By Peter A. Smith
Photographs by Jarrod McCabe
The Rockport gallerist talks about her life, her practice, and her desire to slow us all down.
I’m from Nashville. I love Nashville, but I cannot live in hot, humid weather. I lose my sunny disposition in hot humid weather. So, I moved to San Francisco in 1974 and it was perfect—the weather, the light. I was a travel agent for 12 years just so I could travel. I would travel around and look at contemporary artwork.
I don’t collect. I just gather these beautiful things so other people can have them and take them home.
I had a gallery in San Francisco, right off Union Square on Post Street, for 17 years. Then, I bought the most fabulous houseboat in Sausalito. In the north end of town, there’s a big houseboat community; downtown, there are two houseboats. One looks like the Taj Mahal. That was not mine. It’s perfect because it gets all the attention. Then, out at the end of 100-yard dock, all just nothing but yachts and sailboats, was my little shack of a place. I took a year to fix it up. It was nothing but view. I could see San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Sausalito, Mt. Tam, Tiburon, Belvedere, and all the seals, egret, and heron. It was heaven.
Once my children went to college, I thought, “Yay! I can do anything I want to.” So, a year and a half ago, I went into a monastery to become a Zen priest. I went to Tassajara, which is down in the wilderness. I got there and realized it’s not what I should be doing.
Because I’m a very happy extroverted Zen Buddhist person, I thought, “This isn’t the best use of me—to be cloistered in the monastery.”
I represent Alan Magee, who lives in Cushing, and the Magees went to Rome for a month. I said, “Great. Can I can come stay at your house?” I came in May and looked at all the property from Owls Head to Camden. I kept coming through Rockport and going over that little bridge. There was a little cottage on the left with no windows. I thought, “It’s such a pity. If that cottage had windows, you could see the harbor.” So, I took a left instead of the right to go toward Camden, and there was a sign that said For Sale By Owner. I bought it and now there are windows upstairs. I’m a left-turn kind of person. If everyone’s taking
a right, I’ll take a left to see what’s down
I believe Rockport is a creative vortex right now. There are things that are happening here that are very creative. Rockport is one place. Marfa, Texas, is another. Brooklyn, New York, is certainly one. Back in the Fifties, it was in the Hamptons. Santa Fe had it for a while, a few years ago.
When I moved here, I thought, “What do I have to offer?” Because people don’t see as many beautiful things anymore, it’s my Zen practice to show people beautiful things. I show people what man is capable of that is wonderful instead of what man is capable of that is horrible. We see that all the time. This is my little contribution to help balance
When I first came here, I thought I’d move to Rockland. I love the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the Strand is just one of my favorite places on the planet. I’m in my sixties. I’ve done what I was going to do, professionally, and now, I’ve come here and there are a lot of us sixty-something-year-olds who’ve come here and settled and just have a lot to offer. It’s appreciated and it’s just delightful. I mean I’m in no hurry.
I wake up probably anywhere between 5:30 and 7:00. I meditate for 30 minutes and then I read the New York Times online because they’ll only deliver it up here on Sundays. The meditation group is on Thursday morning when the Times has its Home section, which is the other day that I really want to read the Times. The group is from 7:00 ’til 8:00. And then, we go to Farmers Fare for breakfast or coffee, so that they can meet each other or
we can talk. But, also so I can get the New York Times.
I went to New York a couple of times recently, but that was on business and to visit my daughter who turned 21. I love Maine. I love the people. I’m like Will Rogers. I haven’t met a person here I don’t like. I don’t want to go to the airport. I don’t want to fool with it. I just want to stay here and meet more of these nice people. I feel really blessed to have found this place. I think it found me.
I have to tell you something else that’s really sad. A lot of people, now, don’t even know what a drawing is. When I say, this is a drawing, a lot of people don’t know that someone picked up a utensil and put it upon that paper, you know? They’ve lost connection with that. So, my goal is to slow them down enough to make that connection.
We’re all moving pretty quickly, and I try
to slow people down a little bit. People don’t have to buy it. I just want them to know that they exist. They can buy it too. Don’t get
Something else I’d like to convey is that children are always welcome, and the other thing is that art galleries are free. They’re free. You can walk in. You can see great art. I would say 99 percent of the artwork that you see in a museum—all that artwork and all those artists—have shown in art galleries before they got into the museum. You can go to art galleries and they don’t cost anything. And people should do that.
Edith Caldwell Gallery | 67 Pascal Ave. | Rockport | 207.706.4000 |