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Where Maine's Coast Got Rugged

Today, the Portland Museum of Art will opened a major new acquisition to the public. Winslow Homer's studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough is a landmark of Maine visual arts — and, because of Homer's own paintings, this site also represents an iconic piece of Maine's coastline.

The Museum purchased the studio in 2006, and now, having completed a major capital fundraising campaign and an extensive restoration of the building's original features, the Museum today opened the renovated studio's doors open to guided tours: three times daily, Tuesday through Sunday, departing in vans from Congress Square.

Meanwhile, back at the museum in downtown Portland, they've organized an exhibition of several dozen of Homer's later, most critically-acclaimed works from Prouts Neck. Weatherbeaten: Winslow Homer and Maine assembles etchings and paintings from numerous art institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, for a reunion back in Maine. These paintings helped define the Maine coastline in the popular imagination: they're a big reason why so many people associate the Maine coastline with ruggedness and the indifferent power of wild nature. Homer's work on Prouts Neck also helped influence numerous Maine artists of future generations (most notably the Wyeth family).

In addition to the legacies of visual art, the renovated studio also provides an authentic and appealing example of local architect John Calvin Stevens's shingle style architecture. Stevens designed a broad, 2nd-story balcony that faced Saco Bay and gave the famous artist a sweeping vantage of his favorite subject. Now the rest of us can be inspired by the same views that inspired Winslow Homer a hundred years ago.

Image: the balcony of Homer's studio on Prouts Neck. Courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art.

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