Courthouse Gallery Fine Art presents Philip Barter: Maine Oasis and Judith Leighton Restrospective
Ellsworth Courthouse Gallery Fine Art is pleased to present two solo exhibitions—Philip
Barter: Maine Oasis and Judith Leighton Restrospective—from June 21 through July 20. Also
showing are Susan Amons, Judy Belasco, Philip Koch, Mark Kidschi, and Stephen Porter. The
exhibitions are free and open to the public.
Courthouse Gallery is located at 6 Court Street in Ellsworth. Hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–
5:30pm; Sunday 12–4pm. For more information on upcoming shows call 207-667-6611, or visit
Philip Barter: Maine Oasis
Philip Barter (b.1939) is a self-taught artist from Boothbay, Maine, who was living in California
during the 1960s when he met Alfonso Sosa, an abstract expressionist painter. Sosa took Barter
under his wing and added a “charge of light and color” to Barter’s aesthetic vision that
influenced his work for the next fifty years. While living out west, Barter discovered the work
of Marsden Hartley and felt an immediate connection with this great American modernist,
vowing to further Hartley’s vision. Back in Boothbay Harbor, Barter met Frederick Rockwell, a
painter and sculptor, who also encouraged Barter to keep painting.
By the 1970s, Barter and his second wife Priscilla had moved to downeast Maine, where they
raised their seven children and built a home from wood they collected along the shores of
Taunton Bay. Challenged to support his growing family as an artist, Barter took a ten-year hiatus
from painting, working in all manner of traditional Maine jobs—he clammed, dug worms, was
the sternman on a lobster boat, did carpentry, and dragged for mussels. In his spare time, Barter
studied art history, and with Priscilla they made a life immersed in art for their large family.
By the time Barter returned to painting full-time, he was receiving critical acclaim for his work.
Bates College Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of Barter’s work in 1992, and Bates, the
Farnsworth Museum, and Portland Museum of Art acquired his work. Barter was also the subject
of a feature profile in Down East magazine and in January 1995, Tim Sample highlighted
Barter’s life in art in one of his “Postcards from Maine” segments on the CBS Sunday Morning
program hosted by Charles Kuralt. Barter has since spent a half-century painting narratives based
on the Maine’s fiercely independent people and the landscape of his home state, becoming the
“painter laureate” of the region.
In conjunction with the show Philip Barter: Maine Oasis, Courthouse Gallery will host a Book
Launch and Signing on July 12 from 4–7pm for Philip Barter: Forever Maine, a new book by
Carl Little (Marshall Wilkes). At 5:30pm Little will introduce Philip Barter, who will talk about
his narrative paintings, process, and career. The event is free and open to the public.
Judith Leighton Retrospective
Judith Leighton (1929–2011) was the former owner of the Leighton Gallery in Blue Hill and an
artist in her own right. Leighton attended Washington University, graduating in 1951 with a dual
major in art and archaeology and English literature. She began painting with watercolors in the
1950s, gaining notice for her work by the 1960s, and receiving first prize at an art fair in St.
Louis. After moving to Maine in 1970, Leighton worked almost exclusively with dry pastels,
which she exhibited in Belfast and Bangor, and later at her gallery. Leighton was passionate
about art that “celebrated life” whether it was the art she showed at her gallery, or the art she
made. Her modernist inspired motifs included flowers, landscapes, tables and chairs, and
women, often seated as if engaged in an pleasant conversation, or standing, or holding a dog, cat