cloud ship

cloud ship
a raft of sun tipped clouds sailed by

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mermaid with a Camera

Nine Questions for Alexandra de Steiguer: The Mermaid with a Camera

During her 16 winters living alone as the winter caretaker for Star Island on the Isles of Shoals, Alex de Steiguer documented her experiences in words and pictures in a book called Small Island, Big Picture; Winters of Solitude Teach An Artist to See. Drift Gallery is exhibiting her photos from August 24 to September 22 in conjunction with the book launch that takes place on August 24, from 5 to 8 pm. All photos by Alex de Steiguer.  

Self Portrait

How would you describe yourself in two sentences to someone who didn’t know you or your work?

A quirky, often happy, semi-recluse, who follows creative urges (though many be unsuccessful), for the simple need to express, and for the joy of potentially giving back that which I feel I have received in abundance from my experiences.  In my photography I – like many artists before me - work toward expressing a universal; my images are just another “finger pointing to the moon.”

Where were you born and raised and did anyone in your family or life influence your turn toward the sea?

I was born in Manhattan, but raised mostly on the edge of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in northern New Jersey – a place of wildness and beauty a mere hours drive from the city, set aside for the use of migrating birds and the resident wildlife who – I imagine – should be very grateful, though – rightfully speaking – it was theirs to begin with!

My influence toward the sea came mostly from books early on.  Though I had family at the Jersey shore and would visit often, I don’t think the absolute “wildness” of the ocean truly struck me until I was on a visit with a high-school friend to her family’s summer home on an island in Boothbay, Maine.  There the coast is rocky and wooded – unlike the heavily peopled, long stretches of sand that I was used to.  There in Maine I could look out at the horizon and actually imagine old sailing ships plying the waters carrying necessary wares, or fishing schooners returning to port, their holds full of salted catch.  There in Maine, the romantic in me could flourish, I could visualize history more easily – and not just human history – but geologic.   The sea – to me at that time (and still), was the epitome of all that is wild, untamed, ancient yet free.  A very appealing image to a young person just trying to figure it all out.  But I think even moreso now to an adult, who sees a societal system full of fences, boundaries, and cages, and the way we seem to unwittingly indenture ourselves to this system.   The sea was my personal antidote to all that.
When did you begin to realize your affinity for the marine environment? What was it that attracted you?

That first experience on the coast of Maine was the start.  I was addicted to that sense of freedom that I felt just looking out at the long line of the sea’s horizon, and I knew somehow that that’s where I belonged.  So just out of high school, I shipped out as a student and crew on my first sailing ship – an old barkentine called Regina Maris.

Rocks and Sea
Most people reject the notion of staying alone out on a desolate New England island in winter as a caretaker. What is it about this mild/wild, serene/terrifying experience that keeps you going back? There must be some pretty intense storms you will never forget!

I think you’ve hit on the answer with your question.  It is mild and wild, it is serene and terrifying.  In other words – it is alive.  I think this is how we used to feel as a species, as Homo Sapiens.  We used to experience things the way animals still do, and I think there’s some part of our ancient brain that still longs for that.  During sixteen winters among them, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the wild animals now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one look bored, though if they ever are – I imagine it’s not for long.  Curious, sleepy, alarmed, fearful, joyful, meditative, - what I’m trying to say is that they seem engaged with each moment in some immediate way.  They’re not waiting for future moments, or re-hashing past ones, like we tend to do.  To answer your question – I keep going back to the islands because I feel alive there too.  There are storms, and yes, they are scary and brutal (though none as scary as actually being on the sea during one – and I’ve experienced my share of those too).  There is also calm, there is peace, there is each moment to be experienced in its turn.  I feel that, on the islands, I have found life.

What other marine experiences/jobs have you had over the years?

So before my island caretaking job, I sailed as crew – mostly as deckhand but also bosun – on the tall-ships for about nine years.   These ships weren’t “head-boats” as the tourist trade ships are called.  I had no interest in those.  These were either research ships or ships with sailing-school missions in which the voyages were long – mostly off-shore sailing.   This type of work made me feel I was helping to do something positive, something meaningful.  I think to send a young person to sea is one of the most important and life-changing experiences that we might give them… or I should say – that the sea can give them, - that feeling of actually being responsible for the ship, for your own lives and for those of your shipmates.  – A voyage for a young person on a ship, is I guess literally a “right of passage.”
Do you crave certain aspects of the sea, such as the scent or the shoreline, or the waves, or the sky?

I crave all aspects of the sea.  I think the more of your senses involved the better!  As far as I’m concerned, the sea is a full sensory experience.  Now, if only viewing-photographs of the sea can be appreciated in the same way!
When did you begin to take photographs? When and where did you begin to exhibit?

I started using my brother’s old 35mm when I first started sailing, though I didn’t think about it in any “serious” sense at that time.  But on my third ship, the bosun was shooting black & white and developing the negs and even printing in the ship’s foc’sle where he’d set up a very sketchy darkroom arrangement.  He talked me through the development of my first roll of film – I think while we were underway from Holland to Spain…  well, I was hooked.  Not because I was so into the technical aspects as much as I was interested in the creative control that processing my own film, and then later – printing in a darkroom – provided.

The Sea Exhales

I’m proud to say I first exhibited my work at Ceres Bakery in Portsmouth, many years ago now.  Penny – the owner – has generously provided the bakery walls to so many of us artists over the years.  If you’re reading this – thank you again Penny!
How long has your book (Small Island, Big Picture) project taken? When did you decide to bring your collective Star Island experience to a book or did you have a book project in mind from the start?

