Art work by Peter T. Bennett is on view at Maine Art Gallery in Wiscasset. Image courtesy of Peter T. Bennett

WISCASSET — Tasked with curating a summer show in a coastal Maine summer community, Maine Art Gallery board member Elaine Pew did what many might consider counter-intuitive: She decided to go for abstraction.

“I did not want to do landscapes and boats,” she said. “Maine has a lot of that sort of art. Abstraction in one form or another came to mind, whether it was expressionistic or minimalistic; I wanted to present this type of art work.”

The result is a gem of an exhibition at the Wiscasset Art Gallery, “Abstractions,” featuring the work of Abby Shahn, Michele Caron, Susan Bennett, Jay Sawyer, Marjorie Arnett, Stew Henderson and others. The star of the show may be Peter T. Bennett, the longtime Mainer who is showing “sculptural reliefs” made with dimensional aluminum. He builds up layers of aluminum to create characters and action and to suggest movement, energy and a film-like narrative.

“There is an edginess to the works, an existential angst that is experienced by those fedora-hatted men in his imagery,” said Pew, who has known Bennett for about 15 years. “Where are they placed in society, what do these numbers echo? No doubt the viewer can complete his or her own story here as one can in all successful modern art: the viewer conjures up his own story and memories. I was intrigued by the craftsmanship, the patination, the layering of the metal to form a three-dimensional space on a flat metal surface.”

One might argue that it is not abstract, Pew said, “but it is so very different from any other contemporary work I have seen lately, it has to be seen now.”

The Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston featured Bennett’s work this spring.

The show at Maine Art Gallery, 15 Warren St., Wiscasset, is on view through Aug. 10. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

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