Portland photographer Tim Greenway captures a building project in “Portland 2020” on view at Cove Street Arts. The exhibition shows what Portland looks like in Maine’s bicentennial year. Photo by Tim Greenway, courtesy of Cove Street Arts

“Portland 2020,” a juried photography exhibition on view at Cove Street Arts until April 4, captures a moment in time and a city in transition.

Curator Bruce Brown put out a call for photos, asking photographers to submit images taken in Portland after 2017. As he sifted through the submissions, he saw a city in action: Buildings being erected, fishermen on the waterfront, children playing, restaurants serving and people protesting. Those actions and more are reflected in the exhibition, which fills two galleries at Cove Street Arts.

Mary Powers, “Standard and Fore,” on view at Cove Street Arts in Portland. The photo represents Portland’s thriving food and dining scene. Photo by Mary Powers, courtesy of Cove Street Arts

With Maine marking 200 years of statehood on March 15, Brown opted to focus on the state’s largest city to show how it’s changing and evolving. There are 60 photographers in the exhibition and 99 photos, none of which has been exhibited before. “I wanted this to be fresh,” Brown said.

Like the city itself.

One of the takeaways from “Portland 2020” is the amount of human activity portrayed. The photographers who answered the call opted to focus mostly on people engaged in meaningful activities. Sean Alonzo Harris found kids shooting hoops. Bill Shumaker captured the musical energy and exuberance of Porchfest, the city’s annual neighborhood musical celebration. Corey Templeton sought out diners on Wharf Street. Tim Greenway lurked among the construction workers as they raised buildings on Commercial, Free and Fore streets.

Dave Wade has an image from Munjoy Hill – a stop sign with a building under construction behind it. It seems to summarize neighborhood sentiment: Stop the development.

There are fishermen fishing, dancers dancing and cooks cooking. There are photos of condos for sale on Munjoy Hill, of tourists ascending the Portland Observatory, and of firefighters respecting the life and memory of a deceased colleague.

Olga Merrill made this image, “Fore Street Glow,” from multiple exposures. Photo by Olga Merrill, courtesy of Cove Street Arts

And Olga Merrill managed to make a beautiful image of Portland traffic. Merrill, who lives in Brunswick, often uses multiple exposures to create a single photograph, resulting in an abstract image that generally reflects the original subject in tone and color. For the Portland show, she made an image looking down Fore Street toward the U.S. Custom House, with yellow of the historic building in the background and the red lights of autos in the foreground. The photo “Fore Street Glow” became the signature image for the exhibition and has been used prominently in the show’s publicity.

It’s also one of at least three photographs that features the Custom House.

Heidi Ruf’s “Custom House” at Cove Street Arts. Photo by Heidi Ruf, courtesy of Cove Street Arts

A longtime Maine curator and lifelong Portland resident, Brown said it pleased him to assemble this exhibition at this time. It’s a chance to look, reflect and take stock, he said.

“Just look at these images,” he said, waving his arm around the gallery. “These photographers show us what Portland looks like today and why the city is the way it is.”

“The Custom House” by Bob Douchette is one of three photos of the landmark in “Portland 2020.” Photo by Bob Douchette, courtesy of Cove Street Arts


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