Once I started to get serious about the project, it has taken about two and a half years, off and on.
I’d been dreaming of doing a book though for a long time.  One of the things I’ve never liked about my “framed, wall images” is that they are very time consuming and expensive to make, (especially these days - the high costs of wet-darkroom supplies and film are crazy) and so I have to charge a lot for them.  Not a crazy amount (compared with some), but more than I would certainly be able to afford myself - if I were an art buyer.  So a book is really perfect in that I can offer many more of my images, and even some stories, in an intimate, take-anywhere, affordable way.   Also a book is a much better way to get across the ideas that I’m trying to express in my work.  I’m hoping this book – a combination of words and images – might inspire people to get out there more and have their own experiences within the environment.  Firsthand is always best!
Was it difficult to find a publisher?

I didn’t even look.  I got lots of advice about this, advice that made sense.  A book publisher would have owned all the rights, would have insisted on creative control, and then would be in charge of all the decisions of where the book would go, when to pull it off the shelves, and when to stick it on the “sale” table at the big chain stores, meaning – your book is done.  Also, authors that go this route – unless they hit it big in the reviews – often make very very little on their books.  None of that sounded appealing, so instead I took the chance and self-published under my own press – “Mid-Tide Press.”  I purchased ISBN #’s in a block of ten, so… I’ve got nine more book possibilities I guess…  Stay tuned!



Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Long Time Waiting, Portsmouth Women Finally Published

Waiting has never been one of my trump cards. And so, the fifteen years it has taken to see a little collection of local women's history, written by women, actually published has been an exhilarating and terrifying roller coaster ride. And a sublime lesson in learning how to wait.
Everyone asks: How long did the book take? To which I reply: One year to gather the subject women and their biographers (for the original 16 chapters) and to see the book written; another 14 years before a publisher came forward.
The vindication has been sweet. The outpouring of support and congratulations quite marvelous, far beyond anything I ever expected. The contributing authors are a fantastic group of writers, intellects and scholars, who've been such a pleasure throughout. So much Girl Power, it makes me so proud. My sincerest hope is that women everywhere dig out the local history of women in their part of the globe. These biographies yielded more twists and turns, more connections to a wider history and happenings than any fiction writer could imagine. A long time coming, but certainly worth the wait.

(Also, if you haven't read the book yet, pick one up from your local bookseller!) — with Brady Carlson and Lola Pope.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Teacher Teacher

Laura Pope & Jay Goldsmith, June 13, 2013 at book signing for Portsmouth Women; The Madams & Matriarchs Who Shaped NH's Port City, The History Press.

An Excerpt from The Public Garden, Thursday, October 3, 2002

Teacher Teacher
Personal Heroes Take Different Forms

Heroes are sublime beings whose noble deeds first come to our awareness in children’s tales. One of my first literary heroes was Thumbelina, whose brave adventures as a Lilliputian-sized girl flung into the giant-sized outdoor world gave me my first lesson on how big-hearted people come in all sizes.

Movies, too, are rife with heroic characters. My favorite ones are those who are thrust into the role by circumstance. To me, reluctant heroes (Han Solo, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins) are the more interesting ones as they struggle with the demands placed upon them and inevitably discover they have the hero inside them after all.

Since last September, there’s been much more emphasis on and greater appreciation of heroes. The selfless sacrifices made by firefighters, police officers, medical personnel and ordinary working citizens reminded everyone that regular folk, not fantasy figures, may be the best champions of all.

With all this talk of heroes, I’ve lately decided that good, dedicated teachers are my personal heroes. Though they do not literally give their lives in the course of their duties, they do change and give direction to young minds, in essence affecting generations of thinkers. Despite their magical, transformative powers, they are relatively under-appreciated compared with the worship given to star athletes and performers.

Think about it: A person with a fine education oversees the education and social maturity of our children for barely a living wage. They are bombarded with every microbe imaginable that can be carried by a child, stay up late to grade papers and consciously sustain a disposition of patience and imagination.

A good teacher must be organized, an effective administrator and equally at ease with parents and school boards as well as their young charges. The latter are rarely on the same page when it comes to level of knowledge, so teachers must teach to several levels at once and attend to those with special needs and behavioral problems.

Add to this scenario, which also includes overcrowded classrooms, the occasional high-strung parent who won’t take responsibility for or charge of their children’s behavior or schooling problems and instead becomes a finger-pointer who raises hell at the front office.

Who in their right mind would ever choose such a profession? Fortunately, there are those who are called to the teaching field, equipped with the aptitude for all the rigors of this challenging career. In such a money-driven society, I wonder how many potentially good teachers there are out there who pass over this option for a higher-paying job. Perhaps good teachers simply remember and savor their own teachers who made a real difference in their lives.

My first incredible teacher was Miss Dunbar. She taught fourth grade at the local elementary school in Daly City, Calif., a suburb of San Francisco. My family had just moved to the area and many of my classmates were also Navy kids like me and my sister. The school population was culturally diverse, with a definite Asian, Polynesian and Hispanic component. My best friend next door was Samoan. The girl who lived on the other side of our house was Thai.

All these cultures and backgrounds did not deter Miss Dunbar, who dressed in a distinct 1950s style and reminded me of a brunette Doris Day. She was unfailingly cheerful, optimistic, creative and fair, though her best asset was that she had this way of making learning an interesting experience, whether the lesson was about candle-making or synonyms.

Without realizing it, I was taught how to stay focused and concentrate and how to step forward to participate in class.

My next teacher represented the flip side of Miss Dunbar, though she was just as pivotal in my early learning curve. Miss Manley (we called her Miss Maneater) was an elderly woman who walked with a cane, had a pinched face, rarely smiled and ran her class like a boot camp. She taught fifth grade at the Way School in Claremont, N.H.

This woman was clearly from an older school of teaching, where a certain amount of fear on the part of students kept things going at a brisk pace. I recall her hitting a continually disruptive student over the head with a pointer and breaking it. She also had sharp words in her arsenal and could devastate a student with three words. My turn came when I couldn’t identify the New England states she was pointing to on a map. I soon found it wise to learn my lessons, be prepared to answer her questions, read aloud and attack phonetics and penmanship with as much zeal as history or math. Despite her methods, or perhaps because of them, she inspired in me a thirst for knowledge.

