Maine’s art venues generally enjoy their broadest audiences during the summer. Yet with the region’s blend of leading college museums and tourist-fueled destination venues, the state inevitably fields an excellent crop throughout the year. Fall marks the start of the year in leading cultural centers like New York, and in Maine, it’s the crossover time, when the academic institutions are in full swing and leaf peepers are still pouring into the state.

This fall features a heady blend of artistically excellent and politically charged shows, alongside the expanding presence of the quirky, the weird and the occasional blockbuster. Following are just a few highlights of the many fall exhibitions worth seeing.

N.C. Wyeth at the Portland Museum of Art

Opens Oct. 4; 7 Congress Square, Portland. portlandmuseum.org

The biggest of big deals is “N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives” at the Portland Museum of Art, opening Oct. 4. Locally, we can’t help but see him as one of the nation’s best-ever painters, but N.C. is primarily known to the world as one of the leading greats of illustration and the father of Andrew Wyeth. Featuring 45 works compiled by the PMA and the Brandywine River Museum of Art, the exhibition marks the first major gathering of N.C.’s works in half a century. Will this be the blockbuster of the year? Let’s put it this way: All of the attendant programming (lectures, etc.) is already sold out.

Cig Harvey at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art

Through Oct. 31; 543 Shore Road, Ogunquit. ogunquitmuseum.org

Despite the artist’s international acclaim, “Eating Flowers: Sensations of Cig Harvey” is her first solo show in the United States. The 70-plus works created during the past decade

“Deep Bay, Self Portrait, North Shore Bermuda” 2005 Photo by Cig Harvey

include photography, video, mixed media and letterpress-printed writings, one of which is the work “Eating Flowers,” a neon commissioned for the show that is now installed in the museum’s sea-view sculpture gardens. A British-American photographer who lives and works in Rockport, Harvey makes work based in sensations of the everyday world – a place of color, texture, smells, flavors and emotions. Her high-focus photographs reveal her as one of the best colorists in the region.

Meatyard at the Bates Museum of Art

Opens Oct. 25; 75 Russell St., Lewiston. bates.edu/museum

Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925-1972) is one of the greats of American photography, and his star is still rising. An optician based in

Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Untitled, 1962 gelatin silver print, 6 x 6 3/4 inches, © The Estate Of Ralph Eugene Meatyard Photo courtesy Fraenkel Gallery

Lexington, Kentucky, Meatyard staged enigmatic images with dolls, friends, children and members of his family, often in abandoned buildings. Showcasing more than 80 vintage prints, the Bates Museum of Art’s “Stages for Being” celebrates Meatyard’s ability to destabilize the idea of photography as observationally objective through his theatrically uncanny images.

Katherine Cobey at the Farnsworth Art Museum

Opens Oct. 5; 16 Museum St., Rockland. farnsworthmuseum.org

Katherine Cobey’s exhibition “A Different Voice” wells from her take on specific materials as carriers of certain types of ideas. Her medium is knitting, and she creates powerful fiber sculptures and installations that can be totemic, eerie, gorgeous, spiritual and ritualistic.

Temporality at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art

Opens Nov. 2; 21 Winter St., Rockland. cmcanow.org

“Temporality | The Process of Time” is the second in a series of shows about current contemporary art themes during alternate years from the CMCA Biennial. The first installment focused on materiality and was strong enough to make me look forward to the next. “Temporality” explores how contemporary artists use the element of time through topics such as process, repetition and duration. Organized by CMCA associate curator Bethany Engstrom, the show includes painting, photography, sculpture, installation and video by Gideon Bok, Astrid Bowlby, Caleb Charland, Amy Stacey Curtis, Nathan Kroms Davis, Grace DeGennaro, Clint Fulkerson, Carly Glovinski, Robin Mandel, Julie Poitras Santos, Jesse Potts and Deborah Wing-Sproul.

Sean Alonzo Harris at the Colby College Museum of Art

Opens Sept. 19; 5600 Mayflower Hill, Waterville. colby.edu/museum

Over the past decade, Sean Alonzo Harris has emerged as one of the strongest street photographers and portraitists in the state. “I Am Not a Stranger: Portraits by Sean Alonzo Harris” features 50 new studio photographs of residents of Waterville, the artist’s newly adopted city. Presented by Waterville Creates! in partnership with the Colby College Museum of Art, the portraits will be on view throughout the city at Common Street Arts, the Colby Museum, the Waterville Public Library, Railroad Square Cinema, the Waterville Opera House and a few local businesses. The exhibition guide is a foldout poster including images, a city map of the exhibition sites and interviews with the subjects.

Joan Belmar at the University of Maine Museum of Art

Opens Sept. 13; 40 Harlow St., Bangor. umma.umaine.edu

“Way Stations” features new abstract paintings – including a pair of 92-inch tondos created for the show – by Joan Belmar. Born and raised in Chile, Belmar moved to New York,

Joan Belmar, “Northern Skies,” 2019, acrylic, oil and ink on canvas Photo courtesy of the artist

where he lives and works, in 1999. Belmar gravitates toward circular forms, which he populates with textural passages, lines, dots, grids and various types of generically identifiable elements. Belmar’s circular logic evokes otherworldliness as though peering through telescopes, microscopes, portholes or more metaphysical portals.

Tiny Pricks at Speedwell Projects

Opens Sept. 14; 630 Forest Ave., Portland. speedwellprojects.com

The Tiny Pricks Project is a public art effort and exhibition organized by artist/activist Diana Weymar. Hundreds of participants from around the world have stitched statements made by Donald Trump into vintage textiles to create “a material record of his presidency.” On Sept. 14, Weymar is running a workshop at which members of the public can embroider their own contribution to the project.

Again, this is just a mere sampling of the upcoming season’s highlights. There are also many excellent shows that have already opened. I strongly suggest visiting “Gallery Closed” at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, featuring the iconoclastic objects of enfants terribles Kenny Cole, Geoff Hargadon, Paula Lalala and Brian Reeves, before it closes Sept. 20.

Of the scores of worthy gallery shows, a few on my short list include Stew Henderson at Frank Brockman Gallery in Brunswick; Jeffrey Becton, Richard Keen and Linda Packard at Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth; Michael Mansfield (yes, that guy, the director of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art) at Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells; Terry Hilt and Don Best at Littlefield Gallery in Winter Harbor; and “Inside/Outside” at Page Gallery in Camden.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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