Deer Isle Artists Association Over the Decades
"My memories of the DIAA only stretch back fourteen years to 2009; but oh the so many many wonderful memories they are. I was chosen to be in the first exhibit for the summer of 2009, in the quirky gallery on Dow Rd. I met wonderful artists, made new friends, and even curated an exhibit; and by the end of the summer was the DIAA's new president. And then the move from Dow Rd. to our wonderful spot at 15 Main St. in the Village."
- David McBeth
Before becoming the Deer Isle Artists Association, the DIAA was a group of artists that alternated exhibition times during the summer months to host four artists at a time, billed as one-man shows, in the four-roomed Stonington Gallery above the Stonington Library.
The Deer Isle Artists Association, DIAA, was officially founded in 1973 with Dan Hodermarskey as the organizational chairman. Founding members included Tia Bradbury, Ainslie Burke, Louise Eewing, Luke Gwilliam, Dan Hodermarksy, Martin Klaver, Jim Meade, Helen Tuttle, among others.
The association's preamble stated: "The association is fully committed to the advancement of the arts. Its primary purpose is to promote the visual arts through exhibitions and education; its overall aim is to further the cultural enrichment of the community."
Curated one-man shows were the standard exhibition style for the first few years. Artists bios were written in the press releases and newspaper articles highlighting the artists scheduled to exhibit each summer season.
In 1976 the Deer Isle Artists Association hosted its first all-member show at the Centennial House (now the Turtle Gallery), exhibiting a large percentage of the 133 members.
After enjoying almost a decade exhibiting in the gallery space above the Stonington Library, and a variety of locations including Wilson Gallery and Museum in Castine, the University of Maine and Nasson College, and the Centennial House, the DIAA moved to the Seamark Building in 1979 (then called the Old Deer Isle High School).
The large space was divided into four smaller areas, again following the four one-person show plan, but with the addition of a smaller area called the Little Gallery which was open to all members for smaller artworks. One exhibit each summer was the All-Member show in which all members could exhibit. A member had to participate in an All-Members show for two consecutive years to be eligible for a one-person slot which was chosen by lottery.
"I moved to Stonington in 1975 and after settling in I joined the Deer Isle Artist Association. At that time the gallery was in the Stonington Public Library, and was a summer organization of a mix of year-rounders and summer residents.
The upstairs space which held the gallery, situated with a view of the harbor, absolutely charmed me, a "newbie" to the Maine coast. I met two artists that would later help me, a beginner, in my pursuit of an MFA, David Lund and Carl Schrag. Attached is a pastel I exhibited at one of those early exhibitions."
- Siri Beckman
I was Haystack’s first local scholarship girl in ’61, when they opened, and later served on the Community and Scholarship committees. He [Francis Merritt] was very dear. I believe it was in the seventies when he knocked on my door and handed me the scroll — with a horse on it. Horses have been the love of my life and I’ve had many. She [Emily Muir] was a very dear supporter, first encouraging my art in 7th grade. I left the Island at 18, in '62 and returned in ’76.
- Penny Plumb
"It's so wonderful to see all of these names and the memories they bring forth. I joined the DIAA in, or close to, 1975. It was my second summer on the island and DIAA was still in Stonington over the library. As a papermaker at the time, I had been very impressed by a show featuring the paper pieces of Judy Ingram and Judith Sugarman. Judy and I met a few times, and one day she arrived at my door, urging me to become secretary of DIAA. She was in a big hurry.
"What??? Judy, I just joined and only know a few people,"
"That's okay, you'd be great."
"You don't even know if I can write,"
" Doesn't matter."
And so I became the secretary and in the same way David Klopfenstein became treasurer. It was loose and whacky and funny, and the little boat sailed on to what it is today."
- Katharine Butler
The DIAA regularly took steps to strengthen the growth and accessibility of art and art experiences in the area. In 1979 the organization contributed art supplies to the high school and hosted poetry readings, film viewings, and traveling exhibitions throughout the island during the winter months. In 1982 it established an annual art award to a graduating senior at t
he Deer Isle-Stonington High School, provided participatory funding to the Visiting Artists Program of the Maine State
Commission on the Arts and the Humanities, and
provided subscriptions to Art in America to local libraries.
Though organization records do not show exactly how
many young artists received the annual award, we can
estimate that a minimum of seven students between
1982 and 1990 received the award. The annual award
was later lost in the pressures of the growing
organization, fading out sometime in the 1990s.
"I worked in the kitchen with Fran Merritt and Kay as a scholarship student at Haystack in the late 60's , then as an instructor in the 70's. It was Fran who encouraged me to show at DIAA. It was not easy commuting from Isle au Haut to the openings and deliveries to Seamark and Dow Rd, but friends on the Reach Road put me up for the nights I couldn't make the boat home. I had a one person show at Dow Rd. of my ceramic turned musical instruments after returning from a Penland course with Brian Ransom and always wished I'd had more time to know the members. Now living in Sedgwick, I've had the chance to experience the new (to me) gallery and to meet some of the volunteers."
- Ruth Van Doren
"Community service is one of the prime occupations of the DIAA" - Pam Pace, 1979
Support for young artists expanded again in 1983 when the organization donated funds to the schools for slide shows and the construction of display units and sponsoring performing arts events at the schools.
The DIAA sponsored other events throughout the early 1980s for the greater community including concerts by The Loft Chamber Players, Baroque violinist Robert Bloch, harpsichordist Louis Bagger, as well as a variety of student musicians during the annual Young Artists Exhibitions.
With limited fundraising over the years, the majority of the gallery's profit came from art sales, membership dues, and small donations made to the association. These funds then went back into the community through events and exhibitions. However in 1985 noted pianist and composer and summer resident of Deer Isle, Harold Bogin, hosted a benefit concert for the DIAA in the Deer Isle-Stonington High School to help the organization continue its mission of providing and supporting art activities in the community.
"...thinking about all the spaces in which DIAA has been housed.
upstairs over Stonington Library
Seamark second floor - that's when I was VP, the only officer here in the winter time, so I have strong memories of schlepping up those stairs. Often.
downtown Deer Isle, which is the best!!!
One of the great pleasures of the early days was getting to know the wonderful artists who were here seasonally, all mostly gone. Most were members of DIAA and others came to the exhibits: Dan Hodermarsky, Stephen Pace, Karl Schrag, Leon Goldin, David Lund, Sally Amster, Jack Sonnenberg, Phoebe Hellman."
- Lynn Duryea
In 1995, the DIAA moved to 13 Dow Road. Member Don Reiman redesigned the front entrance and wall into a roomy, airy space; and again the room layout worked well for four separate spaces and the Little Gallery. The rooms were also Haystack's winter offices which meant a lot of shifting and moving of files and furniture by each organization. DIAA members had long been searching for a facility that would be more centrally located and without access issues (the previous two homes had long flights of stairs that posed a challenge for artists and visitors alike).
Members' artwork continued to be exhibited as curated one-man shows, four artists at a time. After artwork was selected for each exhibit, a gallery technician would hang the shows. Artists created posters and postcards for the exhibition to be distributed throughout the peninsula.
"What a wonderful and rich archival history. Thank you all. I loved reading every word. My personal memories go back to when the DIAA was on the Dow Road during the summer season and the Haystack School of Crafts in the space "off season." The school closed the Campus at the end of October and went back to the Haystack Campus mid-May. That shift and heave ho move happened, from file cabinets to desks, housing charts to office supplies, and so much in between. A shout out to past 13 Dow Road property owner Carolyn Hecker, dedicated to Maine craft organizations over the years, for making the space available to both of these groups for so long.
I was on the Haystack staff for many, many of those years and many of those moves back and forth...Having my ceramic studio and gallery, dowstudio showroom two doors down, also meant we had creative neighbors dedicated to art and craft in a very democratic style of participation.. All are welcome at DIAA and I now find myself welcomed into this rich history of the .DIAA and happy to be a member."
