Barter paints what he knows and lives. His view is not an isolated or abstract one but that of the people who share his world. "The narratives I paint are historical documents or the characters or Maine, the last of the independent-spirited people... Those are who I like to seek out, try to be with, relate to... I'm one of them." Through his paintings, Barter pays a special tribute to the life stories of his community, validating the little legends that go on around us every day.
A.M., - DeCordova and Dana Museum and Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts
Philip Barter Studio Gallery
"I have known Phil Barter almost forever. From the very first time I saw his work, I felt Phil was a true Maine original, able to to comfortably and joyously portray the hardscrabble life of rural Maine in paintings that sing with color and strong graphic design. These "narrative" works, as he calls them, are some of the most authentically brilliant Maine art ever produced.
John Ames - Ten High Street Gallery, Camden, Maine
A painter of bold, primitive images of northern Maine -
Philip Barter was born in Boothbay Harbor, Maine in 1939 and has always had an interest in art. He studied with Spanish abstract expressionist Alfonso Sosa in California in the 1960's, and also with Fritz Rockwell after returning to Maine. He was influenced by their use of bold form and color. Since the time that Philip started exhibiting in the 1960's, his work has been shown in major museums and collections world-wide, and can be seen exhibited in galleries in and around Maine.
Philip and his wife Priscilla
Photo from approximately 1980.
Philip the Artist
If barter's art harks back to Marsden Hartley and other American Modernists and their abstracting ways, a kind of school has spring up in his own impressive wake. You can hear the gallery-goer point to a brashly painted Maine landscape by a contemporary and say "I see a bit of barter there." Like Andrew Wyeth, he has his emulators.
And you can understand why: the appeal of Barter's stylized renderings of trees and rivers, mountains and clouds, is powerful. His ability to extract the essence of the landscape provokes marvel. He sees the geometry of a peak, the jagged coursing of woodland streams, a snowfield's curving contours. His palette, often not for the faint of hue, underscores his lively vision.
He is a master simplifier, composing each canvass out of the core elements of the scene: trees, water, sky and island, say. In the purity and boldness of his northern vision, Barter is kin to some of the painters in Canada's Group of Seven.
There is a lot of give and take in life, and Philip Barter's paintings reflect his our-of-the-ordinary journey. To play on his name, this artist had bartered plenty to achieve the stature he enjoys today: one of our very finest.
Carl Little - Maine art critic and author
Philip in his studio