UMVA Quarterly Journal Fall, 2015
Working in Series
UMVA Quarterly Journal Fall, 2015
Union of Maine Visual Artists Quarterly Journal -- Fall, 2015 “Working in Series”
Kris Sader, “Coming Home,” Intaglio, 15” x 15” from Quito-Maine printmakers exchange: Series “A Sense of Place/ El Sentido de Lugar”
Dave Wade, “Polka Dot Parasol” archival digital photographic print, 30”x 50”, 2014
Todd Watts Blanchard Weather Report August 13, 2015
Update The PMA Biennial PMA and UMVA Meeting Summary
7 continues 116 - 119
Visual Essays & Invited Series “War and Conflicts”
by Dan Mills
8 - 15
“Iraq” by Joan Braun
16 - 27
“The Mapping of the Incomprehensible” by elin o’Hara slavick
28 - 37
“Conversations in Paint -- Our Conversation Series” by Diane Dahlke and Bonnie Spiegel
44 - 49
“Sense of Place/El Sentido del Lugar” Quito-Maine printmakers exchange series, featuring work by: Jennifer Strode Diana McFarland Karen Adrienne Ellen Roberts Juan Carlos Palacios Sarah Vosmus Giti Newman Susan Dean Smith Poetry in Series: “The Ellsworth Suite” Carl Little 38 - 39
“Sebald” Ted Deppe 40 - 41 Caitlin Deppe 40 - 42
50 - 57
Ted Deppe’s “Sebald” Betsy Sholl 43
Member Submissions: John Girouard
58 - 61
62 - 64
66 - 69
70 - 73
74 - 77
78 - 80
82 - 85
Roland Salazar Rose
86 - 89
90 - 93
94 - 97 (and Inside Cover)
98 - 99
Regular Features and Writing: Insight/Incite Narratives by Educators about Creative Expression by Scott Minzy 104 - 107 Webcomix by William Hessian
Critics Corner: “Thoughts on Series: Show me the Monet” by Daniel Kany
Checking In by Kenny Cole “Series” in the studio of Joshua Cardoso
100 - 103
ARRT! Report by Artists’ Rapid Response Team
108 - 113
Reports from UMVA Chapters Lewiston/Auburn Portland
Call for Submissions for Next Issue:
Blanchard Weather Report Todd Watts
Back Cover 5
From the Editors:
n an oblique nod to our theme, “Working in Series,” we find ourselves once again addressing an aspect of the Portland Museum of Art biennial. We include the notes that summarize the meeting between the UMVA and the museum to discuss the union’s concerns. We also include a sampling of member comments on the issue. For this Journal, we were pleased to receive several submissions of “visual essays” that continue to pioneer our new format. This way of merging overlapping images into a train-of-thought proved to be a good fit for our current “series” theme. Since several submitting artists make use of collage and mixed media in their work, they were already working in series that lent themselves to a combination of words and visuals -- much like the “essays” we’ve been developing in the Journal. Many submitting artists talk about using series to tackle big issues, including the environment and war, as their engagement with their subject deepens when worked through multiple sessions. Among the contributors who address war was Joan Braun, whose powerful series on Iraq builds its force from the accumulation of war commentary and historic imagery. Dan Mills also layers a kind of visual essay that literally places war and its connections to our world through mapping, while elin o’Hara slavick brings a psychological dimension to war and its aftermath with the fragments of collage. Other submissions had aesthetic concerns, like Diane Dahlke and Bonnie Spiegel’s series, where they worked collaboratively to try to get at their reactions to famous painters. Thanks to the Quito-Maine printmakers exchange series, several Ecuadorian and Maine artists shared their individual “sense of place,” that seen together suggests the diversity and commonalities in our concerns about the environment and feelings for home. Of course, the many UMVA members who contributed their own work to this Journal also show how varied the membership is --- yet, how many issues we share in common as artists in Maine. Our on-going contributors weighed in on the “Series” theme, too, including Daniel Kany who gives some historial perspective on series and art criticism, Betsy Sholl, our poetry editor, who analyzes a series poem by Ted Deppe, and includes poems by Carl Little from his series on Ellsworth, Maine, and Kenny Cole, who interviews artist Joshua Cardoso about his thoughts on series. Even our webcomix by William Hessian takes a jab at series. For our on-going art educators’ column, “Insite/Incite,” Scott Minzy uses his linocut series to give us an honest and often humorous take on the experience of doing an art residency. We hope many of you will submit to our next issue with the theme “Permanence/Impermanence.” We’re looking forward to shaking things up by featuring work that doesn’t want to be “saved.” (see guidelines, page 120) Of course, whether appreciating permanence or not, we remind our readers that they can print out hard-copies of the Journal, as it can be nice to hold a magazine like this in your hand -- and they make great gifts of Maine art. See links to order prints of this issue or past issues on page 121. We continue to value the great feedback that the Journal receives and remind readers that the best acknowledgement of the Journal’s quality is when you join the union and pass along the link to fellow artists and art-lovers. Thank you. ---- Nora Tryon, Natasha Mayers, Daniel Kany and Anita Clearfield, Editors 6
UMVA AND THE PORTLAND MUSEUM BIENNIAL Beginning in March, the Union has been pursuing a change of outcome to the Portland Museum’s decision to eliminate their open-call juried Biennial and replace it with a curated exhibit of contemporary Maine art. After confirming that almost all members agreed that the opencall format served Maine artists better than the new curated format (please read a selection of member responses below), Union officers and volunteers reached out to the museum. We met with Jessica May, chief curator, in July (please find a summary of that meeting below). Jessica May was understanding of our concerns, but made it clear that the museum would not return to the open-call juried format. A follow-up meeting was loosely scheduled for the fall. Since the July meeting, we have read the bequest from William Thon –the bequest that initiated the Biennial -- and it’s basically clear that his intent was to have the Biennial be juried, not curated (the relevant paragraphs of the bequest can be found at the end of the PMA Meeting Summary). If you have any thoughts to share on this topic, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org with “biennial” in the subject line.
PMA and UMVA Meeting Summary:
July 8, 2015, 3:00 – 4:45pm. Present: Jessica May, Robert Shetterly, Natasha Mayers, Anita Clearfield, Susan Drucker. After brief introductions, the meeting began with Jessica May (JM) highlighting some of the recent developments at the museum, including an almost-finished work/study space where the public can view the museum’s archives firsthand (by appointment, beginning mid-winter); the recent digitization of the collection; a published catalog of the collection, and the current vision for the McLellan House, which will include some contemporary Maine art. Natasha Mayers (NM), Anita Clearfield (AC), and Robert Shetterly (RS) offered a history of the UMVA including the Union organizing the first all-state exhibition; the prominence of the Maine Masters series; and the Union’s mission of supporting all artists through inclusion and democratic processes. JM was then questioned about the museum’s decision to end the open-call juried format of Biennial. JM stated that the museum has been moving towards eliminating the open-call juried Biennial for 5-6 years, and that the Thon bequest for the Biennial is a public document that anyone can review (see Addendum 1). With “a thousand rejections” in the last round of submissions, the museum felt it was a “tough” process for everyone, and that at its core, it was not the kind of show that the museum wanted. She added that the PMA is one of the last museums in the country to offer an open-call juried format. She explained that the museum’s current goal is to “modernize” the Biennial in order to “prioritize the visitor’s experience.” The museum believes that a curator-driven Biennial offers a better “quality of engagement” between the curator and artist, and “empowers the curator’s story”, making it “deeper and more coherent”. The museum “generously funded” Alison Ferris (this year’s guest curator) to make over 60 studio visits, from which 32 artists were chosen. The Summary of the Meeting continues on page 116 7
Working in series seems to me the natural way of working, the closest we can come to film.
hough I have used collage incorporating newspaper elements for a long time, digital collage is fairly new to me. High tech (the amazing technology of the world-wide-web and Photoshop manipulation) meets low-tech (the relative blur of digital printing, hand techniques of ironing melted beeswax into rice paper.) One has access to an enormous range of imagery, from Giotto, Bellini, and Michelangelo, to an anyonomous soldier's image down-loaded from a soft-porn site. This is the world in which we have been increasingly submerged since the dawn of photography and the ability to print reproductions, since the ability to transmit images instantaneously via television and the computer. To wade through this and create meaning again, to honor, resacramentalize the discarded dead, is the purpose of this current work. To do this, a series is inevitable.
