Page 1

MAINE ARTS JOURNAL UMVA QUARTERLY

NEUROTICA SPRING 2016


Maine Arts Journal

RICHARD WILSON

2


Maine Arts Journal

RICHARD WILSON

3


MAINE ARTS JOURNAL Union of Maine Visual Artists QUARTERLY SPRING 2016

NEUROTICA

FEATURES AND ESSAYS

VISUAL ESSAYS 10

Sascha Braunig

14

Gabriella D’Italia

18

Craig Becker

20

Anita Clearfield

24

Scott Minzy

34

Richard Wilson

38

Veronica Cross

40

Robert Shetterly

50

Brenton Hamilton

7

28

Gimme Shelter: Madness and Death in the Art of Kim Vose Jones by Edgar Allen Beem

32

Poetry Poems by Chris Robley Introduction by Betsy Sholl

54

Seeing Double - An Artistic Pairing, Robert and Nancy Morgan Barnes by Kathy Weinberg

60

A History of N’erotica by Jeffrey Ackerman

76

Insight/Incite Narratives by Art Educators Sweet Tree Arts by Lindsay Pinchbeck

90

The Blanchard Weather Report by Todd Watts Back Cover

SPECIAL FEATURE 43

NEUROTICA CATALOGUE Portland Exhibition at CTN Gallery

Front Cover: Craig Becker, Scratch 15, archival pigment print, edition of 10, 22”x17”, 2015 Inside Cover: Richard Wilson, Last Day in the Garden

Critics Corner Neurotica Is Who We Are by Daniel Kany

4


MEMBER SUBMISSIONS 53

Jane Page-Conway

64

Robert Reimann

65

Norajean Ferris

66

Alan Bray

68

Lesley MacVane

69

Mary Becker Weiss

70

Anne Strout

71

Dianna Rust

72

Diane Dahlke

73

John Ripton

UMVA IN THIS ISSUE 6 74

From the Editors UMVA Meeting with PMA Regarding Changes to the Biennial Selection Process

78

Maine Masters Report Ashley Bryan’s World by Richard Kane and Rob Shetterly

79

ARRT! Launches Video Projection Team

80

Artists Rapid Response Team Quarterly Report

86

UMVA Chapter Reports Portland Chapter L/A Chapter

88

Call for Submissions for Summer MAJ Issue Muse

5


Maine Arts Journal

From the Editors:

As we anxiously await spring, slow to arrive in this region, the subject of anxiety, and the creative, nervous energy it produces, is the focus of the Spring 2016 MAJ. The theme, Neurotica, was chosen by the editors without any expectation for how artists would interpret this neologism. In a sense, we crowd-sourced the task of defining the word, and the result is this issue. The artists’ responses all strike some similar chords. One consistent thread running through the submissions, is that neurosis is not a disease. It is not only normal, but perhaps the natural reaction to our stressful environment. Squirrels strike me as being very neurotic (where did I put my nuts?). Can a whole species be diseased? The entire animal kingdom? Our society measures our wayward psyches against a baseline of the mythic, well-adjusted productive citizen. But adjusted to what? So many artists in this issue are confident enough to assert that the baseline is drawn in the wrong place. It is surely much closer to the questioning personality than to the deluded types who believe they have the answers. But that questioning (the metaphorical facing the blank canvas, leap into the unknown) of course that would be anxiety producing. In the beehive, there is an eccentric worker bee that does not follow its colleagues to the known sources of pollen. This bee fool is most often useless to the hive, but occasionally discovers new sources of food, and the hive would not survive without this nonconforming insect. So if you are here reading this, you have clearly flown off the known pollen trail. Why not waste a bit more time and share in the foolish exploits of nature’s eccentrics, the key to our species survival. — Jeffrey Ackerman, Alan Crichton, Daniel Kany, Natasha Mayers, Nora Tryon

Sascha Braunig, Collared, oil on canvas over panel, 20 x 24”, 2011

From the Editors

6


Maine Arts Journal

Neurotica Is Who We Are By Daniel Kany The very culture of postwar American art is steeped in the idea of self-expression, thought to be driven by subconscious impulses. If you accept the modern description of the mind, comprising conscious and unconscious facets, then to a large extent you subscribe to a Freudian model. That doesn’t make you a Freudian per se, but it places you in an intellectual culture specific to the last century of Western society. To a very real extent, the basic postwar understanding of art in America relies on a Freud-informed notion of inspiration and authenticity. The common idea is that the individual’s expression of self is the most authentic – and therefore most meaningful – source of content. While the conversation rarely follows this line of reasoning, it is a model that dovetails with the capitalist notions of personal property, individual sovereignty and even copyright. Indeed, these cultural ideas are fueled and reinforced by Abstract Expressionism and its father figure, Surrealism. Many artists such as Jackson Pollock (a Jungian) directly submitted themselves to psychoanalysis and came to understand their own work in psychoanalytic terms. For our purposes, the specifics and players matter less than the fundamental idea, that psychoanalytic thinking came to underlie how we think Jackson Pollack, (American, Cody, Wyoming 1912–1956 East Hampton, New York), about, talk about and underPasiphaë, Oil on canvas, 1943. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art stand art in America. During a recent interview, Ogunquit-based artist Jonathan Borofsky told me the title of Gauguin’s great painting “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” launched him on his life path of art. The point of art, it struck him, was “finding out who you are.” The American muse, in other words, is that psychic soup that feeds our inspiration and motivation until it sets us into action. Making art is not so much the answer as the process of questioning. That precisely fits the original intention of Surrealism, arguably the most revolutionary art movement of all time insofar as it helped effectively disseminate radical ideas that completely changed how the public understands human thought processes. The role of dreams, the idea of the unconscious, Freudian slips, desires, subconscious impulses, sublimation and the human inclination to project sexual imagery here, there and everywhere, found their way into public culture through the popular appeal of Surrealism. Salvador Dali, after all, did the dream sequence for Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” and was called in by Walt Disney himself to do the pink elephant dream scene in “Dumbo.”

Neurotica Is Who We Are

7


Maine Arts Journal

In his 1924 “Surrealist Manifesto,” André Breton defined surrealism: “Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.” In other words, Surrealism in its purest form is art intended to convey thought processes through an authentic, uncontrived form that doesn’t pander morally or aesthetically to the viewer. What this means is that much American Abstract Expressionism fits the definition better than the theatrically contrived weirdness by the likes of Dali or Réné Magritte – the typical posterboys of the Surrealist club. The artists who took the automatism definition seriously, like André Masson and Joan Miro, made works that looked more like scribbles than melting clocks, burning giraffes or trains driving out of the mantelpiece. The Abstract Expressionists also varied in terms of how much of an aesthetic program was pre-loaded into their work, and it focused on the personal expression of the artist more than a calculated effect on the viewer.

What drove surrealist painting was the idea of psychological self-examination that, because it focused on the freeing of unconscious thought, came in the form of personal revelation. Within the psychoanalytic model of the mind to which the Surrealists subscribed, this meant libido, unbridled sexuality, appetite, dream narrative and any irrational impulse that underlay our mental processes but could not otherwise find direct output.

René Magritte, (Belgian,1898-1967) La condition humaine, oil on canvas,1933 Courtesy National Gallery of Art

The difference between surrealist art and neurotica lies primarily within the American cultural mythology of art as self-expression.

Whereas the Surrealists had a tight-knit club that intended to distinguish itself from traditional European art, neurotica is what we Americans think of as the most authentic art. This mentality is so solidified that Americans now see neurotica practically everywhere we look—even in artists such as van Gogh who pre-dated the broad acceptance of the notions of the unconscious. The idea that subconscious impulses shape cultural productions is now prevailing dogma. The postwar American idea of culture as primarily the product of the self as opposed to zeitgeist-flavored responses to deep cultural currents is a very new thing. It was presented as an effective artistic approach for shaking off the need to absorb and then surpass the current standing moment of European erudition. Considering the state of war and genocide into which cultural rationalism had led Europe, culminating in both world wars, it was an appealingly fresh model. In Freudian terms, WWII was the crossroads where Oedipus (America), prevailed over his father Laius (old Europe), ultimately taking over his military, economic and cultural throne.

Neurotica Is Who We Are

8


Maine Arts Journal

André Masson, (French, Balagny 1896–1987 Paris), Meditation of the Painter, Ink on paper, 1943. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jocasta, the art market queen, turned her affections from the old school to the new American model. It was ideal, after all, since collectors also didn’t need to be educated about the nuanced erudite paths of intellectual masters. The expressionistic Americans were authentic because they were individuals on personal quests rather than because they provided sophisticated solutions to recognizable cultural conundrums. What you see, they were told, is what you see. And that is the reigning myth of American art to this day. It relies on our faith in content that lies beyond our rational control and even our abilities to sense it consciously (and therefore discuss it cogently). It compels us to look to libido, sublimation, sexual drive, neurosis and the vast array of psychological processes. It reminds us that generally a cigar is more than just a cigar and not every pipe is just a pipe. Surrealism is the intent to make unintentional art: It is an experimental process. But I believe that postwar American art – including contemporary art, fine craft, poetry, literature, jazz, rap, pop music, architecture or any cultural form associated with self-expression or improvisation (what is improvisation but automatism?) – is, to one extent or another, neurotica. The artists believe in psychological content and the public expects it – both the proponents as well as their puritanical opponents. It’s pretty rare that process art doesn’t directly grasp obsessive impulses – consider Amy Stacey Curtis or Lauren Fensterstock. And pop music barely pretends, if at all, to code its appetite-soaked eroticism as subconscious. The same goes for painting, whether we’re talking about the dreamy theatricality of Sascha Braunig or piles of severed penis tongues by Ahmed Alsoudani. Whether we consciously intend it or not, American art is neurotica.

Neurotica Is Who We Are

9


Maine Arts Journal

Sascha Braunig, Warm Leatherette, oil on canvas over panel, 26.5” x 29”, 2015

SASCHA BRAUNIG

10


Maine Arts Journal

I started this series with ‘portraits’ of figures who seemed to have vacant bodies, all decoration with no sentient gaze. Their patterned surfaces were like costume grown into the body itself, a kind of protective armor or camouflage, but a porous, flimsy kind, one that might not really protect the personal interior from its encroaching environment. Now the work has become more explicit about the figure embedded, entangled in or even infecting its social, virtual, or physical environment—the boundaries between the two are sometimes barely there.

Sascha Braunig, Hilt, oil on linen over panel, 21“x 32,” 2015

There might be some neurosis about the restraining space of the painting frame. Sascha Braunig, Monad, oil on linen over panel, 19”x 25,” 2014

SASCHA BRAUNIG

11


Maine Arts Journal

I hope that my paintings ask questions of this historic rectangle: Can the female figure bossily occupy the frame? Can figure and frame begin to co-exist in an interweaving, almost erotic relationship? Is this relationship inevitably a sadomasochistic one, with its preconditions of boundaries and control?

Sascha Braunig, Feeder, oil on linen over panel, 16� x 31,� 2015

SASCHA BRAUNIG

12


Maine Arts Journal

Sascha Braunig, Troll, oil on linen over panel, 12” x 15,” 2014

SASCHA BRAUNIG

13


Maine Arts Journal

GABRIELLA D’ITALIA

14


Maine Arts Journal

GABRIELLA D’ITALIA

15


Maine Arts Journal

GABRIELLA D’ITALIA

16


Maine Arts Journal

GABRIELLA D’ITALIA

17


Maine Arts Journal

Craig Becker, Scratch 18, Archival pigment print, Edition of 10, 22�x17�, 2016

Scratch Series Stories form the foundation of our human experience. I create incomplete stories where the elements of the image touch, but their relationship is ambiguous. This encourages the viewer to connect the dots and create their own narrative. The framework is visually and emotionally complex, inviting exploration into the beauty within the shadows

CRAIG BECKER

18


Maine Arts Journal

Craig Becker, Scratch 2, Archival pigment print, Edition of 10, 22”x17”, 2015

CRAIG BECKER

19


Maine Arts Journal

Anita Clearfield, “Night Bird Loves a Bushhogged Field and a Bushhogged Field Loves Night Bird,” oil and ink on canvas, 2016, 48” x 60”

Anita Clearfield

20


Maine Arts Journal

In Western art, women are often “neurotic-erotica” (crazy-sexy) objects for the male gaze.

As a post-modern, figurative painter, I use irony to separate my art from male tradition. (Though speaking indirectly via irony, unfortunately, requires that I psychically distance from my self... creating a tad more neurosis! However, for now it’s worth it, since ironic humor “ironically” allows me to be taken seriously!). Unlike the “hysterics” who performed for Dr. Charcot* when he was inventing women’s neuroses, I can at least record my own inner life --an act that transforms neurosis to healing. *see “Invention of Hysteria, Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere,” by Georges Didi-Huberman. 21


Maine Arts Journal

the Jewish factor

Then consider of “neurotica.” I’m proud to identify with the creativity of my Jewish forebears, whether Diego Rivera or Saul Bellow and join in the arguments that go back to Freud to determine which Jews are the most neurotic. Thus, my paintings are also moral explorations, as if to say, “…and on the 8th day, God created painting, but the word is still out if S/he calls it good.”

22


Maine Arts Journal

Anita Clearfield, “Night Bird Bags All Flesh in Widescreen,” oil and ink on canvas, 2015, 34” x 60”

ANITA CLEARFIELD

23


Maine Arts Journal

Scott Minzy, Hurts Less to Hurt More, 12 x 18, linocut, 2013

SCOTT MINZY

24


Maine Arts Journal

Scott Minzy, CFD, 12”x18”, linocut, 2015

My work deals with emotions and feelings that I believe are universal to every human being: fear, regret and longing. On the way home from work we obsess on what we should (or shouldn’t) have said to that insensitive co-worker. Or we long for things to be better than they are: in relationships, financial situations, fitness or work. Finally, we all fear loss—loss of security, family, health, teeth. I feel deeply that we are all walking around presenting our best selves, all the while, our minds chatter on endlessly with these darker matters.

SCOTT MINZY

25


Maine Arts Journal

In Self-Reliance Emerson said:

Fear Do ub t

Anguish

Regret

MY WORK

air p s De

Longing

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” Why not retro-fit this assertion? As artists we are all trying to communicate with others by eliciting emotion. Let’s strike the nerve that we all try to hide, and in so doing, find what makes us similar. Everybody is neurotic.

Scott Minzy, Conversion Disorder, 12”x18”, linocut, 2014

SCOTT MINZY

26


Maine Arts Journal

Scott Minzy, Cassandra Complex, 12”x18”, linocut, 2015

SCOTT MINZY

27


Maine Arts Journal

Gimme Shelter: Madness and Death in the Art of Kim Vose Jones By Edgar Allen Beem

KIM VOSE JONES

28


Maine Arts Journal

The most powerful art exhibition I saw last year was Sensorium, an installation by artist Kim Vose Jones. Jones earned her MFA at Maine College of Art in 2012 and worked on this installation while spending a month in 2014 at MECA’s Baie Ste. Marie artist residency in Nova Scotia. As installed at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Sensorium took the form of a large hand-sewn silk “house” within which were projected images of an apple tree—seen through the seasons—as it budded out, flowered, fruited, lost it leaves and went dormant. There were also Mylar apple blossoms, cut out by hand. Overlaid on this rather pastoral setting were strange projections of an institutional bed and a deeply disturbing recording of a girl’s voice saying,

“Please don’t taser me. I’m scared.” Ordinarily, I find that gallery, museum and academic venues tend to suck the psychological intensity out of a work of art by virtue of being safe cultural spaces, but Sensorium was both beautiful and unexpectedly anxiety-producing. It was the best and most thoroughly realized installation I had seen since Alison Hildreth’s The Feathered Hand at University of New England in 2011. Sensorium continued Jones’ broader exploration of themes of shelter and confinement, absence and presence, but I believe the power of the work was rooted in the very specific tragedy that inspired it—the suffering and death of a mentally ill girl named Ashley Smith, while confined at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario.

KIM VOSE JONES

29


Maine Arts Journal

Ashley Smith was originally taken into custody for disruptive behavior as benign as throwing crabapples at a mailman, the source of Jones’ apple blossom metaphors. In a Kafkaesque nightmare one does not imagine happening in Canada, the troubled teenager, unable or unwilling to conform to social and institutional norms, was ground up in the mechanisms of psychiatric hospitals, forced to spend long periods in solitary confinement. Finally, on October 19, 2007, Smith committed suicide while on suicide watch with guards actually witnessing the 19 year-old strangle herself, perhaps not taking her seriously because she had performed this gesture so many times before. The bed imagery in Sensorium is Ashley Smith’s bed immediately after she killed herself. The pleading voice is also hers, both image and audio taken from the inquest. One of the things that impressed me most about the way Jones transformed tragedy into art was that Sensorium was neither overtly political nor didactic in nature. If you did not know the Ashley Smith back story, you could still appreciate her poetic response to a universal human condition. “It’s about having your autonomy completely taken away from you,” the artist explained.

“It’s about the failure of society to protect the most vulnerable. I wanted the viewer to walk into the space feeling protected and to leave feeling vulnerable.” KIM VOSE JONES

30


Maine Arts Journal

And that was exactly my experience. I was on something of a New Brunswick art junket, visiting galleries, museums and studios to survey the range of contemporary art in the province when Sensorium stopped me in my tracks. I entered the gallery beguiled by the glowing, shimmering, tentlike silk structure Jones had constructed and left feeling uncomfortable in a profound yet subtle way. It was as though the psychic distress that had led a teenaged girl to kill herself had passed through the artist’s sensibility and touched my own through the medium of a multimedia work of art. What was seen and heard left not a sensory impression but an aesthetic haunting.

[Edgar Allen Beem has been writing about art in Maine since 1978. He is the author of Maine Art Now and a co-author of the forthcoming Art in Maine: Contemporary Perspectives.]

KIM VOSE JONES

31


Maine Arts Journal

POETRY FEATURE CHRIS ROBLEY

Yip Betamax yaks taxidermied actress; appetites chitchat factual ka-ching! Rainforests talk Toblerone through Google Translate’s fluent cuneiform. Some glib bullet grazing razor-grass either whispers scripture or it won’t. The Om of State breaks moonlight on the bent bars of its big-ass cage. Pre-verbal lip service avers itself. Invisible Christ hanging on the sniper’s crosshairs Originally published in Beloit Poetry Journal

eschatology in half-filled web fields in amazon’s abandoned shopping carts as dust in dedicated servers yer yip lives on [ you who were a person’s habits ]—a ghosted lil’ history (shrink-wrap a coin it’s the same damn coin) rise again forgotten usernames! Originally published in Poetry Northwest

CHRIS ROBLEY

32


Maine Arts Journal

Nano “… insects are small, they already know how to fly, and—best of all—they power themselves…” - Emily Anthes In an air-conditioned trailer, three geeks barely beyond boyhood fist bump and high five at a job well done. With the click of a key a dozen soundless screens flutter. Now in the shallow of a cave near the Khyber Pass, a stack of glow sticks activated in the blast steeps the darkness green: two cans of pineapple; a mangled can of beets bleeding juice; some boy streaked black, his burns wrapped in torn canvas tent flaps. He must hear the cyborg beetle’s brain buzz like a circuit-bent keyboard above his Pashto prayers. But we know enough to leave the live feed low; audio is for the analysts. Our weapon : witnessing — : wired that way. Somewhere in Texas or California or Kentucky Taco Bell is on the table where too the kill-list rests quietly satisfied, and so its discord folds inward like an origami acorn nestled sharply in the heart. Originally published in POETRY Magazine

Chris Robley is a brilliant young poet and musician who moved to Maine from Oregon several years ago. Check out his lastest CD The Great Make Believer. It’s well worth doing. When I read Chris’s poems I am reminded of the way our personal anxieties are inextricably bound to conditions in the world. Our times especially seem to involve such a fast-paced swirl of new weapons, technologies, ways of relating to each other, that it is hard to discern what’s happening and what to make of it. Disappearing usernames, virtual reality—so much of our lives now is focused around powers and forces that aren’t exactly things. Servers rather than typewriters. We’re not so much worried about our cars being stolen as our identity, which exists in numbers and bits—but where? And what about the drones killing in our name targets that are half way around the globe and look on the screen like a video game? Who’s held responsible? Then there’s the suffering we see on our screens every day—our screens so we can’t avoid it, our screens, so it’s virtual, not quite real and we are queasily detached. “Our weapon: witnessing,” Robley says, and I can’t help thinking, whatever else it is, there’s a self-inflicted wound. --Betsy Sholl

CHRIS ROBLEY

33


Maine Arts Journal

Richard Wilson, The Professor

RICHARD WILSON

34


Maine Arts Journal

Richard Wilson, The Performance

As an artist I depend on storytelling. My interest is in the masters of interpersonal narrative , such as Francisco Goya, Honore Daumier and Edvard Munch. To elevate myself unrealistically, I’d place myself between the overt sexuality of a Balthus and the more covert voyeurism of an Edward Hopper. My images isolate a moment which is burdened by anxiety, charged with the events which implicitly preceded it. There is an expectation that equally significant events will follow. It is in this space that I develop my images, the content of a triangulation’s suspended apex. I don’t use a model to create my pictures. The inception of an idea comes from observing people or looking at photos and magazines to find a gesture or situation that inspires a story. The work of the drawing pursues the situation’s awkwardness, and intensifying insecurity in the image. A quality of uneasiness is a part of my aesthetic. The tension my work provokes in me and sympathetic observers is inevitably sexually charged, and tainted by amusement or horror.

RICHARD WILSON

35


Maine Arts Journal

Richard Wilson, The Cauldron

Richard Wilson, Another Bad Boy

RICHARD WILSON

36


Maine Arts Journal

We all have a common, underlying understanding of humanity, which is repressed and distorted by life’s anxieties and fears, and which makes all of us to some degree neurotic. “All happy families are alike. Each unhappy family is unhappy in it’s own way,” began Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and it is these unhappy deviations from presumed or pretended ordinary happiness that compel my interest and drive my creativity. Richard Wilson, The Intervention

Richard Wilson, Storm Over the City

RICHARD WILSON

37


Maine Arts Journal

The seduction that flickers across the screen shape-shifts and denies the full frontal event. Embarking from the treasuries of Nethernetherland, voyagers seek their domestic routes, cycling, piecing the familiar back together but. it. is. lost. Churning, churning. Eyes adjust to murky ozone, features materialize to perform a-a--a---a… The screen deflects, then invites again, and prepares to re-v-e—a---l, but offers something else. Again and again folding, pulling. White light refracts back into fathomless pupils. End. Begin.

Veronica Cross, OOOH, Scratched oil on wood, 40”x30” ,2015

Veronica Cross, Becoming III, Scratched oil on wood 24”x20” 2015

VERONICA CROSS

38


Maine Arts Journal

Veronica Cross, Twilight in the Garden, Pencil and cut vellum over gessoed wood, 14”x 11”, 2014

VERONICA CROSS

39


Maine Arts Journal

Robert Shetterly, Prophecy, acrylic on panel, 10”x10’, 2006

My most “neurotic” images come to me while I wander in the no man’s land between the pressure of cultural dogma and trying to recognize my own feelings, my own truths. And the most intense and disturbing energy is in the contest over the nature of reality—or, the reality of nature. Even though most of us understand that nature, not economics; and nature, not military power; and nature, not belief in superiority; will determine whether we survive on this planet—we still live in and by systems that believe otherwise. It takes a supreme effort of will to deny ourselves the habits and comforts of acquiescing to those systems in the ways we travel, eat, communicate, provide shelter, use resources, and imagine the future.

ROBERT SHETTERLY

40


Maine Arts Journal The neurotic dilemma of this situation was well expressed by the Romanian-French playwright Eugene Ionesco:

“The supreme trick of mass insanity is that it persuades you that the only abnormal person is the one who refuses to join the madness of others, the one who vainly tries to resist.”

Robert Shetterly, Shoulda Seen It Comming, acrylic on panel, 10”x10’, 2006

And it would seem that many of us now, even those who name the insanity and proclaim our resistance, have reconciled ourselves to accepting the inevitability of nature’s retribution. We entertain ourselves with scenarios of apocalypse.

ROBERT SHETTERLY

41


Maine Arts Journal

Robert Shetterly, Strange Dream, acrylic on panel, 10”x10’, 2006

There are two levels of neuroticism here—one in the denial of reality and the other in denying ourselves agency in affecting how we might work to rectify the situation. They alternate between arrogance and self-infantilization. Both refuse mature assessment and responsibility. These small paintings play in that neurotic space of denial and refusal. It’s a space where we feel alienated from ourselves, from nature, and have been seduced by the odd titillation of the alienation. If the neurotic can’t lead us out, it can at least draw a map.

ROBERT SHETTERLY

42


Maine Arts Journal

NEUROTICA AN ART EXHIBITION produced by the Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly, in collaboration with the UMVA Portland Area Chapter April 1, 2016 - April 30, 2016 CTN Gallery, 516 Congress St., Portland Maine curated by Jeffrey Ackerman and Veronica Cross

Neurosis: from the Greek neuron (nerve) and –osis (diseased or abnormal). Neurosis can hardly be considered abnormal in the modern world—it has even been removed from the manual of psychiatric disorders. Most of us fall somewhere on the neurotic spectrum, and share one or more of the traits found on (neurotically compiled) lists of neurotic symptoms. Anxiety and depression are the most common and general symptoms. Many of the more specific attributes describe symptoms of that contagious, incurable illness called art: vacillation between low sense of self-worth and overconfidence, impulsive and compulsive acts, unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts, obsession, habitual fantasizing, negativity and cynicism, perfectionism, isolation, socio-culturally inappropriate behaviors, etc. Many artists take their neurosis on consciously in their art and others are taken over by it. Both result in works that can be described as Neurotica. A dictionary definition of Neurotica might read: Neurotica (nu-rŏ-tĭ’-ka) noun: The content, processes or imagery of an artist’s work that wells from her/his personal psychological processes including, but not limited to: obsessions, appetites, desires, libido, anxieties, taboos, sexuality, quirks, psychic anomalies, neurological idiosyncrasies and intentional markers of individual personality. This art can take the form of the obsessive projects of conceptualist, perfectionist process art or psychically charged subject matter of realist painters. For the Spring 2016 issue of the Maine Arts Journal, artists were invited to submit examples of Neurotica in their own work. This exhibition combines the works of these and other artists. The works were obsessively scrutinized and we are quite nervous about the result.

NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

43


Maine Arts Journal

Jeffery Ackerman, Touch the Hem, Oil on panel, 24” x 20”, 2015

Sascha Braunig, Comber 1, oil on linen over panel,12” x 15”, 2015

http://www.jeffreyackermanstudio. com

http://www.saschabraunig.com

Nancy Morgan Barnes, Wolf, oil on linen on board, 10 ½” x 13 ½”, courtesy of Greenhut Gallery

http://www.levatodesign.com/ nancymorganbarnes/index_flash. html NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

44


Maine Arts Journal

Gabriella D’Italia, White Finery, cotton, 60”x 60”, 2009

Kenny Cole, South Pole, graphite on paper, 64”x36”, 2016 http://kennycole.com

http://www.gabrielladitalia.com

Robert Barnes, Feeling Fat, casein on paper, 13” x 17”

http://www.levatodesign.com/ robertbarnes/index.html NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

45


Maine Arts Journal

Anita Clearfield, Night Bird Bags All Flesh in Widescreen, ink and oil on canvas, 34” x 60”, 2015

anitaclearfield.com

Michel Droge, Ceaseless Flux, Graphite on paper, 20” x 20”, 2011

Brenton Hamilton, Physiognomic, Platinum, 12”x”12, 2014, courtesy of Susan Maacsh Gallery

http://www.micheldroge.com

http://www.brentonhamiltonstudio. net

NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

46


Maine Arts Journal

Veronica Cross, Soft Palisades, Casein, gesso, and acrylic on w/c paper 26”x 40”, 2016

http://www. veronicacross.com

Natasha Mayers, Curiosity Hole, acrylic, 14” x 11”, 2008

https://natashamayers.wordpress.

Paul Oberst, Illumination 13/4 Traversing Fear, glazing and wax on pigment print mounted to wood panel, 10”x 8”, 2014, (in collaboration with Patrick McNamara.) Courtesy of Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA http://pauloberst.com NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

47


Maine Arts Journal

Robert Shetterly, Hostage, acrylic on panel, 10x10, 2006

Nora Tryon, Circles Squared, interactive acrylic painting on magnetic board, 38x38, 2012

http://www. americanswhotellthetruth.org

www.noratryon.com

Karen MacDonald, Days (With Flotsam and Jetsam), graphite on paper, post-storm debris found on Provincetown beach, hole-punched paper dots applied to glass, 9 ½” x 9 ½”, 2014 http://www. kmacdonaldartist.com NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

48


Maine Arts Journal

Kathy Weinberg, Stage Set # 22, Photograph, 6” x 5”, 2015 Richard Wilson, Jilted Woman, lithograph, 11”x15”, 2013 http://kathyweinbergstudio.com/ home.html

Scott Minzy, Cadmean Victory, linocut, 18 x 24, 2016

http://www.scottminzy.com NEUROTICA CATALOGUE

49


Maine Arts Journal

Brenton Hamilton, “Varient 12” Cyanotype, 12", n.d.

Obsessions Meditating on the origins of my works, the following comes to mind: I’d suggest that creatives who make things, must engage in a process to push the visual concepts from the precepts of their minds. In my working practice these images appear in my imagination as possibilities. I search out the fragments and flecks of acquired pictures from the history of culture and reassemble and refashion them into a new whole.

In the images that I have presented to you, you will find dream states and visual fragments that I shape into new possibilities. It is a way to suggest new visual paradigms, new worlds in the shape of my desires, not quite possible, not quite real, though completely connected to my thoughts and dreams that I while away in sketchbooks and fragments of paper.

BRENTON HAMILTON

50


Maine Arts Journal

Brenton Hamilton, A Portrait, gum bichromated washes gouche, 12", n.d.

Brenton Hamilton, Variant, Cyanotype, Platinum and gouche, 12", n.d.

BRENTON HAMILTON

51


Maine Arts Journal

Brenton Hamilton, The Double, Platinum, 12", n.d.

BRENTON HAMILTON

52


Maine Arts Journal

Jane Page-Conway, Vaughn Vision #2, encaustic pin hole camera, 11”x14”, 2015

I selected the house images for Neurotica because of their dreamlike or distorted quality. These views of a large historical home offer the possibilities of remembering the past with joy or regret and/or considering the future with comfortable anticipation or fear and anxiety. The sky through the trees conveys a scene of what it is like to look up into the sky while you are lying on the ground. You have been lost in the woods. Fear and apprehension make you see in a distorted way. This may be a dream or nightmare, but it is a skewed sense of reality.

Jane Page-Conway, Vaughn Vision #3, encaustic pin hole camera, 11”x14”, 2015

JANE PAGE-CONWAY

53


Maine Arts Journal

Seeing Double—An artistic Pairing, Robert Barnes and Nancy Morgan Barnes by Kathy Weinberg

Q. What’s the best part of being a full time, working artist? NMB - The best part is confidence and skill. Q. What’s the worst part of being a full time, working artist? NMB - Loneliness. —Nancy Morgan Barnes, Maine Art Scene 2010

The dedication of ones’ life to being an artist is a form of passion that when paired with steady work resembles a marriage. The pairing of two painters in a marriage is a union that merges twin solitudes. Robert Barnes and Nancy Morgan Barnes are such a couple, sharing a life of painting and teaching, maintaining their own unique voice while sharing many attributes of their visions. Nancy’s art looks like recognizable stories that have been run through a dream filter and contain a quirkiness we sometimes associate with neurosis, when subconscious images emerge into our rational perspectives. Her art contains a pre-conscious psychology which becomes a means of exorcising those subliminal demons. “Most painters would agree that the act of painting, in itself, is a kind of neurosis. All these neurotic disorders are the hallmarks, vaguely symptomatic of the contemporary painter: obsessive compulsive disorder— repetition of the same movements over and over again; narcissism— the belief that what we produce has beauty and meaning; and agoraphobia— the fear of leaving the studio for any length of time,” Nancy Barnes said, reflecting on her artwork and habits for this issue.

“Painting—you can’t eat it, wear it, or live in it. You can’t really play with it and if you’re sick it doesn’t make you better and much of the time it doesn’t even make you happy-so what’s the point. There is none,” she continued. “But if I didn’t paint— I would Really go crazy—so I paint to stay—sort of— sane.” ROBERT and NANCY BARNES

54


Maine Arts Journal

Nancy Barnes, House on the Hill, oil on canvas, 16” x 20”, 2010

Nancy described her process as an artist moving from directly observed sources to an invented world where one thought or observation feeds and fuels another. Despite intent, a painting can take on a life of its own, going its own way. Repetitions form rhythms: A missing piece of fabric—a hole in a red shirt— reappears, transformed into the red coals of a smoldering pipe, a small red fire in the background, and yet again in the red of the label on the overalls in Axe Man. Details evolve over the life of a painting; the blue vein in a hand mirrors the denim blue overalls and the soft puff of pipe smoke rhymes with the fur lining in the axe man’s hat. Allowing (things) to happen and loving that process is a part of an artist’s dedication to their art and imagination. Free association becomes a self-perpetuating process where the motivation to work is found in the work itself.

