Renowned Maine artist and author Ashley Bryan dies at 98

Maine artist, author and storyteller Ashley Bryan has died at the age of 98.

Bryan, who lived for years on Little Cranberry Island, wrote and illustrated many children’s and other books and was a prolific painter, illustrator, puppet maker and stained glass artist.

Artist Ashley Bryan poses for a portrait in the studio of her Little Cranberry Island home in 2014. Photo by Gabe Souza/Photographer

The Ashley Bryan Center, which was established in 2013 to preserve and celebrate Bryan’s work, said in a post on its website that Bryan passed away peacefully Friday at the home of his niece, Vanessa.

Bryan had turned 98 on July 13 and continued to recite poetry, especially Shakespeare’s sonnets, until his final days, according to the post.

“Ashley was passionate about bringing poetry to life and educating young and old of all ethnic backgrounds about the heritage of African and African American culture,” the post said. “Visitors from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to her magical home on Little Cranberry Island/Islesford off the coast of Maine. They were rewarded with gummy bears and hugs; everyone was part of the “family”.

Bryan, who was born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, came to Maine in 1946 to study at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. That summer he visited Little Cranberry Island, where he would later move after retiring from Dartmouth College in 1988.

Among his accolades, Bryan received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the New York Public Library’s Literary Lions Award. He also received the Maine in America Award from the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland in September. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to Maine’s role in American art.

This story will be updated.

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