Portland, Maine arts
The town of Portland, Maine really is an up-and-coming art community that has experienced its fair share of economic insecurities. Since I moved to the east coast in 1986, I have watched galleries open and then close. As the area has become less a seasonal destination, more stability has become inherent to some businesses. Art is one though that truly relies on the best economic environment.
I was in Maine to meet a friend for dinner, and I really wanted to stop at the museum in Portland and possibly hit a few galleries before wandering south to the mall.
The Portland Museum does a nice job for a small space (relative to, let’s say, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts). Along with Picasso, Braque and Cassatt, a decent collection from the Ash Can School which are in their permanent collection, they also deliver some rather respectable traveling exhibits. “John Marin” was no exception. And, I have taken a few hints from what I learned from his early-1930’s work and applied them to pieces like “Graphix”.
Alfred Stieglitz assembled a group of artists and sent them to Maine from New York to work in a few locations on the coast of Maine. Marin’s works developed a sense of greater non-representational characteristics as he worked in Maine in 1933. Steiglitz was fonder of Marin’s watercolors than his oils, as was I, though watercolor at the time was regarded as a medium to be strictly used for sketches.
Taking that bit of information and inspiration, which it certainly was, I wandered across the square and down the street to Fore River Gallery. And, since this research now has a dual-purpose, I apologize that I did not take more concrete notes about the work and conversation that I had with Mike Marks, the co-director of Fore River. He told me that the present show is retrospective for himself and his wife who own the gallery, and that they represent regional emerging artists, as well. The work represented was beautifully executed and I was impressed that the jewelry was displayed in a way that it looked more like small mixed-media pieces than necklaces.
I asked him about the seasonality of his business and he told me that there really isn’t a great connection between the weather and the business. He said that the First Friday Artwalk is very busy, and that weather also plays little into that traffic amount.
I left him with my card, and a promise to send him a CD when I get more of the “Art in Small Places” work ready to show.
I strolled down Congress from there. The art school had a show up that I breezed through. Though well-reviewed, I have seen too much like it, done more eloquently, in larger venues. Let’s face it folks, found objects, everyday stuff elevated to art…been there, done that.
My overall impressions are that I need to go back and dig more deeply into the pulse in Portland. It is there, and it does beat.
Daryl-Ann Hurst, artinsmallplaces