Saco, on the southern Maine coast, was once densely populated with Native Americans, but English colonists moved into the area in the 1630s and started to take over. With the arrival of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad, in 1842, Saco’s Factory Island gradually became a major textile-manufacturing center, with very thick-walled brick mills coming to dominate the Saco waterfront. Other businesses included foundries, belting and harness making and machine shops. Local manufacturing, and especially the textile industry, faded in the 20th Century with competition from the South and abroad. But the prosperous mill town era left behind much fine architecture in the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian styles, with many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.. Saco is now a popular Portland suburb and home to many artists. The Saco Museum is delightful.
"Legend Has It'' (monotype with additions), by Megan Snyder, in the show "Down East,'' at the Saco Museum,' Saco, Maine, through Oct. 28. Strong colors, deep mystery and a sense of violence.
"Festival of Flags I'' (encaustic), by Jeanne Griffin, in the big group show "Beneath the Surface,'' at the Saco Museum, Saco, Maine, April 2-May 28.
The show includes the work of some of New England's best painters working in encaustic, also known as hot-wax painting. The process involves using a mix of heated beeswax and damar varnish to which colored pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface -- often prepared wood, although canvas and other materials are often used. The effects can be very beautiful --- and sometimes eerie.