Water, Water Everywhere: Jeffrey Becton at Bates and a Trip to Fuel Afterwards

Yesterday, Clif and I went to to the Museum of Art at Bates College. Of the three colleges, Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin—all of which have fine art museums—Bates’s is the smallest. Nevertheless, as The View Out His Window (and in his mind’s eye): Photographs by Jeffery Becton  illustrates, small doesn’t mean second rate. Far from it. (If time allows, do clink on the link to take a look at some of the work in this terrific exhibit.)

Bates College Museum of Art

The moment I walked into the gallery and saw the photographs, I got that particular feeling—a sort of current—that comes from seeing very good art. Becton’s photographs are large, and they feature surreal montages of old houses, old doors, peeling paint, still lifes, and decay. Water figures prominently in all the photographs as it comes into a room or laps at the edges or is just plain there. The palate is muted, almost soothing, yet there is also a certain sadness in most of the photos. If Andrew Wyeth had had a more vivid imagination, this is how he might have painted.

From one of the wall signs, I learned that “[t]o create the works…[Becton] photographed, painted, layered, fused and altered digital imagery from myriad sources and constructed the pictures…”

The woman at the desk told me that she’d like to step into one of the photographs. My response: “Only if there was a quick way out.”  All that water coming into the rooms has a, well, unsettling effect.

Indeed, on the wall, is a quotation by Jeffrey Becton: “We love, need, and fear water and for good reason. I try to tease out the resonances and amplify them because life is difficult and unfair and the passing of time is mysterious.”

The exhibit runs until March 26, and Clif and I plan to go back for a second look. Bates College is only thirty minutes or so from where we live, and for us it is an easy trip. Readers, if you like art and live within driving distance, then I urge you to go see this exhibit. Admission is free, and on Monday and Wednesday the museum is open until 7:30.

After the exhibit, we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Fuel, which specializes in simple French cooking, “country French food with no attitude.” The food and flavors at Fuel have a subtlety missing from most restaurants in Maine, even the good ones. Fuel also makes delicious cocktails, which I cannot resist.

The restaurant has a comfortable bar, and we chose to sit there and order from the bar menu. (We have a gift certificate, and we decided it would go further at the bar.)

First I started with a cocktail, a cosmopolitan. As Clif was driving, he had a beer.


I had lobster pasta and cheese, a lovely blend of cheeses and lobster—I found three whole claws in my dish.


As we never eat beef at home, Clif ordered a burger and fries, a treat for him because he has it so infrequently.


Was there room for dessert? You bet there was. We ordered profiteroles—a fancy word for cream puffs—filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.


A sweet ending to a fine day.

18 thoughts on “Water, Water Everywhere: Jeffrey Becton at Bates and a Trip to Fuel Afterwards”

    1. Yes, surreal. And seeing the actual photos gives you a truer sense of how much work must have gone into each piece. The layering and the variety of media is astonishing.

  1. 1 hour and 41 minutes from my house to Bates College. I cannot tell a lie. Although the art work sounds wonderful, I think I might want to go just to stop and eat at Fuel. Those photos depict some mighty fine eating and drinking. The dessert alone would be worth the trip. 🙂

    1. Judy, fuel is a mighty fine restaurant. My favorite, in Maine. Lewiston is a charmless city, but for me, food (and art!) are the thing. Let me know if you come to Lewiston.

      1. Laurie, this is a gray, gloomy, cold day and my back hurts so I thank you immensely for this good laugh. I’ve never heard a Maine town referred to as ‘charmless’ but it certainly gives me a visual of just the basics and no gingerbread. I’m still thinking about that dessert photo. 🙂

      2. Judy, glad to make you laugh 😉 Despite Maine’s “quaint” reputation, many of the small cities in central Maine could be described as charmless. They were once fueled by the great factories, and nothing has come to fill the economic niche. As a child of central Maine, I could write a lot about this, but I won’t. On a more positive note, many of the small cities have begun to realize that trying to lure big businesses with tax breaks is not a recipe for success, and they have begun to encourage more local businesses, ones that actually want to stay here. My own birth city, Waterville, is going down a very interesting route, one that I will probably write about soon.

    1. Jason, it was a very good day. And “lobstah,”in any form, is as much of a treat for me as beef is for Clif 😉

  2. Wow. Fuel is right–it looks like those meals would provide enough calories to stack a few cords of wood! Delicious and decadent.

    1. A very talented artist. I hadn’t heard of him, either, until I went to the exhibit.

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