March 24, 2013

Art Review: Treat yourself to a fine Mess at a fine young gallery space


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“Large Traces Tile No. 6,” various clays, glazes and stains.

Images courtesy of the artist

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“Landfill No. 9: Northeast Cross Section,” various clays, glazes and stains; 50 percent recycled.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Saccarappa Art Collective,

861 Main St., Westbrook

WHEN: Through April 10

HOURS: Noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday

INFO: 591-7300;

It's interesting to compare Mess' ceramics to collective member Jody Dube's Escher-esque vessels. Dube's are dramatic like well-performed theater, while Mess's feel more like scientific revelations.

I like them both. I also think Dube's pictorial works are amongst the strongest in the gallery. They aren't afraid of decorative logic or making fun of 2-D images as "decoration" rather than practical objects -- like the wit of his flat mug forms on textured grounds. I particularly like his elegantly swooping collage painting that is not ashamed of being nothing more than beautiful.

I also liked most of the works by guest artist Holly Brooks. She's a good colorist, and she pulls it all together in "Dream Landscape," which not only follows Henry Isaac's value-driven color palette, but his patchwork rhythms as well. (Brooks' rhythms sometimes get away from her.)

In general, the members are pretty strong for an artist collective. I particularly like Julie Vohs' small but colorfully intense encaustics, Frank Valliere's oil pastels and prints of barns, and the moodier (and smaller) landscapes by Mary Brooking.

Mess' work alone is worth a trip to Saccarappa, but the space is nice, and there is a quite a bit of art to see.

I wonder what Mess' wall slabs and sculptures would look like to the public if they were installed with plenty of breathing room in galleries like Caldbeck or June Fitzpatrick, or if they hung next to contemporary paintings in the Portland Museum of Art. That's where they belong. 

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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“Large Traces Tile No. 12,” various clays, glazes and stains.

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“Landfill No. 43: Central Cross Section,” above, various clays, glazes and stains.


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