Discussions surround use, sale of artist's property in CushingConservation goal for Langlais estate
Cushing — The Bernard Langlais estate in Cushing is the subject of discussions between local and national organizations to ensure preservation of the late artist's work and property. The estate totals 90 acres, with 20 acres on the St. George River.
The property is a town landmark; the monumental horse sculpture serves as a sentinel of River Road. Langlais and his wife Helen, both Maine natives, purchased the property in 1956 and split time between Manhattan and Maine until they moved to Cushing permanently in 1966.
"It's a unique piece of property with an amazing art environment and water and wooded areas that make it a naturalist dream spot," said Kohler Foundation Executive Director Terri Yoho.
The Kohler Foundation, based in Wisconsin, is a private foundation that supports art, education and preservation projects in the United States.
Yoho said the foundation was approached by Colby College Museum Curator Hannah Blunt after the Langlais estate was bequeathed to the college upon the death of Helen Langlais in 2010.
Blunt, who currently lives on the Langlais estate, said Colby College contacted the Kohler Foundation because of its particular mission to preserve artist environments. According to Blunt, the condition of the wooden sculptures is varied. "The sculptures are over 40 years old and have seen the ravages of time," she said.
The site retains a vast collection, including 30 major sculptures, 450 three-dimensional pieces, 230 paintings and thousands of works on paper.
Prior to the discussions concerning the Langlais property, the Kohler Foundation and Colby College have not been affiliated.
Yoho, who has visited Cushing four times, said a commitment has not been finalized and actions won't proceed until a consortium of partners is arranged.
Current actions include evaluating the possibilities and potential of the site for preservation. Yoho added that meetings with local groups such as the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Georges River Land Trust and Cushing residents have been positive.
The proposal by the Kohler Foundation includes allowing the town to use the waterfront property as a public landing and water access site. Select Board Chairman Alton Grover said Cushing would not purchase the land if the proposal was agreed upon by the two parties, but that the town would be responsible for maintaining the road way.
The Georges River Land Trust is considering taking ownership of the land if the transfer to the Kohler Foundation from Colby College is completed. Gail Presley, executive director of the land trust said the board of directors and lands committee toured the estate in July and are in the stages of internal deliberation. The board will hold a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7 to discuss the trust's involvement in the project.
Blunt said Colby College's future involvement with the estate is a detail that has not been resolved yet, and reiterated that discussions between interested parties are focused on possibilities and are in the early stages.
A public hearing to discuss the proposals and to receive public input is set for Aug. 27 at the Cushing Community Center.
Courier Publications reported Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.