Edgecomb Farmhouse Gets New Life as Art Gallery, Creative Space
July 14, 2o17 by Abigail W. Adams, Lincoln County News
A century-old farmhouse on Boothbay Road in Edgecomb has been given new life as an art gallery with future plans to add a vineyard and a creative, community-oriented space. The 1906 farmhouse and adjacent 1904 barn at 146 Boothbay Road is now home to Brad and Danielle Betts’ Down East Gallery, which celebrated its grand opening July 1.
The couple has plans to turn the barn into a space where music, art, and food will converge for a full cultural experience, they said. The barn was filled with live music from Hanah Daman and the Martelle Sisters, Ursa Minor, and Ben Betts on July 1.
The grand opening was an ambitious event scheduled shortly after the couple purchased the property in January to force themselves to renovate the house and open the gallery by July, Danielle Betts said. Work on the house was completed the afternoon of July 1, before about 200 people turned out to see the opening of the gallery.
The Bettses see the future of the barn as a space where art exhibits can be paired with food and music to add new dimensions to the exhibits on display. They also hope to use the barn as a performance space and support young, up-and-coming musicians by pairing their performances with performances by established musicians.
The gallery in the century-old farmhouse features the paintings of Brad Betts and stone, glass, and wooden sculptures by a variety of artists. It is meant to feel like a home and demonstrate what the art would look like in a home, Danielle said.
Brad Betts’ paintings of schooners, shorelines, flowers, fields, and more dot the walls of the gallery, with many of the rooms containing couches and tables that beckon attendees to sit, relax, and absorb the tranquil scenes in Brad Betts’ paintings.
The couple saw their 35 acres in Edgecomb blossom for the first time this spring. “I haven’t really had a chance to paint here yet,” Brad said, “but I’m starting to get inspired.”Brad draws the inspiration for his paintings largely from the natural world and the interplay of light on objects, he said. Inspiration from nature led the couple to move to East Boothbay in 2007 and open Down East Gallery’s original location in 2014.
Danielle and Brad Betts were living in New Gloucester when they decided to move to East Boothbay. Brad, originally from Florida, specializes in maritime painting and was introduced to the area through a painting club.
“He said if he was going to live in Maine for the rest of his life, it would be in East Boothbay,” said Danielle, who was born and raised in Maine. The couple made an offer on property in East Boothbay the very next day.
The gallery in East Boothbay attracted a number of people traveling down Ocean Point, Brad said. “It was encouraging,” he said. “It inspired us to see if we could do the gallery on a larger scale.”
The couple also wanted to expand their personal vineyard and find land where they could grow more grapes. They traveled past 146 Boothbay Road in Edgecomb regularly and did not pay attention to the property until they saw “acreage” on the for sale sign.
“We’d drive by and see the hill,” Danielle said. “We always wondered what was on the other side.” The ridge on the property is ideal for growing grapes and extends out to fields and wooded lands below.
As the couple viewed the property, they saw an American woodcock take flight, a game bird known for performing aerial acrobatics as part of its mating dance. “It was because of that bird we decided to put an offer in,” Brad said.
The couple closed on the property in the winter and began their renovation of the farmhouse shortly thereafter. The pipes in the house had burst years earlier, and the insulation and interior walls had been stripped down to the studs.
The house had been in the Hutchins family since it was built in 1906, with only one owner outside the family before the Bettses bought it, they said.
Don Hutchins Jr. stopped at the house when he saw new cars in the driveway and renovation work going on, Brad said.
He told the Bettses the full history of the house – how his great-grandfather Charlie Hutchins harvested all the wood used to build it, and several family stories centered on the property. “It added a lot of life, knowing the history,” Danielle said.
When Down East Gallery held its grand opening July 1, several members of the Hutchins family attended.
The Bettses’ sons, Ben and Sam, are helping with the gallery’s operation. Sam Betts’ woodworking is among the sculptures on display at the gallery, and Ben Betts, a musician, performed at the opening.
The work of the late Whitefield sculptor Roger Majorowicz can be seen in museums throughout the U.S. and Europe. His “Chasing the Moon” is on the lawn at Down East Gallery.
The piece was donated by Dan Ucci, another sculptor prominently featured in the gallery. “It took a lot of teamwork” to transport the sculpture to Edgecomb, Danielle said. “It’s really special having this here.”
The gallery will be open daily and will complement the East Boothbay location, which is open by chance or by appointment.
The couple hopes the Edgecomb location will not only increase the visibility of Down East Gallery, but also serve as a space that will bring people from throughout Lincoln County together – from the Boothbay peninsula to the Twin Villages and Wiscasset, they said.
Brad and Danielle Betts are currently brainstorming about their next event.
“When you buy a farmhouse, you buy it, in part, for the history,” Brad Betts said. The house was teeming with energy at the grand opening. “It’s nice to know that we’re creating a new history (for the house), and giving it another 100 years to live on,” he said.
Down East Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, go to downeastgallery.wordpress.com or call 318-3282.
Down East Gallery in Edgecomb opens July 1
On Saturday, July 1, Brad and Danielle Betts will open the doors to their new Down East Gallery, at 146 Boothbay Road in Edgecomb. They’ll welcome visitors into the newly restored space that will feature his paintings.
