The Kelpie Gallery, a new art gallery opening Tuesday, July 1, is located at 81 Elm St./Route 73 in the heart of the ‘Keag village. Owned and operated by painting conservator Lauren R. Lewis and artist Susan Lewis Baines, the gallery will feature works by emerging and established artists, many of whom have a working connection to Maine.

The inaugural exhibition, “The Sky’s the Limit,” features work by Baines, Sarah Barnard-Blitz, Allen Bunker, Sandra Leinonen-Dunn, Julie Haskell, Pamela Hetherly and Jill Valliere. Only five miles from the Rockland arts district and the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Kelpie will hold regular openings and workshops in art techniques and conservation issues, supporting the growing creative economy in Midcoast Maine.

What is a kelpie? When trying to decide on a name for their new venture, Lewis and Baines wanted something that spoke to their surroundings as well as their creative spirits.

“There is an ancient Celtic legend that tells of a being called a kelpie that can shape-shift from horse to water and lives in rivers and streams. Given that our gallery is located in a renovated barn on the grounds of Pepper Hill Farm- equestrian center, and next to the ‘Weskeag River, The Kelpie Gallery seemed a perfect fit,” said Baines.

The owners bring a range of talents and diverse backgrounds to the gallery. Lewis was trained in painting conservation at the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in Art Conservation and spent 16 years working at the Farnsworth and the Wyeth Study Center in collections care and curation, which included organizing two traveling exhibitions of the work of Jamie Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth. She opened Lewis Conservation Services in 2000 and will be expanding her practice into a studio space within the gallery facility. Her clients have included the Farnsworth, Penobscot Marine Museum, Monhegan Museum, Needham Public Library and the Bar Harbor Historical Society, as well as artists, corporate collections and private collectors across the country.

Baines, who also maintains a studio space at the gallery, left a successful 20-year career as a designer/goldsmith to pursue her love of painting in watercolor and oils. Her current work in oil embodies the soaring skies, while staying grounded on the highways and roads leading to new ventures and breathtakingly beautiful vistas. A fitting allegory for this new stage in her life, Baines' work in ink and watercolor employs blind contour drawing, the practice of looking at a subject and drawing without looking at the paper. Connections are unresolved and forms are simplified.

Baines’ jewelry career began with an apprenticeship with jewelry designer Jacob Snow. Her designs were featured in a variety of jewelry stores and galleries. She created work in gold and silver for Robby Eddy’s Classic Model Yachts and opened her own goldsmith studio in the Master’s Gallery in Camden. She is a former member of the Maine Fine Crafts Guild. Most recently, her paintings have been exhibited at Art Space Gallery, where she was a co-op member and former vice president.

The Kelpie Gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. “The Sky’s the Limit” will run through Sept. 28. For more information, email or call 691-3416 or -0392.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or