ROBERT and NANCY BARNES

55


Maine Arts Journal

“What I am attempting to paint are worlds that are both real and imagined with the idea of finding and then depicting a personal narrative. The images are easily comprehensible but the stories, hopefully, go on to have their own logic and rules,” explains Nancy. Robert Barnes makes lyrical, dreamlike images and typically paints in serial form, working a number of paintings or pastels around a theme. One of his series of pastel images is about the Dil Pickle Club, a Bohemian cabaret/ theatre for free-thinkers in Chicago (1917-1935). “They were not neurotics, I hate that term” said Robert, “They were just nuts, and some of the earliest promoters of the sexual revolution.” It was accepting of gays, people of color and all religions; in an era of repression, misogyny, and rampant racism, the Dil Pickle Club was a sanctuary. The founder was Wobbly John Jones and the club was frequented by writers, activists, artists and musicians—among the more prominent members were Robert Barnes, Feeling Fat, 15”x16” Clarence Darrow, Emma Goldman, Upton Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Sandburg and William Carlos Williams to name a few. Almost hidden from the outside—considered a "hole in the wall" in Tooker Alley—the entrance was marked by a "DANGER" sign that pointed to a main door marked by another sign: “Step High, Stoop Low and Leave Your Dignity Outside.” Once inside, yet another sign read "Elevate Your Mind to a Lower Level of Thinking." “I like to paint figures doing things,” said Robert “People complain that I am difficult because my work cannot be categorized; they want something that can be put into a box.” His work engages with symbolic themes. He incorporates the playfulness of images reminiscent of a surrealist collage replete with psychological complexity and compositional eloquence. The surface quality contains an element of tapestry, and a gestural, expressionist brushwork flickers throughout. His work engages with symbolic themes, seen in one series of drawings based on opera— titled A Night at the Opera—with all of its attendant pageantry. His rich, colorful palette combines narrative with abstract mark making. Color achieves tone where a blue-shadowed figure is backlit by an expanse of orange marks that overlay a warm umber, and then meet with a viridian sleeve, each layer moderating and qualifying the others

ROBERT and NANCY BARNES

56


Maine Arts Journal

The Barnes’s work is aligned with a classical modernism, one that is built like a Marsden Hartley painting where even the clouds have musculature, architecture; they are not a vapor, but a solid: castles in the sky.

Robert Barnes, Step High, Stoop Low and Leave Your Dignity Behind, pastel on paper, 24”x11”

Italy has also been the couple’s home. The rich history of architecture and diverse human culture has clearly helped to feed their artistic visions.

Nancy Barnes, The Axman, oil on masonite, 26” x 32”, 2013

Nancy Barnes, Wolf, oil on linen on board, 10.5”x13.5 ”, 2015

Living in an older civilization where walls are built up layers of plaster and frescoes are painted onto a tactile surface, the surface you see has hundreds of years in its making and time is telegraphed through with echoes and ghosts. The vestiges of Quattrocento painting find their way into their work.

ROBERT and NANCY BARNES

57


Maine Arts Journal Both Robert and Nancy spoke of their larger works taking a long time to make, some canvases are worked on for up to two years. They build up layers of colors, over-paint layers, scrape and sand, exploring, excavating, remembering and imagining subjects into being: fragments of daily life, history, myth, human and animal. The images arrive over time and the structure develops with them.

58


Maine Arts Journal Robert has been painting for sixty years, “Painting is not separate from life,” Robert said, “It is as much a part of life as going to Toziers for groceries.” Later, after meeting with Nancy and Robert, I thought about—felt nostalgia for—the life they created as both teachers and artists, “We are Bohemians,” Robert told me. But they also discussed how the world has changed around them, seen through the hurdles their daughter—also an artist—faces; the trend towards institutions hiring teachers as adjuncts, the inability of galleries to shelter and mentor a career, a shrinking pool of patrons and a growing number of artists.

I thought that perhaps it is not the artist who is the neurotic, but the society that places demands and limitations on the activities and workings of the artists: the demand for self-promotion, sales and a treadmill of production. Painting slowly, thoughtfully, attentively is a rational, even noble response to the demands of the world. “I made a series called ‘Penobscot’ when I first moved here,” said Robert. “I like to get to know a place by making paintings about where I am. I like the ocean, that it is an active, even menacing force. Every day something new is brought in or out by the tide. The seaweed withers and then comes back to life; it’s like a resurrection every day. People in Maine have said to me that I am ‘from away’ and I tell them: ‘I am here now.’ ” But, he went on to say that placing too much focus on just the place causes art to close in on itself, become repetitive, even generic. To continue to make original work the artist must not really fit in, too much, anywhere, but to continue to be moved by the spectacle of daily life.

Robert Barnes, Wobblies, 23” x 11”, pastel on paper

ROBERT and NANCY BARNES

59


Maine Arts Journal

A Brief History of N’erotica by Jeffrey Ackerman

The neologism neurotica, a bit of a joke, was spontaneously invented and hastily defined by the Journal editors, hoping to spur on various and unpredictable responses. The word implies that the neurotic and erotic intersect in a meaningful way. It seems that most interpretations we received lean toward the neurotic and perhaps the word should have been spelled n’erotica to tip the scale, giving equal weight to the erotic. So for balance, I offer here a ridiculously sketchy gloss of the subject through the lens of a self-diagnosed n’erotic. I want to shift the psychoanalysis from the individual artist to the culture itself, a collaboration of psyches communicating overtly and subvertly. Freud suggested that a healthy expression of Eros, through creativity rather than fetish, might be a remedy for neurosis caused by repression. Contemporary America has moved beyond Freud: We are no longer a repressed Puritanical culture but rather a sexually liberated Puritanical culture. It is in the throes of Eros that we all, normal and deranged, touch madness; fall madly in love, are driven mad with desire. Freud detected the power of Eros in a variety of forms; fetish objects, taboos and sublimations of libido into all manner of obsessive activities. ThisAlberto Savinio (brother of Giorgio de Chirico), The Siesta, Oil on Canvas, 1928, modern rational façade 29” x 36” erected around the erotic impulse, a symptom of Puritanitis, may be at the heart of the dominant contemporary art modes. Conceptualism is pure n’erotica. Duchamp, father of this Oedipal school, made a career sublimating immature sexual fantasy, possibly toward his sister, into mechanical diagrams and fetish objects. He talked about his art in a pseudo scientific language, masking the personal and emotional motivations that fed his content. Formalism as well, and much abstraction, are based on a taboo, banishing representation of fetish objects, interpersonal narrative, human and other natural forms. Freud translated the subtle impulses of the mind into abstract principles, disorders that, due to his own propensity for categorical language, sound more precise, scientific, than they actually are. Carl Jung, Freud’s student, chose to explore the mind through images, his belief being that we think and dream on the deepest levels in images. It may be an overdue corrective to our rationalist culture to explore n’erotica in the images that artists collectively invent.

A Brief History of N’erotica

60


Maine Arts Journal The pre-modern era projected these deep-thought images, the contents of the mind, out into the world and toward the heavens. We have lost this shared psychoactive commons and consequently our shared symbolic vocabulary as well.

Yet the most powerful artists of our secular age still manage to tap into the collective psyche and mine it for contents that communicate powerfully to others, perhaps not as readable narratives but certainly on an intuitive level. I think the pivot to this modern style was gradual, but in the 18th century, when enlightenment values dominated Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri d’invenzione (Imagihigh culture, the dark side of the nary Prisons), Plate XIV. Gothic Arch, etching,16” x 21”, psyche emerged as a central theme in a 1750 number of prominent artists; Piranesi, Goya, E. T. Hoffman. Even Tiepolo, whose sunny Apollonian heavens are balanced by his mysterious series of etchings, the Scherzi and Capriccios, a direct influence on the dark, comic graphic works of Piranesi and Goya. All of these artists inherited from the Renaissance an appreciation for the beauty, richness and intensity of Classical culture but also their fascination with the bloody realities of empire. The Roman soldier is often represented, both as the hero—psychological ego—but also as the conqueror and torturer—the repressive society and superego. Piranesi is the supreme classicist because he understood and could visually express the psyche of Rome so well; in his grand tour scenery, studies of Roman architecture and engineering, but also in their shadow, the Imaginary Prisons. If the Classical temple can be seen as a visual metaphor for Western Enlightenment then Piranesi’s prisons show us Francisco Goya, what is in the basement—the unconscious The Dog, Western collective mind. Oil on plaster transferred to canvas, 52” x 31” circa 1819 - 1823

