September 22, 2013

Art Review: MECA's 'Ardor' a passionate prelude


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Detail of one of Rebecca Duke’s works in wood.

Courtesy photos

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Detail of one of Hannah Barnes’ wall installation paintings.

Additional Photos Below



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

WHEN: Through Oct. 13

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

COST: Free; open to the public

INFO: 775-3052;

ALSO: Artist talks from noon to 1 p.m.: Shirah Neumann on Oct. 3; Gina Adams on Oct. 10

The exuberance of Wood's intentionally ugly material-oriented paintings gives the idea she loves painting, and her indulgent affection contagiously makes her work easy to like.

Gina Adams' group of three tents, turned on their sides and covered with (mostly) hand-stitched leather, is the only work that doesn't resonate with me.

Her effort and skill are commendable, and the reading of modern tent technology back toward the fundamental and spiritualized survival existence of our ancestors seems a worthy project. But in the context of a here-and-now real-time show, the harkening logic of this piece doesn't connect.

Hannah Barnes has two wall installation paintings that elegantly and brilliantly interact with the gallery where the remnants of ICA director Daniel Fuller's "We are what we hide" project emerge from the walls. Barnes runs a liminal yellow line down from her dissected yellow wall painting to a thick pink extension cord from the wall project. The synapse logic is electric -- literally.

Barnes' other wall piece plays further with the pink cord by echoing it with pink lines on the end wall that play the part of perspectival diagonals of a 3D box drawing. The pink lines not only force the question, "Is it a drawing or painting?", but they make that question worthy even before you consider the conceptual art plot twists.

It's interesting that four of the six artists get their most significant conceptual sizzle from pink elements in their work. (It must be a hot color.)

It's also interesting that two women jurors picked six women artists. While that seems a worthy topic for discussion, I commend the jurors and the ICA for "Ardor." It's a good show. 

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


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Additional Photos

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Jenny Dougherty’s gouache and ink works on paper.

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Gina Adams’ tent installation.


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