Maurice Sendak Sketches and more at the Portland Public Library.
Among the local art labors to anticipate this fall is new work by Greta Bank, a boundless conceptual artist whose installations often carry a neo-Situationist vibe. In “NSFW,” a show that’s open but I haven’t yet seen, Bank has converted the Annex at SPACE Gallery to a “room-sized diorama” of kinda-sorta Impressionist paintings, through which Bank explores the troubled iterations of female identity as it has been depicted in art history. Strongly recommended; even if it never registers beyond confounding, Bank’s work is a full-sensory experience, and grapples with braver, bolder themes than most artists take on.
I’m also looking forward to Derek Jackson’s show at Zero Station, which revisits a childhood spent near oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico through the medium of painting. Whether he works in the form of concepts, digital media, or the more conventional forms of painting, Jackson suffuses his projects with a palpable subjective emotion, which steers his inquiries into desire, memory, and identity. Titled “What Were the Skies Like When You Were Young,” his paintings are up September 28 through November 23.
Plus! The Portland Museum of Art observes the indefatigable Amy Stacey Curtis, who creates large-scale installations of systems that explore basic elements (e.g., time, space, sound, matter) with a series of video projections titled 9 Walks, which seems like an attempt to remove personal narrative from the tradition of walking through Maine woods. That exhibit is a part of the museum’s anticipated biennial (bumped this year from spring to fall), the theme of which is “Piece Work.” Participants number thirty, including the post-minimalist sculpture of Duane Paluska, the obsessively dense line drawings of Kate Beck, and the photographer Bryan Graf, who documents natural settings in the language of remixing and cut-and-paste digitization.
The museum will also devote its season to the Iraqi expat Ahmed Alsoudani, who honed his practice of sublimating themes from the Iraq War into highly charged, grotesquely abstract paintings at the Maine College of Art. Titled “Redacted,” his work is on display through December 8.
At Icon Contemporary Art, there’s a dual showing of new work by the painter William Manning and relief sculptures from Frederick Lynch, both of whom have been fixtures in Maine (in Lynch’s case, New England) modernist art since the 1960s. Among group shows, recent explorations from MECA graduate alumni are corralled into a biennial of its own — among them the memory-into-material translations of Gina Adams and the collages of Jenny McGee Dougherty, who uses a digital art aesthetic to find unconventional patterns and symbols of
hand-assembled materials. The six-alum show, titled “Ardor,” runs through October 13 at the ICA.
Still fondly recalling the success of last spring’s Edward Gorey show, the Portland Public Library hopes to accomplish something similar with a Maurice Sendak retrospective of sketches, drawings, and other assorted works on paper. That wild rumpus runs through October 25.