The large, spacious barn on the property will be open to visitors, too. Beginning at 5 p.m., live music will be performed by Ursa Minor, Hannah Damon and the Martelle Sisters, and Ben Betts.
The Betts purchased the house, the barn, and 35 acres of mostly field, last winter. The house had been gutted, right down to the crumbling old plaster walls, but the barn was clean and well-appointed. The field behind the house on Route 27 included a big, hilly slope. That was one of the reasons the Betts decided to buy the property.
They were looking for a place to start a vineyard. They already have a small one in East Boothbay, but they want to get a little more serious about making some good wine. When they saw the south-facing slope, in a place with the perfect terroir – the geographic location, soil type, and weather conditions, for growing grapes – they knew they had to have it.
“We looked at the farmhouse and said that could be the gallery, then we looked at the barn and said that could be for music,” Danielle said. “It has everything we want: Music, wine and art.”
Danielle is thinking about producing a Maine version of Champagne. The Betts recently visited Oyster River Wine Growers in Warren. The winery has released a Champagne made with Maine-grown grapes, and the Betts are hoping to do something similar. “The Maine terroir is very similar to that of the Champagne region of France,” Danielle said.
After spending the winter entirely renovating the dark, dismal interior of the house, it is now full of bright white walls and ceilings, and light, with a large window and french doors overlooking the huge field out back. It’s a perfect space for a gallery, and most of the walls, downstairs and up, are adorned with Brad’s paintings.
The couple imagines the barn as a place like an old grange hall, with music on some Saturday nights. “If we come across a band we like, like Hannah Damon and the Martelle Sisters, who do three-part harmonies, and play guitar, violin and mandolin, we’ll ask them to play,” Danielle said. “It can be a space for a performance of any type, really,” Brad added.
After July 1, the business will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the gallery by the same name, in East Boothbay, will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and by appointment.
The Betts are looking forward to making their new place an experience for all to enjoy. “I hope people will come for the art, but I hope they enjoy the barn events, the vineyard – all of it. I want people to come here and be able to relax a little, and look at art, and just enjoy being here,” Brad said. “I’d like it to be an experience they won’t forget.”
Along with his oil paintings, the gallery will feature stone sculpture by Dick Alden, Dan Ucci and Andreas von Heune; metal sculpture by Roger Majorowicz, steel sculpture by Susan Bennett; hand-woven tapestries by Priscilla May Alden; glass sculpture by Gabriel Greenlaw; and furniture and wood bowls by Sam Betts.
Come help them celebrate. The gallery will be open at 10 a.m., and the party and music in the barn begins at 5. Burgers & Freys food truck will be there selling its burgers and fries beginning at around 7 p.m., along with Sugar Daddy’s Lemonade Stand from Damariscotta. People are welcome to bring some food to share, and their favorite drinks.
Betts’ paintings have appeared in solo and group shows throughout New England, including the Mystic Seaport Gallery’s acclaimed International Marine Art Exhibition for the past seven years. In 2006, he received the Maritime Gallery Yachting Award and in 2008 he was recognized as one of “Four Distinguished Artists” at the Mystic Seaport Gallery.
Visit https://downeastgallery.wordpress.com/about/ for more about his work.
Original article by Suzi Thayer, posted on June 26, 2017: Boothbay Register article
Brad Betts, Impossible Dreams and Serendipity
October 19, 2016
When Brad Betts was approached about donating a painting for an auction in Florida, there was a slight hesitation. Very slight. As soon as the reason for asking him to paint and give away a painting that would normally fetch upwards of $7,000 was made clear, he was sold.
This past summer, a boat sailed into Boothbay Harbor with owner Deborah Mellen, her dog Winter, a captain, Will Rey, and first mate Evan Duffy.
Down East Gallery lights up East Boothbay
July 4th 2014
Maine Home+Design Designer Showhouse features “Fair Winds and Following Seas”
Excerpt from Maine Home+Design July 2015 article by Sarah Stebbins, “The Remains of the Day”
Mount Desert Island’s second annual designer showhouse transforms one of the last vestiges of a Vanderbilt estate.
INTERIOR DESIGNER: BETSY BARMAT STIRES, FROG HILL DESIGNS
“Decorating a guest suite gave Barmat Stires an opportunity “to tell a story” in three parts. The entryway (photo below), with its juxtaposition of Dana Gibson wallpapers, is designed to wow and “get people excited for what’s to come in the other rooms.” An oil by Boothbay artist Brad Betts and a wooden sculpture by Dan Falt of Northeast Harbor celebrate MDI’s picturesque, and pastoral, qualities.”
Painting “Fair Winds and Following Seas” by Brad Betts, in the Mount Desert Island 2015 Designer Showhouse, Vanderbilt Cottage.
“Cup Challenge” selected for Book Cover
Brad’s painting “Cup Challenge” was selected for the cover of internationally renowned author Ferenc Mate’s book, Sea of Lost Dreams, the second book in the Dugger/Nello series.
“Summer on Monhegan” published in Island Light