In eighth grade I had a tremendous history teacher named Mr. Bugle. He so loved American history that it rubbed off and we kids actually found ourselves wondering what it would be like to be alive during the time of the American Revolution.

In high school I was fortunate enough to have several excellent teachers: Herb Moyer in biology (he was cool enough to have his classes plant and maintain an organic vegetable and flower garden; this was 1972), Mr. Follensbee in history (again a master at painting historical happenings for us in vivid terms), and Jay Goldsmith, a writing teacher who taught lessons in observation, photography and writing discipline that I still apply today.

Hopefully, fine teachers such as these will continue to come forward, driven not by money matters but rather by the reward of making a difference in so many lives. In other words, being a hero to so many.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Foster's Showcase: Impressionist Don Stone

Don Stone: Revered Impressionist painter/teacher to display art in N.H. for the first time

By Laura Pope

Thursday, April 11, 2013

“Above Norton's Ledge” 30” X 40”
Don Stone has been so good at painting for so long — his paintings fetch thousands of dollars — he's considered one of the few remaining great marine painters of his generation, a group that includes Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and George Bellows.
Holding court at his Exeter wintertime home for a rare newspaper interview, the internationally known modern Impressionist painter, revered teacher, expert on the Cape Anne School of Painting and a central, enduring figure at the famous art colony at Monhegan Island — describes and jokes about the often circuitous and fortunate path his artist life has taken.
This life brims with accolades — he's referenced in and is the subject of dozens of books and national magazines and won more than 75 major awards; associations — including memberships in the top-drawer National Academy of Design and the American Watercolor Society and exhibitions, including locally, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and The Copely Society in Boston and is in many private and public collections, including the permanent collection at Dartmouth. His teaching credits include years teaching at two prestigious Boston art colleges as well as four decades teaching at the legendary Maine art colony on Monhegan Island.

"Afternoon Light"
For the first time, a selection of his paintings, as well as those of two painters he has mentored — Stan Moeller of York, Maine and Bruce Jones of Exeter — will be on display and for sale (through the summer) for the first time in the Granite State at The Artist Eye Gallery in North Hampton.

Early Influences
My mother referred to me as a water rat,” explains the soft-spoken Stone, the preeminent American Impressionist painter, referencing his carefree days growing up in Gloucester, Mass. The memory brings a smile to the face of the octogenarian who reveled in all the boyhood pleasures of living by the sea in a bustling fishing community.
“It was a great place to grow up. My grandfather would take me to the wharf to pick up fish for supper and the big schooners would come in,” he enthuses. “Eventually my brother and I shared a skiff. My mother called me a water rat because I would swim in the ocean and in the harbor with the slime and the oil. I loved it.”
Many a boy has loved the sea but in Stone's case, that ardor went beyond boats and swims and the wharves; it ignited an unwavering passion for a life of painting, a calling that has carried on and transformed earlier art traditions and passed them on to the next generation of Impressionists to contemplate and make their own.

"Amber" 16" X 20"
“When I was very young I would go down to the school administration building with my 11 cents and buy a packet of arithmetic paper; and I would sit and draw and draw and my grandmother would encourage me. I would copy things out of old magazines and then when I was in the 8th grade my teacher came to me and said: 'If we let you go to high school what courses would you like to take?' Not a scholar, the young Don Stone replied: 'I want to be an artist'. She said: 'Do you promise?' and I said: 'I promise.'
“I had four years of fine arts at the Gloucester High School, with no math courses at all, and graduated in 1948.” At the progressive school, Stone became a student of Howard Curtis (1906-1989), a Gloucester native and notable marine artist. “After high school, I worked for a sign company lettering trucks with a distant relative and he told me I was wasting my time and that I ought to go to art school. So I worked in the freezer in Gloucester, in 40 below zero, in 1949, and got enough money to go to art school, the Vesper George School of Art in Boston.”

“Cooling Down” 24” X 36”
Days after graduating from college, Stone served in the Navy as a gunnery yeoman on a destroyer, though in reality he used one of the gun shacks as his studio and painted portraits of all the officers. “I had a good racket going,” remarks Stone, with a grin. Out of the service, Stone worked in newspapers, most prominently as a cartoonist for the Boston Post, until it folded, and began teaching at both Vesper George and the New England School of Art. Then a move back home turf — to Rockport, changed everything.

Monhegan Bound
“I met Paul Strisik [1918-1998], who took me to Monhegan Island in 1957. At the time I was a commercial artist and cartoonist. When I met him, he says to me: 'Let's go painting.' I didn't know what he was talking about! I sat on the running board of his car and watched him paint outside and it was like magic. He was my mentor and really changed my whole life.” Self deprecatingly, he adds: “Since then, I've just been faking my way along.”
Strisik and Stone became part of the already established Cape Ann School of Art, the more than century old group that focused on the ample marine landscapes and people of the region, which had already attracted the likes of Fitz Hugh Lane, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, William Morris Hunt and Winslow Homer. Stone socialized with nine or ten artists of his generation working in the Cape Ann School and often painted with them, especially in the late 1960s.

“Cutting Bait,” a painting that is on display at the Artist’s Eye in North Hampton.
“I was friends with [Aldro T.] Hibbard [1886 — 1972; who studied with Frank Benson and Edmond Tarbell], though he didn't paint outside with anyone, and with Emile Gruppe, John Jacutti and Ken Gore.” Caleb Stone, the artist's son, has followed his father's path — lives in Gloucester, works as an Impressionist painter and teacher, and travels extensively. “He does watercolors, too,” notes Stone.
Initially, Strisik and Stone went out morning, noon and night to paint, plein air, or outside, locally in Gloucester and Rockport, then ventured to Canada and eventually went to Monhegan, the small island, accessible only by boat, 10 miles off of mid-coast Maine, peopled by hardy fishing families and, since the mid-1800s, scores of artists including George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper and Jamie Wyeth.
At one point, Stone and his wife, Sarah, lived year round on the island for several years, a daunting challenge given the isolation, severe weather and need to provision wisely. They still return each fair weather season to the house and studio, purchased in 1980, formerly owned by notable marine and landscape painter Jay Hall Conaway (1893-1970), so Don can paint and they may greet the many visitors flocking to his studio.