"It is not one image I seek, but the marvelous group of all possible images." -- Paul Valery 17
Joan Braun, “Stigmata,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 19
Joan Braun, “Initial Targets,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 21
Joan Braun, “Dead Child and Two Baby Jesus,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 22
Joan Braun, “After Goya,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 24
Joan Braun, “Fallen,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 25
Joan Braun, “Soldiers With Dead Iraqi,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006
Joan Braun, “Saint Francis Among the Wounded,” Collage, 14”x11,” 2006 27
elin o’Hara slavick The Mapping of the Incomprehensible
elin o’Hara slavick, “Target,” Collage, 2015
ractically all of my projects are comprised of a series or a combination of different series on the same topic. I can't think of an artist – living or dead – who does not work in series. It is impossible to fully explore or express an idea, emotion, historical fact or philosophy in one piece. Our lives are a series of experiences linked by a series of memories and emotions. Series are natural. I have made collages ever since I canremember making things – since early childhood. My collages are the longest series in my production as an artist and currently I often make several a day. I fill journals and books when I travel and have bookcases full. Collages are things I can do anywhere and between projects. I do not need a darkroom or a specific site. All I need are scissors, glue and a collection of slivers of paper. I used to refer to my collages as my "play art," not to be taken as seriously as my more overtly political work - Bomb After Bomb: A Violent Cartography of drawings of places the U.S. has bombed and After Hiroshima of cyanotypes and rubbings of A-bombed surfaces and artifacts.
It took my therapist to convince me that the collages I make are as much art as anything else I make as art.
While the aforementioned political projects are very specific and time-consuming, produced as monographs and exhibited internationally – the work I take the most seriously as an artist - and the collages are more immediate, from the gut, spontaneous and absurd, they also touch upon issues of war, violence, sexism, feminism, racism, capitalism, utopia and surrealism. Like automatic writing, my collages spew forth, an infinite series. Each one is its own sentence but as a whole, they form a very long novel – a bit autobiographical and non-fiction as well as magically real and dystopic. And like mapping, another formal strategy I employ (in a series of 60), collages are good places to get lost. I work under the spells of Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield, with feminist anger and humor, a sense of political utopianism and socialist tendencies, an innate fast and powerful instinct for aesthetics and ideology, and the very real energy and need to be doing something at every waking moment. Something is better than nothing. Something can be made out of nothing. Something is everything. Some things ooze and seep out of other current series: photographic traces of trauma, lingering radiation, how war begets more war (a real and lived series of suffering and death), how the victims of tyrants are the ones who die under American bombs. To find the absurdity in the banal and the incomprehensible is a simple way for this artist to survive – over and over again. As much as making the collages, I am always on the look out for material – visual resource and art library bins in the building where I work, magazines, maps, old books, travel material, posters, religious, scientific, historical and geographical printed matter, old, found, vintage photographs and photos that I printed in college and graduate school. Each collage is a heterotopia, islands formed from disparate land masses, self-sufficient, off the grid and subversive. Collages undermine the ordinary through a series of extraordinary puncture holes in the wheels of the well-oiled vehicle of the status quo. Rosa Parks was just one in a series of protestors who refused to give up their human dignity to the force of white oppression. It takes a series of actions to bring about change. One collage may be a gift card to a dear comrade, but the hundreds upon hundreds that I have made all together as a lifelong series are an odyssey. Series become one. Series are catapults, highways from hell to heaven, paths away from apathy and lethargy to constructive strategies for escape - maps to the subconscious, unconscious, the never-ending stream of consciousness in which we all swim. 29
The Ellsworth Suite Carl Little
oets sometimes work in series. I think right off of John Berryman’s remarkable “Dream Songs,” a collection of 385 poems, all of them comprised of three stanzas of six lines each, many of which feature a man named Henry who experiences a variety of life events. Berryman was somewhat systematic in his development of this series—he found his format, it worked, and the rest is literary history. Whereas I never set out to write a series of poems about various establishments in Ellsworth, Maine, but over the last 10 or so years a “suite” of sorts has materialized. The “crossroads of Downeast, Maine” offers an assortment of businesses; over time, several have compelled me to write. The first was Midas. That poem was printed in the Bar Harbor Times, and I still recall my pleasure seeing a clipping of it pinned to the wall of the Midas office one day on a visit. Since then, I have written poems about a bottle redemption center, the parking lot of Mr. Paperback (which closed several years ago), the dry cleaners, and a temporary drive-up bank office. Here is a poem from the suite, an evocation of the dry cleaners. I dedicate it to the novelist Janwillem van de Wetering (1931-2008) who lived in nearby Surry and loved all the amenities of Ellsworth (which he affectionately called “Rotworth” in his delightful Hugh Pine children’s books).
7. Ellsworth Car Wash for John Anderson After paying seven bucks for “just a wash” suddenly you’re with Humboldt sailing across the stormy Caribbean, spray from all sides obscuring your vision, huge strips of heavy kelp slopping against the bow. Then just as suddenly the voyage ends: Coming through the other side of the squall, blasts of hot air blowing you dry, you regain your sea legs. A new land lies before you: Rite Aid and the road to Bar Harbor.
5. Dry Cleaners For Janwillem van de Wetering Suits and such winging by, dreamy, numbers punched in while you wait for shirts, light starch on hangers, get your jollies watching parade of skirts swishing past, patch of gray ultra suede, tuxedo pants, favorite tattered overcoat, Marine uniform— clothes of men and women you’ve never met, citizens of greater Ellsworth who hand in pink slips for something pressed, clean as a whisper, a blouse or bell bottoms, even see-through curtains to frame the view from your bedroom where shirts and skirts are strewn and later gathered for the cleaners.
Jay York, “Greener Cleaner, Portland,” 2015 39
Sebald Ted Deppe 1 He’s been dead six years when I see him feeding sparrows in Krakow’s main square. How good it must feel sun on his shoulders and the light touch of bird feet on his hands— to be, once more, of use— though this can’t be Sebald, just someone with the same moustache as the novelist, the same smile— slightly lugubrious, utterly serious— born perhaps in the same year, in the same hospital, with the same name. 2 Two schoolgirls stop to watch. He gives them crumbs, lifts their hands so sparrows land in their palms and eat. How would it feel to have a ghost guide your hands? To be taught like this, as children, what you need most to know?
3 Fifty years since Chairman Mao mobilized the children of China to kill sparrows.
Caitlin Deppe, “Sebald’s Sparrows,” oil on slate, 8” x 3.5 “
Because each year each bird ate ten pounds of grain, every hundred birds killed meant a villager would live. Eighteen million sparrows were killed, and you can guess the rest. Locusts multiplied, ate the crops, brought an early end to the War on Sparrows. 4 If only we could blame Mao for these absences but he vanished so long ago. And now, because of the dusky seaside sparrows, the man who might be Sebald holds morsels of bread to the air— because of the Santa Barbara song sparrows— because nearly all the sparrows of London— in our caves or eaves, in our walls or roof tiles— and because they who have vanished once managed to thrive everywhere, in any condition, like us able to adapt— from ORPHEUS ON THE RED LINE, Theodore Deppe, Tupelo Press 41
ed Deppe’s poem “Sebald” works in the form of a series to convey a particular moment’s experience and all the contiguous associations it brings to mind. The poem begins with the speaker seeing a man who reminds him of W. G. Sebald, the great German writer. The first two sections move back and forth between what we might call the literal and the imagined. “He’s been dead six years when I see him” suggests any number of possibilities, which settle into something grounded when the speaker imagines “How good it must feel, sun on his shoulders.” So we have somehow entered into a kind of empathy with the imagined dead. The speaker then calls himself to something more logical: “though this can’t/be Sebald.” But immediately he takes on a very Sebaldian pattern of imagining a coincidence of influence, overlapping lives: the man he sees might be someone with the same moustache, smile, birth year, hospital and name. The poem moves into its 3rd section by observation and association. The school girls are feeding the sparrows, and when the speaker wonders how it would feel to be “taught like this, as children, what you need most to know,” it triggers his recollection of Chairman Mao and his sparrows in China. The question of what we most need to know is immediately complicated by Mao’s error in calculation. The failure of reason, the notion that one decision can unleash disastrous consequences echoes a major theme in Sebald’s work. Here it’s the way more grain is lost to the locusts, which the sparrows would have killed. In the final section the poem expands beyond its moment in time, as the sparrows become figures for all the lost. If you look up the Santa Barbara sparrow, the description will be given in past tense: it was known to live on 639 acres on Santa Barbara Island. It ate, it bred…. These sparrows suggest, then, all the disappeared, the sacrificed. As do the London sparrows and the sparrows of Holland with their evocation of the Holocaust and World War II, one of Sebald’s abiding obsessions. As the poem casts an ironic eye on the notions of adaptability and extinction, the dashes further enhance the sense of erasure, of gaps, the unintended consequences of destruction. The poet, having read Sebald and been moved by his work, allows the surprise of a resemblance to trigger his own imaginative response to the ideas and sensibility in Sebald’s work. We move through the series from the moment itself to what associations it triggers for the poet, to the broader implication of those connections. As we think of the lost sparrows we also think of Sebald, who died in a car crash before his time. In a very real sense Deppe is doing what Sebald says remembrance enables us to do: “visit what we know of other texts and images, and reconsider our knowledge of the world.” The poem also mixes the poet’s present experience with his internalization of the other writer, as a way of continuing the conversation.
