November 14, 2010

In the Arts: Exhibits touch on art themes influenced by Islam


(Continued from page 1)

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Frank Gehry’s “Cross Check Arm Chair” in laminated maple, ca. 1992

Courtesy photos

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“Grande Odalisque,” 2008, by Lalla Essaydi

Additional Photos Below


WHERE: Bates College Museum of Art, 75 Russell St., Lewiston; 786-6158

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

CLOSES: Dec. 18 


WHERE: Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St., Portland; 772-2693

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

CLOSES: Nov. 27 


WHERE: Atrium Art Gallery, University of Southern Maine's Lewiston-Auburn College, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston; 753-6500

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

CLOSES: Nov. 30 


WHERE: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 9400 College Station, Brunswick; 725-3275

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

CLOSES: Jan. 16

Katharine Cobey's "Mirage" is almost a mirage. What appears to be a coat created somehow of traditional materials turns out to have been hand cut and knitted out of plastic bags. Avoiding the inevitable comment that silk purses are sometimes made from sows' ears is impossible, but in this case, the sow's ear is made out of the product of foreign oil, and that's getting akin to gold. I also note Cobey's "Danger Dress," created from garbage bags and plastic roadway danger strips.

"Split Personality" made by Allison Cooke Brown from copper wire is just that -- a dress form achieved in such a way that it changes from viewpoint to viewpoint and, at one angle, almost disappears. It's as close to a drawing as an ephemeral sculptural object can get.

Mary Allen Chaisson's "Pillow Talk" and "Days Gone By" bring us back to two dimensions, but they are not conventional. The latter appears to be a quilt when in fact its surface action is achieved solely by stitching. It is really trompe l'oeil.


Notwithstanding its title, "Sit Down!" at Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick does not welcome the carcass. It does, however, welcome the eye, and for formal presentation and historical exposition, it is pure pleasure. I've seen it twice.

Chairs are the performers of the furniture arts. The most physically demanding and the least generous in physical opportunities, new designs seldom add to the vocabulary of the form. Some of those that have made the leap in recent years are represented in this show, as are others that have become classics or notable for their idiosyncrasies.

Someone once observed that a chair is a stool with a backrest and that a stool is a board elevated from the floor by supports. I didn't find that elemental chair at Bowdoin, but I did find many that have become expressions of new theories and ideals -- some that have become cult objects, some that have failed, some that are purely decorative and thus touch-your-heart gorgeous, and some on which the jury is still out.

The latter may have strength, be visually sprite and made of laminated wood, synthetics or some breed of alloy. Yes, there are some among those venturesome performers that are solid as a rock and suitable for any reasonable use. You just can't sit on them at Bowdoin.

This show will step you through six centuries of design. Don't miss it. 

Philip Isaacson of Lewiston has been writing about the arts for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 45 years. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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Ed Douglas’ oil on linen “Alhambra IX”

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Elizabeth Busch’s “Two Thousand Seven,” textile paint on fabric.


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