A Brief History of N’erotica

61


Maine Arts Journal Piranesi’s subterranean visions are infused with an atmosphere that does not seem at all foreign in a more modern era. His burin gave visual form to the Kafkaesque feeling of being overwhelmed by the nightmare of society’s complexity—to be physically lost in a colossal modern edifice, with doors and hallways that lead nowhere, like the stairways and arches of the Prisons—or mired in a maze of contemporary bureaucracy, from which modern man can never escape. Piranesi’s insight is that this long, dark shadow was cast by the magnificent, harsh light of Greco-Roman antiquity. Hypersensitivity to the totalitarian has been more recently described by Sci Fi novelist, Philip K. Dick. In the throes of Nixon-induced paranoia, Dick came up with the metaphor/hallucination of the black iron prison to describe a world where the empire (Roman) never ended. In the 20th century, this torch carried into the dungeon, was passed on to the surrealists. Often indulging in superficially weird dream props, at their best, they manage some provocative visual poetry and insight into the modern mind. The proto-surrealist, de Chirico, claimed his objective was to turn the ordinary into a reveGiovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri d’invenzione (Imaglation, as if seen for the first time. This attitude inary Prisons), Plate VI. The Smoking Fire, etching, updates the Christian apology of the church father 1750, 16” x 21” Tertullian; “I believe because it is absurd.” In surrealist dogma, belief is in that waking dream revealed through the practice of undermining the proper context of images, piercing the dull surface of the ordinary. Surrealism has had a profound effect on that 20th century invention, cinema, from Hollywood productions to the more experimental modes. It is in Cinema that the literary qualities of images are most fully exploited. To explore this thoroughly would entail a vast detour, but I feel compelled to mention here the strange animated fantasies of the Brothers Quay, Stephen and Timothy, whose work is very connected to the static visual arts as well as literature and music of the modern era. Their masterpiece Street of Crocodiles, inspired by the literary masterpiece of the same title by Bruno Schultz, seems to condense the Kafkaesque literary spirit of our age From Street of Crocodiles, 1986, Film (Schultz translated Kafka into Polish), the music innovations of by Stephen and Timothy Quay, availthe early 20th century and the Dada/Surreal attitude of the able from Zeitgeist Films (https:// visual arts. Their modernism is not the utopian, gleaming, www.zeitgeistfilms.com/product/ clean lines, city of the future—but rather a glimpse of a mad details/id/244) dream in the decaying present.

A Brief History of N’erotica

62


Maine Arts Journal The 20th century flavored, nervous humanism that inspires the Quays—Stravinsky, Janacek, Kafka, Dada and Surrealism—was confronted by a more brutal modernism—Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot. Bruno Schultz, a Polish Jew, was protected for a time by a German officer, admirer, but was later gunned down in the street by Nazi soldiers. The gentle n’erotica of the last century, shaking off the repressions of the previous age, was again repressed, oppressed, destroyed and scattered—by a collective, violent psychotica. The Postmodern confusion of the present is conflicted about which modern it is a post of. The utopianisms may be past, but the fever dream modernism, the subtle revolution of the human spirit, is still alive, though maybe just as glowing embers. Many artists are currently exploring a confrontation of the individual psyche with a disturbing social reality. Roz Leibowitz, Abigail 3, Photographer Roz Leibowitz uses deconstructed and reconstructGelatin Silver Print, 5“ x 4”, 2014 ed dolls as the dramatis personae in staged dramas exploring this territory. Her 2014 show, The Little Fools, at the Bangor University of Maine Museum of Art exposed Maine audiences to her work. She filled the small side gallery with what appears to be stills from theater pieces that the viewer creates around them. They were placed in antique frames, all different, resembling the proscenium of a carnival theater from a bygone era. Her series Snowbound consists of four photographs of a marionette/doll; the strings attached imply that the character is not completely free, and her woven-wicker body is a grid of Stars of David, suggesting the confrontation of the individual psyche with the force of history. In addition to images, objects can convey psychic content. Artist Kazumi Tanaka fabricates unusual objects that are very personal yet also strike a universal chord. Her series of miniature instruments, skillfully constructed from animal skulls and intricately hand-crafted parts, were inspired by the folk, murder ballad Wind and Rain. It describes a sister drowning her sibling, a female Cain and Abel. A musician discovers the body and makes a fiddle from it—breastbone, finger bone pegs and a bow from her long golden hair (Tanaka’s bow is made from her own hair—a repeating motif in her work). Such folk ballads were a psychoactive expression, spun from gossip, broadsides and newspaper stories, the viral posts of their Kazumi Tanaka, Messenger, mixed media, 2015, video link: day. These songs, like the artworks of our era, are perhaps expressions of the http://www.kazumitanaka.com/node/229 anxiety we face in a rapidly changing culture. We play the music of n’erotica on instruments made from the bones of our ancestors.

And the only tune that fiddle would play Is oh the dreadful wind and the rain.

A Brief History of N’erotica

63


Maine Arts Journal

Robert Riemann, Eyes, Inkjet print on archival paper, 33”x 26”, 2016

Others watching Who am I Do I belong Will they listen To my song

ROBERT REIMANN

64


Maine Arts Journal

Norajean Ferris, Psychosis in the Realm of Nature, ink on paper, 18�x24�, 2015

PSYCHOSIS IN THE REALM OF NATURE Individuals have expressed feelings of tranquility, wonder, and contentment, when experiencing nature . However, I have come to believe that this state of mind, can also lead to feelings of euphoria that can transport an individual out of present reality. The ink series Psychosis in the Realm of Nature, are tree drawings, which I created at Twin Brook, a recreational forest area in Cumberland Maine. During one of my regular visits to this area, I became compelled to draw trees. In the process of drawing my surroundings, I became fully entranced by the layers of sight, sound, and smell, that I encountered in this setting. I became fully immersed in my senses, losing track of time, completely absorbed in my work. These are not drawings of nature but of how the natural world affects the human mind.

NORAJEAN FERRIS

65


Maine Arts Journal

Alan Bray, Dri-Ki, Casein on Panel, 30”x20”, 2015

What do you mean, Obsessive ? “We shall tell it at length, thoroughly, in detail – for when did a narrative seem too long or too short by reason of the actual time or space it took up? We do not fear being called meticulous, inclining as we do to the view that only the exhaustive can be truly interesting.” Thomas Mann

ALAN BRAY

66


Alan Bray, Dri-Ki, Casein on Panel, 30”x20”, 2015 Alan Bray, Dri-Ki, Casein on Panel, 30”x20”, 2015

Maine Arts Journal

Alan Bray, Deadfall, Casein on Panel, 24”x24”, 2015

ALAN BRAY

67


Maine Arts Journal

Shadow of Death The hangman’s noose has been a symbol of intimidation and a tool of death for most, if not all of recorded history. In the United States, the noose has been used to threaten and kill mostly the poor and racial and ethnic minorities. It has been manipulated by racist and bigoted people (neurotics) to create stress, anxiety, depression, and fear (neurosis) in another group of people. Even though my image has been dressed up with color to look more presentable and perhaps more appealing, it still presents a feeling of foreboding. It is a dark image which is representative of hate.

Lesley McVane, Shadow of Death, Digital Photograph, 16”x24”, 2014

LESLEY MACVANE

68


Maine Arts Journal

Talking to Myself and Feeling Fine At five years old, my muse was an invisible rabbit who encouraged me to be indomitable in forging my own path. In my day, “neurotic” meant that you were just shy of insanity. You weren’t “right,” you never saw things the way other people saw them, you never fit in anywhere. If you were different, you were rejected, despised or targeted for not being able to “play the game.” For years I “played the game,” accommodated the voices in my head and adapted to other people’s ever-demanding expectations. Now that I’m old, I don’t give a damn. I have been released from the obsession for approval. If I am neurotic ~ insane ~ I own it. I embrace it. I feel at last that I am in very good company. R.D Laing proclaimed, “insanity is a perfectly rational response to an irrational world.”

