Maine artists help Hurricane Island Outward Bound School celebrate 50 years

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 9:45am

    CAMDEN — Over the last 50 years, who knows how many budding artists have used their time sequestered on a Hurricane Island Outward Bound School course during solo to truly look around and recognize their creative potential?

    On Aug. 9, nearly 22 Maine artists working in oil painting, watercolor, sculpture and photography took the boat ride out to Hurricane Island to participate in the school’s 50th Anniversary Art + Auction Invitational. Hurricane Island is comprised of 180-acres and located in Penobscot Bay, off Vinalhaven. The school was founded by Peter Willauer in 1964 . The purpose of the Aug. 9 trip was to create original works of art to be auctioned as part of the Anniversary Bash, a benefit dinner and art auction, being held this Friday, Aug. 22, at Point Lookout Resort in Northport.

    One artist who made the journey was Eric Hopkins, one of Maine’s most renowned artists, who also happens to be an alumnus of Outward Bound.

    “Outward Bound is close to my heart,” he said. “I was 16-years-old in 1967, the youngest kid on the course at the time. It was the third year they were in existence. We called it ‘Crazycane Island’ because it was crazy what they made you do: cram yourself into a little rowboat, jump overboard, stay on an island four days by yourself. But, it didn’t sound crazy to me, it sounded like fun.

    Hopkins, who has been painting since the age of 2, didn’t use his time on solo, however, to dream up new landscapes. “I was just taking everything in,” he said. “I was a licensed lobsterman at the time and I’d found some old junk parts of a lobster trap on Hurricane Island. So, I spent a lot of my time fixing up that lobster trap. I found a bait bag, got mussels and clams for bait, put my life jacket out and went out and set the lobster trap to see if I could catch some lobster on solo.”

    He didn’t catch any lobster, but he did catch some crab. And these are memories he’ll never forget.

    “It’s an amazing program,” he said. “For a young guy who was full of piss and vinegar, it really helped me sort through values and what was important in life. It was both philosophical and spiritual and pushed me to serve, to strive and not to yield—their motto. It also taught me to not pay attention to what anyone else thinks. E pluribus unum, ‘Out of many, one’ and that was really important.” Hopkins wasn’t able to participate in the Art Invitational, but he donated a painting he did of Hurricane island from his boat in 1990.

    Asked why artists play so prominently in the school’s’ 50th anniversary, Eric Denny, executive director for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School said, "We’re blessed to live in such an amazingly beautiful place and we’re also blessed to have artists who do such wonderful representations of Maine's wilderness areas and coasts. These are essentially Hurricane Island Outward Bound School’ classrooms. It is those very qualities, which enhance the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School educational experience, and it is those same qualities that inspire these artists to do their work."

    Endorsed by renowned art critic and writer Carl Little, the auction will feature artwork from more than 30 notable artists with ties to Maine and Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, including  Kevin Beers, named one the 60 most important artists in Maine, Joyce Tenneson, considered among the 10 most influential women photographers in the history of photography, Lois Dodd, an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and of the National Academy of Design, and T. Allen Lawson, master landscape artist acknowledged by PleinAir magazine as an artist certain to show up near the top of lists of “the painters most admired by other painters.”

    Other artists and photographers include Joel Babb, Sam Cady, Dan Corey, Phillip Frey, Jill Hoy, Alison Hill, Janice Kasper, Colin Page, John Santoro, Marianne Smith, Emily Trenholm, Susan Headley Van Campen, Greta Van Campen, Jessica Lee Ives, Mary Bourke, Monica Kelly, David Little, Ed Nadeau, Chris Pinchbeck, Peter Ralston, Barbara Goodbody, Rick Perry and Cooper Dragonette.

    To purchase tickets for the Bash and participate in the auction, visit A silent auction will begin over cocktails and continue through much of the evening. The evening will culminate with live bidding for a handful of selected pieces. Proceeds from the artwork will support getting students on Hurricane Island Outward Bound School courses.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at