DIVISIONS Works by Frederick Lynch at Portland Museum of Art, February 27-July 11.
As we launch into the next decade with a collapsing economy and apocalyptic themes bleeding into every facet of culture, it's particularly hard to be optimistic about the arts, as yes, they are often the first to go. James Cameron may have just finished the most expensive movie ever made, but many of our beloved nonprofits are wringing a dry towel. As mentioned in Ken Greenleaf's column last week, the sudden crumbling of Rockport's CENTER FOR MAINE CONTEMPORARY ART was not a good omen — but a recent release from new executive director Mary Ann Schierholt was confident. Schierholt says that after a "time-honored Maine tradition, the winter recess," CMCA will reopen in the warmer months, with exhibits of work by American painters Yvonne Jacquette and Will Barnet. The anticipated CMCA Biennial, one of the greater opportunities for Maine emerging artists, is still in the works. While this is encouraging, it's not spring yet.
The success of the CMCA, like all other arts organizations we depend on and appreciate, relies on us. Let's put down our pompons, maybe cancel the cable, and put the cash into the future of the Maine art community.
On the brighter side, 2009 solidified and initiated some fantastic grassroots arts opportunities that will carry over to the new year, the Biddeford Final Friday Artwalk, PICNIC music and arts festival, and SPACE Gallery's Shop-a-Do among them. The Maine Arts Commission is more organized and helpful than ever (check out their snazzy new Web site) and the 660 Congress Street artist residency project is a go. The gorgeous but severely decrepit old antique shop we've all been drooling over may yet function as we've dreamed it would. Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt's Bees, recently received a waiver of a city housing fee totaling more than $400,000 in a recent vote, setting the stage for the transformation of the weathered building into studio space.
On the museum front there's a lot to look forward to this year. The PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART will be hosting two Maine artists, Frederick Lynch and Anna Hepler, back to back. "Division and Discovery: Recent Work by Frederick Lynch" will run February 27 through July 11, and Hepler's first solo show at PMA opens in July and comes down in October. Exhibits of Max Beckmann's graphic work and "Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place" are also on the docket.
The COLBY MUSEUM OF ART will show "Experimental Geography" in February through May, a traveling exhibit featuring Francis Alÿs (a favorite of mine), Ilana Halperin, Julia Meltzer and Davie Thorne, Trevor Paglen, and Spurse, among others. This show was organized by New York's Independent Curators International, and is definitely worth the trip to Waterville.
"Basquiat/Warhol" rings in the new year at the BOWDOIN COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART, exploring the relationship between the two icons. This is followed by a show of Los Angeles-based Skowhegan alumnus Danny Jauregui's architectural geometries up from March through May.
USM'S PORTLAND GALLERY will be showing explorations of our local landscapes and ecosystems by local artists Cole Caswell and Jessica George in "Patches Within Proximity" in March. Their Gorham Gallery will host the Whitney Biennial alumni artist collective SIMPARCH this spring.