“A Cuddle of Sand Dollars” by Evelyn Dunphy, which won first prize in the North American Biennial New England Watercolor Society, will be part of a bicentennial exhibition in Orono. Image courtesy of the artist

When asked, West Bath watercolorist Evelyn Dunphy eagerly offered several paintings for consideration for the exhibition “Framing Maine: Artists’ Perspectives on Place.” Dunphy is closely associated with Katahdin and the North Woods, though curators ultimately chose a painting she made at Popham Beach of sand dollars and another with a view of a snow-covered pine tree near her home after a March snowstorm.

The exhibition opens Friday at Lord Hall Gallery at the University of Maine in Orono. It celebrates Maine’s bicentennial, with more than 50 pieces of art by nearly three dozen contemporary Maine artists. It is curated by Laurie E. Hicks, an art professor and curator-director of the gallery; Kreg Ettenger, director of the Maine Folklife Center; and art historian, critic and writer Carl Little.

During an opening reception that begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Little will host a discussion with several artists about the importance of art in Maine’s history and cultural identity, as well as the influence of Maine on artists and their work.

Although she paints all over the world, Dunphy said Maine is at the core of her art. “This exhibition celebrates the state of Maine, and from the very beginning my work has been about Maine,” she said. “It is a thrill to be included with other artists who I believe represent the finest work being done in Maine.”

Ed Nadeau’s “The Stolen Cord” is on display in the Orono exhibition. Images courtesy of Lord Hall Gallery

Other artists in the exhibition are Jane Banquer, Siri Beckman, Jeffrey Becton, Kevin Beers, Louise Bourne, Alan Bray, Elizabeth Busch, Barry Dana, Claud Dennis, Marsha Donahue, Sarah Faragher, Stephanie Francis, Gabriel Frye, Deborah Heyden, Nina Jerome, MaJo Keleshian, Rosemary Levin, Michael Lewis, James Linehan, Larinda Meade, Daniel Minter, Johanna Moore, Ed Nadeau, Stan Neptune, Heath Paley, Molly Neptune Parker, Mark Picard, Robert Pollien, Barbara Putnam, Sarah Sockbeson, Antonia Small, Susan Smith and John Whalley.

The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, photographs, quilts, rugs and baskets.

“Borestone Mountain from Onawa” by Alan Bray. Image courtesy of Lord Hall Gallery

Hicks said the exhibition and the discussion on Friday night will give viewers an opportunity to learn how artists view the world around them and translate their vision into tangible works of art. Throughout history and including contemporary times, people across the world have formed impressions of Maine based on artists’ interpretation of the state, Hicks said. “The images they create contextualize the way the world sees Maine,” she said. “It is often through the eyes of artists that people know what Maine is like, in terms of the environment and culturally.”

That’s why it was important to include a basket by Passamaquoddy artist Gabriel Frey, quilts by Elizabeth Busch and a painting by Portland artist Daniel Minter, “The Governor’s Tea,” that references the tragedy of Malaga Island, an interracial island community in Phippsburg, whose residents were evicted in 1911 when the governor decided the island was a blight on the state of Maine.

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