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The birth of David Riley Peterson’s boats was an interesting one. To say ‘one thing leads to another’ is an understatement, but it is still the best way to describe his ‘AH-HA’ moment.

Riley explains, “I was asked to make an olive tray for a local gift shop. Not seeing many challenges in it, I procrastinated until the third request. I returned to my studio and, reluctantly, rolled out a small thin slab of clay and folded it into a simple tray and joined the ends. It was a waste of my awesome talent.” Staring at it in dismay and disgust the little pod transformed. “I held it in my hands, and the ‘AH-HA’ moment occurred. The clay spoke and in a meek, shy voice it said, ‘I want to be a boat.’ Ever since that moment, I am a devoted (clay) boat builder,” laughs Peterson.

His past and present blend a love of boats with playing in the mud. He is the first to admit that clay just suits his personality. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, he was always reprimanded for playing in every mud puddle he could find. Growing up, there were no art classes, let alone ceramics, offered in school.

“I was clueless about clay until I went off to college. My dorm at the University of Florida was located across the street from the ceramics department. I was always curious about the group of students who entered and left the building dressed in dirty jeans or tattered shorts with every body part covered in clay; so I investigated,” says Peterson. “What I discovered instantly changed my life, and I could hardly wait until the next semester to enroll in my first ceramics class; ‘Introduction to Clay.’ I was not disappointed.”

Peterson went on to graduate with a BFA in Ceramics/Sculpture, own his own studio and teach. Since 1984, he has also been the President of Peterson Marine Surveys. Two careers that appear to be quite different, Peterson effectively merges into one life.

Peterson’s father was originally from Maine, and the family often came north during the summer. He remembers spending that time playing with boats. “Maine is a real fishing community. They used dories for fishing and pulling nets in, and stuff like that, but mostly lobstering. These boats were iconic watercraft years ago.” It wasn’t a stretch to add Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture to Peterson’s list of galleries.  His boats fit perfectly between images of seascapes and rocky coasts. The life-like quality he brings to his clay captures locals and tourists alike, and are a beautiful reminder of life in Maine.

Come and see David Riley Peterson’s work in person at The Gallery on Maine Art Hill, 14 Western Avenue. The show featuring his work runs until September 26. We are open year-round and always have fabulous Peterson creations. You can also view his work on our website at his Artist Page, David Riley Peterson at Maine Art Hill. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call. 207-967-2803.

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