Statecation: Rockland 

The past few weeks, we’ve been exploring some of Maine’s natural outdoor treasures. But many of the things to see and do in our state are, in fact, man-made.We took a visit to the midcoast this week, to experience some local creative works in Rockland. In just one afternoon we saw a sampling of art, cuisine and other man-made wonders, that you could spend weeks exploring.”It’s a place where you can have a vacation without going too far.”People who live in Rockland will tell you there’s plenty to explore.”It really seems to have blossomed into a mecca for art and style, culture, fun, lots of good places to eat,” says Steve Griffin.Our tour starts in the art world, on Main Street at the Farnsworth Art Museum. With 10 thousand works in their collection, folks here say visitors are always surprised by the variety of what they have on view.”I think a lot of people perceive the Farnsworth as a small, regional museum with some old works of Maine landscapes, but actually we’re a vibrant museum that strives to be one of the greatest museums in the country,” says the Farnsworth’s David Troup.This summer, they’re also offering free admission on Wednesday nights from 5-8, and on the first Fridays of the month from 5-8. Even from the street you can see a few works, including the Robert Indiana piece inspired by the last words the artist’s mother spoke to him.”Her last words to him were, ‘Have you had anything to to eat?” He went inside to change clothing, came outside and she was already gone. So a lot of his works have focused on the word ‘eat’ since the beginning,” Troup says.Inside the museum explores our state’s role in modern-day and traditional arts. A current exhibition showcases the evolution of rug hooking.”It’s the everyday, it’s the imaginative, it’s the wonderful investment of a utilitarian object,” says curatorial assistant, Jane Bianco.Beyond the Farnsworth, there are dozens of galleries to explore in town.”It’s become one of the most important arts destinations in New England very quickly in the past ten years.”We cross the street and find the Harbor Square Gallery, and director, Tom O’Donovan. The rooftop deck and sculpture gallery atop his hundred-year old building is free and open to whoever would like to stop by.”We have people who come up here with their lunch and have lunch in the afternoon,” O’Donovan says.Above the street, delicious smells from nearby restuarants waft our way, with no shortage of options, including fine cuisine.”There’s been national coverage of some of our restaurants around here.”Near the harbor, we stop to chat with Robin McIntosh at the Chamber of Commerce, who says after a meal, another favorite pastime here is just wandering.”Wandering through the streets is always fun or wandering along the harbor,” McIntosh says.Next we head to the breakwater. It can be hard to tell, but it’s nearly a mile-long walk to the lighthouse. The breakwater was built in the late 1800’s to protect the harbor from harsh winds and waters, and still brings visitors together from near and far.”There’s always something new and different. It’s a wonderful exercise to walk on the rocks, look out and see what there is going on out there,” says Sandy Lu.To cap off our day, we take a ride a few miles outside town, up the Mt. Battie Auto Road in Camden Hills State Park. The view here has even inspired poetry, and gives us a chance to look back on our diverse afternoon in Rockland.”There are a lot of interesting things to see here,” Griffin says, “so you can be a tourist in your own town.”Of course we barely scratched the surface of the many things to see and do along the Midcoast. There are many outdoor and boating pursuits, specialty museums and shops for every interest. Here are just a few links to get you started.Farnsworth Art Museum Harbor Square Gallery Rockland Breakwater Camden Hills State Park Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Maine Lighthouse Museum Owls Head Transportation Museum Maine Eastern Railroad Beech Hill Preserve Merry Spring Nature Center Aldermere Farm Sail Power and Steam Museum Center for Furniture Craftsmanship Center for Maine Contemporary Art