June 20, 2013

Wegman opens MECA summer lecture series

It will be a win-win for artist William Wegman and his audience as he gains insight about his work by discussing it.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A lot of artists don't enjoy explaining themselves. They like making work; they don't like talking about it.

click image to enlarge

William Wegman, shown in 2007 with one of his wiemaraners, will open the Maine College of Art’s Visiting Artist Summer Lecture Series at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in MECA’s Osher Auditorium in Portland.

Press Herald file photo/Gregory Rec

click image to enlarge

“Water Damage” by William Wegman was part of the exhibition “Hello Nature” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art last year that the artist calls “the happiest show” he ever had. Wegman says the gallery talks and tours he gave during the exhibition taught him a lot about his art.

Courtesy photo

MECA VISITING ARTIST SUMMER LECTURE SERIES

WHEN: Begins Thursday. Through August.

WHERE: Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland

INFO: 699-1509; meca.edu/mfa

THE LINEUP:

WILLIAM WEGMAN, photographer, painter and video maker, 6:30 p.m. Thursday

ALEX LAMBERT, writer, producer and filmmaker, 6:30 p.m. Monday

JIM DRAIN, sculptor and installation artist, 6:30 p.m. July 1

KATE GILMORE, installation, video and performance artist, 6:30 p.m. July 8

JENNIFER GROSS, curator at Yale University Art Gallery, 6:30 p.m. July 15

SPENCER FINCH, sculptor, drawer and installation artist, 6:30 p.m. July 22

LAYLAY ALI, painter; 6:30 p.m. July 29

WILLIAM VILLALONGO, painter, printer and mixed-media artist, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5

William Wegman is not one of those people.

The artist, who is best known for making outrageous photos of his weimaraner dogs in unlikely poses, last year mounted a major semi-retrospective at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. "Hello Nature" went far beyond the weimaraners and included photos, drawings, paintings and journals from throughout his long career.

The show had strong Maine connections, because it was in Maine that Wegman discovered and nurtured his love for the outdoors. He has a place in Rangeley, and spends as much time in Maine as he can.

As he led gallery talks and tours, he found that he learned a lot about his work.

It was for that reason that he readily accepted an invitation to kick off the Visiting Artist Summer Lecture Series at Maine College of Art. He speaks at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at MECA's Osher Auditorium.

The MECA lecture series brings high-profile artists to campus, who then immerse themselves as members of the community.

They work with students pursuing master's degrees, and the lecture series gives the public a chance to participate.

"These talks give me the opportunity to re-examine what I am doing," Wegman said by phone from his studio in New York. "Sometimes I make up fabulous stories that have insights into my work and sometimes lead to another step. It's a way of pushing yourself, in a way.

"It's almost like a stand-up comic that is given a suggestion from the audience. By outing yourself in front of people, you are forced to go beyond what you might have been mulling over."

Thursday's talk will include a PowerPoint tour of Wegman's career from the 1960s to the present, with the opportunity for a back-and-forth with the audience.

Wegman still hears a lot of feedback from the Bowdoin exhibition, which closed last fall.

"Hello Nature" received national attention, and he found himself talking about a much wider range of his work than he is accustomed to -- and with many more people than he ever imagined.

"I met a lot of really amazing people during my Bowdoin experience, including Barry Mills, president of the college, and a lot of collectors who have my work, and writers and curators. It was the happiest show I have ever had," he said. "My father came to that show. He is 91 and can't really see. So it was a tremendous experience for me."

"Hello Nature" has since moved to a museum in Sweden.

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

bkeyes@pressherald.com

 

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