May 12, 2013

Show is hip, elegant, conceptually edgy


(Continued from page 1)

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Ben DeHaan’s altered photographic portraits.

Courtesy photo

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Brian Cronin and Eric Spalding’s faux-leather dirigible and, hanging from the ceiling, work by Irina Skornyakova and Petra Simmons

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland

WHEN: Through May 24

HOURS: Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, and by chance or appointment

INFO: 828-5600;

Tonee Harbert's "Ufology" would look like unmediated fanaticism if it weren't in the context of technologies of reproducibility, but here it's a playfully fun meditation on cryptozoological sub-cultures.

The piece that most surprised me was Brian Cronin and Eric Spalding's headphone-sprouting, faux-leather dirigible hung in front of a 14-foot but spare sky landscape.

Printed on handkerchief gauze, the backdrop shimmers with Moire patterns that reflect back onto -- and then into -- the dirigible form. Donning the headphones and peering into the house-of-mirrors interior of the vessel, the viewer is transported to the ominous world of an imperial U-boat off the coast of Maine. (Clearly not the intention of the artists, this was my initial impression -- which I savored.)

Concept-driven art challenges the viewer to follow it on its own terms, which means work and critical viewing on the part of the audience. While sometimes we prefer Matisse's "armchair," the defining quality of much contemporary art is the shunting of well-worn paths of recognition. It's more work, but it can empower the viewer expansively.

"Surface Tension" is a reminder that contemporary art is often worth the effort.

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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“Decomposition #1,” print on polystyrene by Rob Hyde

Photo courtesy of the artist

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Scott Peterman’s arresting image in the ceiling

Courtesy photo


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