Unionville High School Grad’s Nonprofit Works to Sustain Maine’s Island Towns

Peter Ralston

Peter Ralston, an artist and Chadds Ford native who was mentored by Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, co-founded the Island Institute, a nonprofit that works to sustain Maine’s island towns, one of which he currently resides in, writes Virginia Wright for Down East magazine.

Ralston was introduced to Maine’s mid-coast by the Wyeths, who had a home there. The photographer, known for coastal images that suggest human presence even when there is none, fell in love, and years later, he settled in Rockport, a town with a population of 3,375.

“Andy never painted more than a couple miles from his studios,” said Ralston, a 1968 Unionville High School grad. “His work was about going deep into a place. That’s what Rockport is to me. It’s a return to home. It’s a place where you end up knowing pretty much everybody.”

During the winter, when more than a third of his neighbors head for warmer climates, the sense of intimacy deepens. That is why the artist hopes to keep the town as it is, despite the growing number of large developments threatening its authenticity.

“We don’t want to become Bar Harbor, Boothbay, or Camden,” said Ralston. “We want to be exactly who we are and be better at it.”

Read more about Peter Ralston in Down East magazine here.

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