“Lunchtime” 30”X 36”

Inside the Stone home
A glimpse inside Stone's Exeter home studio instantly reveals his masterful artistry in landscapes, figures, light, moving air, and the great outdoors, from marine landscapes, such as “Gull Rock” that is painted from a bird's eye perspective, to a windswept, light-infused painting of his wife, Sarah, on a hill, entitled, “Springtime on the Island” to the warm summer tones in “Amber,” featuring a girl in a blue dress picking lilies in a meadow.
While the thought of fisherman and their families slapped next to artists and their families on tiny Monhegan Island might seem a case of 'strange bedfellows,' Stone sums it up best. The artist considers the fisherman to be as important and as brave as the American cowboy, on canvas, and states emphatically his passion for the former. “I've gone out fishing many times and have a special affinity for the lone dory fisherman.” The marine landscape, alone, or filled with figures, has always demanded a connection between artist and those who depend on the sea.

Painter Don Stone, right, discusses a book of paintings with fellow artists Bruce Jones, left, and Stan Moeller in Don’s Exeter studio.

Those Who
Came Before
Like Winslow Homer, Stone made a name for himself early in his career as a watercolor artist. “I made my reputation in the National Academy as a watercolorist and then was doing large egg tempera paintings and bringing in big money. I had a waiting list for them. Then all of a sudden, I ended it. When you do egg tempera paintings everyone thinks: Andrew Wyeth, who I loved and knew very well and Jamie is a very good friend of ours. I didn't want to be considered a Wyeth imitator; I don't want to be an imitator of anyone. So 20 years ago, I turned to oil paintings. You gotta change over time, you can't stand still.”
As he influences younger painters, Stone was also influenced by his peers and those artists from an earlier generation such as Spanish Impressionist painter, Jaoquin Sorroya (1863-1923), and the artist who influenced Sorroya — Swedish portrait and landscape painter Anders Zorn (1860-1920).
“Sorolla was painting in that mud, that dark soup that they all painted out of and Zorn said to him: paint in your own backyard in sunlight, and that changed Sorolla's life. I think Sorolla was as good as John Singer Sargent, one of my other favorites. Sorolla is so special to us that when we found about a show of his work in Madrid, a show of 102 paintings that had never been in this group before, we went, and we also managed to see his home, filled with his paintings.

Painter Don Stone with many of his works in his Exeter studio.
“They're all good painters that s why I don't have a favorite. I mean Homer kills me. I just love him but I also love Zorn and Sorroya and Sargent and Valasquez and Rembrandt.”

The Next Generation
Among Stone's many students, two — Stan Moeller of York, Maine and Bruce Jones of Exeter, have developed and matured as painters in their own right, and proudly share exhibit space at The Artist Eye in North Hampton.
“Many times while I am painting, whether out on location or in my studio, the wise words of Don Stone come to mind,” says Moeller. “I met Don on his beloved Monhegan Island about 15 years ago, introduced by a mutual friend who was also a painter/musician. Painting during the day and playing music with Don (also a musician) and friends in the evening became a summer ritual, it was a way of life, of loving life as an artist. I was lucky enough to take Don's final Monhegan workshop (about that time) and over the years I have learned much more from Don than all my years studying art in college.

Painter Don Stone with fellow artists Stan Moeller, left, and Bruce Jones at Don’s Exeter studio.
“He has many phrases (Don-isms) that stick in my head: 'value does the work, color gets the credit'; 'always keep your eye on the point of interest, even when you are not painting the point of interest' and many many more. He told me about must-read books, such as John F. Carlson's “Guide to Landscape Painting” and “Landscape Painting” by Birge Harrison. Painting alongside Don en plein air in various New England locations over the years, information would just come out in normal conversation: he is a great teacher and a good friend and I love his stories. I owe much of my success to what I have learned from Don Stone, not only the art, but mentoring on the business end of the art world.”
Sculptor-painter, Bruce Jones, who maintains a studio and gallery in Exeter, recalls: “Years ago, when I got out of art school I started a business and didn't paint for a while,” recalls Jones. “So I joined some local art groups and one day as I'm driving down the street, I see these fellows painting by the side of the street and I stopped to see if they wanted to join the art group or be part of the show. They directed me to 'the master' downstream and there was Don. I had no idea who he was. He was doing this wonderful little painting. He's very kind and said 'I don't really do that' when I asked him about our group and show, but he did invite me to his studio. That was more than 15 years ago.”


About the author: Laura Pope is a career newspaper and magazine journalist specializing in the arts, travel and history. She has traveled to Monhegan Island on several occasions to visit resident artists in their studios and to take in the exhibits at the Monhegan Museum.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dody Kolb ~ A Remembrance of Grace & Friendship

Art Advocate, Mentor, Gallery Queen, Collector

 Dody Kolb at Coolidge Art. Courtesy Photo.

The light has dimmed since the passing of Doreen ‘Dody’ Kolb last month. Family and friends, artists and art lovers, especially, will miss her wise ways and extraordinary friendship.

She had many connections in an impressive web of arts organizations and institutions, including the UNH Art Gallery, the Currier Gallery, Gallery on State Street and the Coolidge Gallery, where she presided for many years. Patrons of the (now defunct) Rye Home Center were privy to her hand selected arrays of art, showcases of color, light and artistry that became the hallmark of her displays.

