As the Portland Museum of Art prepared to announce it would reopen four days a week on March 25, museum supporters gathered online for the Contemporaries Winter Bash, the museum’s first virtual fundraiser.

The Bash, presented March 12 by Headlight Audio Visual, included interviews with artists featured in “Untitled, 2020: Art from Maine in a _______ Time,” an exhibit that has been available online but opens in person this week.

The exhibit includes 2020 works by 25 Maine artists, chosen from among more than 900 artists who submitted work in response to an open call in September. The wildly divergent selections address isolation and connection, parenting and family, justice and politics, and so much more.

The Bash also included a screening of the two-channel video “Are You Happy?” by Eleanor Kipping, whose overlay of poetic prose and found footage guided viewers through considerations of Black life, death, joy and loss.

There was also a live performance by singer-songwriter Suzie Assam, who played her self-described “weepy guitar songs” with the “Untitled” exhibit as her backdrop. And Celeste Henriquez told the emotional story of her abstract paintings “Snow Coming” and “Big House,” which were inspired by lockdown and her physical separation from a daughter who has autism and communicates in two-word sentences.

Angie Bryan, the Press Herald’s Bar Guide columnist, designed an “Untitled” cocktail for an at-home toast to the PMA (one part Stroudwater Distillery Vespertino, one part vanilla vodka, one part crème de cacao, one part heavy cream, on ice, in a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar).

Ticket sales for this one-hour livestream generated $10,000 to directly support operating costs. In addition, the Contemporaries’ 15th Winter Bash – and first virtual one – was a reminder of the resilience of artistic expression.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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