“We Gonna Be Alright,” a digital print by Ryan Adams, is part of the new “Untitled” exhibition hosted by the Portland Museum of Art – for now on its website and in person when the museum reopens. Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

It seems fitting that an exhibition dedicated to 2020 will open online.

Someday – that elusive someday – the Portland Museum of Art will open “Untitled: Art from Maine in a ______ Time” to the public, so people can actually see the exhibition in person and experience art in the flesh. For now, virtual content will fill the void.

“Untitled” is an open, juried exhibition featuring 25 Maine artists who submitted new work made in Maine in 2020 in response to the chaos, discord, uprising – fill in the blank with the appropriate word – that characterized the year.

The themes are what one might expect: social justice, isolation, politics, climate, authority, human rights, individual rights, disinformation.

“This isn’t pandemic art. This is artists doing what they are doing and trying to make sense of the world,” said Jaime DeSimone, curator of contemporary art for the museum. “I cannot wait until we open again and bring people in to see in person the wonderful testament to our community. But the good news is, we are digitally open, and people are able to practically experience what it looks and feels like.”

Celeste Henriquez’s “Big house,” an oil-on-canvas mounted to panel, measures 46 inches by 48 inches. Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

The museum received more than 900 submissions, and a five-member jury made the final selections. The museum tapped community artists for jury duty: Katherine Bradford, Cody Castle-Stack, Jeremy Frey, Séan Alonzo Harris, and Ayumi Horie.


The PMA has no time frame for reopening to the public, said Graeme Kennedy, director of strategic communications and marketing. That will happen when public health guidelines permit, and it feels smart and safe. Until then, the exhibition is installed and waiting for people to see it. In the meantime, the museum will introduce online content from “Untitled” on a rolling weekly basis, including a 360-degree virtual tour of the installed exhibition, a documentary-style introduction, essays, and artwork and statements from each artist.

There was no opening party, no celebration, no toasts. But all events related to the exhibition, which are all virtual at this point, will have a home on the exhibition landing page. The first of those, a discussion among juror Horie and several artists, is already online. Harris will moderate the next discussion, at 6 p.m. Thursday, and his conversation will include Natasha Mayers and Nora Tryon from the Artists Rapid Response Team, Ryan Adams, Titi de Baccarat, Rosamond Gross, Eleanor Kipping and Ashley Page.

“All in This Together,” an acrylic on birch panel painting by Anna Dibble, reflects themes of 2020.

The PMA will bring back its podcast series in the spring, based on conversations with artists recorded when they dropped off their work at the museum, which happened on Inauguration Day. When the podcast is ready, it too will have a home on the exhibition page. Three video works in exhibition, by Kipping, Elijah Ober and Giles Timms, are available for viewing on the website as well.

Other artists in the exhibition are: Ryan Adams, Henry Austin, Greta Bank, Steve Bartlett, Rachel Church, Anna Dibble, Christopher Dudley, Rosamond Gross, Celeste Henriquez, Greg Jamie, Enrique Mendía, Meghan Mitchell, Veronica A. Perez, Julie Poitras Santos, Joshua Reiman, Charles Schreiber, Sally Stanton, Deborah Wing-Sproul and Evelyn Wong.

“Untitled” is a tribute to Helen E. and William E. Thon, whose bequest funded the museum’s biennial and contemporary art program.

View the exhibition online at portlandmuseum.org

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: