Here, you can still drive on a two-lane road, a dirt road.”

The breathtaking detail of his work elevates simple scenes to something far deeper, far more complex. He compares egg tempera to “painting with a pencil,” and in the layering of brushstrokes, he not only builds a painting, he builds a narrative.

As the sun slips over the horizon, gray gives way to pure color — stark white clapboards on an old boathouse, fuchsia rugosa roses tumbling over a picket fence, a faded red dory resting on the grass. And always, the water, sparkling like sapphires in the early light

These are scenes Akers knows well. He spends much of his time silently observing, walking the coves and wooded trails, driving the winding roads of the St. George Peninsula. He sees the dories every day. He knows every lighthouse, every rock, every farm.

The resulting paintings — some in egg tempera, others in watercolor and dry brush — are ruminations on the interplay of light and shadow, stillness and solitude. The scenes are spare and sparsely populated so that the natural and built landscape takes center stage.

For gallery owner Gary Haynes, who has collected Akers’ paintings for years, the opportunity to exhibit a complete body of his work is a treat.

“The mornings are wonderful in Maine, and I think Gary has captured the essence of the special feeling of these moments that we all love,” Haynes says. “Gary is a consummate realist. This show continues the gallery’s commitment to offer the finest examples of American realism available.”

Akers’ Maine is the Maine of memory, a pristine landscape dotted with clapboard houses and wooden dories, quilts on clotheslines and weathered Adirondack chairs.

Each brushstroke is an offering — not to the past, rather to the timelessness he so reveres. Every painting is an invitation. To wake in that silent hour before dawn. To step outside and feel the dew on your feet. To watch as the sun rises over the chilly Atlantic, bathing the grasses, the beach stones, even the gulls with the purest light.

From his canvas, the magic of a Maine morning beckons.