John Walker: A Winter in Maine

John Walker A Winter in Maine

New landscapes from abstract painter John Walker will be presented at the University of Maine Museum of Art from September 24 through January 8. This exhibition, curated by Bruce Brown and Wally Mason, is selected from paintings created by the artist during his first full winter on the Maine coast. Brown interviewed Walker in preparation for the catalog that accompanies the show. During this interview, Walker commented on the influence of the winter on his work, “I suppose what happened was what I expected. I knew it was going to be cold. I knew it was going to be lonely. It was all terribly exciting.” He explained further, “First of all, I endeavor to paint what I’m looking at. And, of course, that’s changing, so my thoughts are changing. You know, the painting is not of me. It’s about me standing there. For the painting to be any good it has to be about everything I’m involved in that day and at that time. A painting is not a passive object.”

Walker’s paintings truly involve everything from the world around him, recording not only the feel of the landscape as it changes with the seasons, but the actual land itself. This is most obvious in his use of mud collected from the flats of Johns Bay. In a recent interview with journalist Bob Keyes, Walker explained the caked on mud in his paintings, “I didn’t want impressions. I’m not an impressionist. I’m a realist. The inspiration is trying to get some realism there. Having tried and tried, it seemed obvious to get a bucket of it and mix it in with the paint, to get the feel for how the tide comes in and out and the patterns that are caused by that constant changing tide on that particular cove where I work.”

Walker has painted the Maine landscape for over thirty summers, but it was not until a sabbatical from Boston University, where he is a professor in the School of Visual Arts, that he could explore the changing coastal landscape throughout a Maine winter. The paintings were introduced at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport this summer. The University of Maine Museum of Art will be the exhibit’s last stop in Maine before traveling to Nielsen Gallery in Boston.

John Walker
Clammer’s Marks, 2004
Mixed media on canvas