By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,320)
A love of his native Maine and carving large, whimsical animals out of wood with skills taught to him by his carpenter father, Bernard Langlais has long won the hearts and minds of Maine’s artist community as well as the international community. Portland is first in line to be the beneficiary of one or possibly more pieces of his vast collection on his 90 acre estate in Cushing, Jack Soley told the Public Art Committee at its monthly meeting earlier this week.
Born in Old Town in 1921, Langlais knew early in life that he wanted to be an artist. He studied painting all over the world – including Paris and Oslo. After marrying another Maine native and living in Manhattan, the couple bought a farm in Cushing. Although successful in New York, Langlais discovered his unique artistry in Cushing at the farm. Carving whimsical statue size bears, lions and smaller birds, the profilic Langlais who died prematurely in 1977, left behind hundreds of statues both inside and outside the farmhouse. His wife, Helen, is deceased.
Soley picked up the narrative when he told Committee members that Colby College was to have been the sole beneficiary the collection. However, the huge size of the collection became too complicated for it. The College turned to the Kohler Foundation, for assistance in distributing the pieces. Because of the outside exposure for years, some are in better condition than others. One caveat is that the piece(s) selected by Portland would have to be displayed indoors - i.e. the Ocean Gateway. Kohler Foundation would get them into good condition and pay for transportation to Portland; Portland would finance the siting of the work.
The Public Art Committee voted unanimously to proceed to bring appropriate sculpture(s) from the Bernard Langlais collection to Portland, possibly beginning in April.