Many will recall her outstanding collection of Asian art (I still have the many notes she sent me on stationery featuring artworks from her Kolb Collection) and the many incredible shows at the Coolidge Center. Beyond the art itself, Kolb’s unfailing spirit and sensitivity, her kinship with artists and others whose eyes linger on the work of artists, will certainly be missed and pushed forward by the many she touched with advice, encouragement and gusto for living. Here are a few remembrances from her circle of friends:

Jane Kaufmann, Printmaker, Ceramic Artist:
“If you ever saw her greet people in bathing suits – tourists – coming into the gallery. She was so gracious, so gracious to everyone.”

“As soon as I heard Dody died I went up to my studio and made a little Dody Kolb angel with straight gray hair, a black dress and a Susan-Pratt Smith pin right under her chin. Like everyone else, I want her for my Guardian Angel.
“I remember when we had the celebration for Dody at the Rye Art Club and Wendy Turner said Dody kept her alive for one whole year by buying her paintings. There was a lot that Dody did that no one ever knew about.”

Lisa Noonis, Painter:

“Dody was very dear to me. She was always honest and thoughtful. I remember the first time I went to see her at The Coolidge Center for the Arts. I had a handful of paintings with me. She looked at each piece and talked to me about what she saw. She told me that she had great hopes for me. She said ‘yes’ to me. That is how our relationship began. I loved being part of the shows at the Coolidge Center. Dody poured her heart and soul into all of those exhibitions. I believe that is why they were so incredibly successful. They were always well attended. She knew all of her artists so well. What a blessing.

 “Dody = love.”

Frank Corso, Copley Master painter:

“It was with great sadness that I learned of Dody’s passing. She was an inspiration and a true friend to me for many years. She discovered my work in the first days of the Home Center in Rye NH and took me on as an artist there immediately. She began to give me pointers and direction and focus in my work and also tips on framing and presentation. Paintings began selling very well and she continued to push me in different direction. She lined up demos for me and art appreciation nights and got me mingling with clients. We continued long discussions about art and she taught me about prints and introduced me to her extensive collection.

 “As the years went by we remained close and she continued to sell my work. She suggested Florida to me as a market and I then came to Florida 14 years ago on a seasonal basis buying a house here and did 15 consecutive one man shows with my Gallery. I introduced Dody to the Gallery and Dody began working there part time and still continued a high success rate of selling my work. She came to most every show I had and would call me the next day and critique what she saw.

 “I give Dody much credit for the success I have enjoyed in the art business as anyone I have ever met along the way. Her wonderful smile, advice and friendship will always be terribly missed.”

Don Stone, Painter:
“My connection with Dody was primarily through the Coolidge Gallery at the mansion. Dody was always very helpful with her knowledge of art and her willingness to accommodate our spending the summer on Monhegan Island in Maine. She would store my paintings until the show opened and sometimes even come to our house to pick them up in the spring. She was a wonderful person and friend and a valuable part of Portmouth’s art community.”

Chuck Hayes, Proprietor of The Artist’s Eye in North Hampton:

“My memories of Dody are all very sweet. She had the ability to make everyone she met feel immediately like you were special to her, which because you found her to be so nice, intelligent and perceptive was important to you. She was a good judge of character, which is probably how she surrounded herself with a lot of good and dedicated people. If she endeared herself to you and you to her, she became your advocate forever.

 “I once was complaining to her that there was no place on the Seacoast that my wife and I could legally enjoy a bottle of wine by the Ocean. She told me to try the lawn at the Wentworth Coolidge house, and if anyone had a problem with it I was to say Dody gave me permission. So we did. What a sweet woman, seems like you can only say it so many times, but it fits.”

 Stan Moeller, Painter:

“Dody called me before the (I believe) second season at the Coolidge Center (2002) to see if I would like to show my work at the Coolidge Center for the Arts, by the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion, in Portsmouth, the next season. We became close friends almost immediately and we were friends from then on. I think she first saw my work at The Artist Eye, in North Hampton, NH, run by our mutual friend, Chuck Hayes. I have been with Chuck longer than any other gallery.

 “Dody and I were kindred spirits in our love of the visual arts; we talked for hours about favorite painters and how the whole art world seem to work (or not work)...We both LOVED, “The Painted Word” (1973) by Tom Wolfe, and passed many (art) books and titles back and forth.

"She was an amazing help to me, not only showing my work, but also her ability to connect artist with collector. She would call me up in my studio to tell how much she liked a painting of mine she had just seen, or saw in a magazine. I could ask her questions about career moves and her advice was always spot on. Whenever I would discuss the idea about going out on a limb with an artistic idea or traveling to France or Italy to paint, she would encourage me (us)...saying, do it now, while you are young enough to enjoy it.

“When I started showing my work in a prestigious gallery in Naples Florida, she invited Tammy and I to come and stay with her and her husband, Frank (of 61 years), on Marco Island (near Naples). We enjoyed their company became even closer as friends. She had a lust for life and and such optimistic view that was contagious.”

Tammy Moeller, Friend and Fan:
“Dody was a role model to me to continue to stay interested in meeting new people and to stay invested in life as I grow older. She taught me that friendship knows no age. She was always upbeat and looking forward to bringing people together; she had a genuine interest in not only connecting artists with collectors, but nurturing bonds of lasting relationships between them.

“Another cool thing about Dody: she showed both the Augustas, (father/son) both of the Stones (father/son), Sean Beavers and his wife, Sydney Bella Sparrow, and other generations of artists.

Dody was also a dynamo: a doer, a mentor, a pack leader. She was gentle, elegant and fun. An incredible mentor and supportive friend to many of the Seacoast’s finest artists. We will miss her so much.”

 Dustan Knight, Artist:
“I knew Dody for many years and will always consider her a model of graciousness. I shall continue to aspire to her warmth, gentleness and genuine essence. Throughout our friendship I was always touched by her positive response to my creative efforts and her real interest in my life.

