July 24, 2011

Art Review: Wyeths, women at Bates illustrate power of drawing


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“Small Blue Boat,” colored pencil and graphite, by Andrea Sulzer.

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“Wall Puzzle #3,” graphite and ink wash on Japanese paper, by Alison Hildreth.

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WHAT: "Andrew and Jamie Wyeth: Selections from the Private Collection of Victoria Browning Wyeth" and "Emerging Dis/Order: Drawings by Amy Stacey Curtis, Alison Hildreth, and Andrea Sulzer"

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

WHEN: "Andrew and Jamie Wyeth" through Oct. 2; "Dis/Order" through Sept. 10

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

COST: Free

INFO: 786-6158; bates.edu/museum.xml


Sulzer's newest work blew me away. I like her more obvious landscapes, but the newer work feels more about traces of memory that have disintegrated just past legibility. These are large drawings on white paper using colored pencil.

The imagery is crumpled and fleeting, despite the fact that it practically hums with over-saturated hues. Some look like the wrapping paper scraps on a Christmas morning floor, especially since the colorful detritus creates an actual landscape imbued with moments, memories and distorted traces, whose job it was to hide their initial contents.

Sulzer's works pulse with sophisticated rhythms, but they are unflinchingly mute. Although they are ultimately derived from pre-existing images, they are insistently -- and satisfyingly -- enigmatic.

If the Bates drawing shows seem to agree on any one thing, it's that drawing is an informational tool of virtually unlimited possibility. We use drawings to solve problems and convey ideas to others, not just data but love and humor as well.

Between the Maine greats such as the Wyeths and Hartley and three of the most important contemporary women artists working in Maine today, there is much to see at Bates. 

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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“20 Hour Drawing,” graphite, by Amy Stacey Curtis.


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