--- Betsy Sholl, Poetry Editor
Caitlin Deppe, “In the Tuileries Garden,” oil on linen, 24” x 18” 43
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Bonnie Spiegel, Diane Dahlke, “Conversation with Richard Diebenkorn,” oil on birch panel, 18”x18”
Bonnie Spiegel, Diane Dahlke, “Conversation with Maria van Oosterwyck,” oil on birch panel, 18”x18” 46
Bonnie Spiegel, Diane Dahlke, “Conversation with Edward Hopper,” Oil on panel, 18” x 18” 47
Bonnie Spiegel, Diane Dahlke, “Conversation with Mary Cassatt,” Oil on panel, 18” x 18”
Bonnie Spiegel, Diane Dahlke, “Conversation with Isabel Bishop,” Oil on panel, 18” x 18”
Jennifer Strode, “Hubris,” Intaglio & Lithography, 15” x 15”
Quito-Maine printmakers exchange series:
A Sense of Place/El Sentido de Lugar
n 2013, a unique opportunity was provided to members of Circling the Square Fine ArtPress, in Gardiner, Maine. Through the connections of Judith Long, one of the CTS press members & the direction of founder Karen Adrienne, artists were invited to participate in an International printmaking exchange with Estampería Quiteña of Quito, Ecuador, entitled, “A Sense of Place/ El Sentido de Lugar.” Our challenge was to create a series of prints focused on sustainability, biodiversity and relationships of the local and the global. Editioning of the prints would allow for simultaneous 90 print exhibits in both countries created by 15 artists from each press. While all artists were working on a single topic, this format also engendered particular serial investigations by the artists at each press. The serial imagery would be individual, press specific and press to press. One of the three editions would be an intervention print and created by artists of both presses. Some of the individual series focus on such concerns as; fish and salmon industries, forest preservation, ocean acidification, pollination and seed modification, industry, and bird migration and health. The first of four Maine exhibitions will be at the Danforth Gallery, University of Maine, Augusta, 18 January through 19 February 2016. Asked to comment about developing a subject in a series of prints, some of the artists said: “Working in a series allows the printmaker the opportunity to explore different aspects of a topic or idea. The individual pieces add up to something greater than the separate ideas.” Chris Olson “Sometimes a picture can’t say 1,000 words. That is where a series of prints can be so revealing. In the Quito project, doing prints gave me the opportunity to talk about the dilemma of the Atlantic salmon.” Kris Sader “Working in a series allows the artist to begin with the basic elements of an idea and expand gradually. This exploration enlarges and changes that idea to include concepts that were necessarily a part of the spark that initiated the series.” Susan Dean Smith “The experience of working in a series within a group expanded my skills and enlarged my perspective in developing concepts.” Donna Parkinson “To me, working in a series means focus and learning to explore a topic in different ways with different interpretations.” Rebeka Ouelette “Participating in this project is an honor. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from artists, work with artists, respond to artists, and share with artists. What could be better?” Lisa Wheeler
Karen Adrienne and Juan Carlos Palacios (Intervention print), “Lacra,” Serigraphy, Lithography, 9” x 9”
Diana McFarland, Intaglio Relief, 15” x 15”
Sarah Vosmus, “Tied,” Serigraphy, Lithography, 15” x 15”
Susan Dean Smith, “World Web,” Lonocut, 15” x 15”
Giti Newman and Karen Adrienne (Intervention print), “Elegy,” Intaglio, Relief, 9” x 9”
Ellen Roberts, “There to Here,” Relief, 20” x 23.5”
John Girouard, “Useful Strangers #6,” Hot glue & crayons, 9” x 12,” 2006
enjoy working in a series most of the time. Sometimes an idea to expand or explore a particular style or theme will emerge immediately, creating a series, while in other circumstances, patterns develop slowly over years. The “Useful Stranger” series is one of many series that I continue to grow and exhibit. I think it is important to work in series, as it gives an artist a sense of consistency and maturity. If I or others feel moved by the work of art developing, then it gives me direction on where to expand my study.
John Girouard , “Useful Stranger,” Hot glue & crayons, 10” x 8”, 2004 59
John Girouard, “Useful Strangers,” Hot glue & crayons, 8” x 10”, 2004
John Girouard, “Useful Strangers Family,“ Hot glue & crayons, 14” x 11”, 2013 60
Susan Drucker , “Rewritten History,” Pencil, 16”x 12”, 2014
Susan Drucker, “Young Gladys,” Pencil, 7” x 11”, 2014 62
Susan Drucker, “Gladys,” Pencil, 16” x 15”, 2015
Web Comix by William Hessian
June Kellogg, “Four Clouds Over Acadia,” acrylic on canvas, 24”x24”
A Psychological Cycle
hen I am not working on a series, I feel lost. I flounder in the studio and continue to experiment with no real sense of where my art might be headed. When the first piece in a new series appears on canvas, or as an idea in a sketchbook, a calming feeling takes place and I begin to work with a sense of direction. In the middle of a series, it’s all about working in the studio and I feel that I am living life to the fullest with purpose and direction. The excitement of not knowing where the next painting will take me keeps me eagerly applying paint to canvas. The series ends with my enthusiasm ebbing, a feeling of having taken the idea or direction as far as I want, and the knowledge that it is time for a change. The first in this series began after a hike in Acadia Park. 66
June Kellogg, “Four Clouds Over Acadia,” acrylic on canvas, 24”x24” 67
June Kellogg, “A Deep Sense Of Appreciation For Spring,” acrylic and ceramic stucco on canvas, 24”x 24” 68
June Kellogg, “A Fresh Look At Caterpillar Hill,” acrylic and ceramic stucco on canvas, 12”x 12” 69
series is the process of posing and answering a question repeatedly. It is an exploration rather than a solution. Perhaps it’s a gaming of numbers.
Jim Kelly, “Dead Center” mixed media, 45”x 30”
Jim Kelly, “On Off” mixed media, 45”x 30” 2014 71
Jim Kelly, “In Due Course” mixed media, 45”x 30” 2014 72
Jim Kelly, “Day To Day” mixed media, 45”x 30” 2014 73
Don Mallow, “From the Ledge” #1 of 10, Watercolor and gouache, 10.5”x 12”, 2013
here are times and events which sometimes require more than one or two drawings or paintings to get out of them as much as possible. Sometimes a series may consist of a sequence of works done intentionally as a series, as in this case. Or, works executed over a long period, though not initially thought of as a series, taken together are a series...a deeper involvement with the material is seen, sometimes over a span of years....