“She always asked about my children and remembered their names and ages and seemed to share a particular sense of humor and wit with my husband. That’s kind of rare, she really liked him and he isn’t the art scene sort.
“Because of her, I try to meet the spouses and families of my students and learn a bit about their interests. I think, as artists, our nurturing support network is vital and it is richer when it includes folks outside our field. I will miss her and so will my husband.”

Jinny Eshoo, Associate at Coolidge Center of Art:

“Dody was Director at the Coolidge Center for Art and I was her associate there for seven years. 
Dody knew her audience--the artists, the buyers, and the art lovers. Her respect for the artists ran deep. Plans for the next summer season were firm early in the new year. Artists were invited, exhibition titles and scope were set, dates in line. The artists were prepared.

“The mission of the Wentworth-Coolidge, which included art education, was paramount to Dody. She presented a broad spectrum of works, not just for the sophisticated museum-goer, but also for a steady faithful following who often claimed, ‘We never miss a show.’ Dody offered visitors opportunities to discuss works, artists, and life experiences. We never had an artist or buyer complain, and that’s saying something.

“Highly respected for her breadth of knowledge, her unquestioned integrity, and her disarming charm, Dody was as unassuming as she was a committed advocate. One in a million.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Alpine Gourmet, On and Off the Mountain

By Laura Pope

A gifted cadre of chefs working in the alpine reaches of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont ski resorts offer winter warriors savory options well beyond ubiquitous pub fare, from Upscale Rustic and European Comfort Food to Contemporary American cuisine. This selection of fine dining establishments, on and off the mountain, features a remarkable mix of masters in the kitchen, including a self-taught chef, two owner/chefs (one is CIA-trained) and three ski resort chefs, all alumni of the prestigious Chef Apprentice Program at The Balsams who have gone on to helm dining operations at major ski resort restaurants.

Vermont, On the Mountain

Chef Josh Berry, Solstice at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe, Vermont            


Broadcasting a menu that is rustic, seasonal, contemporary and American, Solstice at Stowe Mountain Lodge has long been “the big place on the hill, a family resort where everyone chooses an entrée and lots of side dishes to pass around, family style,” describes Joshua Berry, executive chef at the premier dining and inn destination, as well as Hourglass, a lounge setting offering lighter, gastro-pub cuisine.

The casual, comfortable ambiance at the 110-seat Solstice presents a signature Neo-Lodge aesthetic that is both traditional and contemporary and pairs seamlessly  with an imaginative, interactive a la carte menu that allows Chef Berry to not only lower price points, but “fully engage diners who are wowed by all the options and flavor possibilities.”

The “build-it-yourself” menu style generates instant buzz with patrons who come to Stowe Mountain Lodge,  full of  high expectations.  A generous offering of starters, soups and salads starts the menu (the Vermont Goat Cheese Croquets, served with Stewed Apricots, Kalamata Olives, Watercress and Fennel Seed merit serious consideration), followed by an impressive Charcuterie of assorted meats, sausages and terrines, available in a small or large portion, continues with a staggering nine selections of local Vermont cheeses, served with local raw honey, stone fruit chutney, toasted walnuts and fresh bread, all sourced from Vermont farms, creameries and cheese makers.

“We’re one of forty Destination Hotels located all over the United States, and I’m proud to say that here at Solstice, we have the largest cheese selection,” boasts Chef Berry, another graduate of The Balsam’s Chef Apprentice Program who went on to serve as executive chef there for three years.

Diners at Solstice custom design entrees by first deciding whether they want one that is braised and sautéed (such as their signature Truffled Beef Pot Roast) or stone oven roasted (local cod, duck breast, baked stuffed mountain trout or scallops) or grilled (prime cuts of beef and Shetland salmon). Once that decision is made, they have the option of adding a flavor enhancements such as truffle, lobster, foie gras, crab, shrimp or blue cheese and equally important, and choosing from a wide selection of side dishes, that includes Truffled Mac and Vermont cheese, baked or Whipped Potatoes to Braised Red Cabbage, Confit of Wild Mushrooms and Caramelized Root Vegetables.

A Chef’s Signature item, a winter-hearty dish of Spiced Local Venison Medallions; a Friday-through- Saturday Queen- or King-cut of Slow Roast Prime Rib of Beef; specials such as a Braised Lamb Shank served with Creamy Polenta, Gremolata and Braising Jus; Vegan and Pasta items round out the winter wonderful menu.

“The heart of my culinary style is seasonal and local so that diners may experience a taste of northern Vermont and New England. I use a lot of regional ingredients and prepare them with a twist, such as the New England staple, pot roast, an old recipe I transform when I add the truffles from Italy.”

Vermont, Off the Mountain

Michael Kloeti, Michael’s on the Hill, Waterbury, Vermont


~In Waterbury Center, at the rim of snow-blessed Stowe, Vermont, Chef Michael Kloeti and his wife, Laura, preside over Michael's on the Hill Restaurant, a hill top restaurant with views of the Green Mountains, purchased ten years ago, now an acclaimed bastion of European comfort food.

Like the Oxford House Inn and Sugar Hill Inn, the pair’s 1820 farmhouse with barn 85-seat restaurant, and newly renovated lounge, is often recommended by other top chefs and lauded by exacting food bloggers. It’s also sanctioned many times by other more conventional bestowers of greatness: Vermont Restaurateurs, Vermont's First Chef of the Year award, Sante Magazine Restaurant Award, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, First Certified Green Restaurant in the Green Mountain State.

For Michael, MOTH represents a coalescence of his Swiss heritage, landscape and culinary roots, follows a top notch career at several dream destinations – the four star Lespinasse in New York City, the Lodge at Koele in Lanaii, Hawaii and the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan – and ultimately, offered an escape hatch from the corporate bottom line ethos that dominates many urban food empires.

“To me, winter is all about eating more and comfort foods and nothing is more comforting than food you can serve in a bowl. I make a lamb stew, served with locally-made Nitty Gritty polenta that has a vein of red wine in it, like beef bourguignon. Winter food is not necessarily heavy, it can be very refreshing. I can still remember the venison stew my mother made with red wine braised cabbage and spaetzle.” says the chef, who recently completed another guest stint aboard Holland America Cruise lines on an Asian/Pacific journey.

 “Diners camp out for a savored experience in one of the four dining rooms: The Porch with its wall of windows, the Barn with its exposed frames and wood prints from Switzerland, the Bar or the Trout Room. I would describe it as casual, but then the tables wear nice table cloths.”

Growing up on a farm, Michael absorbed a local, fresh, sustainable and seasonal way of gathering and preparing food he still abides. “It’s hard for me and the trout farmer to know just how many fish he has so it will come off the menu as the supply dwindles.” Venison was recently replaced with a Lamb Navarin dish on the entrée menu which also includes a skillet chicken, beef tenderloin, Maplewood smoked pork loin, an herb butter poached Maine lobster, a gnocchi dish and roast Atlantic char. Menus may change more than once in a season. “I run this place by our own rules and policies, so I choose to pay more for local provisions. It has more to do with high chef and customer satisfaction than the numbers.”

Maine, On the Mountain

Featuring:  Executive Chef Chad Davidowicz, Sunday River Ski Area & Resort, Newry, Maine

As executive chef of several eateries serving skiers a variety of cuisine during their time on the eight peaks at Sunday River Ski Area & Resort in Newry, Chad Davidowicz, with his delegation of managers and assistants, operate three daytime cafeterias, five restaurants at two slope side grand resort hotels, (the Grand Summit and Jordan Grand) plus a popular nightspot called The Foggy Goggle at Southridge.

The offerings vary, from family friendly cuisine at Grand Summit’s Legends Restaurant and Moonstruck Café and the upscale pub food at Jordan Grand’s Sliders to the on-the-go, lunchtime cafeteria buffets for skiers eager to refuel. For those seeking fine dining, Chef Davidowicz recommends the 100-seat restaurant, Dining at the Peak, “a place on top of the mountain, on top of the world.”  

Normally reserved for winter-time Saturday evenings beginning in mid-December to coincide with Winter Fest, Dining at the Peak patrons “take the gondola ride up to the summit of North Peak where they’re greeted with a blanket and met at the door with a glass of champagne, followed by a four-course, sit-down dinner. During the day, Peak is a bustling skiers’ cafeteria, but on special days we transform it into a restaurant so that someone who had chowder or chili for lunch may return at night for finer dining.”

Last winter, the Peak’s four-courses included a soup course of Truffled Cream of Mushroom Soup with Duck Confit garnish as well as Lobster Bisque; artfully composed Baby Spinach and Gathered Greens salads; varied entrees such as Veal Chop Oscar, Seared Free Range Chicken Breast, Tenderloin, Seared Diver Scallops, and Honey Poached Gnocchi and sweet finishes of a classic Crème Brulee with sugared berries and a Chambourd Ganache Cheesecake. 

“I tend to lean toward the French influence in the dishes I create or cook, but I’m also a huge fan of Italian and South West cuisines,” shares Davidowicz, who oversees other wildly popular culinary happenings -- Moonlight Dinners in summer, staged during full moon cycles, featuring live music and buffet style service. “At the Peak, we try to create an atmosphere that tells patrons ‘everything was made just for you.’”

This winter, Peak dinners are scheduled for special times, such as Winter Fest, New Year’s, and at on other occasions, with overarching themes such as Wine Dinners or a dinner featuring French cuisine.

“We’re always looking to satisfy our customer base, and to that end we alter and add things, such as adding a tasting menu at the Jordan Grand,” says the Balsam’s Chef Apprentice Program graduate who  stayed on at the famed resort destination as sous chef before taking a position at Sunday River, first as executive sous chef and four years ago, as executive chef.  

Maine, Off the Mountain

Chef Jonathan Spak, Oxford House Inn, Fryeburg, Maine


~Since 2007, Chef Jonathan Spak and his wife, Natalie, have welcomed guests at The Oxford House Inn in Fryeburg, Maine, right next door to North Conway, NH and the ski-centric Mt. Washington Valley, as innkeepers of their four guestroom inn and 70-seat restaurant, both highly praised by the likes of Downeast and Yankee magazines.  

A Connecticut native, Jonathan trained at the Culinary Institute flagship campus at Hyde Park, NY, and more than a decade later left a perfectly fine job at a conference center in West Cornwall, Conn., after a vacation in North Conway, to preside over the Oxford House Inn, a Mission Style house built in 1913 by famed architect John Calvin Stevens.

Describing his culinary sweet spot as Contemporary American, the one-time apprentice with CIA-trained French chef, Gerard Coyac at Le Marmiton (Little Kitchen Boy) in the northern reaches of the Constitution State, explains: “I draw on traditional flavors and make them my own by breaking them down or reinventing the components.” Diners will find a hybrid menu melding the Inn’s pub and dining room offerings, from smaller bistro dishes to the more robust fine dining entrees. 

Four separate dining rooms set the alpine tone– a fireplace and a large bay window dominate the Front Parlor; the Middle Room features a more formal atmosphere; three walls of windows on the Back Porch let in sweeping views of the eastern edge of the White Mountains (Kearsarge, Black Cap, Bald Face and the Twins) and lastly, Jonathan’s Pub beckons with an entirely distinct atmosphere all its own.

