Where It’s At

‘Made in Maine’ show at Maine Art Gallery: Wicked good

Fri, 09/30/2022 - 8:15am

Story Location:
15 Warren Street
Wiscasset, ME 04578
United States

    I went to the opening reception of the final show of 2022 at Maine Art Gallery, “Made In Maine,” last Saturday. This gallery is set in an old brick house out on Warren Street in Wiscasset and the shows always stir both the imagination and intellect of every viewer.

    Set up on two floors, with cool wall dividers of different colors within the rooms, I always feel like I’m meandering through a much larger space. And while I was doing just that I ran into artist/curator Mark Coates. Mark is a past president at Boothbay Region Art Foundation here in the Harbor. I naturally started asking “how” questions about hanging the show – which is not as easy as one might think.

    “It’s such an eclectic group of work. There’s a nice balance between abstract and non-subjective art and traditional work,” Mark said. “And there’s interesting sculpture – assemblages, welded steel, granite. We try to place things so that when you come around a corner you see something that surprises you. This gallery is one of the nicest spaces in the state.”

    Coates said there were 125 works of art in this members show, “Made In Maine” by 77 or 78 artists. Each artist submitted two works for the exhibit.

    There were many pieces that drew me in. This is the fun part; the magic.

    Edward Scott Elliot: First is his mixed media “Fish House Town Meeting.” The deep colors, black outline of the buildings … but it’s the variations on houses and what’s inside … some are photos of fishermen, fishing families, homes, nature – water scenes, chubby chickadees in trees … And each building housing these images are all connected. When you live in a fishing community everyone is in it together and are affected by each season’s outcome. I suppose this really hit home because of the ongoing nightmare our lobstermen/women continue to face regarding the ongoing contention that their gear is impacting Right Whale mortality. This piece of art connects the past and present to the future. What will that look like?

    The other piece by this artist is “Electric Dooryard” … damn that invisible fencing! A woman carries a rooster on her arm, its tail lays across her arm. Her ponytail extends straight out behind her while the hair on the top of her head stands “shockingly” straight up. The bold orange-red background with the blues and yellows and gold colors just … capture the eye.

    A shadow world after a rain captured in “Evening Stroll” by Donna Barnako was intriguing and inviting: I wanted to project myself into the painting walking just behind the trio on the right to hear about the opera or ballet they may have just experienced.

    The pen and ink drawing, “Smoke Break,” caught my eye upstairs. I could relate to the moment: a young woman seeking – and just entering – total relaxation mode. She appears to be in a child’s wading pool … perhaps a young mother who’s finally got her child off to bed and is slowly toking on her joint. And, something in her facial expression and limp body tell me she has just entered her happy place.

    I couldn’t help musing about how different today’s “mother’s little helper” differs from the pretty blue pills docs prescribed for the moms of the ’50s and ’60s to help them cope. Can you hear the Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” right now? I did. Or, maybe the woman is in her own wading pool, which, with eyes closed becomes the edge of the ocean, she’s lying there listening to the calls and cries of the gulls, waves rolling into shore … sunshine on her face … paradise!

    Those of you who read my column with any regularity at all know I can get carried away with this “jumping into paintings” thing I do. It’s not planned, it’s just how I react to art.

    Anyway there is terrific sculpture in the show – there’s the “Harvey” Davidson motorcycle (4” x 8” x 2”) made of steel, sewing machine parts, and car parts by Chris Bissett. He also used steel to make “Rust Patina Topographic Globe” – illuminated from within. Chris could easily market these topographic globes if he wished.

    The silky smooth Hilburn granite shark tail by John Catizone, “Circling” is a real beauty – and, with the exception of the dogfish head sharks we used to have at the Maine State Aquarium – hopefully the only shark’s tail you’ll be touching. And you will be moved to do so – it’s just how stone sculpture affects us.

    Look, this dynamite show runs through Oct. 22, but don’t wait til the last minute! Did I mention six pieces were sold at the reception? Maine Art Gallery, over on Warren Street in Wiscasset, number 15, is not in the center of the Village, but it is worth the extra two minutes to get there from Main Street. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    And don’t rush through the two floors. Art should be savored. Contemplated. You have journeys waiting to be taken – and your imagination is your passport.