Eastport’s artsy buoy is a selfie magnet

The city and port were interested in creating a landmark to draw visitors and locals for a photo op.
A large, blue buoy in Eastport.
Photo by Tom Groening.

Eastport has plenty of bragging rights — its pretty, compact downtown with red brick buildings and handsome 19th century homes.

Its dramatic, wild tides and its setting at the confluence of two bays, the Passamaquoddy and Cobscook. Its proximity to Canada, visible across a strait.

But why not follow Key West’s lead, where a large buoy has been set in that Florida island community, boasting of its southernmost U.S. location?

And so Eastport now has a buoy, duly noting its status as the easternmost U.S. city; city, of course, referring to its form of government. (Yes, Lubec. You may be the easternmost municipality, but you have a town form of government.)

The Eastport buoy project was cooked up by Karen Raye of the city’s chamber of commerce and Chris Gardner of the Eastport Port Authority, and thanks to Joan Lowden of Eastport ArtWorks, the idea was shared with Alison Brynn Ross, an artist who arrived in Eastport recently from Charleston, S.C. The focus of Ross’s work has been murals, signs, and sculpture, though she notes that she recently has been teaching brush lettering.

The city and port were interested in creating a landmark that would draw visitors and locals to the breakwater for a photo op, Ross said.

Visitors taking selfies and sharing them on social media then serves as free and widespread marketing for the community.

She believes the buoy that now sits on a wooden deck area just off the breakwater — and across from the Coast Guard station — was an active Coast Guard bell buoy that broke loose and washed up in the area. It was given to the port authority.

“In many ways, Eastport feels like a bit of a time capsule, with the old-school WaCo diner, family-owned hardware store, and lovely downtown,” Ross said. “With this imagery in mind and sifting through some of the old signage from the area, we decided to give the buoy a retro 1950s style lettering.”

She hand-lettered the script and digitized it, after first painting the base blue on the cleaned and primed buoy. The sign was hand-painted.

“The artwork from the buoy is now also being licensed out to local businesses by the Eastport Chamber,” Ross added, “with funds going directly to the buoy project. There are plans to continue making the area more of a draw with kiosks with historical information on the platform, seating, and regular container plantings from the Eastport Garden Club.”

For more information about Ross, see: AlisonBrynnRoss.com, or reach her by email at info@alisonbrynnross.com, or on Instagram or Facebook @alisonbrynnross.

This story was originally published in The Working Waterfront and is republished here with permission. 

Tom Groening

Tom Groening serves as editor of The Working Waterfront newspaper and oversees all aspects of the paper’s print and online editions. He also edits the Island Journal, the organization’s annual publication that celebrates island life and culture. He is a seasoned reporter and editor with more than 30 years of experience in Maine journalism, and came to the Island Institute in February 2013.
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