Where It’s At

Come celebrate June Rose’s 25 years at BRAF

Wed, 05/22/2024 - 10:15am

June Rose greeted visitors to Boothbay Region Art Foundation (BRAF) for 25 years. About one month ago, June retired. In acknowledgement of her talent and dedication, the BRAF board of directors is celebrating all things June with a retirement/next chapter party on Friday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend and wish her well, and share an anecdote ... or four! 

A Boothbay Harbor native, June Webster Rose is a poet, folk artist, musician and writer. During the pre-BRAF years, she moonlighted as a feature writer for the Kennebec Journal for a time. Her poetry was published over the years by the Portland Press Herald and Puddingstone Publications. In 2012-13, she collaborated with her husband, the artist Bob Rose, on a children’s book,“Message of the Owl.”

In 2020, June and longtime friend Stacie Smith published a collection of their poetry, some of which traveled coast-to-coast over 49 years (Stacie left Boothbay Harbor after four years to return to Oregon) entitled, “Second Sight,” which June once described as “a conversation with poetry.” The cover of “Second Sight,” published by Shanti Arts, is a 1967 photo of June and her firstborn son, Nathan Campbell, taken by Stacie. Over the years, June also self-published four small, handmade volumes of poetry – accompanied by her artwork – poems and verse of her own and others, including son Nathan. June had her own gallery in town on Commercial Street, Above and Beyond, for years before becoming gallery manager at BRAF.

Her 25 years with BRAF began when the gallery was at 7 Townsend Ave. briefly, and on to its current location at 1 Townsend Ave. in 2005-06; years that were a true labor of love. She wrote the press releases, kept track of all the artists in each member show, as well as the ever popular Art in the Square, during which June would remind us “

It’s hip to be square!”; ARTinME, the former Maine Photography Shows, and Mainely Nude.

Recalled her brother, John Webster of Orne’s Candy Store, “June really lived and breathed that place. She loved meeting the customers and was very good at helping them select the right piece, or pieces, just by having a conversation with them. June was loyal to both the artists and the buyers.”

In a recent interview, June recalled some of BRAF’s early outreach action, including the work of artists on Monhegan arriving by boat met by members of the Art Foundation who would bring it to the gallery. This outreach continued for a few years. The Art Foundation also sponsored art on the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library lawn and to Boothbay Common in tents as part of its mission to bring art to the people.

“I loved talking to people, talking about the artists ... And very talented artists, too. People like a little back story,” she said.

Although June decided early on not to include her own art work in the gallery, the November – January show Art in the Square was the exception. If you were fortunate enough to add one of her often complex collages to your collection of local art, you may have found a bit of prose on the back. For example, on the back of “Time After Time,” a woman in 17th century garb is descending a lovely staircase, yet outside there are wolves, forest, and words cut from magazines adding to the air of mystery confined in that 12’ x 12” square! On the back, June wrote: “This collage depicts how life stories, from age to age, intermingle and breathe through time by such means the soul dreams itself forward.”

“June’s dedication to the gallery was unparalleled,” said artist and BRAF board member Sarah Wilde. “She worked many hours beyond what was expected of her. And, during the COVID epidemic shutdown in 2020, June didn’t miss a beat and kept the gallery afloat with grace and humor. She was genuinely excited for the artists whenever they sold a piece of artwork, no matter how small. June was welcoming to every artist and very supportive of, and enthusiastic to, new incoming artists – and customers.”

You may recall the 2016 Art in the Square collaborative piece, “The Starry Night,” conceived of by June, who was inspired by all the talk downtown about lighting up the town. Composed of 12 acrylic painted squares, lit with white lights behind, artists Mark Mellor, (the late) Tom Block and Tony van Hasselt; Jennifer Litchfield, Sally Giddings Smith, Sarah Wilde, Bob Rose, Angie Blevins, and June painted the timeless van Gogh. Everyone had an assigned area of the painting: June printed out a copy of the painting, drew three rows of four squares and assigned one or more to each. Wilde said it was “both an incredible idea and an amazing experience.”

And that’s June Rose all over: Incredible and amazing.

It’s a party! Toast the days ahead with June (taking a break from her hat-making), Bob, family members, the BRAF board and artists (and who knows who) on Friday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. The Boothbay Region Art Foundation is at 1 Townsend Ave., downtown Boothbay Harbor.