Mary Becker Weiss, Voices, Digital montage on archival canvas, 12”x22”, 2015

In my artwork I have called on my neurosis, my insanity to create artistic narratives that are authentic and uncensored. A long time coming. I am encouraged by Sarah Bouchard’s evocative and challenging “International Artists Manifesto” which says, “I am for the artist who digs deep. I am for the artist who plays with fire and leans into the burn.” (My invisible rabbit couldn’t have said it better.) Mary Becker Weiss, Prom Queen Class of ’69: Self Portrait of a Perpetual People Pleaser, Digital montage on archival canvas, 11”x14”, 2015

MARY BECKER WEISS

69


Maine Arts Journal

We defend ourselves and situations with courage. We continue despite wanting things we can’t have, and often not getting them. My work explores the essential human dilemma of prevailing over adversity, loss, isolation, and grief. Using humor and irony, I create work that speaks to the viewer, honoring the individual struggle for meaning and grace. My effort is not to deny the harsh realities of life, but to embrace them fully, while remaining grateful, positive, and hopeful. Anne Strout, Incoming Naysayers! Defend! Defend!, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 10” x 8”, 2013

Anne Strout, A New Day at Heartbreak Ranch, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 19” x 25”, 2014

Anne Strout Anne Strout

ANNE STROUT

70


Maine Arts Journal

Dianna Rust, Facing Self #01, sepia and gold toned silver gelatin print, 16” x 20”, 2004

Dianna Rust, Facing Self #02, sepia toned silver gelatin print, 16” x 20”, 2004

Dianna Rust, Untitled #06, Solitude Series, copper toned silver gelatin print, 16” x 20”, 2000,

It’s very simple. I love to take and make photographs. I have often photographed or made serious portraits of other people. But… when it comes to someone else pointing his or her camera at me, I HATE it. I panic, I cover my face, I make a fuss. I feel exposed and always think I look absolutely awful. Then I blame the lighting and the angles, or the other photographer. So, what to do? By making self-portraits, and by putting myself ‘out there’, I think I at least have some control. But I always deceive myself. I cannot relax and be normal. In the end I avoid the whole process, the point of which is to show me as I am. No one would know. Who is it??

Dianna Rust, Untitled #07, Solitude Series, copper toned silver gelatin print, 16” x 20”, 2000

DIANNA RUST

71


Maine Arts Journal

Diane Dahlke, Breastplate, oil on panel, 20�x16�, 1999

Dolls are a little creepy. They represent human beings, usually females, in an idealized, often sexualized way. They are us, but not us. I have an old German doll with real human hair on a china head. When I paint her I sometimes think of how fragile she is and that like me, she needs to protect herself. At times she seems innocent, at times experienced. Maybe she has to put on armor and project a self-confidence that she may or may not feel.

DIANE DAHLKE

72


Maine Arts Journal

John Ripton, Dress & News, Digital B/W Photograph, 12X16, 2007

I was born in Hartland, Maine in the midst of a mother’s depression, an uncle’s schizophrenia and the neurosis caused by the tannery staking machines and the Sebasticook River dyed in psychedelic colors. I learned early that something was eating at everyone. I catch glimpses of these disturbances in everyday life: an alarmed man looking out the window of a bus, or a Muslim woman in a long flowered skirt hurrying past a man reading a newspaper reporting Middle East events.

John Ripton, Alarmed Passenger, Digital B/W Photograph, 12X16, 2005

JOHN RIPTON

73


Maine Arts Journal

Summary of 3/8/2016 UMVA/PMA Meeting, With Anita Clearfield and Susan Drucker of UMVA and Graeme Kennedy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Portland Museum of Art Regarding Changes to the Biennial Selection Process (The meeting was not recorded, so these notes are necessarily approximate. Mr Kennedy’s statement follows this summary.) UMVA representatives Anita Clearfield and Susan Drucker met with Graeme Kennedy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Portland Museum of Art, to continue discussing the Union’s concerns about the change from an open-call juried Biennial to a curated invitational Biennial. Graeme Kennedy (GK) stated that the 2015 Biennial was “the strongest Biennial to date” and that its success ran “across the board.” GK pointed to a 4% increase in visitation, the museum’s marketing push “from Boston to New York”, and enthusiastic response from both viewers and press. Susan Drucker (SD) and Anita Clearfield (AC) questioned the “across the board” success of the exhibit, noting that The Maine Sunday Telegram and the Bollard had not shown support for the new curated selection process. They summarized UMVA members’ problems with the process, which makes the biennial competition less inclusively competitive and thus cuts out consideration of many excellent Maine artists. GK stated that while he understood Union concerns, there would be “no adjustments” to the current curated process. SD proposed moderate compromises to the curatorial process that could alleviate the conflict between the two groups and create a Biennial format that responds to the needs of both the museum and Maine artists: a curated show that could be both open-call and invitational, or a registry of artists’ work/websites for a curator to include in their consideration. GK rejected both suggestions. AC offered additional ideas that could help bridge the gap between the museum and the Maine artist community. There was additional discussion about other types of exchanges that might be possible between the UMVA and the PMA, mainly in terms of onetime events, with GK offering to set up a meeting between the UMVA and Jennifer DePrizio, Director of Learning & Interpretation, who works with “community partners,” on such programs as PMA360 and guest lectures. The meeting ended with SD and AC giving GK a written summary of the Union’s arguments against the curatorial Biennial process and encouraged GK not to risk alienating a large percentage of Maine working artists.

UMVA Meeting With PMA

74


Maine Arts Journal

Graeme Kennedy sent the following statement to Susan Drucker and Anita Clearfield for inclusion here: On Tuesday, March 8, Anita Clearfield and Susan Drucker from the UMVA met at the PMA with Graeme Kennedy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, to discuss the UMVA’s thoughts on the PMA Biennial, to hear more about the museum’s vision of the exhibition, and to learn about the 2015 iteration. Graeme shared that You Can’t Get There From Here: The 2015 PMA Biennial was a success for the museum, with an increase of 4% in attendance compared to the previous Biennial, and that the PMA was pleased with the exhibition, including its curated model. It achieved the museum’s goals, presenting a diverse and beautiful narrative of Maine contemporary art—works and artists that the PMA feels will play a significant role in Maine’s artistic legacy—while better aligning the exhibition with the PMA’s strategic goals and mission. The shift from a juried format to a curated one worked well for the museum, and we received positive responses from our visitors and members. There was also significant discussion about the reasoning and potential consequences of a curated format, in particular by the UMVA and its members. The UMVA has made their concerns clear to the museum, in a past meeting with Jessica May, Chief Curator, and this week with Graeme Kennedy. The PMA acknowledges and respects the passion and conviction of the UMVA and its members. Though empathetic to the views of the UMVA, the PMA does not share the organization’s perspective on this issue. The museum will continue to work with curators that it believes will present the strongest Biennial exhibition possible; one which demonstrates the museum’s perspective of Maine’s contemporary art landscape. The PMA would like to move beyond a discussion about the change in the Biennial format to one focused on constructive ways we can strengthen the relationship between our two institutions. Anita and Susan presented several ideas about potential collaborations between the UMVA and PMA, and the museum looks forward to continuing these conversations in the coming months. Graeme Kennedy Director of Marketing and Public Relations Portland Museum of Art Note from UMVA Board and MAJ Editors: Please let us know if you have any thoughts about this PMA/UMVA exchange of ideas. if you would like to help pursue possible collaborative efforts between the museum and the Union, please send your thoughts and ideas to: <umvalistings@gmail.com> Thank you.

UMVA Meeting With PMA

75


Maine Arts Journal

INSIGHT/INCITE FEATURE by, Lindsay Pinchbeck Sweet Tree Arts

Four years ago I opened Sweet Tree Arts, a community arts center in Hope. The art center was founded on the principle that creativity should be accessible and attainable to all. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leave behind the idea that only a chosen few can draw, sing, dance or tell a story. These are skills that can be learned. Just as hope and empathy and curiosity have been found to be skills we can practice and improve upon, it is never too late or too early to start. Recently we added Sweetland, an arts integrated elementary school, to our programs. We are a satellite location for Lesley Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Masters in Education, Integrating the Arts across the curriculum. I observe both children and adults, together as teachers and learners, exploring with authentic curiosity and wild abandon. The sharing of teaching and learning builds a relationship that over time turns to trust and connection and allows us to believe in our full potential, engaging confidently in the world.

INSIGHT / INCITE FEATURE

76


Maine Arts Journal

Below are a few guidelines which help me explore a creative authentic daily practice in my teaching and across my life: • Its okay to fail - make mistakes . • Play - if you are not sure how to start, follow a child for a day. • Collaborate and work through conflict - do not expect this work to be easy. • Keep a journal - writing / drawing leads to clarity. • Create good boundaries - control distractions. • Be patient - practice and time is everything. • Create a safe place and nurture re- lationships. Our best and most memorable work occurs when we are safe and happy. • Ask lots of questions and don’t expect an answer. • Be kind, be forgiving - The arts have taught me to take risks but they have also taught me to be kind and forgiving of myself and others.

