Where It’s At

‘Mainely Nude’ ends, photography exhibit to begin?

Sat, 03/04/2023 - 8:15am

For the first time since the pandemic, the annual Mainely Nude show at Boothbay Region Art Foundation (originally the What’s Nude in Boothbay Harbor show established by Patricia Royall) fans of art and the art that is the human body attended the opening reception in February. Board member and gallery manager June Rose estimated 75 people attended the opening.

Everyone taking in this show, opening night to the end, were greeted by Hannah Neisbach’s full-size, oh, 5’5” or so Queen of the Rainbow, Iris. Queen Iris was greeting with two of Andre Benoit’s assemblage women. It was an impressive lineup! Neisbach’s Iris reminded me of the party skit on Laugh-In. You remember – Dick Martin and Dan Rowan would open the two doors and there would be the gang dancing and partying. There was often a woman, Judy Carne, maybe, “dressed” in wild paint designs.

The folks attending the opening reception decided there had to be a People's Choice Award. That voting resulted in a tie: Sarah Wilde and Rick Dickinson were the recipients. Sarah for the fun painting of three friends in a hot tub who were clearly having a fabulous time, and Dickinson for one of his rich, classic portraits of a standing female nude.

This show featured a few paintings of the male form as well. One of note was by Ruth Barker, ”Sunday Morning Surfing.” The male figure lies on a rich teal chaise, perhaps? in a dark purple room. I couldn’t figure out if the room was painted around him or he was lain there after the scene had been painted  ... a few charcoal sketches done by the late James Wilmot that were donated by Jill Tupper. Many of us herein the region remember Jim and his equally artistic, theatrical partner, Franklyn Lenthall. On the few occasions I was at their Mill Cove townhouse I loved taking in Jim’s oil paintings, there was something distinctly “Dutch Masters” about them. Anyway, it was lovely to see work by Jim in a current show!

Gallery manager and board member June Rose said a small group of artists came up from Portland to the opening reception and were so impressed with the space they joined BRAF and are excited to teach classes there.
“This year’s show had more variety and interesting things,” said June, also an artist. “We had a special piece, the 3 ladies in a hot tub – they are all friends and Sarah painted them while they were in the tub and had a great time doing it – in fact, that painting and two of Rick Dicknison’s were the impetus for the spontaneous People’s Choice Awards. We gave $50 to each of them.”

But most interesting of all … is the piece entitled, “Vladimir.” It was the piece you never, ever have expected to see in this show. A collage depicting the Putin’s war against Ukraine by Jon Luoma of Alna, lays bare the year-long, ongoing savagery and horrors being experienced by the Ukrainian people while here, in galleries and neighborhoods, we go about our days in peace. So far. I’m sure it blew a few minds during the show.

“It’s a timely piece,” June said of the work. “And Jon is so precise in his imagery.”

All in all, Mainely Nude 2023 was a fine exhibition. One can only imagine what delights await us in 2024.

Oscar Wilde said, “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” And in this recent show, and those to come we celebrate that individualism just as we celebrate the human form.

At this time of the year we would be eagerly anticipating the Maine Photography Show in April, as we did for 17 years, but that show is no more. But do not despair! Photographer and BRAF board member Bruce Burnham, longtime organizer of the MPS, came up with a new show: the Maine Photographer’s Showcase. More on this exhibition to come ...