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Monday, August 2, 2021
  • Picturing Maine & America — Paintings of Robert Hamilton: The Best-Kept Secret of Maine Art
    About a week before the COVID-19 virus shuttered most businesses and nonprofits in Maine, I was asked to write an essay on an artist, Robert Hamilton (1916–2004). Few beyond family, neighbors and former students ...
  • An American Mona Lisa: “Maga’s Daughter” by Andrew Wyeth
    In late spring of this dismal, isolating year of pandemic and racial discord Betsy James Wyeth passed peacefully. She was 98, spent nearly every summer of her life in Maine and had been married to her husband, artist ...
  • A New Understanding of the "Poetic Photographer"
    In the years following World War II when glossy news magazines — Life, Look, TIME — were in ascendancy, Kosti Ruohomaa was the most widely seen Maine artist in America and, it can be argued, internationally. . . .
  • “Studio — End of Day” by John Koch (1909-1978)
    John Koch’s work does not fit comfortably into the usual, sequential narratives of post-World War II American art, where abstract expressionism begat pop, which begat minimalism, which begat the next great thing.
  • George Wesley Bellows, 1882-1925
    George Wesley Bellows’ “Return of the Useless” is the final painting in what has come to be described as the artist’s War Series of 1918, a group of drawings, prints and, finally, painted reprisels of these works on paper.
  • The Paintings of Anna B. McCoy
    Her re-invention of a type of painting popularized by Rembrandt and the Dutch Baroque — the “tronie” — is far more than an antiquarian enterprise in this age of “selfies.” McCoy’s paintings of friends and family recall the long tradition of such explorations of the human psyche — from Leonardo’s late-in-life self-portrait drawing to Rembrandt’s etchings of himself from youthful blade to weary old age.
  • John Walker's Seal Point Paintings
    John Walker (born 1939) is a master colorist - which has as much to do with balance, patterning and separation of colors as with particular hues, saturation or brightness. There is nothing fussy or precious about Walker's color.
  • Benjamin West (1738-1820), "Cupid and Psyche," 1808
    Benjamin West was the first artist born in the American colonies to attain international acclaim. Largely self-taught through years of studying and copying the old masters in Italy and France, the expatriate artist was appointed historical painter to England's King George by 1772, and in 1792 succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as president of London's Royal Academy. West taught and influenced such esteemed American artists as John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Trumbull.
  • Lois Dodd, "The Painted Room"
    Lois Dodd (b. 1927) is among Maine's most celebrated artists; her paintings were featured in a 2012 retrospective exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art, and this summer Colby College is presenting an exhibition of her less well known but surprisingly bold, deceptively simple works on paper (June 7 through August 31), where she is being honored at the college's summer luncheon, long the state of Maine's most prestigious celebration for and about artists.
  • A sense of unease in an immaculate world pervades Andrew Wyeth's "Airborne." One of the artist's most compelling late paintings, the airy and expansive image represents a phase in Wyeth's work during which he infused his precisely detailed, slowly crafted temperas with the freedom and energy of watercolor.
  • Jamie Wyeth's "Orca Bates"
    "Orca Bates," a painting of a boy raised on Monhegan Island, is among Jamie Wyeth's most enigmatic, visually seductive, and emotionally charged portraits. It belongs to a series of paintings of Orca begun in late 1989, continuing for five years, and charting the boy's journey from childhood to adolescence.
  • Drawings by Emily Nelligan & Marvin Bileck
    Drawings by Emily Nelligan and her late husband, Marvin Bileck, are being featured in a dual show at the Alexandre Gallery in New York City through January 18, 2014. (By way of full disclosure, I am a paid consultant to the gallery.)
  • Marsden Hartley's "Madawaska - Acadian Light - Heavy"
    Born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1877 into a working-class family, Edmund Hartley (he adopted his stepmother's family name, Marsden, in adulthood) knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. Hartley found himself isolated and unhappy as a boy, both by reason of difficult family circumstances including his mother's death when he was just eight years old, and, as he grew older, as a homosexual living during a fundamentally repressive era in a small New England manufacturing town.
  • Bo Bartlett, "The Lobster Wars"
    Life imitates art. Or so it might seem with Bo Bartlett's monumental painting (80 x 112 inches) "The Lobster Wars," completed in 2007. Two years later, in the summer of 2009, stories appeared in the national press about a territorial dispute over the right to set lobster traps in waters just off Matinicus, Maine's most remote inhabited island.
  • I was sorry to miss Jed Perl's recent talk at the Strand in Rockland sponsored by the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Perl is among a dwindling number of American art critics including Peter Schjeldahl (The New Yorker), Sebastian Smee (Boston Globe), Roberta Smith (New York Times), Christopher Knight (Los Angeles Times) and a handful of others whose voices reverberate throughout the art world.
  • In recent weeks there has been widespread consternation in the art world over the possible sale of works from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in order to help offset the city's immense burden of debt following its official bankruptcy.
  • Frank Weston Benson's "Summer Day"
    Summer Day" (oil on canvas, 361⁄8 x 321⁄8 in.), painted in 1911 by Frank Weston Benson (1862 - 1951), exemplifies a late flowering of American Impressionism. It is also a highly personal expression of a time, place and quality of life that only existed for a passing moment and for a privileged few.
  • Fitz Henry Lane's "View of Camden Mountains from Penobscot Bay"
    In 1851, Curtis Island Lighthouse (as it is known today) at the entrance to Camden Harbor, Maine, burned to the ground. Reconstruction began immediately and was completed by 1852. The inclusion of a construction derrick just to the left of the lighthouse in "View of Camden Mountains from Penobscot Bay," ca. 1852 (12 x 18 inches) by the noted 19th-century marine painter Fitz Henry Lane (1804 - 1865), confirms an approximate date for the work of 1852.
  • Bernard "Blackie" Langlais
    It could have been unnerving for an artist to be Andrew Wyeth's across-the-road neighbor in Cushing, Maine. Doubtful, Bernard "Blackie" Langlais gave it a second thought - other than confirming his own good sense to live on an adjacent section of saltwater farmland along a bend in the St. George River estuary. . . .
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