Two of Maine's Most Popular Painters
At first glance, Jill Hoy and Eric Hopkins: Elemental Rhythms seems an odd pairing, not because the artists have so little in common but because they have so much. The occasion of their joint exhibition at the Thos. Moser Cabinetmaker gallery in Freeport, Maine (January 28 to March 31) provides an opportunity to consider their aesthetic coincidences.
Eric Hopkins and Jill Hoy are the Prince and Princess of Penobscot Bay. Hopkins reins from his studio galleries in Rockland and on the island of North Haven. Hoy holds courts summers in her gallery in the the village of Stonington on Deer Isle. The two artists have been great friends since meeting at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in the 1970s. Why I’ve never thought of them together before is beyond me.
Though they paint in very different styles, Hoy and Hopkins conjure the same seas, skies, and landscapes around Penobscot Bay. And they have both become successful taking a route that is rare among serious artists – showing and selling their own work in their own galleries. In fact, Hoy and Hopkins are two of Maine’s most popular painters because they paint a world that people want to be part of in ways that are highly individualistic.
Jill Hoy, who lives in the Boston area in the winter with her husband, painter Jonathan Imber has been coming to Deer Isle since the 1960s. I profiled her briefly in the July 2008 issue of Yankee as one of the “25 People You Should Meet This Summer.” Her style is joyously colorful and free-flowing, depicting a world of gardens and wildflowers, summer cottages and glorious sunny days by the sea.
Eric Hopkins is an island boy, a Maine native, and a force of nature. He first made a name for himself as a glass artist and got into painting by slinging molten glass around. For years now, he has employed anything that comes to hand – paint, glass, camera, drawings – in service of a vision of a watery world, the epicenter of which is Penobscot Bay.
Where Jill Hoy’s Maine is a riot of summer and fall colors set free by the painter’s spirit, Eric Hopkins’ Maine is a liquid blue ball whirling around in space, white clouds sailing, spiked islands clinging to the surface for dear life. His art, often with an aerial point of view, truly reduces the natural world to the “elemental rhythms” of the show’s title – sunlight, wind, weather, the seasons, and the Earth’s cosmic spin.
Neither Hoy nor Hopkins create paintings that are realistic in the way that so much tourist art wants to be. They are faithful to the spirit of place rather than the appearance. To make art that is both beautiful and meaningful is a rare talent. Most artists do one or the other. Jill Hoy and Eric Hopkins manage to do both.
[Thos. Moser Cabinetmaker, 149 Main St., Freeport, ME. 207-865-4519.]