Left to right, “Rainbow Connection” by Susan Levett, “Curious Thing” by Allison Davis, and “Waveform” by Johanna Moore
Left to right, “Rainbow Connection” by Susan Levett, “Curious Thing” by Allison Davis, and “Waveform” by Johanna Moore
On Saturday, February 9, Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland will open “The Screen Show,” a juried exhibition of new works by Maine artists that explores the screen form. The show, which includes six new works selected by a jury as well as two early-20th-century folding screens from the Farnsworth collection, will be on display in the museum’s Rothschild Gallery from February 9 through September 22. 

Two screens from the musuem’s collection — an eight-panel oil-on-board painting, “Manship Toasting the Angels” done in 1923 by Barry Faulkner, and a three-panel oil-on-canvas painting by Carroll Thayer Berry with a fanciful view of Camden Harbor done in 1930 — served as a departure point for the exhibition of contemporary interpretations of the screen form. 

Folding screens were especially popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, serving typically as room dividers and often used by their owners to dress or undress behind. Prominent artists, architects, and designers in both Europe and America experimented with the format, including James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Dewing, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Thomas Hart Benton, Donald Deskey, Ansel Adams, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg and David Hockney, among many others.

For the Farnsworth exhibit, artists and artisans submitted proposals for folding screens which were then reviewed by a jury consisting of Susan Danly, former curator of prints, photographs, and contemporary art at Portland Museum of Art; Susan Groce, professor of art at University of Maine, Orono; Peter Korn, founder and executive director of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport; Warren Seelig, distinguished visiting professor in the Fibers/Mixed Media program at University of the Arts, Philadelphia; Michael K. Komanecky, Farnsworth chief curator; and Jane Bianco, Farnsworth associate curator.

The jury selected works from industrial designer Allison Davis of Rockland; textile designer Gigi Aea of Camden, in collaboration with cabinet maker Owain Harris; artist and frame maker Johanna Moore of Farmingdale; graphic designer Laurie Downey of West Baldwin, in collaboration with woodworker Ryan Rhoades; assemblage artist Susan Levett of Tenants Harbor; and painter Alla Broeksmit of Brooklin.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Farnsworth Chief Curator Michael K. Komanecky will give a talk titled “The Screen Show: Six Folding Screens by Six Maine Artists” on Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m. in the museum’s auditorium.