October 4, 2013

Portland Museum of Art spotlights Maine artists

'Piece Work,' samples the best of the state's contemporary art scene.

Bob Keyes' preview of "Piece Work" at the Portland Museum of Art

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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“Stargazer” by Jason Rogenes, expanded polystyrene foam inserts and electrical components, courtesy of the artist.

All photos courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

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"Iceland/Makena Beach II (Stock Photography)," photo collage by Aaron Williams, courtesy of the artist

Additional Photos Below


The museum has arranged two other related exhibitions to coincide with the biennial.

The first is Amy Stacey Curtis' "9 Walks," which consists of nine videos of a walk in the woods. This installation is part of her ongoing series of solo biennials, which until now she has hosted in mills around the state. Her theme is time and space, and making order of chaos.

The museum will show her projections throughout the building.

For Curtis, the number nine is a perfectly symmetrical and appropriate. It has roots in Greek and Egyptian mythology, and is symbolic on many levels. She has integrated the number into most of her previous biennial projects.

By the completion of her biennial cycle, she will have created 81 interactive works, with nine installations per exhibition, many of which have nine elements or multiples of nine. "Having the number nine as a quantity throughout all my work also adds another element of symmetry, a consistency, threading everything together."

"9 Walks" is part of the museum's continuing Circa series, which highlights contemporary art in Maine. It is coincidental to, but not technically a part of, the biennial, though it fits in its theme and outlook.

In addition, Rahul Mitra is creating a "Box City" project on the museum grounds. Mitra, a trained biochemist, is working with street artists, other biennial artists and the local collective Subone to assemble and paint wine boxes and milk crates donated by local businesses.

They will be assembled in the museum's Sculpture Garden, and be shown throughout the biennial.



WHEN: Opens Thursday, on view through Jan. 5; 10 to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours to 9 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

HOW MUCH: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $6 ages 13 to 17, free 12 and younger; free admission for all after 5 p.m. Friday

INFO: 775-6148;


There are many examples of similarly obsessive works -- Portland artist Joe Kievitt's unrelenting geometric drawings, one of which has 1.5 million individually drawn lines; Duane Paluska's minimal sculptures; or Julie Gray's plastic beaded wall-based works that look like textiles.

May has arranged for biennial pieces throughout the museum, including two installations in the McLellan House. One of the installations is from Georgetown artist Jason Rogenes, who has converted the Family Space in the McLellan House into a room of cardboard and poly foam.

Sound artists Zaff Poff and N.B. Aldrich have rigged "Bell Cloud" in the parlor of the McLellan House. It uses atmospheric energy to create sounds from bells that are suspended from the ceiling. The little bells probably are similar to the kind of bells used to summon hired help back in the 19th century, when the McLellan House was built. In that sense, this piece evokes the past while looking squarely into the future.

Alongside the McLellan House's flying staircase, Rangeley artist Justin Richel has installed one of his whimsically drawn towers of stacked goods, this one featuring the accoutrements of the bourgeois -- a stuffed chair, human bust, ornate vase, tea pot and confected dessert.

May knows well that viewers will have a range of reactions to this work. Above all, she hopes they appreciate the creative efforts of the artists.

"Photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and textiles seems to cross historic boundaries fluidly," she writes in the curator's essay. "These are not dystopian or regressive gestures; instead, the art of 'Piece Work' suggests a shared investment in the value of hands and fingertips, along with an investment in time that refuses the logic of efficiency and speed." 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 to correct the spelling of J.T. Bullitt's name.

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Additional Photos

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"Star Field #4," inkjet print by Caleb Charland, courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas, Boston

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"Simon in Grass," inkjet print by Jocelyn Lee, courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery

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"Sferics 2: Bell Cloud" by Zach Poff and N.B. Aldrich, mechanized bells, computer and low-frequency radio receiver, courtesy of the artists

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"Vagtue Idea Vestment (for Elizabeth Hawes)," by Crystal Cawley, felt, jigsaw puzzle pieces, handmade paper, embroidery, quilted hanger (bike hook, scrap wood, stuffing, scrap fabric), photo by Jay York

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"Dually Noted" by Adriane Herman and Brian Reeves, inkjet print, courtesy of the artists

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“The Passenger” by Marguerite White, cut paper, vellum, turntables, halogen lights and sound, courtesy of the artist and John Swisher.

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