Meet the Team
Richard Riese, President:
Rich moved to Wiscasset in 2020 after retiring from a law and public policy career that started in Pittsburgh, PA, as a private practice litigator and labor relations attorney and then moved on to Washington, DC, as an enforcement counsel and compliance policy director within the U.S. Treasury Department, before concluding as an advocate for the American Bankers Association.
During his stint in Pittsburgh, Rich served as a member and President on the boards of two non-profit organizations: the Dance Alloy, a modern dance repertory company; and the AC-ACLD, a local association operating a State accredited and publicly funded private school for children with learning disabilities.
Along with his partner, Patricia Embrey, Rich appreciates the range of artistic expression and the diversity of activities that the mid-coast area provides and welcomes becoming part of a community that nurtures them.
Kay Liss, Vice President:
Kay Tobler Liss has had a life-long interest in art, beginning with working in the summers in a gallery her mother owned on Cape Cod. After graduating with a degree in English from Bard College, Kay went on to study painting and drawing at the California College of Art in Oakland. Soon after this, she lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for a year, where she pursued art and writing and had a one-person show at an area gallery.
Her career has been primarily as a writer, editor and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. Her favorite job was as managing editor of an art magazine, Sunstorm Fine Art, a monthly New York metropolitan area publication. She interviewed some of the most interesting artists of the late 1980s, reviewed art shows at museums and galleries in NYC, edited articles of contributing writers, and helped design the pages. Moving to Maine in 2002, she wrote about artists and gallery shows in the midcoast area for local newspapers, was a publicist for Yvette Torres Fine Art in Rockland and was on the board of the former Round Top Center for the Arts in Damariscotta. She is currently pursuing a career as a novelist. Her first book was published in 2020 and her next will be coming out soon. Her website is kaytoblerliss.com.
John Sawyer, Treasurer:
John and his wife Margie moved back to Maine in August 2021 to be close to family after his retirement. They live on Hodge Street in Wiscasset.
He has a BA in Art History and Philosophy from Colby College. After working at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, he received his MBA in Finance and Accounting at Northeastern University.
John worked as a manufacturing plant controller for large publicly held companies, as well as non-profits and privately held organizations. Some of the companies John supported include Kimberly-Clark, Nestle, Eaton Corporation, and Lennox (Heatcraft Commercial Refrigeration). John is a former vestry member of St. Philip’s Episcopal church in Wiscasset.
Painting oil landscapes has been his passion for over 50 years. Painting for John is a way of slowing down the passage of life, to be fully in the now of a beautiful place. He loves to share the awesome strength of art with his family, friends, and whomever he meets. John’s paintings can be seen at facebook.com/johnsawyerstudio.
Sarah Fisher, Secretary:
Sarah moved to Maine in 2012 with her husband Derek Webber, following years of vacationing in the area. She came from a life-long career in fine-art conservation. She was a painting conservator at the National Gallery in Washington, DC for 32 years, serving as head of Painting Conservation there for the last 20 years. Prior to that she had worked as painting conservator at regional art conservation centers in Oberlin, Ohio and San Diego, CA. Her training in conservation occurred throughout Europe, mainly in Florence, Stuttgart, Zurich, Brussels and Amsterdam. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College in art history. Since retirement she has followed her life-long interest by painting in watercolor and oils, exhibiting in Maine galleries. She has served on various boards over the years: the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Salt Bay Chamberfest in Damariscotta, and now for our gallery.
Debra has been keenly interested in art since winning the Minnesota State Anti-Smoking poster contest at age 17. She holds a BA in Art Education, MA in International Relations and MFA in Visual Arts. Her work has been used by Dana Farber and the Boston Red Sox to fund cancer research. She has lived in Maine since 1993 and served on the boards of the Pemaquid Group of Artists, Skidphoma Library and Midcoast Printmakers. As an active retiree she teaches art classes in various mediums for adults and children throughout the midcoast area and regularly exhibits her work. Her first major exhibit was at the Maine Art Gallery in 1995. Her professional affiliations include membership in the Maine Art Education Association, National Association of Women Artists, Boston Printmakers, National Association of Collage Artists and Monotype Guild of New England. Her own artwork has been featured in the Boston Globe Magazine, Portland Press Herald, and in various periodicals and poetry collections.
