STEWIACKE – On the upper level at Mastodon Ridge, Maud Lewis has found a home.
The Winding River Art Gallery is home to a number of silk screen prints of Lewis’ creations, and it’s attracting a lot of attention, says artist Colette Samson.
“Willard Ferguson had the copyrights to Maud Lewis’ work, and it was his in-law descendants we got them from,” she explained.
Walking through the door, there’s a picture of the folk artist. Surrounding her are hand cut framed silk screen prints – five in total. One, which pictures two deer, comes in a larger version as well. There are also six art cards framed and on display.
“Everybody loves Maud,” said Samson, adding it’s been a journey for her. “I’ve been grasping for every bit of information I can find.”
Ferguson was a part owner of 10 Mile House in Bedford and was selling the silk screen prints at the same time Lewis was selling originals. When Ferguson’s business closed, the prints went into storage.
The last invoice those at the gallery can find, dates Ferguson’s last sale in 1997.
The prints remained in storage until this past autumn when a man visited the gallery and asked if they were interested in buying the prints.
The gallery, however, is a cooperative and artists pay a small fee to display their works. Intrigued, the woman working that day asked whose prints.
“The gallery was lucky,” Samson said. “She realized there might be something there.”
Since putting the collection on display in November, there have been visitors daily to the gallery to catch a glimpse, and even more so since the feature film Maudie was released.
“Since the movie, that has definitely increased. We just recently put our sign up and we’ve seen a real increase in traffic.”
The gallery decided to have the prints appraised, and called on Ellen Adler, who is affiliated with the Vose Gallery in Boston and Paul Rosenberg in New York.
“We’re confident her appraisal is fairly accurate,” said Samson, smiling when saying one print has already been sold.
When talking about Lewis, Samson’s face always begins to glow and a smile form.
“I think everybody knows about her. It became a mission of mine to find out every detail I could. I wanted to know her life, her story.”
The gallery sells a book on Lewis, authored by Lance Woolaver. Samson calls it a “wealth of information.”
“I’ll pick it up, go to the index, find what I want to read about and just sit and read. I like her perseverance. She was so amazing, so strong in all the difficulties she faced.”
The gallery is currently open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.