Born in New Hampshire in 1955, raised on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover, the second of five children, Abbie Owen Read grew up with access to the natural world as well as superior facilities on campus where her father was an instructor in English and Theater. She spent her junior year of high school living in France, as a student in the School Year Abroad Program. The coast of Maine became an integral part of the family’s life when her parents began spending part of the summer on Matinicus Island, in Maine, where her parents had purchased property in the 1950s. Her art education began early, not only under the tutelage of her mother Sally, who was a visual artist, but also under Virginia Powell who taught at Abbot Academy and which Abbie attended. At Oberlin College in the 1970s Abbie majored in both studio art and art history, studying with Paul Arnold, Eleanor Johnson, Athena Tacha, John Pearson and others, then went on to teach painting, printmaking and drawing at Concord Academy in Concord, MA where she stayed until she and her husband moved to Ann Arbor, MI in 1989. In 1991 Abbie received her MFA from the School of Art at the University of Michigan where she was a student in the short lived Mixed Media Program under Carol Ann Carter. Following graduate school she attended Michigan State University where she studied landscape design then started ARTgarden, a landscape gardening business. She and her husband Bart finally moved permanently to mid coast Maine in 1998 where she relocated ARTgarden, and enjoyed working with her clients until a life altering accident in 2011 motivated her to finally dedicate her days exclusively to her art. Her studio on Appleton Ridge in Appleton retains the name ARTgarden where ideas germinate, develop and mature.
While printmaking was her particular passion for many years, early on she also drew and painted watercolors of the landscape of Maine and around New England, learned how to make paper, and in graduate school studied welding, rustic furniture making, furniture design, assemblage, oil painting and figure drawing. As a passionate gardener, she finds that the natural world has always in some way informed her art. As a graduate student she taught herself the rudiments of making books but it wasn’t until she began taking classes with Rebecca Goodale in Maine that she began to hone her skills in Book Arts. While not calling herself an expert in that field, she incorporates these skills, as well as her passion for collecting old books and odd objects, into her constructions.