Anne Gable Allaire Shares Spiritual
Sensitivity through her Art

by Carol Standish

Award-winning artist Anne Allaire's favorite place to be is the Franciscan Monastery on Beach Avenue in Kennebunk. "Mostly I go there and paint. Sometimes I go there just to sit and soak up the atmosphere. It's a very healing place," she says.

She visits the monastery six or seven times a year. She also paints at Laudholm Farm, in friends' gardens and on beaches. "Painting outside is my ideal. The monastery is my favorite-serene and lush, so many shades of green when the sunlight filters through the leaves. I just go, aahh. Everything falls away and I'm right in the moment."

Allaire only paints places that she connects with. She says she can't do otherwise. Her detailed landscapes are often sweeping views, but they retain a unique intimacy that conveys a very personal message from the painter to the viewer.

"I try to express the sense of wonder that I feel just being in the natural world . . . that creation is all around us, our earth is precious . . . if just one person picks up his/her candy wrapper after seeing a painting of mine, I will have communicated," she says with a smile.

But she is serious about the nourishment she gains from nature. "The artistic challenge for me is to share the gift of spiritual sensitivity that I receive more and more deeply through my work."

Pastel is Allaire's medium of choice. She was introduced to it when she was 12 and has kept coming back to it. "I'm so glad it's having such a renaissance," she says.

Her technique is both realistic and impressionistic. That is, she defines fine detail with many delicate strokes. Her palette is bright and she blends her lively colors with an exuberant mastery, especially the sun-dappled leaves that drape the forest paths she frequents.

The Kennebunks have been home for Allaire for more than 20 years, but she was born and brought up in the nations's heartland-St. Louis, Missouri. "It was a great place to grow up- green and rolling and beautiful," she says.

Her Boy Scout executive dad and stay-at-home mom enthusiastically encouraged her early inclination toward art and sent her to the Des Moines Art Center for lessons.

"I guess I was about nine years old,"she says. "I was overwhelmed by the building, which was designed by Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen, I think, and the smell of oil paint got right into my bones," she says. "We used to paint outside a lot under a big tress. There was a park with a pond and a statue, now that I recall. The monastery reminds me so much of those early happy days in Des Moines."

At the University of Nebraska she earned a degree in fine art, in painting and interior design. "My folks worried that I wouldn't be able to suport myself painting. Interior design was more practical." In fact, she earned a handsome living as an interior designer first in Minneapolic/St. Paul and after she married, in Detroit, where her then husband, John Gable, worked as an automotive designer. But as the couple become more conventionally successful, they also became restive. Inside, they were both artists.

Gable began to spend more time painting. His work sold well almost immediately. On faith, he quit the job at GM, they purchased a house (through Down East magazine), packed the van with a cat, two kids and a canoe and headed for Maine. "We chose Kennebunkport because we both loved the ocean and had vacationed here," recalls Allaire. "I had neber been so happy in my life as the day we moved to Maine. The corporate ladder just wasn't us."

In Maine, while her three very active children were small, "my painter person was dormant, gathering data,: she says. But a workshop on creativity opened the floodgates. She started her long-standing habit of visiting the Franciscan Monastery grounds. "I was able to recover my artist self at the monastery by just showing up and doing the work and feeling the energy produced by the combination of process and place," she says.

The artist's life took an abrupt and terrifying turn in the mid 1990s when she was diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal medical condition. Her slim hope for survival rested in a radical combination of life-saving (and threatening) medical procedures. In 1997, Allaire was the first woman to undergo both a heart transplant and a stem cell transplant within nine months of each other.

"I took great comfort in the fact that I was in a Franciscan hospital. I painted the whole time I was there. That's what kept me going," she says. The first place she visited when she regained her health and returned home was the monastery.

Today Allaire paints four to six hours a day during the work week and she and her husband Bill, a baker who writes (or a writer who "cooks"), walk together all over the Kennebunk area.

Allaire is a member of the Pastel Painters of Maine, which will present its 2nd annual juried show at River Tree Arts this fall, a signature member of the august Pastel Society of America, a member of the Connecticut Pastel Society and is active in several local art groups. Her work may be seen at Mast Cove Galleries on Maine Street in Kennebunkport.

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