May 19, 2013

MECA show portends good things for MEart


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Work by MFA candidate Carlos Pileggi in the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art in Portland.

Courtesy photos

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Work by Sandra Lepage.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, 522 Congress St., Portland

WHEN: Through June 2

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; until 7 p.m. Thursday

COST: Free and open to the public

INFO: 775-3052;

I was particularly impressed by the favela power and logic of Sandra Lapage's huge paper and cloth installation exploding upward and outward from a red figure – like the dematerialization of a human body by the violence of its representations.

Carlos Pileggi's (very hip) crammed print studio installation has a similar logic – and with even more South American flavor.

The best moment of the show is viewing Pileggi's studio-as-mad-political-scientist-laboratory installation through the window of Adam Robertson's decidedly similar but American version of the psychologically-revealing shack. Robertson's has a shelter-as-opposed-to-real-estate feel with a post-apocalyptic edge that is unfortunately impossible to remove from Maine's recently and famously dispossessed hermit.

There are a couple of art-as-catharsis installations that don't interest me, because I like art for its public culture rather than its self-involvement.

Masterfully combining digital travel with technological craftsmanship, Jeffery Campbell's Photoshop-stitched landscapes crept up on me. They combine images of things that aren't – or can't be – together in the real world. While they look culled from Google Earth, some include things like military elements (missile sites, ships, etc.) that we expect to be scrubbed from the Internet.

My favorite piece in the show, however, is a hooked rug by Marina Eckler. It appears to be a found, incomplete rug about one-eighth through its simple, decorative pattern. Eckler then completed a similar amount – but only in the black of the background – before she gave it up.

Her echoing the first hooker's lack of completion is impossibly more clever and revealing than if she had finished the rug.

I like that Severns and Eckler bookend the show. While Severns' brooding wit feeds on open cultural wounds, Eckler's transcendentally positive puns cheerlead maternal feminism, and feature a rare flare for the genuinely iconic.

In short, this year's MFA show contains a largely worthy crop of blossoming artists. I just hope the curatorial presentation of their work doesn't take too much of a bite out of their achievement.

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


This column was updated at 8:22 a.m. Sunday May 19 to correct the spelling of Sandra Lapage's last name.


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Additional Photos

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Work by Marina Eckler.

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Work by Brian Dimmock.


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