DAMARISCOTTA — Creative juices must be immune from freezing weather.

No fewer than three art galleries in Portland and midcoast Maine celebrate the coldest season with exhibitions that conjure winter, snow and the monochromatic environment.

Each winter, River Arts in Damariscotta hosts an exhibition called “Black, White, Gray,” a juried show that asks artists to submit art made with a limited palette of colors.

“People look forward to it every year,” said Linda Morkeski, the executive director of the arts organization. “I think people like the mood. It’s solitary. Bare. Artists are challenged by the theme.”

Pam Cabanas, a Friendship artist, has three ink-on-paper paintings in the show. As do many artists, she draws inspiration from the scenes around her home.

She scours the shore of the mainland and the archipelago that stretches into Muscongus Bay for places to paint “that ring of the history, wanderlust, hardship and perseverance, of the people, entropy, consistency and change that is the environment, that seem to combine to give me a feeling. and then that feeling helps me to interpret the stunning place I am painting onto the paper.”

She enjoys working in black and white, and finds the range of values at her disposal similar to musical chords. Together, they resonate and pull at the heart, she said.

Working with fewer chords simplifies her visual vocabulary, but doesn’t limit it. “Hopefully, my chances of hitting the target emotions are increased,” she said.

Audiences seem inspired, Morkeski said. Visitors are looking closely at the work, concentrating on the subject and the techniques employed by artists. They do not breeze through the gallery, and instead take their time, ask questions and discuss the work.

The season slows them down, Morkeski said. “Without the color being obvious, people really look at the individual works of art,” she said.

The show has proven popular. The gallery is busy – “busier than you might expect, this time of year,” Morkeski said.

The exhibition features about 100 artworks in a variety of media by about 70 artists. There are paintings in oil and watercolor, encaustic, photography, sculpture, fiber and ceramics.

The work is not necessarily about the winter season. Some artists use the season as inspiration, but there is a range of images covering a variety of subjects, including summer scenes.

“Black, White, Gray” is on view through Feb. 20. River Arts hosts about 10 juried shows each year.

Also up the coast, Gleason Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor opens a show Thursday called “Winter Colors.” Six artists have work in the show: Mitch Billis, Andrea Peters, Phil Barter, Peter Sculthorpe, Tomy Curry and Jessica Stammen.

“Winter Colors” takes a different approach to the show that’s on view at River Arts. In this one, artists celebrate color in nature’s darkest season. They find the subtle colors: The pink shadows on green trees, the blue hues of snow fields and the vibrant orange of the setting sun.

In Portland, Greenhut Galleries opens a salon-style show titled “Winter Meander …” It opens Thursday and is on view through March 1, and will include works by more than 40 artists associated with the gallery.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes