KITTERY, Maine — A first of its kind artistic endeavor at the Kittery Community Center's Morgan Gallery attracted a capacity crowd to view the works of 17 Seacoast photographers and painters selected to exhibit their creative interpretation of the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge. The $184 million bridge connecting Maine and New Hampshire opened to traffic last March.
The “Breaking and Making the Sarah Long Bridge” exhibit will be on display through April at the Morgan Gallery at the community center. Following the gallery reception, two of the show’s featured artists, Richard Hopley and Eric Reuter, offered a historical perspective and a photographic representation of the bridge’s construction to an audience of more than 200 area residents.
The original middle bridge opened in 1940, following the collapse of a bridge in 1939 while a Boston & Maine train traveled over it, sending it plunging into the Piscataqua. Hopley, a retired civil engineer, was the official photographer for Cianbro, the company that built the bridge. He discussed the engineering feats involved in the construction and the challenges with building a bridge over the Piscataqua River, which is known to have the fourth swiftest current of any river in the country. Hopley says the new Long Bridge has an expected lifespan of 100 years.
Town Councilor Jeffrey Thomson also spoke and entertained the crowd with his personal stories of working on the original bridge when he was young.
The event was organized by the volunteer Visual Arts Committee at the community center. Committee Chairwoman Noelle Grattan said she was thrilled at the interest and turnout.
“We saw this as an opportunity to merge history, visual arts and education," she said. "At the Kittery Community Center, we are all about making connections, so this was a natural fit to combine the gallery and the free lecture series with a subject matter that is also about connecting communities.”
Photographer Bill Moore curated the exhibit. “My focus in selecting the artwork was to bring diverse perspectives to the exhibit," he said. "To see so many different depictions of the bridge in a variety of mediums is what makes this show special.”