Robert Indiana’s Island Home Still Grapples With His Legacy

The artist has been dead for more than a year, but the plans for the museum he outlined in his will are still far from certain.

Comments: 18

  1. As Mainers it's important for us to have tourism. I'm not wholly familiar with Indiana's work, but I'm sure an art museum won't be attracting the "Bud Light and T-shirt tourism" kind of folks.

  2. No, worse. It’ll attack Brooklynites.

  3. @Richard I'm from Brooklyn. 32 years ago I spent a summer there working on a movie. The islanders, once they got to know us treated us like family. We were invited to any social event or celebration that took place during our stay. It's wonderful place to spend some time.

  4. @Richard And I,too, an art professor and a Baltimorean!!!!--Heavens, do you mind people from Baltimore--might also come to visit.

  5. Once again a fine job from Mr Carpenter in reporting on the clash of progress and provincialism. It will be interesting to see how this plays out - my guess is the locals will come to accept and even embrace Mr Indiana's legacy. Change can be difficult and this is getting off to a rocky start. But in time clearer heads will prevail.

  6. I've visited Vinalhaven multiple times - for 3 summers in my youth (40+ years ago) and again a few years back. The islanders realize that their livelihoods depend on the influx of money from summer tourism, and certainly this museum when it's hopefully completed will only add to that. It's a beautiful and relaxing place to vacation and unplug from our often too hectic lives.

  7. I knew Indiana going back to the Fulton Street studio days in New York City. He was just getting known for his EAT paintings and Leo Castelli and other galleries showed his work. I stayed as a guest in his house and took more photographs. He signed one of his cataloges to me. He was a master at what he did. A brilliant innovator. We shall miss him.

  8. I have been a visitor to the island to visit family and friends (mostly Summer folk). I very quickly came to appreciate the Community, how they support and take care of each other and how they integrate "not-from-heres" as long as they aren't trashing local culture or throwing their weight around. There should be a majority of Islanders on the board planning and working with art conservation experts. They deserve to direct the future of their community. This should be obvious whether its a museum or a Walmart. The accompanying picture says volumes- look at what the federal government architects dropped next door on Main Street!

  9. No good deed goes unpunished.

  10. Just another example of trying to keep the future at bay. A beautiful island I have often spent time on as I had friends who lived there. The only jobs outside of the few municipal jobs available are in the lobster industry. Climate change has been hurting this industry for years and it will unfortunately probably continue to decline. Why would they not want to to attract visitors that will eat and drink there and maybe even stay? There are only about 6 ferries if that many a day for the 1 hour and 15 minute trip. I saw only 1 small hotel and few restaurants. I doubt that crowds and cruise ships will be inundating the island , no matter how famous he was. They should stop being afraid of "outsiders"

  11. Robert Indiana designed one of the most polarizing pieces of art in modern skateboarding culture. SHout out Love park & Philadelphia street skaters.

  12. Oh boy. What a shame that the *locals* can't see that a Museum will bring thoughtful visitors (and their disposable dollars) to an environment which needs to continue to be. Indiana isn't to everyone's taste - this isn't an Olive Garden Resto for goodness sake - those who are drawn to the Museum will, no doubt, be an asset (and temporary at that) to Vinalhaven.

  13. Sure Vinalhaveners are insular, as are all Mainers. Who else would live on a tiny island 1.5 hours by ferry from the mainland? Rumor has it that Rudy has been spotted by locals fishing offshore, and Trump is eyeing Vinalhaven, since his attempt to buy Greenland bombed.

  14. “A new museum would certainly make clear that the islanders do not intend to forget him, even if they’re still trying to understand just exactly where he fits in.” There’s something sad yet beautifully poignant about this insight. He didn’t quite belong in the Manhattan art scene, and he never was fully accepted in Maine. Maybe that’s why he bequeathed his art to the island. Maybe he knew they needed his art more than their need to understand him.

  15. Vinalhaven has been my happy place since first visiting it in the mid 1980s. I've returned many times, always summer, nearly always to explore its edges via kayak. Last time I was there, 3 years ago, it felt like a tipping point was around the corner. Were the Star of Hope to become promoted regional visitor attraction, it would definitely spark an uptick in day trippers, Is that a good thing? Not really, except for the small tourist-oriented summer businesses that are within walking distance of the ferry, and Star of Hope. The Tidewater Inn is already at capacity most of the season. Ditto most AirBnB accomodations. Would it prompt development of another hotel? More houses bought from islanders to become vacation digs for "not from heres?" Those in charge of executing Robert Indiana's vision should consider a parthership with the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, one of the nation's finest small museums, to manage access to a restored Star of Hope as they do to the farmhouse that was the subject of Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World," Let the Farnsworth exhibit choice paintings, let visitors to Vinalhaven see a restored Star of Hope, with a ground level exhibit on Indiana's life and time on Vinalhaven.

  16. This is a great idea. It would encourage a very managed exploration of the area around Rockland, which would probably give all the stakeholders what they want.

  17. Museums are non-profits and as such, they do not pay taxes. They do, however, attract many, many visitors and when more people visit a place, the infrastructure must service all of them, temporary or not. Potholes do not fill themselves. Water mains do not miraculously heal without money and workers to fix them. Trash does not magically evaporate. These people are wise to consider both the benefits and the costs of a museum. Ask the people of Beacon NY, or Windsor NY, or North Adams MA, about their experiences. Many are positive, it's true, but there is a down side to everything. Vinalhaven residents would be wise to strike an agreement for a payment from this organization to make up for the fact that there will be no taxes paid to the city before the first museum-goer steps off the ferry. Goodwill is lovely but it does not fill potholes.

  18. How many visitors they expect to visit this proposed museum annually? Bar Harbor will be a better place for a museum.