Vibrant paintings focus of Philip Barter’s home gallery

SULLIVAN — Last winter’s extraordinary snowfalls were tough on a lot of people and structures and Philip Barter’s art gallery in Sullivan was no exception.

With 4 feet of snow on the gallery roof, plus ice and water buildup, the ceiling in the center of the gallery collapsed.

Luckily, the cave-in did not affect any of the paintings, carved paintings, furniture and hand-braided rugs displayed along the walls.

“It was not a good time,” said Priscilla Barter, who with her artist husband has raised seven children in the rambling house — which is a work of art unto itself.

Philip and Priscilla Barter PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Philip and Priscilla Barter

Their son, Jack, a painting contractor who lives in Portland, came to the rescue with repairs.

The couple then thought it was an opportune time to enter the next stage of their lives.

With their seven children launched and well-established, the Barter Family Gallery has now reverted back to its roots — the Philip Barter Studio Gallery.

Where the gallery once featured the work of several Barters, it is now focused on Phil’s paintings along with Priscilla’s rugs.

Barter, 75, said he trimmed the number of galleries that represent him.

“We’re reining everything in,” he said. “I don’t want to chase my paintings all over the state.”

Barter has pared those venues to the Littlefield Gallery in Winter Harbor; the Star Gallery in Northeast Harbor; Gleason Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor and Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery in Lincolnville.

Barter spent his winter working on paintings — “Winter in Stonington” and “The Carrying Place, Hancock,” among others — and one of his signature, wood-relief paintings.

“I don’t feel pressured to paint anything,” Barter said. “I paint what I want when I want.”

The couple are modestly proud of their expanding clan. In addition to the seven children, there are 11 grandchildren. All but one of their children have their own businesses.

“That is the biggest life work you have, your children,” Barter said.

Though not slaves to habit, he and Priscilla have a set routine. They walk two miles in the morning and then have breakfast at 10 a.m. Later in the day there will be tea, no lunch.

“As we get older we’re not that hungry,” Priscilla said.

Weekends often find them at their camp on Long Pond in Aurora.

There is no electricity or running water at the camp, which carries Barter’s unique artistic stamp.

“We bring our drinking water,” he said. “There is no cell reception. We’re on our own.”

He and Priscilla have in the past traveled quite a bit — Spain, the Caribbean, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Southwest again and again. Barter said he has no interest in going far from home anymore.

Asked how his approach to painting has changed with —ahem — maturity, the mischievous Barter replied: “Peace and relaxation. It shows in the confidence I have in putting colors together.”


The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by chance or appointment.

Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]