What will your guidelines be? INSIGHT / INCITE FEATURE

77


Ashley Bryan’s World

by Richard Kane and Rob Shetterly Ashley Bryan’s World is the 17th film in the Maine Masters series of artist documentaries. The 92-year-old Bryan lives on the tiny island of Islesford and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. The film opens with him reciting his hilarious new book Can’t Scare Me to awestruck children. Soon after the film delves into the horrors Ashley experienced in war. “When you experience the tremendous carnage,” he asks, “Why does man choose war … that destroys everything you’ve built up? I lived through the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that did it.” The film explores his world as an African American experiencing racism from early on when his father “was given the mop and the broom”, a reference to the 1943 Gordon Parks photograph. He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot rise and soar to the potential within you.” He takes comfort in and spreads beauty through the spiritual content of his art – his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go” and his gorgeous seaglass windows of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So we begin to see his art as his way of spreading joy and peace in a less than perfect world. The film’s trailer https://vimeo.com/156470217 announces this soon-to-bereleased feature documentary at festivals and theaters around the world. It will be followed by a half hour version for students along with a companion curriculum guide available free http://mainemasters.com/curriculum.html

MAINE MASTERS

78


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT! Launches Video Projection Team

Interested in joining

The Projection Team? You don’t need special skills, just a passion to compute, animate, make video, or carry things! contact anita@anitaclearfield.com

The Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) has formed a group to create large-scale, site-specific projections. Their first video-mapped animation for 350 Maine about the warming of the Gulf of Maine was made in conjunction with USM Ci2 SRS (Special Research Studio) and seen at First Friday Art Walk March 6th, projected from MECA onto the facade of Mechanics’ Hall. Click on the above picture or see a video of the event at https://vimeo.com/157956684

ARRT!

79


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT!

80


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT!

81


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT!

82


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT! Banner in action at Climate Change rally in Boston, December, 2015.

ARRT!

83


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT!

84


Maine Arts Journal

ARRT!

85


Maine Arts Journal

UMVA Portland Chapter

On March 4, ARRT (Artist Rapid Response Team) Projection Team, which includes some Portland Chapter members, performed a projection in collaboration with 350 Maine on the wall of the Mechanics Hall on First Friday. See page 79 for details and check the link: https://vimeo.com/157956684 The Portland Chapter members will be hosting many events at the Union of Maine Visual Artists Gallery at CTN, 516 Congress Street, including “Neurotica”, in collaboration with the MAJ. See the catalogue on page 43 for details and show preview. Upcoming gallery exhibitions at the Union of Maine Visual Artists Gallery CTN include a solo show of the art of long time UMVA member G. Bud Swenson,“Commissioned by God” (holy scripture collaged and deconstructed) from May 2nd – 26th 2016. The opening reception will be during the Portland Artwalk, Friday May 6 from 5-8PM. UMVA members will also be collaborating with the Southern Maine Workers Center to produce the exhibit, “Work of Art”, which features the work of UMVA members. The show opens on April 8th at the Southern Maine Workers Center, 68 Washington Ave, Portland. The UMVA Portland Chapter meets monthly, holds events, critiques and creates a supportive environment for local artists. For meeting dates and updates visit the UMVA Portland Area Chapter Facebook page.

Maggie Muth, Summer on Munjoy Hill displayed at the CTN Gallery during February 2016 Red exhibit

UMVA – Lewiston Auburn Chapter

The L/A Chapter had a cold, yet successful “For The Love Of Art” event on Feb 13th. There are plans in the works to do it again next year. UMVA-L/A is collaborating with L/A Arts - Art Walk Lewiston Auburns’ art-walk season (last Fridays from May-September.) Art Walk L-A is in its 6th year and has expanded its area to downtown Auburn. More artist participation and support is needed for future growth and vitality. UMVA-LA is offering innovative creativity for fun experiences during art walk, as well as a helping hand in the grit of making the art walk happen. Some community projects are underway. UMVA-L/A is working to make art out of crosswalks! The process to begin turning two crosswalks in Lewiston into artistic representations of the rich history of their local area, is 99% approved. The chapter is also working on creating an Arts District of Lewiston Auburn, to highlight local arts and business. Plans are being formed for members to take group field trips to other arts events, museums, galleries, open studios, and art walks, within the state of Maine and throughout New England, and Canada. A David Bowie Art Tribute is happening at The Hive Artist Collective on April 9th from 6-9pm. Everyone is encouraged to get inspired and submit or come to enjoy this incredible evening of art celebrating the life of David Bowie. FMI https://www.facebook.com/events/223809057964032/ To keep up with UMVA-L/A happenings; Like them on Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, Tumblir and UMVALewistonAuburn

UMVA NEWS

86


Maine Arts Journal

Bill Eldridge, Union Meeting, pen and ink

UMVA NEWS

87


Maine Arts Journal

Invitation to Submit

Theme for Summer JOURNAL: Muses We want to hear about your muses! For the Summer 2016 MAJ we invite artists to submit works that were inspired by your muses and encourage you to submit images of your muses, other artworks and photos, and share how they have inspired your work. Did you choose your muse or did it choose you? Do you find your muse out in the world, in nature, or is it from culture, found in the museum, literally the temple of muses in the ancient world. And what about place as muse, as an idea; places you have lived, places visited, or long to visit…or perhaps places imagined—Acadia or Arcadia? Portland or Parnassus? “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story…” and so begins Homer’s Odyssey, implying that the poet’s inspiration, in fact his very words, issue from a source outside of the poet’s conscious or unconscious mind. This is the opposite emphasis of the one highlighted in this issue of MAJ (see Kany pp. 7). In Homer’s world the word “genius” was not synonymous with the artist’s personality, but was a companion, an other. But these are just metaphors and models and all we can truly agree upon is that the source of creativity is one of art’s great mysteries. The tradition of the muse, this outside source of not just creativity but all human knowledge, was personified in classical antiquity as nine goddesses. In our literalist age, the depiction of the female muse is often mistaken for a flesh and blood woman. But to the conceptually literate ancients, the muses were ideas: Clio – history, Melpomene – tragedy, Thalia – comedy. Calliope, first among equals, represented epic poetry and was associated with the concepts of harmony and justice. The less literal minded moderns understand that the physical muse—person, place, thing—is the manifestation of an idea, the conduit. But it may even come in a non-material form—spiritual experience, dream or psychological impulse. It is what moves the artist beyond influence, the conscious appropriation of forms from study and training, toward inspiration—the breakthrough—a significant idea here today that was not here yesterday. The muse is a catalyst producing the creative spark. We invite UMVA members to submit up to 4 images. You may also include a written essay, statement, musings on your muse, to accompany the work, of 150 words or less. Send submissions to: umvalistings@gmail.com by June 1 deadline and include “Muse” in the subject line. (If you submit multiple images, we will choose what fits publication and may edit your text). Please submit images as high-resolution jpgs; the format should be at least 1000 pixels on the shortest side and 150-300 dpi. Please send an image file in a word document that clearly numbers and labels each image with artist, title, year, medium, dimensions and photo credit (if applicable). For the fall issue, to coincide with a potentially frightening election, our topic will be “monsters,” as in “the sleep of reason produces monsters.” So if darkness is your muse, you may want to hold off on your submission for that issue. Also feel free to submit other ideas of art or content you’d like to see in the journal or send us proposals for essays, visual essays, articles and interviews. We would also welcome any feedback; let us know if you like the direction MAJ is taking. Please send your ideas, proposals or comments to umvalistings@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

MAJ SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

88


Maine Arts Journal

The MAJ is a project of the Union of Maine Visual Artists

Please share with friends, subscribe to the MAJ and join the UMVA We rely on the support of our readers to continue publishing and advocating for the arts and artists of Maine Click on the images of back issues of the Journal below to check them out. We are working to establish a more user friendly way to print out issues, for now, you can use the pdfâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s from these archives to order from peecho website. CLICK HERE to JOIN the UMVA support the UMVA and the Maine Arts Journal

Winter 2016 Impermanence

CLICK HERE to SUBSCRIBE to the Maine Arts Journal

Spring 2015 In Defense of Painting

Summer 2015 A Sense of Place

Fall 2015 Working In Series

Summer 2014 Art You Do/Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Show

Fall 2014 Then and Now

Winter 2015 Interview/Innerview 89


Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly Spring 2016  

The Maine Arts Journal: The UMVA Quarterly is produced by and for Maine artists and is a project of the Union of Maine Visual Artists. The t...