AMONG THE STARS: Boy George, London, 1982, by Laura Levine.
First on the list of this year's points of interest is the anticipated Portland Museum of Art Biennial, which opens in early April. This show, a result of a legacy by the late artist Bill Thon and his wife Helen, has been a mixed blessing in the past. I doubt if Bill had a sense of how many artists would be clamoring to get some exposure in these degenerate times, and the show has been usually big and messy.
This year the choosers have taken a different tack and used a more curatorial approach, with thematic consistency. Of the 950(!) or so entries, they've chosen 29 works by 17 artists. Their decision to put parameters around the scope of the show makes it worth looking forward to.
PMA will also be hosting a show of some 300 photographs of 20th-century rock musicians entitled "Backstage Pass: Rock and Roll Photography," from January to March. Rock on.
Two shows stand out in the upcoming schedule at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. One is a long-term exhibition of Rodin bronzes, including "The Three Shades," casts of the figures from the top of "The Gates of Hell." They're wonderful, period. The other show of interest travels from the Grey Gallery at New York University. "New York Cool" has 80 works from New York in the late 1950s and early '60s, including Philip Guston, Ilya Bolotowsky, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, and many others. It's required viewing for anyone serious about art. It opens mid-April and runs into the summer.
Juris Ubans, who has been a presence in Maine art for 40 years, will be retiring from his position at the University of Southern Maine this year. In late January there will be an exhibition to commemorate the event at USM's Gorham Art Gallery that will include Ubans's own work as well as that of his students and many friends.
We are, after all, rural, and in April the June Fitzpatrick Gallery at MECA will host a show with a bovine theme. It has bronze and terracotta cows by Roger Prince and cow paintings by Sharon Yates.
Icon Contemporary Art in Brunswick hibernates for the winter, but opens again in April with a show by Duncan Hewitt. Hewitt will also be showing larger work at the big Coleman Burke space in Brunswick. After Hewitt, Icon will host a drawing show by Frederick Lynch in April.
Whitney Art Works starts the year with a lot of works on paper for January, plus an exhibition and three short performance pieces by Christopher Michael Sullivan about his art firm. Later on they'll have shows by Patricia Brace, Lucinda Bliss, Lydia Badger, Melinda Barnes, Tim Clorius, Adrian Herman, a performance by Leon Johnson, and shows by Mike McFalls, Diana Cherbuliez, Molly Levine, Elianna Mesaikos, and Aaron T. Stephan.
Greenhut Galleries will spend January in a group show, then February with "Subsets and Singles," works grouped on purpose. Solo shows this spring will include Andre LaPorte in March, Mary Bourke in April, Joe Nicoletti and Yin Li in May, and Thomas Connolly in June. They will also be having smaller shows in the side gallery for Ted Keller, Marsha Donahue, Jeff Bye, and Grant Dumheller.