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  • This "story" is the chronological collection of all the Island Journal covers I have contributed since we started that annual publication in 1984, the year after Philip Conkling and I founded the Island Institute.

    When we started the Institute there were two great gifts from the two people with whom we first shared our vision/business plan.

    Tom Cabot, the patriarch of Boston's Brahmins who wrote us a check for $10,000 and said we could come back in a year and if he liked what we had accomplished he would write us one more, and only one more. The personification of a tough, but generous and encouraging Yankee.

    Betsy Wyeth - of whom I have written a great deal elsewhere on Cowbird - really outdid herself. Having already let us help her construct the landscape upon which she would create her single greatest masterpiece, the "village" on Allen and Benner Islands, she had a close look at our nascent plans for the forming Institute. Betsy is a tough, frank (to say the least) and brilliant critic (that's a whole book unto itself), but her supreme value to us as we were in the throes of creating the Institute was to tell us to take our individual talents - Philip as a writer and me as a photographer - and NOT just crank out the standard self-congratulatory non-profit newsletter, but instead to go whole-hog and create something unique, different, special and of lasting quality. We agreed and she gave us ten prints of Andy's "The Reefer" to sell for capital and thus was the Journal born.

    Of our first year's operating budget of $60,000, we bet $40,000 of it on publishing the Journal. It was, perhaps, the single best investment we ever made at the Institute as it immediately established us in some quarters as an entity worthy of at least a second glance. It managed to buy us an audience, a few more early believers and allowed us to metaphorically put to sea for our next three decades of serving Maine's working coastal and island communities.

    I have always been art director so it's fair to say that I have been guilty of mono-nepotism in having all the covers, but they have become expected of me and it's been a fantastically symbiotic and mutually rewarding arrangement for the institution and for me as a photographer.

    Harking back to my piece about the long-ago day my education began at the feet of Andrew Wyeth, I wonder which one you'll like best?

    (this is a 30 page story)
  • Caveat...the reproduction of these covers is not ideal in this online collection.

    Having said that, if you would like a print of any of these images, please email me at peter@ralstongallery.com for details.

    If you enjoyed this little collection, you might want to have a look at my other recent Island Journal story, titled "Portraits,"in which I share a folio of portraits from the 2013 Journal.
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