From the Ledge
en tears ago construction began on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge...During 2005 and 2006 I drew on-site a series of five pencil drawings of its dynamic construction...I had intended a sixth of the completed bridge, but what had been compelling was the process of construction...The sixth was never completed. The series was complete at five. At the site, a great ledge was blasted for an approach to the bridge...The resulting exposed faces were, and are, rich in color and texture and a series of ten watercolor and gouache paintings are based on very small portions of the rock which serve as points of departure for each work. The series has been exhibited at the Blue Hill Library in the month of July and several will be seen at the Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle during August.
Don Mallow, “From the Ledge” #4 of 10, Watercolor and gouache, 10.”x 14.5”, 2013
Don Mallow, “From the Ledge” #5 of 10, Watercolor and gouache, 10”x 14.5”, 2013
Don Mallow, “From the Ledge” #9 of 10, Watercolor and gouache, 10.5”x 12”, 2014
Daniel Paulding, “Small Sprouting Garlic,” oil on panel, 8.5”x10”, 2015
Daniel Paulding, “Small Orange,” oil on panel, 8”x10”, 2015
mall Fruits is a series of paintings from January to June 2015. They are oil on panel and framed in floaters of curly maple stolen and hand split from the dwindling firewood pile.
My set ups lasted indefinitely while the studio temperature hovered around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. My hands were cold. As March turned to April, the North Light through the drafty farmhouse windows changed as our planet angled to face the sun. My studio light had to be adjusted and I found myself reaching more and more for the cadmiums. I ended the series with "Berries", ripe and fresh from the local fields. My series encompasses the shift in seasons, the change in light, and the evolution of an idea. Working in a series takes an idea and expands upon it until you exhaust the challenges, the trials, and the creative spark; until the idea reaches fruition. 79
Daniel Paulding, “Small Lemon,” oil on panel, 8”x10”, 2015
Daniel Paulding, “Berries,” oil on panel, 8”x10”, 2015 80
Thoughts on Series: Show me the Monet
by Daniel Kany
e always underestimate Claude Monet. Many historians – including me – see him as a primary inspiration for Abstract Expressionism: After you visit his large works at l'Orangerie in Paris, it’s hard to think otherwise.
Monet’s deep influence moves in many directions at once. Impressionism, after all, was the straw that broke the academic camel’s back and Monet was its primary driver. Impressionism also set the stage for abstraction and contemporary painting by focusing on the perception aspect of painting. What you see and how you see comprise a here-and-now experience; and it was Monet and his Impressionist buddies who first successfully turned the public’s understanding of painting from a there-and-then transportive experience to something much closer to the literal, real-time experience of a painting. The subject, in other words, isn’t, for example, Rue des Cappucines (a busy street in Paris), it’s you looking at a painting of the Rue des Cappucines. But Monet’s innovation that probably most directly affects the way we now think about art, exhibitions, galleries and what artists do is the series. It’s hard for many people to wrap their heads around this, but before Monet’s Haystacks and images of Rouen Cathedral, artists didn’t really work in series, galleries didn’t exhibit series of work and the public didn’t think in terms of an artist’s work as being part of this-or-that series. Series did exist, but they were generally groups of related works or repeated approaches to the same thing – like Rembrandt’s self portraits. Groups of works relating to themes, for example, were thought of as “cycles” or sets of thematics like the illustrations of a book. Distinguishing his paintings by something as nuanced as the changing light – which in turn made the works reveal themselves more clearly when exhibited together – Monet introduced a way of seeing the painting part of paintings critically. This helped viewers follow the process of refinement. And it revealed how rigorous Monet was in his balancing perception against execution. This approach allowed artists to follow innovative ideas. The context of seeing a work was no longer chained to the expectation of public culture. Instead, artists could establish and refine their own terms—which, in turn, made style something far more rigorous than mere aesthetic skin. In this light, Georges Braque comes out from under the shadow of Picasso, for he picked up on this in his Fauvist era works and brought this rigorous ethic to Cubism. Picasso’s Blue Period works, for example, were connected by style, mood and feel, but not by an ever-increasing strand of rigor. It was through Braque that Picasso took up this approach and together they created Cubism – a movement that launched Modernist painting on a hitherto unforeseen path of critical self-awareness. But what also changed was the market. Galleries began to show works in series and through this our current understanding of a solo show was born; we now expect a solo gallery show by a living artist to be coherently focused on her/his current series of work. And from this developed current broadly-accepted ideas about what artists do, personal branding, the art market, and how much any given work of art is worth (culturally as well as financially). He was so persuasive and is now so popular, that it’s easy to forget that Monet was radical. His work did not match the reigning notions of beatify. To wit, Monet inspired my favorite art quip by a critic; commenting on the figures in Monet’s Rue des Cappucines, Théophile Gautier called them “black tongue-lickings.” 81
Kenny Cole, “Saint,” gouache on paper, 8.5” x 7”, 2015 82
Kenny Cole, “Summer Fun.” gouache on paper, 8.5” x 7”, 2015
olar Vortex is a series of small gouache drawings, which I hope leads up to a large suite of outdoor sculptures. A series can be a great way to understand a difficult subject or theme. For me this series of drawings, which depict pole dancing, is helping me to unlock what it is about pole dancing that has captured my imagination. Aside from the obvious attraction I might have as a heterosexual, middle-aged male towards semi-naked (my figures are fully naked!) athletic females (I’m not depicting male dancers), I’m also slightly offended by the idea of pole dancing as a form of healthy exercise. It is within this obvious cultural shift that lies the crux of my interest. Consciously, I am trying to sympathetically depict my female forms as struggling and striving. Unconsciously, I am probing my own role as a heterosexual male, the essential driving force behind the emergence of pole dancing as a phenomenon. 83
Kenny Cole, “Face Off,” gouache on paper, 8.5” x 7”, 2015
Kenny Cole, “Mired,” gouache on paper, 7” x 8.5”, 2015 84
Roland Salazar Rose, “Roma AD 476 1,” mixed media 10”x 8”, 2015
Roland Salazar Rose
Roma AD 476
've painted in series in Mexico and USA for twenty-five years. In 1989 I created “The Four Seasons of the Master Myth,” (Aired MPBN 6/15) which I published and distributed as a DVD with my 1000 images and the “Master Myth” philosophy. My series often derive from an artistic expressive need in my sub-conscious to tell a story, or complete an artistic idea. My 100 images in the series: “Roma AD 476” do not speculate, nor answer the question of the possible “Fall” of the USA today, vis-a-vis the Roman Empire. My images reflect on my thinking of what is happening in America today and what can be done to assure the USA does not “Fall;” that America's best days are ahead; that we have the will power and leadership needed; that we will enrich the American Dream; that we will sustain “spaceship earth” and benefit all life.
Roland Salazar Rose, “Roma AD XLIX ,” mixed media 8”x 10”, 2015
Roland Salazar Rose, “Roma AD 476 XCVIII,” mixed media 8”x 10”, 2015
Roland Salazar Rose, “Roma AD 476 XXV,” mixed media 10”x 8”, 2015
Ruth Sylmor, “Paris, Pantheon 1, rue d’Ulm,” 8”x 10”, silver print, 2010
ach time I reach for my camera, it’s an intuitive, more often spontaneous and wordless search for understanding of myself and my world. Working in series allows me to look deeper into a subject and continues to be important in my photographic work. With a subject in mind or a “tantalizing vagueness,” I try to keep my eyes and heart open as I walk -- and like to let myself believe the images find me. As my eye captures diverse visual levels, I express my concerns -emotions, feelings, and intuition -- straight through the camera lens. Later, looking over my contact sheets, if I’ve patiently done the preliminary work concerning the subject’s complexity, focus, and scale, a narrative begins to emerge. Possibly not what I first considered. I continue to explore in this manner. Putting it all together to form a cohesive and coherent series can be frustrating and a wonderful surprise, all in one day.
Ruth Sylmor, “Paris, Pantheon 2, rue Soufflot,” 10”x 8”, silver print, 2014 90
Le Pantheon a Paris
art of an ongoing series of the Pantheon in Paris, these photographs depict the 225 year-old mausoleum undergoing renovation to make the grand old building more reflective of the country’s republican beliefs. The French government partnered with JR, a french street artist and photographer, to decorate one of the world's most famous mausoleums on a project entitled, “Au Pantheon.” It’s the first time that the country has used art instead of a large, lucrative advertisement to cover a public building in the throes of a touch up. The project includes headshots made by ordinary people to paper the tarp that covers the dome. The construction site itself is a work of art, as well as a work in progress. I made the 1st image before the renovation in 2010 from la rue d’Ulm and the 4th image from la rue des Carmes in June 2014 at the completion of the JR project. It is projected that the renovation itself will be completed in 2016.