Patrons flock to sample Jonathan’s Bangs Island mussel dish and local brews on Thursday evenings in the darker months. “It’s called Pint and a Pound: You get a pint of beer, currently Geary's Pale Ale or Moat Mountain Brown, crafted in North Conway, on tap, or a glass of wine or bottled beer with a pound of mussels or clams in one of five different preparations. Currently we offer yellow curry with potatoes, apples, raisins and coconut milk; pesto, roasted tomato, pine nut & chardonnay; chorizo, sweet potato, roasted corn and Corona; smoked bacon, English pea, cream and sage and our traditional with garlic, chardonnay, pepper flakes and butter. This weekly special has taken a life of its own.”

A sampling of the winter menu (entrees include braised lamb shank, a cider-brined pork tenderloin, cornmeal crusted rainbow trout and a grilled filet mignon) and specials (a braised beef short rib and potato tart with roast root vegetables and rosemary gratin) reveal an inventive orchestration of cooking technique and seasonal provisions.

Never forgetting the importance of a sweet finish, Spak touts the caramel cheese cake with Grand Marnier citrus salad. “We use at least six different citruses, no lemon or lime, in the salad and a slightly thickened, uncooked Grand Marnier.  ~

New Hampshire, On the Mountain

Chef Matthew Holland, Seasons Restaurant, Mountain Club on Loon Resort & Spa, Lincoln, NH  


On the heels of a $9 million renovation at the Mountain Club on Loon Mountain Resort & Spa in Lincoln, Chef Matthew Holland launches Seasons Restaurant, formerly Rachel’s Restaurant, at Christmas for fine dining dinner service, featuring the very best New England or “indigenous” cuisine tapping local/sustainable food sources.

“When I think of winter fare, I think of root vegetables, onions, seafood such as lobster and scallops which are at their very best this time of year, braised items, pork and heartier cuts of beef,” says the chef from Twin Mountain who worked at his family’s restaurant before signing on, at 16, at the Mt. Washington Hotel to work with Chef Val Fortin (now the executive chef at the Sugar Hill Inn) where he attained the position of executive sous chef.  He later completed a chef apprenticeship at the Balsam’s Grand Resort’s prestigious program, where he worked as the executive pastry chef and also worked as executive chef at Bonta, in Hampton, NH.

At Seasons, Chef Matthew’s proffers a refined dining experience, “to give our patrons more options. We’ll have linens on the tables, but we won’t be fussy or pretentious. We also have the flexibility of creating cuisine for two dining venues. Black Diamond Bar & Grille at the Mountain Club features more casual surroundings and fare, and with a fantastic group of culinarians in the kitchen, we strive to serve great, consistent food at a great value, from casual to more upscale.

Seasons at the Mountain Club on Loon features regional New England cuisine “focusing on the finest of seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients found in our fantastic soups, stews, breads, braised items, grains and produce so prominent in our fall and early winter harvests. Our focus at Seasons allows diners a more formal dining option with respect to the menu items and top-notch service, but executed in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.”

New Hampshire, Off the Mountain

Chef Val Fortin, Sugar Hill Inn, Sugar Hill, NH


~The comfortable, sophisticated guest rooms and cottages at the Sugar Hill Inn, taken together with its Euro-upscale 25-seat dining room have earned this oasis in New Hampshire’s White Mountains impressive accolades: multiple DiRoNA  Achievement of Distinction in Dining awards; a Distinguished Inn of North America recognition from Select Registry and a Wine Spectator  Award of Excellence.

Executive Chef and New Hampshire native, Val Fortin, joined owner Steve Allen’s team in 2006 when Allen purchased the inn minutes away from Cannon Mountain, Bretton Woods and Attitash, and began restorations.  The self-taught chef worked his way up from dishwasher to chef, including a long stint at the Mount Washington Hotel and as chef in private hotels and clubs in Florida and Cape Cod.”

Fortin ’s passion for Creative Cuisine, a fusion of international flavors (think herbed spaetzle, Italian bread soup), as well as his “made from scratch” credo and adherence to local and sustainable food philosophies, surfaces all over the four course prix fixe winter menu.    


“The food here tends to be inventive, creative, passionate and comforting. For those diners who are a little more adventurous you may even see a little molecular gastronomy on the menu.” He forages for local food sources at the co-op in Littleton and works with local farmers including the Walker Hill Farm in Lisbon, where he gets all his heirloom tomatoes.

Dinner guests may decide on one of Val’s signature dishes, the horseradish crusted filet mignon of beef tenderloin set atop a scallion and fresh herb potato cake served with a parsley lemon butter and red wine braised shallots or the red wine slow braised beef short ribs with smashed winter root vegetables and fingerling potatoes served with a sauce from it’s own braising liquid. His trio of soups deliver of winter’s essence: a winter squash medley, a broccoli and gruyere combo, almost a fondue, and a heaven-scented potage of mushroom and truffle.

“The pan seared quail breast, served medium rare, and the crispy leg, served with a house made wild mushroom ravioli, crisp prosciutto and wild mushroom and truffle broth is a great beginning to your dining experience. The wild mushroom and truffle broth is served table side so as to get the full aroma of the broth. The tasting of duck is an inn favorite with pan seared duck breast, confit of leg and foie gras ravioli served with whipped gingered sweet potato, French haricots verts, baby white turnips and a lingonberry gastrique.”  Trout, lamb and truffle béchamel mac and cheese dishes round out the entrée offerings.

Desserts are homemade, decadent, beautifully presented. If the homemade ice creams, mini pistachio and pecan whoopie pie (with a orange and Vermont goat cheese filling finished with a salted caramel sauce) or a petite German chocolate cake scented with a touch of espresso (finished with a homemade vanilla bean ice cream and a Tuckerman’s ale chocolate sauce) doesn’t quite fit the bill, then perhaps Val’s handmade bittersweet chocolate and pomegranate laced truffle will.~

On the Mountain Alpine Chefs in this post were profiled in the December issue of Northeast Flavor Magazine; profiles of Alpine Chefs Off the Mountain were written as a Web Extra for Northeast Flavor Magazine. Both articles have been combined here by the writer.