Mark Coates is a painter living in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he taught art in the Howard County Public School System (Maryland) at Oakland Mills Middle, Mount Hebron High, and River Hill High before becoming the district Coordinator of Fine Arts. Coates also taught on weekends at the National Gallery of Art in Washington as well as the Maryland Institute College of Art. Retiring after 36 years in the school system, Coates taught art education and painting at Notre Dame University in Baltimore and worked as a fine arts consultant for the Maryland State Department of Education. Having painted in Mid Coast Maine in the summers for the past 28 years, Coates moved to Boothbay Harbor in 2015 to pursue making art full time.
In addition to Coates’ teaching, he has extensive leadership experience with non-profit organizations including Maryland Art Education Association, National Art Education Association, Howard County Arts Council, Mid Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, and Boothbay Region Art Foundation.
Martha’s first drawing teacher was Jon Gnagy on television.
Portland was a great place to grow up in the 1950s and despite being awed by the
marble coldness of the supine Dead Pearl Diver, feeling dwarfed by Franklin Simmons’ monument to Maine’s most famous poet, and surviving art instruction at the Longfellow School, Martha did not become an artist.
Martha’s love for history and art is evident through her decades of researching artists. It was a wonderful college professor who reinforced her arts education which she deepened with reading art criticism and history, seeing what was on gallery walls, interviewing artists for written pieces and going to exhibitions wherever she traveled.
The Maine Art Gallery was already in its second decade when Martha first came to live in Wiscasset. Largely thanks to exhibitions at Maine Art Gallery, and friendship with John Lorence, her deeper interest in the works of artists past and present grew.
Martha lives in Bremen now, where she gardens, swims, and writes. She is honored to join the Board of Maine Art Gallery to promote artists whose works express every
dimension of the human spirit, exhibiting in Wiscasset’s Old Academy Building, as
intended by its founding artists, spearheaded by the Burrage sisters in 1958.
After moving to Maine from Brooklyn, NY in 1972 and living off the grid for a time, Stephanie settled into a nursing career that spanned her professional life. Her hobbies and interests always included art, and once retired, she was able to devote more time and energy into her art practice and education. She meets regularly with a local art group to discuss techniques and encourage each one's unique talents. Stephanie has exhibited her abstract art in local galleries, as well being accepted for three years in a row at the acclaimed Yarmouth Art Festival. She also helped her son launch a successful business using social media and strategic advertising.
Nowadays, precious time is spent with her youngest granddaughter, and 3 other grandchildren.
Susan grew up amongst the towering redwoods, rolling vineyards, and rocky coastlines of Sonoma County, California. In the spring of 2021, she and her partner Adam (a native New Englander) relocated to Maine, eventually finding their home in Waldoboro. Susan joins the board of the Maine Art Gallery with over a decade of experience in supporting membership and non-profit organizations, retail establishments, and public and higher education organizations. She currently works full-time as the Membership and Database Manager for Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust in Damariscotta. Art has always been a part of Susan’s life. From the time she could hold a pencil, she was doodling pictures of animals (mostly horses), eventually falling in love with charcoal, chalk pastels, and acrylics. A lifelong admirer of Impressionism, she enjoys exploring movement in her landscape paintings and drawings, and finds endless inspiration in Maine’s diverse landscapes. Susan holds a B.A. in Art Studio from the University of California, Davis, and has shown her work a few times in California, and did commissioned work over the years as well. She joined the Maine Art Gallery in 2023 because she believes in the transformational power of art and its ability to bring people from all walks of life together.
Kerry and her husband Craig gradually made their way north to Maine after meeting at Harper & Row Publishers in New York City 41 years ago. After time spent in Portsmouth NH as Executive Director of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Kerry’s latest and largest project was as Manager of the Camden Opera House for 16 years. Over her career, Kerry’s goal has always been to enrich and cultivate community, at the same time helping grow the nonprofits she is involved with. She loves the visual and performing arts and is thrilled to be joining such an accomplished and dedicated board of directors and beautiful gallery.
She lives in Owls Head with her husband Craig, one rescue dog and one Llewellyn Setter. They have two grown sons and two incredible daughters in-law all pursuing professional careers in NYC.
Patty Pendergast is an award-winning artist who began her art career later in life, when she gave full reign to her artistic gift. She has honed her craft into her own style of realism. Patty’s specialty is built on her life-long love affair of animals. Her rich use of realistic detail, focusing on the eyes and spirit of the animals, brings her subjects to life.
Patty moved to Maine three years ago after living in Texas for 12 years. While in Texas she managed a gallery and frame shop. Her work continues to be sold through galleries in Texas, Maine, and Virginia. A large part of her work is commissions of animals for private collectors.