Ruth Sylmor, “Paris, Pantheon 4, rue des Carmes,” 8”x,10”, silver print, 2014
Ruth Sylmor, “Paris, Pantheon 3, rue Valette,” 10”x 8”, silver print, 2014 93
his series is about the idea of floating, about lightness, and things soaring about like balloons.. It began by accident, but then the idea sort of took off on its own... a visual suspension of disbelief .... The first balloon floated by on my window shade. Like a caption balloon, it said it all, and in very few words... The second on a video monitor... When the Two Floats image appeared to me, it was like a eureka moment, right there before me... Then the Polka Dot Parasol picture popped up in front of me and again, I was carried away by its effervescence...
Dave Wade, “Idea Balloon,” archival photographic print, 12”x 20”, 2010
Dave Wade, “Two Floats,” digital archival photographic print, 13”x20”, 2013
Note: 4th photograph in series appears on the inside front cover, pages 2-3
Dave Wade, “Video Balloon,” photograph, 2012
John Latham Knapp
John Latham Knapp, “Inside Out Project,” colored pasted paper and newspaper, 48” x 36”, 2011
John Latham Knapp, “two Beatrice,” painted deconstructed cardboard box with pasted images, 40”x 50”, 2012
John Latham Knapp, “Beatrice,” painted deconstructed cardboard box with pasted image, 40”x 50”, 2012 98
John Latham Knapp, “Marilyn,” painted deconstructed cardboard box mixed media and pasted images, 36”x 44” 2015 99
Visitng artists in their studios to check-in on their well-being
CHECKING - IN by Kenny Cole
an interview with Joshua Cardoso
I interviewed Joshua Cardoso in his studio in Rockland, Maine, which is located in the same building as Win Wilder Hall, an exhibition space that he curates. Joshua has had a very successful early career as an artist, with a series of ink and graphite abstractions on paper. These works are renderings that consist of tiny markings that coalesce into topographic or interstellar cloud-like formations. I asked him what working in a “series” meant to him. Joshua Cardoso, “Looking At You (Para-Picassonoid)”ink on paper, 14” x 10.75”, 2013
Kenny: Is working in “series” a finite practice with a beginning and end? Joshua: For me a “series” is just an identifiable set of rules and concerns, maybe formal rules, maybe concerns of medium or content that you stick with while it’s useful and has intensity for you. My ink abstractions are very labor intensive and were a hard-won series to work through. They are still vital and dynamic in and of themselves, but they’ve also spawned multiple new series where I’m scaling up my imagery, including more legible verbal language and leaving a lot more opportunity and space for personal and emotional content. The patterning used to feel somewhere between cosmic and scientistic, but in the new works the tension is more between psychology/ mythology and purely ornamental pattern. Pattern becomes a standin for cultural norms, historical cycles, or psychological motifs. The juxtaposition and breaking of those patterns extend and complicate those meanings. 100
Kenny: This newer work seems so different and almost unrelated to your ink abstractions. Can you speak to that? Joshua: It feels to me like the newer work is a much more direct and inclusive, a less refined and focused version of most of the same concerns as the older work. It’s a re-shuffling of the deck, if you will. The value of working in series, to me, is the ability to think about your work in themes or versions. Different series' can voice different viewpoints within an artists' universe of memes, obsessions, and visual languages. The material in my newer work has always been there on some level. My ink abstractions may look like very minuscule dots and dashes, but in fact, tons of letterform or geometric shapes are embedded in those pieces. If you follow the strands that make up those compositions, they often morph from just dots or dashes into identifiable symbols or ornamental motifs. They're full of forms becoming and disintegrating. This newer work is about developing a louder or larger scaled version of those geometries and patterns, in a way that feels more legible, down-toearth, and human-scaled. I view both of these series overall as exploring the flow and flux of the human condition, of trying to picture the complexity and chaos that we all live with. Kenny: Getting back to beginning and ending, how do you know when to stop a series? Joshua: None of it ever stops! I think the only time to stop a series is if it’s no longer compelling and energetic for you. But when you identify it as a series, it becomes almost easier to pursue new projects and then cycle back. My current newer work is less certain for me than my earlier work, but I am captivated by that uncertainty. Working in series is a practice that I value as a way to isolate themes and distinguish variations within the growth of my work. It becomes a framework where you can explore all the various manifestations and iterations of an idea. You can do completely different things as an artist, and not lose your voice or your perspective, if you work out each idea in a series. Joshua Cardoso, Untitled Sketch (Teapot People Series), ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper, 17” x 11” 2013
Joshua Cardoso, Untitled Sketch (Teapot People Series), ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper, 17” x 11”, 2013
Joshua Cardoso, “Hermit Lantern”, ink, collage, gouache, spray paint, and graphite on paper, 30” x 22”, 2015
Joshua Cardoso, “Lunar Laocoön Cave”, ink, collage, gouache, and graphite on paper, 30 x 22, 2015
Scott Minzy, “Spanish Prisoner,” linocut, 12” x 18”
Scott Minzy, “Monhegan Studio Sign,” photograph 104
Narratives from Educators about Creative Expression
By Scott Minzy
Art Instructor -- Erskine Academy
n a former life I was an account representative for a computer manufacturer in Boston. From my cube, disillusioned with the corporate world, I would visit Monhegan.com, look at the pictures and dream of being part of an artist colony ten miles off the coast of Maine. On the dim CRT monitor I would see scenes of rugged tranquility and dream of the time that I could be part of an intentional interconnected community. Imagine my surprise and delight when I was accepted to do a residency on the island, it seemed like a dream, reality however was something different. I was convinced that I would come to the island and become a zen warrior meditating for hours-a-day. In my mind I would hike the long winding trails at dawn, basking in the sunrise from the top of Blackhead. In the evening I would have dinner with other like-minded artists, trading profound intellectual discourses about art, life and the human condition. My work would find a new direction, taking me with it from a less dark and creepy place to one which inspires and enlightens (read:sells). After all, this residency was validation, proof positive that I was a real genuine artist, not just some guy who carves linoleum on his kitchen table at night after the kids go to bed. What I learned was that there is this place I was living called fantasyland and I exited it at the same time I stepped off the ferry. Given all the time in the world, I faced artist block. I didn't know what to do with myself. All of my sketches seemed trite and/or derivative -- especially compared to the ones I would squeeze out in the minivan before picking up kids from school. I began to miss the chaos of my homelife; after all it had distracted me from examining my work, practice and motivations. It became impossible to relax because I was supposed to be doing something -- what that was, I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know. My attempts at meditation became futile and disappointing exercises in selfinflicted abuse. Instead of marveling at the majestic wonder of cathedral pines or the craggy paths along the cliffs, I hiked oblivious, sticky, bothered by swarms of horse flies, the bushes scraped my shins and mud seemed to cover my entire legs and shorts. In sweaty frustration, I would stop to catch my breath, only to see some happy watercolorist tucked under a tree, clean and unscathed loving life. This of course frustrated me even more. After all, what was wrong with me. Everyone seemed to be so productive, happy and enamored with their surroundings. Why couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t I be the same? Trying to sit and meditate for more than a few minutes would continued next page make me angry and anxious. 105
Scott Minzy, “Something,” linocut, 18” x 12”
Scott Minzy, “Fun Time Gal,” linocut, 12” x 18”
(continued) To make matters worse, being on this short term residency, I was neither a local nor a summer resident; I fell somewhere in the middle. As a result, I found I was unable to connect with anyone other than the people that sold me food and beer. It’s in this spot of insecurity and isolation that I found my working model for most of my time on the island: eat-work-drink-work. It got to the point in which I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I did the only thing I knew how to do; I made art. I would wake up in the morning, have an egg sandwich and carve linoleum until the brewery on the island opened; buy a pricey, but incredibly good growler of IPA. After dinner I would drink beer and continue to carve until 10:30 or 11, when I would go to bed and repeat the next day. Needless to say, I got a lot of work done. In retrospect this was probably exactly what the people at MARC wanted: an artist to come to the island devoid of distractions and just work for 12 hours a day -- forcing themselves to reflect on their practice, motivations and sometimes face harsh realities. Because of this, there are things I didn’t do for a long time after leaving the island, like drink beer, eat egg sandwiches and carve linoleum. That faded in time, of course, and I realized a few things: Though I am an introvert, I need human contact. My identity, to a certain extent, was an artificial construct. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I make my work, not as an artist, but as a communicator. It’s ok to ask: Who am I? but it’s not good to dwell on it. That Nightfall is one of the best radio dramas ever made. Just because I’m at the ocean doesn’t mean I have to depict it. Sometimes things don’t go the way that you planned, but I got so much more than just an art vacation. scottminzy.com 107
Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) Report
July -- September, 2015
RRT! participation was a big hit in 4th of July parades in Bath and Whitefield. In Bath, ARRT! won the “Willy,” which is to say that ARRT! props used by Peaceworks won “The Willard ‘Willy’ Bryan Award” presented to the “Best Non-Profit” entry. Thanks to all the ARRT!ists who made the great props and especially Natasha Mayers. Her vision of a fleet of boats that show how life in Maine REALLY should be started in Whitefield last year and blossomed in Bath this year -- and thank you to all those who proudly wore them! ARRT! completed several banners in September for various non-profits:
Opposite Page, Top Left:
The Peace Walk across Maine, calling attention to the militarization of the seas (Vets for Peace, Global Network, PeaceWorks, and lots of other groups) October 9-24,Ellsworth, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire Opposite Page, Lower Left:
Faith Linking in Action, the multi-faith, multi-issue BANGOR group whose core issue is economic dignity,with attention paid especially to jobs, child care and transportation Below:
Schoodic Riverkeepers of the Passamaquoddy. The Schoodic Riverkeepers are a growing group of Passamaquoddy tribal members who have come together to make positive political and social change. They hope to raise awareness about the value of clean water, the true history of exploitation of natural resources, the need for ecosystem restoration and the need to take responsible action as caretakers of the Earth.
ARRT! banners, props, and costumes in the Whitefield 4th of July parade 110
Bath 4th of July Parade, 2015
Local News within the Union of Maine Visual Artists
UMVA Chapter Reports
LEWISTON/AUBURN By Susan Bennett
rt Walk Lewiston/Auburn transformed Lower Lisbon Street. I let go of preconceived perceptions of downtown, and delighted in the festive atmosphere. Art enthusiasts gathered, filling restaurants and businesses, displaying area artists’ work and thus offering a direct experience of the art community. Apparent throughout the twin cities and on this night, Lisbon Street and the surrounding area show signs of rejuvenation, as mixed-use development blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional and industrial uses that are functionally integrated. A lot has changed since the closing of the mills. The possibilities seem endless. In the ensuing years, the river, once filled with industrial waste from all the way over to Berlin, New Hampshire, looks and smells clean, now providing pleasant vistas and recreational use. In spite of growth in the cities, bringing the Downeaster rail service here was nixed, and Lewiston/Auburn stubbornly persists as a non-destination on the Maine landscape. There is a culturally-perpetuated mindset which, like the never-to-arrive train, defines aesthetic responses and experiences. LA Arts has been supporting community cultural events since 1973, keeping the dream alive. Dedicated in August at Art Walk Lewiston Auburn, is a new piece of contemporary sculpture created by artist Charlie Hewitt titled “Lewiston Rattle.” Hewitt stated that, “The noise is the rattle of the communities...that noise has changed over the years but will always be rooted in the mills that created these communities.” Josh Vink, Executive Director of of LA Arts recapitulated the point, mentioning the efforts of the working class to build the cities. Art is uniquely generated in social context with distinct values for people who are different in their ethnicity, race, gender, time and place. While out and about for ArtWalk in July, I found Grayling Cunningham’s studio, a space he shares with two artists. Grayling and I finally connected and set a date for the first LA-UMVA meeting at his studio. Our first meeting was held on August 5, a beautiful summer evening, at The Studio, 291 Lisbon Street. Nine enthusiastic artists attended, with each artist expressing their art-life experience, passion being the common thread. Rob Shetterly, UMVA president, traveled a long distance to be with us and shared two of his paintings “Lily Yeh” and “John Hunter” from his series “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” There were seven artists in attendance at the second meeting held on September 2. The group discussed the closing of art venues, and upcoming events in the LA area. Members made tentative plans to hold an art event, “L/A Youth Arts Celebration,” with Kate Cargile’s students (Lewiston Middle School) and Melanie Therrien’s students (Wicked Illustrations, her private children’s art school) in November, then with Ellen Hodgkin’s students at Wallace and Washburn schools in Auburn in March.
Other suggested activities were bringing back the Festival of Lights, creating a childrens choir and art workshops for children, and a potential artist peer seminar, which would include ongoing in-person meetings and discussions. It may also incorporate academic readings, art-making, and project workshopping/critiquing. No matter its specific final form, at the heart of the group effort will be a focus on connection, exploration, and inspiration among peers and across disciplines and experience levels. A UMVA group facebook page has been set up: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UMVALA/ For more information: email@example.com
The next meeting will be held at Wicked Illustrations, Melanie’s art space, 140 Canal Street, Suite 1, Lewiston on October 7th at 7pm. 114
Hidden Ladder Collective at the “Yellow” show at UMVA Gallery at CTN
he Portland Branch of UMVA is now meeting and exhibiting regularly at CTN5, the Community Television Network’s gallery space, now rechristened as UMVA Gallery at CTN.
So far there have been 4 UMVA exhibitions at this gallery space, located in the heart of the Arts District, right next door to MECA. The first show in May 2015, was entitled “YELLOW” and featured work from dozens of UMVA artists in partnership with Hidden Ladder Collective. The second UMVA show, in June, entitled “Raze/Bulldoze, A Comix show,” addressed the role of art in a capitalist society, and was curated by Reesa Wood. “PURPLE,” an open member show, took place in July, in collaboration with The Hidden Ladder Collective, and drew wide UMVA participation. In August, the UMVA Gallery at CTN was host to the “Outsider Art Show” by the members of Linc and the Waterville Social Club. This powerful show, produced by longtime UMVA member Natasha Meyers, took on issues of urgency and identity by adults with mental health problems and combined strong and original images with words and text by Linc writers. The September show at UMVA Gallery has featured the creative photography of Bob Reimann and the iPad drawings of Ed Zelinsky.
Coming up at UMVA Gallery at CTN: On First Friday, Oct. 2nd, UMVA Gallery at CTN will present photography by Dave Wade and large mixed media pieces by artist Jim Kelly. UMVA filmmaker Walter Ungerer, will have a screening at CTN on Oct. 9th. In November, the UMVA Gallery will feature a “habitat” created by Baxter Hoplo and invites “GREEN” entries by all UMVA members. In December, an Art Fair and sale will take place from Friday -- Sunday, 12/4-12/6 and is open to UMVA members for a contribution of $10, Space is limited so contact Will Hessien as soon as possible: firstname.lastname@example.org
PMA & UMVA Meeting Summary continued: JM believes that the resulting show is “more diverse in terms of media, age, and biographies” than open-call shows have ever been. The museum also feels a responsibility to balance showing Maine art with an effort to connect viewers to “broader experiences” (i.e., the museum should be “regionally sensitive and nationally relevant”). She stated that if the museum put on a curated show as well as an open-call juried show that there would be “no other options for contemporary art” due to the challenges of funding and space. RS commented that a curator’s scope is going to be inherently limited and that there needs to be a way for all artists to access the museum. JM offered that the museum always looks at, and most often responds to, all unsolicited submissions. AC suggested that if there were a space committed to contemporary Maine art in the museum (or in association with the museum) that the UMVA could collaborate with the museum to brainstorm/establish/maintain that space. Discussion about whether artist activism and community collaboration are important functions for a museum. JM noted areas in which the museum is currently pursuing community (the “Artist Intervention” series; school outreach through the museum’s Education Department; Free Fridays), and points out that a museum’s role is not the same as a gallery or non-profit art space which are able to be in active “conversation” with art; a museum’s major purpose is to collect and preserve artistic heritage. RS introduced the idea that the artists’ view of “artistic heritage” used to be whether our work would outlive us, but that now, due to political and environmental events/concerns, that there is a growing shift in consciousness that moves art beyond simply the History of Art and towards the History of Humanity. He believes that this important shift should be reflected in the museum’s mission. JM agreed that the museum has been fearful/reluctant/conservative about political engagement, and that it is a valid criticism. She would like to see some form of political engagement become part of the museum’s growth. Continued discussion about politics, art, and the museum. When RS suggested that the museum and the Union link each other’s websites, JM proposed that she and the museum’s other curators could look at artists’ unsolicited submissions each quarter and showcase the work that impressed them in the UMVA Journal, although she pointed out that she was only “thinking out loud” and couldn’t make that commitment on her own. She committed to following up the idea with her fellow curators. She “understands that artists need to feel they are being looked at.” General enthusiasm for the idea of highlighting artists in the Journal. (See Addendum 2 for update.) Susan Drucker (SD) offered that simply being “looked at” is not useful as an end in itself, and that having actual outcomes (e.g., exhibition opportunities) is a necessary part in the equation. NM described her belief in the open-call juried format for the Biennial, including support for a “cacophony” of work where “viewers pick the gems”, and the importance for artists to “feel connected to the larger Maine art world.” JM made note of the fact that the museum publicized the change about the Biennial in June of 2014, but got no feedback until she heard from the UMVA in April 2015. Continued discussion about the museum’s role in the community. JM again mentioned the museum’s strong commitment to programs for school-age children, including annual exhibition of students’ work, and that Free Fridays show a genuine commitment to the public, especially because the museum cannot fully afford Free Fridays even with corporate sponsorship. JM made note of the fact that the museum publicized the change about the Biennial in June of 2014, but got no feedback until she heard from the UMVA in April 2015. Continued discussion about the museum’s role in the community. JM again mentioned the museum’s strong commitment to programs for school-age children, including annual exhibition of students’ work, and that Free Fridays show a genuine commitment to the public, especially because the museum cannot fully afford Free Fridays even with corporate sponsorship. SD suggested that a commitment to showing school-age children’s work may not be as meaningful as showing actual working artists’ work.
AC offered that some cost concerns could be alleviated through collaboration with the UMVA, as we would be able to provide labor and organizational help. JM stated that the museum needs to be judicious in its commitment to collaboration. They are currently stretched thin by several collaborations (MOFGA, the Maine Museum Trail, and the Maine Photo Project). JM liked the idea that the Union put on its own Biennial (an idea suggested by many Union members and by Edgar Beem in his article about the Biennial in April’s Forecaster). All UMVA representatives agreed that we could put on our own show, but that it could never duplicate the weight or ripple of opportunities that a museum show can offer. JM agreed to a second meeting with the Union before the Biennial opens in the fall, but clarified that the open-call juried format for the Biennial would not be reconsidered. As the meeting ended JM offered a tour of the new work/study space and while there let us know that all unsolicited artists’ submissions are kept and filed, and that those files are always open to the public.
Addendum 1: Below are the paragraphs from W.E.Thon’s bequest to the Portland Museum that concern the Biennial: “I give the residue of my estate to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, as the Helen E. and William E. Thon Endowment Fund, whose principal shall be invested, reinvested, and maintained and whose net income shall be used to present, and award prizes for, a biennial juried show of Maine artists. A Maine artist is a painter who has lived and worked for substantial periods of time in the State of Maine. Each such show shall be a memorial to my said wife and me. To the extent the Portland Museum of Art does not so use the net income of the fund, it shall be used for its museum purposes, with appropriate recognition of my said wife and me. I recognize that there may be times when, for any one of a number of valid reasons, the Portland Museum of Art may decide not to present a biennial juried show of the works of Maine painters. I have every confidence that in such a case the Portland Museum of Art will use the income in other appropriate ways to encourage Maine painters and generally to enhance the ability of the Portland Museum of Art to flourish and to enrich the cultural life and experience of the people of Maine.”
Addendum 2. Update: The museum curators have subsequently communicated that when PMA views unsolicited submissions, they want to publish reviews on their own website rather than in the UMVA Journal. However, the Union is continuing to correspond with the museum about ways the UMVA Quarterly Journal and the museum websites can be linked, as well as other partnerships.
(Summary complied by Susan Drucker, with notes from Susan Drucker and Anita Clearfield.)
A Selection of Member Responses to changes in the Biennial: Joyce Mastro: My concern about a curated Biennial is that I’m wondering if there are any guidelines that the PMA, has given the curator? Or, has the curator been given a free hand to select the artists for the Biennial based entirely on his or her personal esthetic. I believe the curator should be given guidelines from the PMA that would embrace a variety of Maine Art, not just the personal esthetic of one person. This kind of curating is fine for a gallery, where the exhibit is sometimes more about the curator and his/her personal esthetic. I don’t believe William Thon’s intent was to turn the Biennial into a platform for the personal esthetic of one curator. Natasha Mayers: I believe the Portland Museum of Art was wrong in turning away from a biennial juried show so quickly. There are reasons that involve the sound ethics and objectivity of a juried process (e.g., as opposed to the PMA’s curating the show just like any other). And there are reasons that have to do with the community (e.g., it’s a great thing when artists can be guaranteed the leading local institution will see their applications; it’s important, after all, to be seen by the folks who matter). But I also believe the PMA was wrong to so quickly ignore Thon’s intention about his multi-million dollar bequest a mere dozen years after it was made. (The bequest was 2001, and the PMA’s switch took place well before this biennial would be mounted.) From the first announcement, the PMA has always been clear that Thon’s bequest was for a juried biennial. The phrase “juried” had been included on all of the biennial statements and applications. continued next page
In fact, Thon referred to the regular event as a “biennial juried show” which implies the critical factor was that the show be juried even more than it be held every other year. Thon indicates there could conceivably be “valid” reasons for not presenting “a biennial juried show of the works of Maine painters.” But nothing the PMA has said remotely rises to the clear spirit or the common sense standard of Thon’s bequest and his intentions behind it. And in the case that the PMA has a “valid reason” not to present “a biennial juried show,” the money was intended to “encourage Maine painters.” For those who may not recall, there was only one painting in the previous PMA biennial curated by Jessica May. One painting doesn’t even remotely pretend to respect Thon’s intent. Bequests should be respected. And respecting bequests by artists in support of the artist community are fundamental to the ethical foundation and reputation of Maine art in general. I believe the PMA’s shift is short-sighted and ill-advised; it represents a horrible stain on Maine’s reputation for dedication to integrity. It is a wrong that should be righted – and still can be. Erin McGee Ferrell: My initial response is this: As a mid career artist in my 40’s who has exhibited oil paintings across the country for twenty five years…to get to the next level of my career means to have my pieces shown in Museums. I would like the opportunity to submit my work for consideration to PMA rather than hoping that I’m on the curator’s radar to find me. I have heard that the curator is selecting a number of works around the Maine Native American Population this year. Priscilla Stevens: The Maine Arts community is alive and well, but lacks venues in which to gain exposure. If the PMA cares at all about being a living museum, not just a place to warehouse dead and already established artists, it should do all it can to help support the artistic community. A living museum is not just one that show us our past, but one which actively participates in the art of the future and helps the public feel a part of what is currently happening in the state. I feel strongly the show should be an open juried show. I am personally surprised what little support the PMA gives to MECA. This is an arts district but the museum doesn’t seem to notice the incredible work being created in the school just two blocks away. If the Museum doesn’t change their minds on this I think we should have an open juried show ourselves on the same day. Christine Higgins: My gut reaction is that it is a slap in the face to all Maine artists. Being unaware of the reasons for the decision, I try not to personalize, but it sure smacks of the message of “Maine artists aren’t good enough.” I appreciate the open call, juried format. Everyone had a chance. It was a wonderful, democratic opportunity. Rejection didn’t seem personal because jurors have their visions for the cohesiveness of a show, and there were different jurors every two years. I am concerned about support from the PMA for artists living in a state which has a historical representation and significant percentage of creative people. The vision statement of the museum says: “The Portland Museum of Art creates outstanding exhibitions and educational programs to inspire our audiences. We embrace our rich past, dynamic present, and vibrant future to be a vital arts center for the city, region, and nation.” The change from an open call to a curated Biennial is exclusionary and smacks of effete snobbism. The “dynamic present” of this state involves real artists living and working here, and they need the support of this museum. “The Portland Museum of Art strives to engage our audiences in a dialogue about the relevance of art and culture to our lives.” What is more relevant than the real people who live here and dedicate their lives to creative directions? Please don’t exclude us. Maine has excellent educational museums whose collections, and exhibitions bring inspiration and attention to global artistic directions. Until now, I had always felt that the PMA was a museum for the artists in this state. The Biennial was something I looked forward to and thought, “Well, maybe I have a chance.” It introduced me to artists I hadn’t heard about before, it felt inclusive and represented all ages. It valued creative efforts from throughout the state. Maine tends to be very regional in its viewpoints. There is already a geographic isolation. Folks in Southern Maine don’t often look North. The Biennial was a connecting thread. The Gardner Museum in Boston has an artist in residency program for Massachusetts artists who respond to the many collections and live at the museum for a period of time. PMA could do this with the wonderful resources of the Homer Studio, it’s numerous collections, and the architectural gem of the McClellan house. Develop a mentorship program connecting established Maine artists with ‘emerging’ artists – no age specifications since some of us come to this later in life. Organize an open studio trails event connecting artists throughout the state. Maine Crafts Association does this already and the events could be coordinated. Regular meetings would be fantastic. How about a Sunday afternoon walk through an exhibit with UMVA members? If we find the museum is not open to rethinking their decision, what should our next course of action be? Meet with Board members and the Director, Mark Bessire. 118
Roland Salazar Rose: I think that it's necessary here for you (UMVA concerned) to quote the exact words in the bequest by William & Helen Thon to PMA. This will lay a firm foundation for possible expression by anyone interested on the manner PMA has managed the bequest. For, simply put, the guiding fact here is the question: Is the written bequest by the donors Thon) to PMA being managed and dispersed in accordance with the Uniform Law on Prudent Endowment use, adopted by the State of Maine and Maine Law, as applies to endowments, as well? Or, is the PMA overstepping its right to "prudent" dispersal of funds under the Thon Endowment? It's a very complicated issue with many unanswered questions. Kathleen Mack: I believe that it is ethically wrong and an act of hubris to ignore the request of William Thon, that the biennial should be a juried show. I also strongly believe that the show should be for Maine artists, I.e. artists who live in Maine the majority of the year....not just come in summer. Those two points I believe are mandatory. Whether or not there is an application fee, doesn't make or break it for me. I know many think it's unfair, but There is a lot that goes into publicizing, vetting and hanging an exhibition. Dorie Klein: The PMA is violating the terms of the multi-million dollar bequest. We need the contract which states this, then need to do what is necessary for enforcement. End of discussion and their arrogance. Anonymous: We should point out that if a corporation is going to be a non-profit corporation, they have to abide by standards and remain as free as possible from conflicts of interest, etc. And that if they are going to operate with public assistance and without paying taxes that we the public have an interest in the ethics and transparency of that corporation. Rob Shetterly: I think the biggest issue is direct access to the institution as a Maine artist. I think all the wording is basically ok. Most institutions, including some commercial galleries have a submission policies. This means that there is access, hope for the artist to be seen or considered. Even if the gallery or institution just throws the slides in the waste basket (I know everything is digital!), there is the gesture towards the artist. I believe in judgement, curation, etc., but not in being exclusively insular. History has shown that change, innovation and new thinking comes from outside an institution. It is a lot of work for the institution to deal with this...hundreds of submissions. But having a biennial means they only have to do this once every two years! Some institutions have an open submission policy and regularly sit down and comb through accumulated submissions. The great thing for us artists, with regard to a submission or call for art opportunity is that even though our work may not get in, it has been seen by whoever curates or juries. This helps us raise our profile and stay on the radar (UMMA, BUOY, Space Gallery, etc. have open submission policies). My question to the PMA is: “If they are no longer openly viewing (different from exclusively viewing) art from the unwashed masses of Maine artists, how do they want us artists to see them? Can they explain to us what our relationship is now? Is our relationship now only as paying members that can enter the building to view art?” Lin White I lived in Maine for 38 years. I studied at SVA in NYC in the early 60’s. Many years later, I finished my BFA at MECA in 2001. My husband and I moved to Delaware last year. I still consider myself to be a “Maine artist.” I have entered the PMA Biennial every 2 years since 2001. Being rejected is part of being an artist. I have had many rejections and acceptances, but have yet to be chosen for the Biennial. The PMA Biennial was always the premier exhibition, where your work (if accepted) elevated your status as an artist considerably. I was angry when I heard that the PMA was changing the selection process to an invitational show. I had intended to continue entering my work in future Biennials. The original intent of William Thon was to jury works from those who have a connection to Maine. I agree that a juried process would be the fairest. Invitational exhibitions become the subjective choice of one person to pick work he or she likes without regard to the wider pool of unknown artists. Most of those exhibitions are loaded with the same artists we’ve seen time and time again. (Because the blind process has been eliminated). Although they are at the top of their careers, many new works of art are never seen. Artists quit all the time for lack of recognition. The PMA Biennial was always the “big chance” to rise above and be recognized. That has all come crashing down, especially for emerging artists. There could be an invitational exhibition every 5 years that would showcase artists who had work in past Biennials. The PMA has lost sight of their obligation to Thon and the artists who are struggling to have their work shown. The PMA will do what it wants in the end. I hope that the UMVA will persuade them to reconsider this process. If not, I suggest a juried Biennial sponsored by the UMVA. There are gallery owners, artists, professors, and collectors who would delight in being selected as jurors. I wish you luck in your negotiations with the PMA. 119
Guidelines for Submissions
to the Winter UMVA Quarterly Journal, 2016
Not long ago most artists strove to have their expressions endure for generations. In fact, the impulse to make art often went hand-in-hand with a quest to immortalize either the subject or the artist. With the emergence of new art forms and an ever changing sense-of-time, this expectation has been morphing; art forms merge and diverge in temporary and process-oriented art, including site-specific work, street art, graffiti, parade props, effigies, culture jamming, performance, artivism, and installations using perishable materials such as straw, food, snow, etc. For the Winter 2016 UMVA Journal we are interested in VISUAL examples of your impermanent art and your thoughts about the questions that arise from the theme Permanence/Impermanence. Some starter questions include: What aspects of permanence or impermanence are important to you as an artist? What are the ethics of using materials that will last a thousand years vs. temporary, bio-degradable materials? What are some of the reasons you might make impermanent art: Create outside the art market, outside institutions? Be truer to the reality of existence? To reach new audiences? What are some of the reasons you might make permanent art: Record the world around you? Be collected by an institution? Venerate tradition? Communicate important ideas from the present deep into the future? We invite UMVA members to submit 2-4 works that fit this theme for the Winter, 2016 Issue – show us examples of impermanence as you see it in your work. If you want to write about your experience, the word limit is 150 words. Please submit images as jpegs: high-resolution images, 150-300 dpi; the format should be at least 1000 pixels on the shortest side. Please label work with artist, title, year, medium, dimensions and, if required, the photo credit. Please put “Permanence/Impermanence” in the subject line and submit to email@example.com by Dec. 1st deadline. Questions? Please contact Natasha Mayers, firstname.lastname@example.org. Some visual essays are modeled in the current Journal. We hope this explains what is meant by “a visual essay format” to kickstart others to contribute their own ideas for visual essays. If you wish to contribute a visual essay on the “Permanence/Impermanence” theme, you must let us know ahead of time (by November 1st) what you plan on submitting: if you will be including multiple artists, what aspect of the theme you will address etc. One goal is to connect with other artists, though under some circumstances, you can use your own art...this is not meant as a showcase for your own work. For a visual essay, there is a 6-page limit (including 300 word limit). Deadline to notify us of intention to submit an essay is November 1st, the submission deadline is December1st and publication is January 1, 2016. 120
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