We visit Janet Blyberg on the southern coast of the New England state of Maine, where she lives with her husband Joel, son Peter, and dog Pippin. With a love for art, books, museums and good food we find out what Janet's top tips are when visiting her hometown.
Could you please describe yourself and what you do?
I am a museum curator by training, mother to Peter (who will be 2 in April), wife to Joel, and dog mama to Pippin, our short-haired miniature dachshund.I lived in Washington, DC, for almost two decades, where I worked at the National Gallery or Art. My husband and I now live on the southern coast of the New England state of Maine, with our son. When I had Peter, I left a curatorial position at the Peabody Essex Museum in nearby Massachusetts to focus on being a mother. Currently, I work part-time, helping with marketing and museum membership at the Old York Historical Society, where Joel is director.
My family moved around a lot when I was a child—from Asia and the Middle East to Europe. We spent a lot of time exploring ruins and visiting museums, which really inspired my love of art and old things. We spent summers in Maine, where a lot of my mother’s family lives. When we returned to the United States, my parents settled in New England, first in Connecticut, and then in Maine. It is not easy for young people to find jobs in Maine, so after college, I went to graduate school in Washington and stayed there when I got a position at the National Gallery of Art. I am so grateful for my many years in the city, and the opportunities it brought me to learn, and travel, and meet inspiring people. But my heart was always in New England, and I hoped that I would be able to live there again. We moved to York, Maine in 2012, when ironically my Midwestern-born husband got a job!
What is your favourite thing about living in Maine?
I love wild ruggedness of the landscape, and feeling close to nature (which I missed living in Washington). The salt air and the cooler climate suits me—and even though winter can be harsh, I really do love it. I love snowy landscapes, and the magic of frigid mornings by the shore, watching the sea smoke rise off the ocean water. Witnessing each season melt into the next is nothing short of miraculous. The first warm, spring day, with a hint of green is an amazing feeling. And there is absolutely nothing better than a New England summer day spent by the water.
Maine looks like a quaint and beautiful place. What are your top spots to visit on a family day out?
Luckily we do not have to go far to enjoy the shore—we live less than a mile from York’s famous Long Sands Beach, and the Nubble Lighthouse (one of the most photographed places in Maine). We spend a lot of time at the beach, particularly in the spring and fall, before the tourists arrive. There are very few sandy beaches in Maine (most of the shoreline is pretty rugged and rocky), but some of our favourite sand beaches, beside York, are Popham Beach, and Reid State Park. We also like to explore historic sites, and museums—and are grateful to be so close to a lot of great places, like Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, the Portland Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
What are your recommendations for people visiting the area?
Most people come to Maine in the summer, when many of the beaches and attractions can be very crowded. I recommend coming in the off-season, like late spring or the fall. If you are really brave, visit in the winter, as it truly is spectacular (but be prepared for lots of shops and restaurants to be closed). And no matter what season you come, bring warm clothes!
And coming in from the cold what are some great places to warm up inside?
We are serious foodies, and there are a lot of great places in the area, so it is tough to narrow it down to just a few. But, our favourite coffee haunts are the Central Bean & Bakery in York, and Lil’s Café in Kittery (famous for their amazing crullers). For fresh, delicious, no-nonsense New England seafood, go to Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery. Our favourite spot for Sunday brunch is 1652 in York Beach, and for a dinner date, Anneke Jans, also in Kittery.
From the La Coqueta SS18 what are your favourite pieces from the collection?