Want to see art?

Leave town.

The Portland International Jetport looks more like an art gallery every day.

Thursday afternoon the jetport will celebrate the addition of several new pieces of sculpture to the collection, including four interior pieces. This is another gift from William D. Hamill of Yarmouth and his family.

It adds to the Jetport collection, which began in 2011 with the installation of eight welded steel wildlife pieces by Wendy Klemperer along the approach road.

Last year, Steuben sculptor Jesse Salisbury installed “Tidal Moon” on the grassy knoll outside baggage claim. The 14-foot-tall behemoth features two large split granite columns, with a single granite sphere nestled between.

This time, the Hamill gift includes three additional Salisbury pieces, two granite benches and a vertical granite sculpture called “Beach Pea” that towers outside the ticketing doors, forming bookends with “Tidal Moon.”

Inside the new terminal, airport director Paul Bradbury has chosen four pedestal sculptures, one each by Cabot Lyford, Edwin Gamble, Steve Lindsay and Roy Patterson, in wood, bronze, granite and basalt. They are grouped together in the skywalk, just outside the doors from the skywalk that links the terminal with the parking garage.

These are all part of the city’s public art collection, and all a gift from Hamill.

Just in time for the crush of holiday travel, it makes the airport one of the best places to see sculpture in southern Maine.

The jetport serves about 1.7 million passengers a year, including 100,000 in December, Bradbury said.

He believes that art calms travelers and makes the flying experience more enjoyable.

“Aviation has become a very stressful operation over the past 10-plus years,” he said. “Anything we can do to make the experience better is a smart thing for us to. I think artwork is a great way to do that. Artwork really does drop the drudgery of aviation and brings it back to humanity.”

A frequent flyer, Hamill approached the airport with his first gift for that exact purpose. The wildlife along the approach road sets a serene tone and momentarily takes travelers’ mind off checking in and passing through security, Hamill said. For folks arriving, the artwork extends at welcoming gesture.

The new installation marks the first time Bradbury has focused on the interior space. The sculptures are set off to the side of a sun-drenched hallway in the new terminal, just before the security lines.

June LaCombe, a sculpture curator from Pownal who has arranged the airport gifts and helped planned their installation, treated the space as if it were an annex to a museum. It’s a bright space, with large ceilings.

The decision to site smaller pedestal pieces stemmed from Bradbury’s vision for a restful, calming space.

“In the bustle of the airport, he wanted to make sure we still had a sense of open space,” LaCombe said.

Each piece makes a statement about Maine. The artists live and work in Maine, and all use materials common in Maine.

Lyford carved an abstracted wooden bird. Gamble suggested a shorebird, using bronze and slate. Lindsay’s “Cod” is a perfectly representational granite rendering. Patterson’s “Balance” is pure abstraction in basalt and granite.

LaCombe likes the idea that, over time, these piece will represent Portland to visitors, as well as travelers who live and work in Maine. Because they are on permanent view, they will suggest a sense of place and connote home.

“They represent a sense of arrival and of something familiar,” LaCombe said. “They become a placemaker.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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