Bernard Langlais was nothing if not playful. The sculptor made whimsical wooden sculptures and wood reliefs of animals at his home and studio in Cushing.

He loved kids. Generations of Mainers tell stories about visiting Langlais at his studio, where he delighted showing them around and encouraged them to play on his lions, bears and alligators that he assembled with pieces of wood and set out in his sprawling field.

To mark school vacation week, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport features what executive director Suzette McAvoy calls the “imaginative animal kingdom” of the late Maine artist. The works on view in the bottom-floor gallery are recent gifts to CMCA from Colby College and the Kohler Foundation.

“There will be a dozen works in the show, ranging from the carved and painted animal sculptures and reliefs, for which he is well-known, to several examples of his lesser-known abstract compositions,” McAvoy said.

In addition, CMCA has scheduled ArtLab workshops featuring projects inspired by the Langlais sculpture. They are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily during school vacation week.

Langlais grew up in Old Town. He lived and worked in New York in the 1950s and 1960s, where he developed a love of working with wood.

He came back to Maine in the mid-1960s with a wave of New York artists and settled in Cushing.

There, on riverfront property, he made his larger-than-life animals, which became his most-loved body of work.

Langlais died in 1977.

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

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Twitter: pphbkeyes