South China Library aided from exhibit of late Howard Comfort II

Some of the paintings in the gallery.

Martha Comfort, David Kesel, and Laura Coffin, descendants of Howard Comfort II.

Photos & text courtesy of Geoff Hargadon

A barn in South China was the setting for an artist’s retrospective on August 12. The late Howard Comfort II, scholar, cricketeer, painter, and a part of the South China community for decades, was the subject of an exhibition of his paintings. Over 30 paintings, many from South China and elsewhere in Maine, were borrowed from a number of families as far away as Charlotte and Seattle. Nearly 100 visitors enjoyed refreshments as they passed through the gallery on that Saturday evening, including several of Comfort’s descendants.

Comfort lived to the age of 89, and spent many summers with family and friends in South China. His father was a colleague of Rufus Jones while at Haverford College, and it is believed Jones was influential in what has become a five-generation legacy in the town. There were many paintings buildings in South China on view, including Spearon’s General Store and the South China Inn, two buildings that no longer exist.

The exhibit doubled as a fundraiser for the South China Library and its plans to move to Jones Road. Over $2,500 was raised from attendees, with help from a matching grant offered for the occasion.

“We were very pleased with the turnout, to meet new friends, and to see old acquaintances. I am particularly glad we could share this beautiful body of work with the community that could probably appreciate it the most,” said Geoff Hargadon, organizer of the event. “We have long admired Howard Comfort’s work and was excited to be able to see so much of it in one place. But this has also encouraged me to investigate other opportunities in the future that could connect us with South China’s history through the eyes of others.”

Residents visit the gallery.


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