“Dodecaphony No. 7,” an ink-on-paper art work by Frank Mauceri, on view at Cove Street Arts in Portland. Images courtesy of Frank Mauceri

As a curator, Bruce Brown enjoys discovering little-known or unknown artists who often go about their work quietly with little recognition.

Brown, curator emeritus of Center for Maine Contemporary Art, accomplishes that goal with the exhibition “Paperwork,” on view at Cove Street Arts in Portland through Feb. 1. It includes works on paper – paintings, drawings and prints – by Karen Adrienne, Kathleen Florance and Munira Naqui. The three are established artists who exhibit their work regularly across Maine.

Frank Mauceri

Lesser known is Frank Mauceri, an artist and composer who teaches music at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. He’s been making computer graphic work based on his musical sensibilities for a few years and has shown it in Maine just once before, at a group show in Augusta. Brown discovered Mauceri’s work while walking the hallways of an art building at Bowdoin. “I just happened to be wandering around, and out in the hallway there seemed to be a couple of these things hanging on the wall. I wondered, ‘Who on earth is this?’ ”

He peered through the open door and saw more of Mauceri’s art, and the quest was on.

Mauceri makes what appear to be line drawings that share characteristics with prints. Though it is created by a computer program, the art has echoes of drawing, engraving and calligraphy. He produces abstract images on an ink-jet printer, and some of the pieces are produced in multiple editions, much like photographic prints from a digital camera. As the same time, his pieces explore the movement and accumulation of lines on paper. In that regard, they share the gestural mark-making traditions associated with drawings.

Maureci came to visual art through music. A big part of his practice as a composer is creating music on the computer, and he’s particularly interested in generative systems, which refer to technology that is capable of producing unprompted change, and their interactivity. A few years ago, he developed a new course in digital interactivity in the arts. That exercise led to a shift in his practice.

“Brush Work No. 12” by Frank Mauceri.

“Out of developing demos and materials for this class, I was seduced into my own practice for making digital art,” he said. “They are very similar processes as I use in my sound work. In some ways, I was visualizing the same system I was using to control sound. The time scales are very different, but the processes – the mathematical systems – are very much the same.”

Mauceri wrote the computer programs that produced the marks on the paper. He explained his process in an email.

“These systems can be computer models of physical or biological systems, mapping strategies, randomly generated languages, or geometrical games. In every case, I am not certain of the outcome; my attention is focused on designing the system so that output exhibits a range of surprising and interesting patterns,” he wrote. “I am interested in making information-rich systems and less interested in producing any particular pre-imagined design. These systems are virtual; they exist in a digital realm. When I design the visual traces left by these systems, I am considering their concrete presentation on paper.”

Two years ago while on leave from Bowdoin, he participated in a yearlong artist residency in Berlin, which allowed him the time to pursue his visual art vigorously. The Takt residency hosted painters, writers, dancers, photographers and sound artists, and he focused on computer graphics and animation. His computer work was well developed before the residency, but his time in Berlin inspired him to start new series and systems.

Brown is thrilled that he did – and happy that he happened to wander the halls of Bowdoin at the right time. “Nothing pleases me more than finding somebody you can introduce to the public,” Brown said. “I just think it’s remarkable work, and I am surprised that he hasn’t had more of a presence.”

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