B O O K  R E V I E W


Phillip Barter, Maine Master


Phillip Barter in his Sullivan studio. Gifford Ewing photo

Phillip Barter: Forever Maine
by Carl Little
Marshall Wilkes, Inc.
6 Court Street
Ellsworth, Maine 04605
136 pages

Phil Barter’s work is unmistakable.

An authentic Maine painter by virtue of his life-long immersion, apprenticeship and ultimate mastery of translating with paint what he sees in Maine. That mastery will be the arbiter of his legacy.

His family’s 1700s roots on Barter Island off Boothbay and his continuous life on the Maine coast are the source of his saying, “I always feel trapped away from the sea.” For most of his working life he has worked year round on or around the sea.

Phillip Barter: Forever Maine contains a full range of Barter’s work in 126 images of his paintings. Comments from those who know Barter and his work well are blended in with Carl Little’s text. The book’s format is large enough to reveal details of his painter’s mastery.

Ascending Cloud

“From the very first time I saw his work, I felt Phil was a true Maine original, able to comfortably and joyously portray the hardscrabble life of rural Maine in paintings that sing with color and strong graphic design. These “narrative” works, as he calls them, are some of the most authentically brilliant Maine art ever produced.” – John Ames, Gallery 68, Belfast, Maine

“Here is a man who has lived many lives, only to settle on the one best suited to his personality and panache: that of painter. Philip Barter has dug marine worms and pulled lobster traps, carpentered and clammed—and all that hard work and local knowledge has fed his sense of life lived and rendered. He appreciates an iced-in harbor beyond its picturesque possibilities, but he will paint it to a glorious turn. He is also a fool for blueberry barrens and Mount Katahdin.” – Carl Little


“I started going to Katahdin when I first got to Maine because of Hartley mostly. And I was so intimidated by Hartley for about fifteen to twenty years…Then one year Priscilla and I were up there, and we were going down the upper Penobscot River and I looked back and I saw this form, like an ascending bird, and I said wow. I thought, ‘That’s mine.’ From then on, all the Katahdin paintings have that or a variation of that composition…I couldn’t stop once I got going.” – Barter

“Each painting has its own reality, its own life, laws, and must be true to itself alone. Reality, like time, is multidirectional, and sometimes you have to paint between the trees. Remember that the first artists, poets, and storytellers brought hope and comfort to the people.” – Barter

“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

“Barter supported his family as a clammer and sternman; he also owned a mussel harvesting business. While working these various jobs, Barter began a prolonged immersion into art history. As someone who didn’t get to museums, he relied on a large art library.” – Carl Little

Fall Birches

“You hope [the painting] has its own reality,” he says, adding, “As long as it’s true to itself, it doesn’t matter how it relates to anything around it.” – Barter

Barter developed a fearless approach to color. He had always embraced the expressive palette of the German Expressionists, the Fauves, van Gogh, and other daring colorists.

Now he upped the ante, becoming bolder in his choice of hues.

Barter is not just another artist. He has been committed to the Maine landscape for half a century, earning a special place along the way in the illustrious art history of his home state. If his self-proclaimed goal early in his career was to “take up where Hartley left off,” he has by all accounts succeeded. Now in his late seventies, Barter is considered a master, a native son who took the art world by storm and never lwet up.


Global Lobster Trade

When the Civil War Came to Maine

Editorial – You Watch My Back: Season 40

Uncertainty in Stock Assessments Impacts Harvest Rates

Letter – Commissioner’s Letter on LD575

If Lobster Landings Fall, Profits Could Too

Widely-Used Marine Seismic Gun Negatively Impacts Zooplankton

Hydrographic Surveys in Penobscot and Jericho Bays

Shrimp Fishermen, Shut Out For Now, Weigh in on Future Management Measures

2017 Seafood Throwdown Schedule

DOC Decision May Impact ASMFC’s Ability to Conserve Atlantic Coastal Fisheries

Dept. of Commerce
Picks Council Seats

Where New England’s Catch Goes and Why It Matters

Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming

Given the Right Tools, Fishermen Perform Data Collection

Nicholas Walsh – Fiduciary Duty

Stonington Races: Big Turn Out on a Great Day

2017 GMC Double Cab 4x4 at Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Race, August 12, 2017

24th Year for Stonington Races

Codfather Attempts to Leverage Permits and Boats

NMFS Fishing Vessel Capital Construction Fund Procedure Changes

From Beaches to the Bottom of the Sea, Microplastics Everywhere

Macroalgae Cultivation

The Voice of Safety – Life Saving Technique Easy and Available


Life Jacket Project!

Hampton, NH Fisherman Takes Case to US Supreme Court

Groundfishing and Lobstering on the Same Trip

Data Yields Trajectory of Maine’s Coastal Fisheries at PMM

Request for Information on Offshore Oil & Gas Leases

2017 Maine Lobster
Boat Racing Schedule

Lee Wilbur – Learnin’ To Love Fishin’


Book Review – Phillip Barter, Maine Master

Back Then – Shay’s Tent