Ponder great art on Maine walls

 Digging deep
By NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  June 7, 2013

art_Alex-SpongeBob_main
‘SPONGEBOB’ By Alex Da Corte;
part of his ‘Fun Sponge’ installation at the ICA
at MECA, running from June 15 to August 4.

Whether they seek beauty, progress, historical focus, or unconventional ideas, art lovers should have no problem plotting the summer. We’ll start with the Portland Museum of Art, which unveiled an impressive snapshot of modernism with the William Paley S. Collection last month, a 62-piece show that includes works by Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Later in the season, the museum ventures further from the canon, opening a collection of mostly sculptural works from Tanzania titled “Shangaa” — the Swahili word for “awesome” — and in September, a breathtaking showcase of paintings from the Iraq-born and Maine-educated painter Ahmed Alsoudani, whose show “Redacted” testifies to the language of war through unsettling color patterns and violent abstract distortions.

Up north, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art has secured a gaggle of intriguing artists on view through July 7. Among them is Peter Soriano, who makes spare, spatial interactions of wire sculpture and wall painting that conjure a strange, interdimensional symbolic language. His “Bagaduce ->()<- East 19th” exhibit is simple and original, its title a reference to his own in-between status as a part time resident of Manhattan and Penobscot County. The CMCA also has the last few years of work by former Portlander Anna Hepler, whom we last saw installing a magnificent lattice web of packing tape and plastic in the Great Hall of the PMA in 2010. Hepler moved to Eastport not long ago, and her new material — printmaking, drawings, and sculpture — are said to investigate the nature of disconnectedness and the artist’s life off-grid. Add to these a complementary exhibit of paintings by Claire Seidl and sculptures by Duncan Hewitt, and a fashion-minded “Dress Shop” by Lesia Sochor and Crystal Cawley, and it’s the most impressive summer schedule we’ve seen from them in a while.

At the Farnsworth Art Museum, the season wouldn’t be what it is without spotlights on the usual suspects from the Wyeth family. A pencil and watercolor spread from Andrew and a catalog of paintings N.C. made for colonial history books and magazines 100 years ago are on display into the fall. The museum expands its scope with a five-part series titled “American Treasures,” which isolates Maine artists, landscape painters, portraiture, sculpture, as well as, intriguingly, a set called “Other Voices,” a feature on visual artists pushing the limits of representation and form.

Focusing as always on the vanguard of contemporary art, SPACE Gallery will feature a text-based installation from local artist Amy Jorgensen, who mounts “The Speed of Gestalt,” an inquiry into the principles of visual perception, this Friday in the art house’s window. And July through August, a fleet of paper-cut sculptures by Los Angeles artist Emily White mimics the methods of machine-made works through the artist’s hand, drawing out ironies of technology and labor practices. But there might be no greater challenge issued to the practice of museum display than what’s about to happen at the ICA at MECA. Beginning this summer, after a garishly decorated exhibit by Philadelphia artist Alex Da Corte (who fabricates complex and culturally coded sculptures from a glut of present-day media artifacts), the ICA opens “We Are What We Hide,” where six works from across the globe have been installed within the museum’s walls, and will be disinterred at six-month intervals over three years.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Portland Museum of Art, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Farnsworth Museum of Art
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