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Maine in Minnesota

Marsden Hartley's "Maine Snowstorm"

Marsden Hartley’s “Maine Snowstorm”

Now that Jen and I are back in St. Paul for the summer, I’ve kept my eye out for Maine references here in the Midwest.

I found a few.

I took the 3A bus to the University of Minnesota campus a couple of weeks ago to view a “Photography in the United States” exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum. Jen met me there after a lunch with another professor.

The Weisman Museum is in a funky, stainless steel building that looks like a shipwreck. It sits on the shore of the Mississippi River with a spectacular view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The museum was recently expanded and features a number of exhibits.

After viewing a nice collection of photo work that mixed local Minnesota standouts like Wing Young Huie and Alec Soth with major American artists like Walker Evans and Margaret Burke-White, we ventured into permanent collection…and found Maine.

A gallery designed to educate young artists featured, among others, the work of  modernist painter Marsden Hartley. Hartley was  born in Lewistown, Maine in 1877. The museum displayed several Hartley paintings including “Maine Snowstorm.” Hartley painted the canvas in 1908, showing that the harsh but beautiful Maine winters haven’t changed much in 100 years.

A few days later, Jen and I stopped at the Animal Ark Thrift Store in St. Paul. I was looking for old records. Jen was looking for a cat.

While Jen was making friends with an orange tabby named “Crush,” a grey-haired lady in a big leather bomber jacket was adopting a pet. It turned out the woman was from Maine. She told Jen her friends moved her from Biddeford to Minnesota. Because she was on public assistance she could only have two cats, she said. One of her cats just died so she needed another.

“She was a little too stranger-friendly to be from Minnesota,” said Jen.

One of the first things, I did upon returning to Minnesota was get a haircut from my old friend Sherry. Maine barbers insist on giving me a Bieber cut. I prefer a Beatles-bob. Sherry knows the subtle but important difference to get the job done right. After the cut I met up with my good buddy and top-notch dentist Jake Koller for lunch. We had a burger across the street from his office at Neumann’s Bar – the oldest continually operating bar in Minnesota.

The creaky old place still has the live bullfrogs in the front window and pin-ups in the men’s room. The small lunchtime crowd was watching  “Northwoods Law” on a TV over the grill . The Animal Planet show stars “real” Maine game wardens and their deep woods adventures.

“Hey, I live in Maine,” I said to the bartender.

“Really?” He said. “Looks like they got a lot of woods out there.”

“Yeah, Have you heard of the North Pond Hermit?”

“A hermit?”

“Yeah, they just found a guy who lived in the woods in a tent for something like 25 years. He’d break into cabins for food. Nobody knew he was there.”

“I guess you can do that kind of stuff in Maine,” said the bartender.

Yup, you sure can.

Meanwhile on the TV, the game wardens investigated the remains of a meth lab and, later, used an ATV to pull a moose out of a mud pit.

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