March 25, 2012

Art review: Greenhut's 'Portland Show' presents expansive view


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“Silver Light on the Waterfront, Portland,” oil on panel by Ben Aronson.

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“The Thomas Block,” oil on canvas by Joseph Nicoletti.



WHERE: Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St., Portland

WHEN: Through April 28

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

INFO: 772-2693;

This is not to say the show is dominated by high focus landscapes with narrative overtones. In truth, nothing dominates it. Some of the strongest works match little else, if anything, in the show.

I was fascinated, for example, by Robert Shetterly's portrait of Gerald H. Talbot – a Bangor native with a personal history of worthy accomplishment. Richard Wilson's "A Day with Sandy K" is a large watercolor grid of 192 little scenes. They look like images of the mental gymnastics of a sweetly good-natured stalker with ADHD completely in love with his complicit subject. It's hilarious.

There are terrific pieces made of altered maps as well as some strong collage paintings. I am not a huge fan in general of Tom Paiement's work, but I think his "Harbor Dive" – two white legs pointing up with a painted newsprint splash – is terrific. Tom Hall's small, profiled cityscapes of cut newspaper are great.

Ben Lambert's ceramic "Liveabord" depicts a standing young woman holding up the wooden boat on which she lives by its bow. It's a complex sculpture in the round (depressingly unusual for Maine) that is ultimately defined by its metaphorical complexity rather than its sweetness.

Considering this is a show based on a place, it is pleasantly surprising that the "Portland Show" is utterly devoid of nostalgia. I don't think that was a conscious conceptual decision as much as it reflects an aesthetic ethic that is thoughtful, rigorous and contemporary.

For lack of space, I haven't mentioned many of my favorite artists (John Whalley, Lissa Hunter, Nancy Morgan Barnes, etc.) who were among the 54 invited to the show. My suggestion is that you see them all for yourself.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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