March 24, 2013

In the Arts: At PMA, revisit – and interact with – 25 years of Architalx


(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

From Melonie Bennett's exhibition at PhoPa Gallery

Photos courtesy of PhoPa Gallery

click image to enlarge

From Melonie Bennett's exhibition at PhoPa Gallery



WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress St.


HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; until 9 p.m. Friday

CLOSES: May 19


WHERE: PhoPa Gallery, 132 Washington Ave., Portland

HOURS: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday

CLOSES: Saturday

All in all, my admiration for Architalx as exemplified by the ambition of the tower made "Voices of Design" a stimulating experience. The existence of the exhibition, with its complexity and scale within the precincts of the museum, add another dimension to its mission. 

REGARDLESS OF ITS NAME, "Bad (expletive)" at the new PhoPa Gallery in Portland is more than just an exhibition of dimpled tushes.

While there are a fair number of fetching behinds in it, the importance of the event is the appearance again of Melonie Bennett in the world of photography.

Bennett is a prime recorder of antics and, almost paradoxically, does so with the staid and luxurious media of film and silver gelatin printing. The wacky abandon of Bennett's subjects and the gentle play of light on the silvered surface of her prints is an anomaly that is irresistible. It's elegance and clowning.

Bennett waits for the moment when the action is extra-real, when things get extravagant. If, in translating that moment into a print, some quantity of visual energy is lost, there is enough in reserve to keep things at an apparent peak.

Her images use the reservoir of energy to draw the viewer from one print to another in anticipation of what's coming up next. It's a moving feast.

A Bennett show is much more than the sum of its parts. She keeps the viewer guessing; is she swinging her camera around and jumping into the fun, or is she just a shrewd observer?

Her locales are old home day, or something like it, at the Bennett Farm; Memory Lane Music Hall, a popular bar in Standish; and a week-long Caribbean cruise with bad-boy rapper Kid Rock and his fans.

Regardless of locale, everyone rocks for Melonie.

It's all hijinks, people having more fun that I do. And, in every print, they are very real.

This show is an auspicious start for a newly established gallery.

Philip Isaacson of Lewiston has been writing about the arts for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 47 years. He can be contacted at:


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