- Carole Ann Fer
"The Postcards from Away show in May 2007 deserves special mention. Maureen Farr was the principal organizer and...it was a big success and perhaps the precursor of the 12” x 12” show. There were a few important points:
All works were the same postcard size and were signed only on the reverse side so the artist was unknown to the purchaser at time of sale.
All were priced at $50.
The show was only for two days - plus a preview party on the Friday evening before (admission $25 - credited against any postcard purchase).
Artists could choose to either donate their work or receive $25 if sold and could elect to have work returned.
Everyone had a great time at the preview party. Loni Hayman won the drawing and got first pick. She chose a postcard by Judy Ingram.
There were hundreds of submissions, many from school kids who were solicited because Maureen and Carolyn Hecker had no idea how many artists would participate. It was not limited to DIAA members."
- Sara Forster
Fifteen years later, in 2010, the DIAA moved once more. The first floor of 15 Main Street in Deer Isle Village became available, and that was a wonderful central location. The building was designed to be an art gallery and was previously home to the Blue Heron Gallery. The room was not divided into four sections, so exhibits were able to transform to a sign-up style allowing more members to exhibit at a time. Members are responsible for gallery-sitting, publicity, receptions, and maintenance. And for the first time, no steps hinder visitors. Member Bruce Bulger constructed panels which can be moved to accommodate the work on display.
That summer the DIAA celebrated their new home and the rejuvenation of the Young Artists Award with an exhibition titled Looking Back, Looking Forward. The exhibit showcased artwork by local high school students as well as artists from the 1970s - many still members at the time. The association also hosted the Wings, Waves, & Woods exhibit, coordinated in partnership with the Island Heritage Trust during their Wings, Waves & Woods Festival.
The following summer a new annual exhibition was added to the summer line-up: DISHeS. Created with the award in mind, a portion of the sales went directly to the scholarship fund that annually granted funds to a promising senior art student from the Deer Isle-Stonington High School planning to pursue a degree in the arts.
In 2014 a new all-members show was added to the annual schedule. The 12x12, a fundraising exhibition, included works by 66 members and spanned across a variety of media including paintings, pottery, sculptures, jewelry, fibers, and drawings. All 2D work was 12x12 inches, and all 3D work had to fit inside a
12x12x12 space. Additionally, all artwork was the same price. The 12x12 All-
Members Show remains a popular exhibition each season for members and
With a shortage of winter activities in 2017, then Vice President Hub White
established two art-centered offerings at the DIAA: Let's Draw and ART matters.
Let's Draw was a gathering of artists interested in fellowship during their
drawing sessions, allowing for feedback and conversation. ART matters focused
on artist lectures and panel discussions built around various themes.
Also in 2017 Bruce built the desk work-station, cabinets and shelves for storage
and displaying artworks that were designed by Hub.
In 2020 the association had to make a different type of move. With the summer approaching and no sign of the pandemic ending in sight, the DIAA needed to pivot. Exhibitions were still on display, but as window displays only with call-in and front-porch purchases. PR fees were waived and the 12x12 show went online, opening the wonderful artwork to a whole new group of patrons. People from away that were not traveling to Maine could still participate in the association's largest fundraiser. Let's Draw and ART matters were put on hold to limit gatherings.
The winter months of 2022 brought a new kind of programming to the DIAA. In addition to the winter windows exhibitions, artist residencies were created with a new member artist using the gallery as a studio for one-month each. Artists were able to work or private or open the gallery for visitors during their day, selling works, and working on their art. Once again bringing light, art, and community to the island during the winter.
The Deer Isle Artists Association currently has around 100 member artists and a robust exhibition schedule with works representing a large array of artists: painters, potters, jewelers, fiber artists, basket weavers, sculptors, drawers, leather-smiths, photographers, and more. Membership is always open, with both regular memberships and student memberships available. Contact us to learn more or become a member!
DIAA Presidential History
Dan Hodermarskey (chairman)
*served multiple terms
Advertisement Styles Over the Years