February 21, 2010

Virtuosity of crafts blurs artistic line at bienniel show


(Continued from page 1)

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“Jewelry Box” by David Klenk.

Courtesy of Atrium Art Gallery

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“Gourd #95” by Ron King

Courtesy of Atrium Art Gallery

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Atrium Art Gallery, Lewiston-Auburn College, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston, 753-6500

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

CLOSES: March 26




WHERE: Bates College Museum of Art, 75 Russell St., Lewiston, 786-8302

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

CLOSES: March 27

Any detailing from so many items is by its nature a matter of individual preference, but certain among them galvanized me. Two by George Bellows are infused with anguish: the print ''Electrocution'' of 1917 and ''The Law is Too Slow'' of 1923. In the former a blindfolded man is strapped in The Chair attended by a chaplain for the comfort of his soul and the Warden for the dispatch of his life. Bellows makes it into a form of butchery and the lynching in ''Too Slow'' makes the point more literal. Lewis Hines' black-and-white photograph ''Coal Mining Town, Pennsylvania 1920'' with its twisted vanishing point is an image of despair. Elke Morris' black-and-white photograph series ''Symphony, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin'' (1991) has the darkness and compressed history that I find in the work of the very great photographer Josef Koudelka. Morris' prints are sinister and intimidating, and thus irresistible.

To any list I could add Adolph Dehn's lithograph ''Manhattan Night'' (1946), Philip Pearlstein's lithograph ''Girl on Sofa,'' Hyman Bloom's drawing ''Old Lady,'' Robert Birmelin's etching ''Tree Study II,'' Michael Mazur's etching ''Confrontation, from Locked Ward'' and much more.

Not everything in this wonderful event is as dark as my psyche can be.

The second exhibition at Bates, ''Barry Nemett: Drawings from Italy,'' is as bright as Bellows et al's are dark. His gouache ''Cloud Watching II'' is gorgeous. In it the sky rolls on to complete and then dominate the perfect landscape of, perhaps, Umbria. ''Stufa,'' also a gouache, floats a ceramic stove against an almost nonexistent wall and then floats it away. The ephemerality of it all contributes a sense of departure that makes my fingers tingle. Other gouaches and the heroically sized drawing ''Florence Foyer on Via Pandolfine'' will fulfill those among us who have a longing for the ancient art of drawing. Bravo.

Philip Isaacson of Lewiston has been writing about the arts for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 44 years. Contacted him at:


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Additional Photos

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“Screen With a View” by Brian Reid

Courtesy of Atrium Art Gallery

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“Cloud Watching” by Barry Nemett

Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art

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“Stufa” (stove) by Barry Nemett

Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art

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