Ever wonder why there is so much professional-level art made and shown in Maine, a state with a total population less than that of many minor cities? One answer is that following the fame of people like Winslow Homer, creative types flocked to Maine, often to artists' colonies. This summer the PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART will host "The Call of the Coast: Art Colonies of New England" (June 25-October 12), looking at how artist colonies, especially those in Cos Cob, Connecticut, and Ogunquit and Monhegan, Maine, shaped the American identity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The summer at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART is taken up by "Magnify," a show with the work of Paul Butler, Jonah Freeman, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, and Jane Wildgoose. It parallels the lines of thinking that shape the graduate program at Maine College of Art. In the words of Rebecca Duclos, the program's director, "The gallery has become a microcosm where exaggeration, hyperbole, fantasy, and curiosity reign." The show opens on June 24 and runs until August 15.
Portland galleries tend to be quiet during high summer, but not without interest. AUCOCISCO has Greg Day through June, and will hang a group show of gallery and invited artists after that. WHITNEY ART WORKS has a large show of Aaron Stephan's work through June and will follow that with work by Ling-Wen Tsai, Roy Dawes, and Mark Wethli in July, and Sam Van Aken and Rebecca FitzPatrick in August.
JUNE FITZPATRICK GALLERY on High Street has "Ruin," photographs by Brian Vanden Brink opening June 26 and running through July. The August show will be works on paper by Emily Neligan, Marvin Bileck, Richard Wilson, Kendra Ferguson, and others. At her Congress Street gallery, she shows Dorothy Schwartz in June, Carl Klimt in July, and watercolors by Carl George Cutler (1873-1945 ) in August.
GREENHUT has solo shows by Thomas Connolly in June, Julyan Davis in July, and Sarah Knock in August. GLEASON FINE ART will have an ongoing group show of gallery artists in its Congress Street location.
If the weather tempts you to get out of Portland for a while, here are a few art destinations to consider:
There will be two shows of work from the Bernard Langlais estate. The OGUNQUIT MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART will show a group of his figurative work starting on July 1 and running through August. The BATES COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART will be showing abstract works. Both will also show Marsden Hartley works from their collections, as well as other shows. The Bates shows open June 12 and run through the summer.
This summer the FARNSWORTH MUSEUM OF ART in Rockland is given over to Vinalhaven resident Robert Indiana. Indiana is, of course, the Pop artist whose "Love" image, with its erectile tilted "O," was not only an icon of the '60s but became a postage stamp. The Farnsworth is putting an updated version of Indiana's "Eat" sculpture on its roof. This electric work was originally made for the New York pavilion at the World's Fair in 1964, and has been updated with LEDs in place of light bulbs. The exhibition also includes the six-foot "Hope" sculpture that Indiana made for the Obama campaign. The show opens June 20 and runs through most of October.
The COLBY COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART in Waterville opens a 50th anniversary show on July 11, running through February 11, 2010. To commemorate the event they are showing works from the collection throughout all their many galleries. Their collection is large, broad, and quite deep, including early American paintings, several Hartleys, contemporary works, and early 20th-century works by John Marin and Robert Henri, both of whom were among those legions of artists from elsewhere who nevertheless found themselves drawn to Maine.
Ken Greenleaf can be reached at email@example.com.