The public is invited to meet artist Eric Hopkins — and see “Shells, Fish & Shellfish,” a major retrospective of his work — Friday, July 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Penobscot Marine Museum’s Carver Memorial Library Gallery, 11 Church St. Admission is free for this reception.

“I could spend a lifetime intimately exploring any one animal form,” Hopkins has said, and in “Shells, Fish & Shellfish” one sees that he has.  One of a handful of artists born in Maine to receive national recognition, Hopkins has exhibited in galleries and museums across the country and is the subject of two monographs.

Much of the work in this exhibit, on view through Oct. 19, has not been seen before. It includes Hopkins’ work in a variety of media including paintings, monotypes and glass and wood sculpture. It also includes, for the first time, Hopkins’ personal collection of the skeletons, shells and remnants of creatures picked up on beaches over his lifetime that have inspired the artwork in this exhibition.

The sea was an integral part of Hopkins’ childhood on the island of North Haven. His father owned a marina and fish market, and ran the “ferry” between North Haven and Vinalhaven islands.

“I look back and think how connected everything in my life was in those days,” Hopkins said. “The rocks and shells and bones and branches were my play things. I’d see the patterns of clouds repeated on the waves on the water and later in the flesh of the filleted flounder.”

Over a period of 10 years, Hopkins studied a variety of media at six different art schools, ending with Rhode Island School of Design where he learned to blow glass with world-famous glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Many of his blown glass shells are in this exhibit.

Penobscot Marine Museum is on Route 1 and has seven new exhibits and more than 50 programs and events this season. Its three-acre, 10 building campus is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. through Sunday, October 19. PMM admission is free to Searsport residents.

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