“The Shape of Things to Come,” a wall installation by Kim Bernard, is on view at Cove Street Arts in Portland. Bernard, a Rockland artist, made the work with plastics that she collected and then reformed using a machine that she custom built to convert discarded plastic in malleable plastic. Courtesy of Cove Street Arts

People who visit Cove Street Arts in Portland over the next two weeks have a chance to see an intriguing mix of longtime contemporary Maine artists showing their work in three distinct group exhibitions that happen to be on view at the same time.

The exhibitions – “Flight,” curated by Lissa Hunter; “STEAM,” curated by Wes LaFountain; and “I Am An American,” co-curated by Leonard Meiselman and gallery co-owner John Danos – overlap for the next few weeks, creating a happenstance who’s who of Maine artists and mini-biennial in East Bayside. The exhibitions feature the work of 20 artists, nearly all with deep Maine roots and long exhibition histories in the state.

“Spent,” a large-scale (56-by-40 inches) charcoal drawing by Kathleen Florance is part of the exhibition “Flight” at Cove Street Arts. Courtesy of Cove Street Arts

“Flight” will be the first of the three exhibitions to close, on Dec. 5. Hunter, an artist and maker who works comfortably in many materials and likes exploring the limits and possibilities of all, recruited seven liked-minded artists for “Flight,” which explores the freedoms and fanciful possibilities of flight: Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, who reimagine the nighttime sky with creations of fabric and paper; Kathleen Florance, who works mostly with paper; woodcarver Lin Lisberger; printmaker Lisa Pixley, ceramicist Paul Heroux; and metalsmith Tim McCreight.

“Transition” by Elizabeth Busch, an acrylic on canvas quilt, is on view at Cove Street Arts as part of the exhibition “STEAM.” Courtesy of Cove Street Arts

“STEAM,” on view through Dec. 31, includes work by artists who use science and technology in the creation of their art. The title of the show riffs on the popular education tenet of the late 20th century that emphasized science, technology, engineering and math, while downplaying the arts. This exhibition continues a global effort to emphasize the importance of the arts as a foundational component of modern learning.

This exhibition includes color fields made with plastic and neon lights, colorful sculptures made from recycled plastic, 3D-printed ceramic sculpture, and paintings that include LED lights, all chosen to show how art and technology can enhance contemporary art-making. LaFountain also includes traditional Indian baskets, made by the late Fred Tomah, along with the tools that Tomah used, to demonstrate how artists have used technology over the years and how technology has evolved.

In addition to Tomah, “STEAM” includes Elizabeth Busch, Floor van de Velde, Jackie Brown, Jan Piribeck, Kim Bernard and Tom Paiement.

“As Above So Below,” a painting by George Longfish, on view at Cove Street Arts. Courtesy of Cove Street Arts

And finally, on view into the new year, is “I Am An American,” featuring some of Maine’s most committed social-activist painters: Daniel Minter, George Longfish, Leonard Meiselman, Natasha Mayers and Robert Shetterly. Meiselman, the co-curator, celebrates the diversity of America in this exhibition and the willingness of its citizen-artists to work for change. “I selected artists who are passionate and committed to painting and who have issues with culture in America today,” he said. “It’s a good lineup, and it is an important show.”

It’s also a political show, though that is not remarkable. As Meiselman notes, “Everything seems political these days. Our lives have become politicized, every aspect of it … There has never more been at stake than there is now, and I fear things are going to get worse politically, financially and socially. I fear the worst, and hope for the best.”

And that is what this show is about.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: