The Maine arts scene has exploded over the past few years. Various institutions have hired new directors and curators who are expanding perspectives far beyond the state’s borders. There are new galleries opening and established galleries relocating or opening satellite locations. And art seems to pop up in all manner of other venues.
Aesthetically, too, it’s a cultural smorgasbord: from the seascapes that have drawn artists here since the 19th century to international contemporary conceptual art and installation. Here are some of the highly anticipated shows that will be on view this summer.
Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, cmcanow.org, 207-701-5005
“We’re really mining the present moment in contemporary art in its complexity and diversity,” says Timothy Peterson, executive director and chief curator of the museum. This summer, that means shows by three nationally influential artists of color (all shows May 28 through Sept. 11): “Reggie Burrows Hodges: Hawkeye” about his life growing up in Compton, California, and the Hawkeye tennis system as “a poetic metaphor of parent,” says Peterson, “someone looking over your shoulder and making a call”; “Veronica Perez: Voices, Whispering,” which explores ideas of “colonialism, gentrification and her Puerto Rican background” through hair braiding; and Yashua Klos’s 30-foot woodblock-print mural “Our Living,” about Black resilience. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the CMCA will also host “The View from Here,” featuring works by more than a dozen artists who’ve shown at the museum over the years, including Ann Craven, Lois Dodd, Linden Frederick and Steven Nguyen.
The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, farnsworthmuseum.org, 207-596-6457
In preparation for its 70th anniversary in 2023, big things are happening. “Every gallery in the entire museum will be new this year,” says director Christopher Brownawell. The museum has also embarked on an ambitious acquisitions program to cover gaps in the collection – “women, artists of color and our indigenous artists in the state,” he says. It’s already begun with “Farnsworth Forward” (through Dec. 31), an ongoing shake and shuffle of museum holdings spearheaded by former director of the CMCA Suzette McAvoy. “Ashley Bryan: Beauty in Return” (May 28 through Dec. 31) honors the beloved Maine artist, author, storyteller and teacher who died last year, by presenting his diverse body of work, from stained glass and puppets to paintings and books.
Maine Jewish Museum, Portland, mainejewishmuseum.org, 207-773-2339
“I look forward to collaborating with community partners to co-create programs and exhibitions that foster greater affinity among Jewish and non-Jewish people of all racial, ethnic and demographic backgrounds,” says the museum’s new executive director, Dawn LaRochelle. This summer’s exhibitions, up June 30 through Aug. 26, include “A flower is expected everywhere […],” (this line from an Emily Dickinson poem describes a show of photography by Jocelyn Lee and wall sculptures by Juliet Karelsen); “New York to Maine to New York,” realist paintings by the late artist Robert Solotaire); “Quiet Moments by Lawrence Elbroch,” a photography show curated by Nanci Kahn.
Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, Portland, mainemuseumofphotographicarts.org, 207-808-8919
The only museum in the state dedicated solely to photography is actually 12 years old. But this month it moved from the fifth floor of the USM Glickman Family Library to a small space on Middle Street. It is now a museum supported by a for-sale gallery, says director Denise Froehlich, and will alternate archival and commercial exhibitions. The summer will showcase four Maine photographers: Brendan Bullock, Luc Demers, Damir Parovic and John Woodruff.
Monhegan Museum of Art & History, Monhegan Island, monheganmuseum.org, 207-596-7003
This seasonal museum concentrates on the history of this famous art colony and curates one show a year (July 1 through Sept. 30). “The Odyssey of James Fitzgerald” will present watercolor and oil paintings from throughout his career, beginning with his art school days in Boston and tracing his paintings to works created in Rockwell Kent’s studio on the island, which he made his permanent residence in the 1930s (he died in 1971).
Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, ogunquitmuseum.org, 207-646-4909
“We have roots to celebrate and preserve in Ogunquit,” says new executive director Amanda Lahikainen. “We also have a broader world to engage.” To that end, staff went from two full-time employees to six, including a new associate curator of modern and contemporary American art, Devon Zimmerman, who will oversee building the permanent collection, among other duties. The summer schedule is ambitiously packed, but three shows concentrating on daring and unconventional modernist landscapes promise to be particularly interesting: “Philip Koch: Isle of Dreams” (now through July 19), “John Walker: from Low Tide to High Tide” and “Sue Miller: Personal Voyage” (both Aug. 1-Oct. 31).
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, portlandmuseum.org, 207-775-6148
With several new bequests, fresh curatorial appointments and a five-year plan for the expansion and unification of the various campus buildings, the PMA has its sights set on becoming more than just a regionally focused museum. “The North Atlantic Triennial importantly highlighted Maine’s position in a global network,” says chief curator Shalini LeGall. “It’s an exciting time to see the PMA’s strengths in American, European and contemporary art come together; as well as the growing focus on photography sparked by the promised gift of the Judy Glickman Lauder Collection.” The PMA will continue to represent work by prominent Maine artists (“Flying Woman: The Paintings of Katherine Bradford” opens June 25). But there will be more internationally attuned shows too. Among these: “The Draftsman in Society: German Expressionist Prints” (May 28 through Dec. 11), a survey of this important 20th-century movement showcasing psychological portraits, and a surrealism show.
Institute for Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design, Portland, meca.edu/about/institute-of-contemporary-art, 207-699-5029
It’s the 25th anniversary of ICA at its Congress Street location. To commemorate the milestone, Julie Poitras Santos has organized two shows (both July 15 through Sept. 18): “25 Years at the Institute for Contemporary Art,” in the front gallery, will gather posters, programs and other ephemera from archival materials spanning a quarter century of exhibitions. The two other galleries will accommodate “A Fresh Greeting Is Heard,” an exhibition that will, she says, “navigate realms between abstraction and figuration to tease out the disquiet and enchantment found in wild spaces, the magic of transformation and the tendency to see meaningful imagery in ambiguous forms.” It will feature work of painters Leon Benn and Hannah Secord Wade, ceramicist Lauren Maybery and an animated video by Alison Schulnik.
Bates College Museum of Art Lewiston, bates.edu/museum, 207-786-6158
A major HVAC system overhaul has closed the galleries for summer. But the staff has worked hard to put six virtual exhibitions online. Come fall, the museum is planning a photography show culled from a collection donated by Maine photographer Barbara Morris Goodbody, and a show of artists who draw inspiration from the museum’s extensive Marsden Hartley holdings.
Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, bowdoin.edu/art-museum, 207-725-3275
The college is always mining its astonishing trove of holdings to present them through a contemporary lens. In addition to continuing exhibitions of Wabanaki basketmaking (through Sept. 18) and three centuries of pastel drawing (through Aug. 21), the museum will present “At First Light: Two Centuries of Artists in Maine” (June 25 through Nov. 6), and a companion exhibition of photographs taken by architectural photographer Walter Smalling of the homes, studios and favored locations of 26 artists who lived and worked in Maine from the early 19th century to the present (opening May 26). What they all have in common is the way these artists and their work have shaped the way we look at the landscapes, communities and people of Maine.
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, museum.colby.edu, 207-859-5600
You thought you knew everything about Andrew Wyeth by now, right? But “Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death” (June 2 through Oct. 16) is “the first public presentation of recently rediscovered drawings in which (the) artist … imagines his own funeral,” according to the college. It’s full of surprising images like “Dr. Syn” and “Breakup.” “Alex Katz: Theater and Dance” (Aug. 16 through Feb. 19) will examine the artist’s collaborative work for the stage. “Each of these exhibitions redefines the story about these acclaimed artists,” says Carolyn Muzzy director Jacqueline Terrassa, “offering new insights into their creative process and new ways of understanding their art.” For “Sarah Cain: hand in hand,” the artist transformed the lobby into an installation that challenges our ideas of how and where art can be encountered (on walls, floors, furniture, etc.).
University of New England, Portland and Biddeford, library.une.edu/art-galleries, 207-602-3000
The university maintains two galleries, with shows curated by Maine artist Hilary Irons, usually in collaboration with a guest curator. “UNE presents art exhibitions filtered through the particular lens of the school’s academic focus on science, health and psychology,” explains Irons. “The Lives of the Jewelers” (July 1 through Oct. 9), co-curated by Maria Wolff in Portland, will showcase the work of Maine metalsmiths and their source materials, which span subjects of environmental, social and medical sciences, as well as regional history and abstraction in visual art. Biddeford hosts “Hands to Work” (June 17 through Sept. 22), an exhibition co-curated by Scout Curtin, that looks at how artists use their oeuvre to subvert, challenge and celebrate traditional women’s work.
A good number of these venues run many shows throughout the summer. Here we concentrate on just two or three of note. Please check the websites for full schedules.
Buoy, Kittery, [email protected], 207-450-2402
Duncan Hewitt will show “Nearby Invisible” (June 17 through Aug. 7), a grouping of highly idiosyncratic sculptures. Then Tessa G. O’Brien will have a solo show of her vividly colorful paintings for the remainder of the summer (opening last week in August).
Corey Daniels Gallery, Wells, coreydanielsgallery.com, 207-646-5301
This unconventional gallery is replete with things to see beyond the actual organized shows. First up is an exhibition that juxtaposes Emily Jane Hass (who explores her German family history using architectural plans of Jewish homes taken by the Nazis in Berlin) with minimalist Jeff Kellar’s sculptures (July 9 through Aug. 6). Foster Prize-winning artist Eben Haines will present installation works alongside Tim Wilson’s figural paintings (Aug. 13-Sept. 10).
George Marshall Store Gallery, York, georgemarshallstoregallery.com, 207-351-8200
Taking over as director after Mary Harding’s retirement, Kate Rasche brings new energy to this tiny gallery on a picturesque harbor with “Hold, Keep, Carry” (through June 19), where three artists “ponder themes of attachment, heirlooms and family dynamics,” and “Our Beasts,” an exhibition that presents works “at the intersection of caregiving and creating.”
Kittery Community Center, Kittery, kitterycommunitycenter.org/the-arts, 207-439-3800
Southern Maine photographer Erin Moore presents “29 Mainers” (through Aug. 31), portraits of some of the state’s Black citizens.
Alice Gauvin Gallery, Portland, alicegauvingallery.com, 207-805-1707
She’s still working out the final dates and details, but this June and July, Gauvin will have a centennial celebration of the work of Albert Kresch, who broke with Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s to return to expressionist figural painting (he died this past March). In August, Blue Hill native Lilian Day Thorpe, director of New York’s Nancy Margolis Gallery, will take over the space for a pop-up.
Cove Street Arts, Portland, covestreetarts.com, 207-808-8911
Really four galleries in one, Cove has a jam-packed summer show schedule too long to list here. But three shows of note will be “The Sensuous Line” (June 23 through Aug. 8) – curated by Lissa Hunter and spanning drawing, painting, sculpture, felt-making, weaving and other media, all united by their emphasis on the meaning of line for each artist – and “At Face Value” (July 14 through Aug. 27), a portraiture exhibit featuring painting, photography and drawing curated by Vincent Maxime Daudin. Bruce Brown is also curating “Maine Media Workshops + College” (June 11 through Aug. 1), featuring the work of 10 faculty from the renowned Rockport institution.
Dunes Gallery, Portland, dunes.fyi, 207-266-7865
This gallery opened literally days ago; that’s how new it is. It’s owned by multimedia artist Boru O’Brien O’Connell and is intentionally scrappy, he says. His first show, sculptures and wall works by Jersey City-based artist Miles Huston, is up through at least June 24 (he’s still lining up subsequent shows).
Elizabeth Moss Galleries, Falmouth and Portland, elizabethmossgalleries.com, 207-781-2620 and 207-804-0459
Established in 2004, the Falmouth location will host four shows this summer highlighting Maine painters: Ellie Barnet mixes figure and landscape to create a unique hybrid genre in the front gallery, and Nina Jerome presents light-filled landscapes in the back gallery (June 10 through July 23). Then, Lea Peterson will present her colorful landscapes and scenes of fishermen and lobstermen in the front gallery, while a duo drawing show featuring Jean Wiecha and Arnold Skolnick occupies the back (July 29 through Sept. 3). Billy Gerard Frank, a multimedia artist, filmmaker and curator born in Petite Martinique and working in New York, has been twice selected to represent Grenada in the Venice Biennale. In her Portland location, Moss will feature his mixed-media installation, “Second Eulogy: Mind the Gap” (July 8-Aug. 13), “an autobiographical de-construction and re-positioning of personal and collective memories and experiences…that ruminate on themes of exile, migration, colonialism, sexuality.”
Grant Wahlquist, Portland, grantwahlquist.com, 207-245-5732
Portland artist Leon Benn, this gallery’s headliner from June 3-July 9, has taken an exciting new turn in his works, which, according to Wahlquist, is like “a sci-fi version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Following this is Maine artist Jill Poyourow’s ongoing interrogations of cultural, personal and family histories (July 15-Aug. 20).
Greenhut Galleries, Portland, greenhutgalleries.com, 207-772-2693
On the schedule are many shows drawing on this gallery’s vast stable of artists. Four highlights of the season are solo exhibitions of Ed Douglas (the 87-year-old former chair of the Maine College of Art, who is known for his vibrantly colorful abstractions, June 2-July 2); Thomas Connolly (whose paintings of interiors are particularly magical, July 7-30); the meticulously realistic, almost Renaissance-like works of John Whalley (Aug. 4-27); and another fastidious realist, Joel Babb, who is equally attracted to depicting Maine’s wilderness and the urban wilderness of cities (Sept. 1-Oct. 1)
Ocean House Gallery, South Portland, oceanhousegallery.com, 207-956-1988
Summer kicks off with Laura Dunn’s floral prints, tiny thrown pots and an installation of woven recycled plastic bags (June 3 through July 15).
Space, Portland, space538.org, 207-828-5600
The multidisciplinary art center will marks its 20th anniversary with occasioned “Assembly,” a group show featuring the work of MCXT (the Oakland-based art duo Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra), Landon Newton (the Colorado-born photographer and multimedia artist), Emily Carris (of Vermont’s High Pastures artists’ retreat) and others. More state-based is an immersive exhibition whose run has been extended (through July 9) featuring five Maine muralists: Ryan Adams, Rachel Gloria Adams, Bee Daniel, Spencer McLeod and Kelly Rioux. With the influx of what executive director Kelsey Halliday Johnson calls the “work-from-home remotely population” she says, “I’m excited for a more international future.”
Speedwell Projects, speedwellprojects.com, 207-805-1835
It’s summer residency time at this gallery, which concentrates on supporting the work of women. Specific programming around them wasn’t ready for this preview, but the artists will be multisensory storyteller Liz Rhaney (July 8-31) and transdisciplinary Peruvian-American artist Flor Cron (Aug. 6-Sept. 4).
Zero Station, zerostation.com, 207-347-7000
Definitely off the beaten path, but with a solid exhibition history for over 20 years, this gallery always puts together interesting small shows. This summer, “Seeds of Light” (July 19-Aug. 27) will look at ways of seeing our night skies through the eyes of Caleb Charland, Luc Demers, Rachel Kats and others. There’s also a show in the works that will feature Jarid del Deo, Meg Hahn and Mali Mrozinski (dates to come).
Caldbeck Gallery, Rockland, caldbeck.com, 207-594-5935
It’s almost always a group show affair at Caldbeck, mostly un-themed and displaying a variety of styles from artists who’ve been associated with the gallery, some since its inception in 1982. This summer will feature two group exhibitions: Todd Watts, David Raymond, Bayard Hollins and Barbara Sullivan (July 1-July 31), and Lois Dodd, Kayla Mohammadi, David Dewey, Alan Crichton and Brenda Free (Aug. 5-Sept. 11).
Dowling Walsh, Rockland, dowlingwalsh.com, 207-596-0084
Works by Daniel Minter will straddle two show slots this summer (July 1-Aug. 27). The first slot will also feature paintings by Stephen Pace and a show of new works by Jenny Brillhart (July 1-30). The second has exhibitions of work by Scott Kelley and Madeleine Moriet (Aug. 5-27).
Maine Art Gallery, Wiscasett, maineartgallerywiscasset.org, 207-687-8143
The gallery dates to 1958 and presents very diverse shows throughout the summer – from shorter-run local-interest events such as “Paint Wiscasset & Plein Air” (June 29 through July 9) to monthlong surveys such as “Collective Imagination: Seven Painters” (Aug. 20 through Sept. 17), about the Seven collective of abstract Maine artists.
Perimeter Gallery, Belfast, chasesdaily.me/perimeter-gallery, 207-338-0555
This “gallery” basically rings the walls of Chase’s Daily, the beloved café on Main St. Two shows will be up this summer: “Held by a Cloud” (June 1 through July 30) will feature Shoshannah White’s “photographic mixed media images of lightning and photograms (cameraless prints) depicting magnetism.” A second show will feature the paintings of Megan Chase (Aug. 4 through Sept. 30).
River Arts, Damariscotta, riverartsme.org, 207-563-6868
This nonprofit gallery will start summer with a Members Show (June 11 through July 23), followed by an exhibit themed around Land & Sea (July 23 through Sept. 3). In its River Room, there will be smaller, more focused shows: Dennis Wilkins (June 30 through July 20), Scout Dunbar (July 21 through Aug. 10), and Betsy Palmer & Elaine Abel (Aug. 11-31).
Sarah Bouchard Gallery, Woolwich, sarahbouchardgallery.com, 207-809-9670
This by-appointment destination gallery is a secluded spot in the woods where artists and patrons “can focus on art, nature and one another.” Currently up (through June 26) is an exhibition of works by Dozier Bell (through June 26). This summer there will be solo shows of Josefina Auslander’s never-before-seen Argentinian Dirty War paintings (July 2 through Aug. 7) and Tom Butler (Aug. 13-Sept. 18).
Waterfall Arts, Belfast, waterfallarts.org, 207-338-2222
The gallery presents “The Embrace: Karen Olsen” (June 3 through Aug. 20), a solo show of “concept-based projects (that) explore the human-nature connection and its role in fostering mental health and communication.”
Courthouse Gallery Fine Art, Ellsworth, courthousegallery.com/exhibitions, 207-667-6611
Summer kicks off with sun-drenched Maine paintings by “Philip Frey: Changing the Light” (June 8 through July 8), as well as work by Judy Belasco and Matt Barter. We can also look forward to “John Imber: The Freedom of Abstraction” (Aug. 8 through Sept. 2).
Harlow Gallery, Hallowell, hallowell.org/harlow-gallery, 207-622-3813
Run by the Kennebec Valley Art Association, the focus here is on artists of Central Maine. Part craft gallery, part art space, it’s a quirky little venue that kicks off the summer with paintings and collages by Brunswick artist Erin Seegers.
Littlefield Gallery, Winter Harbor, littlefieldgallery.com, 207-963-6005
Jane and Kelly Littlefield have added four new artists to their roster this year: Sarah Lightfoot Brundage, Jeff MacDonald, Mary Prince and Lesia Sochor. A group show of their works will inaugurate the season (May 27 through July 24). These will be followed by a dual show of Joseph Haroutunian and Dan Miller (June 27 through July 24) and James Linehan, Alec Richardson and Don Best (July 25 through Aug. 21). Daniel Anselmi and Robert Pollien will usher visitors into fall (Aug. 21 through Sept. 18).
Jorge S. Arango has written about art, design and architecture for over 35 years. He lives in Portland. He can be reached at: [email protected]