BAR HARBOR and FALMOUTH, ME—“Travels Near and Far, A Retrospective” at the Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth, features the work of modernist artist Ethel Halsey Blum, 1900-1991. The exhibit runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 29, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 30.
The gallery, at 251 US Route One, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A portion of the sales will benefit College of the Atlantic, whose Ethel H. Blum Gallery is named for the artist.
“Travels Near and Far” features 26 paintings, mostly watercolors, including many sea- and landscapes by Blum, who was a journalist and philanthropist as well as an accomplished artist. As suggested by the show’s title, the paintings were created in many locales, including Mount Desert Island and the Bahamas, where the Blums had homes, and during voyages to Arizona, France, Thailand, and around Africa.
Noted Maine art critic Carl Little, “From the coast of Maine to New York City and beyond, Ethel Blum had a keen sense of place. Her watercolors and oils capture locale with a confident hand.
These words would surely please Blum, who when asked about her artistic approach once said, “I am interested in trying to capture the essence of a place or a subject … its atmosphere or aura, made up of its palette, shapes, textures, what it evokes in the beholder. Light and air are of paramount importance, which is why the French Impressionists are my favorite school.”
Blum’s watercolors have been exhibited in New York City, the Bahamas, and throughout New England, particularly at the National Academy, Adler Gallery, and Van Dieman-Lilienfeld Galleries in New York, the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, CT, Maine Coast Artists in Rockland, ME, and at COA. She studied in New York City at the Art Students League and Brooklyn Academy. The work in this exhibit was selected in part by Blum’s daughter, Alice Yoakum, and son Jack, who lives in Cumberland Foreside close to the family of Blum’s granddaughter, Suzette Devine.
Born in Montreal, Blum was raised in New Orleans, and schooled at Wellesley College. She worked as a journalist for the New Orleans Item before heading to Europe in the 1920s, where she reported for what became the International Herald Tribune. She later wrote for the Associated Press, becoming the first woman there to receive a byline. During World War II, Blum was active in aiding American prisoners of war and British civilians. She later became a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, was a founding member of the Brooklyn committee for Planned Parenthood and a patron of several New York arts organizations. In Maine, she was an active supporter of Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island Hospital, and the MDI Island Biological Laboratory, and founded the MDI highway safety council.
Blum’s husband, Robert, was vice president and secretary of Abraham & Straus, the Brooklyn department store founded by his grandfather, Abraham Abraham. Robert Blum was a founder of the Maine Community Foundation, the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Bahamas National Trust. He joined College of the Atlantic’s board of trustees in 1973, later becoming a life trustee. Ethel Blum also served on the COA board. The Blums spent summers cruising the Maine coast with their two children on the yawl Sylph designed by Farnham Butler.
For more information about Travels Near and Far, A Retrospective of Ethel Halsey Blum at the Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 29, contact the gallery at 207-781-2620.