N.C. Wyeth, “Island Funeral,” 1939, egg tempera and oil on hardboard, Brandywine River Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

The holidays are over, and we’re deep into winter. It would be easy to stay indoors and hibernate for the next few months.

Don’t do it. There’s too much good art in museums around Maine. Here are three exhibitions that are closing soon and worth leaving the house to see.

An old-school blockbuster, the N.C. Wyeth exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art, “New Perspectives,” closes on Jan. 12. When final attendance figures are tallied, it’s likely the exhibition will push museum attendance to 175,000 for its current fiscal year, about 15,000 visitors more than last year. The museum’s fiscal year ends in January.

The exhibition has drawn widespread interest and curiosity. It’s been reviewed locally, regionally and nationally, with a travel writer for Forbes magazine referring to N.C. Wyeth as the “most essential of Maine artists. Lots of artists have tried to capture Maine. N.C. Wyeth did so.”

“New Perspectives” attempts to recast Wyeth as a fine-art painter who happened to be better known for his illustrations, which fueled the imaginations of young readers of such tales as “Robinson Crusoe,” “Treasure Island” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” Wyeth worked in both worlds successfully. Writing in Downeast magazine, Maine-based art critic Edgar Allen Beem called attention to Wyeth’s “familiar, folksier favorites that best show off his artistic chops – “Island Funeral,” “Dark Harbor Fishermen” and “Bright and Fair,” the latter a painting of the Wyeths’ home in Port Clyde. While he can imbue landscapes and interiors with brushy domesticity, he’s a master of theatrical, muscular realism, depicting exciting scenes with a sure hand and a keen sense of energy.”

The exhibition also presents Wyeth in the context of his times – a white, male painter in a white, male-dominated society. His paintings reflected his world, which was limited in perspective. It addresses what could be interpreted as the painter’s biases, the museum asked Mainers with diverse backgrounds to critique the work, offering perspectives from Native Americans, African Americans and others.

“N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives,” through Jan. 12, Portland Museum of Art

Red Grooms, “Slab City Rendezvous” Image courtesy of Farnsworth Art Museum

Up the coast in Rockland, time is also running short on “Slab City Rendezvous,” which explores the friendships among a group of avant-garde artists from post-World War II New York who came to Maine to make art. The restless artists communed in an area of Lincolnville known as Slab City. The exhibition includes works by Rudy Burckhardt, Lois Dodd, Rackstraw Downes, Mimi Gross, Yvonne Jacquette, Alex Katz, Neil Welliver and Bernard Langlais, among others. The painter Red Grooms came for a time, as did writer, poet and art critic Peter Schjeldahl.

The exhibition takes its title from a 1964 painting by Grooms.

“Slab City Rendezvous,” through Feb. 9, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland

The Art Gallery at the University of New England in Portland collaborates with the Portland Society for Architecture to present the community-focused exhibition “The Complete City Imagined,” a collection of maps from the Osher Map Library representing Portland’s past and future possibilities for Portland as envisioned by designers and everyday dreamers. In addition to the historic maps, “The Complete City” includes submissions from the architectural society’s inaugural design competition, “The Complete City: Imagined.” In that effort, people were asked to use blank maps of Portland to envision what the city could look like and what it means to be a complete city. The exhibition is on view until Jan. 31.

“The Compete City Imagined,” through Jan. 31, Art Gallery at UNE, Portland


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: