UMaine Museum of Art announces Summer Exhibitions

The University of Maine Museum of Art, located at 40 Harlow Street in downtown Bangor, opens four new exhibitions in May. UMMA is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and brings modern and contemporary art to the region, presenting approximately 12 original exhibitions each year. UMMA’s summer shows open to the public on May 25 and run through September 1, 2018. Admission to the Museum of Art is free in 2018 thanks to the generosity of Deighan Wealth Advisors.

Helen O’Leary (American, born Ireland 1961) Safe House, 2017-2018, Egg tempera and oil emulsion on constructed wood

SAFE HOUSE: HELEN O’LEARY
May 25 – September 1, 2018

Safe House features the works of Irish-born artist Helen O’Leary, who lives and works in Hoboken, New Jersey. O’Leary’s constructions straddle the territories between painting and sculpture. Many of her freestanding works are arranged on tabletops, and when joined with other wall-oriented compositions, create a lively and engaging installation. Created of wooden strips, plywood, cotton duct and other materials, these works share each other’s space while asserting their own unique, yet quirky stance. “I knit with wood,” O’Leary states, “building and building the painting out of the ruin of its own making. Each piece is cobbled together from the chiseling of earlier attempts.”

O’Leary’s works are raw, yet intuitively assembled, and imbued with soul. Flat wooden cutout shapes are joined together through notched-out sections, while rough sticks are fashioned into supports like complex armatures. These re-purposed materials reveal their histories– imperfections celebrated while coming together like puzzle pieces. Some of O’Leary’s constructions incorporate expansive planes of color. In these, the artist has crafted and applied a sophisticated paint mixture to render surfaces like an almond that’s been coated with sugar to reveal a hardened, smooth shell.

Diana Schmertz (American, born 1973) Origin Stories, 2017, Oil paint on 556 2″ diameter wood tondos, Courtesy of the artist

THEY ARE EACH OTHER FOR A WHILE: DIANA SCHMERTZ
May 25 – September 1, 2018

They Are Each Other For A While, features an array of paintings by New York City-based artist Diana Schmertz. The artist’s work balances “emotional reasoning and intellectual logic” to allow viewers to explore ‘the self’ in relation to the world, while utilizing visual systems that aim to challenge belief structures.

A focal point of the exhibition is Origin Stories, a wall installation that depicts 556 human navels painted on two-inch diameter circular wooden panels. These belly buttons represent the specific individuality of every human being—while the tondo format symbolizes mathematical order for the artist. This piece challenges the viewer to consider their own self in relation to others. Focusing on what unites, the artist has depicted various bodies and skin colors that look beyond social hierarchies—or thoughts fueled solely by history and politics.

The Uncertainty Principle, a large-scale canvas measuring 7½’ x 9’, highlights intimate moments of human interaction. Schmertz often chooses the body as a principle subject “because we filter everything we perceive through our physical senses.” Her realistically rendered images are painted in the confines of circular areas arranged in a grid. When viewed close up the sensitively rendered details of each circular moment are revealed; while from a distance the composition reads as an expansive white field populated by a grid of flesh colored dots.

 

Steve Bartlett (American, born 1961) Crosscut, 2017, Ash, stain, paint, varnish, Courtesy of the artist

WORKS FROM 2013-2018: STEVE BARTLETT
May 25 – September 1, 2018

Maine-based artist Steve Bartlett has created a dynamic environment that features large-scale floor sculptures, wall-mounted compositions, and small objects. The exhibition also features several never-before-seen sculptures created in 2017 and 2018. Bartlett’s sculptures are crafted from ash, oak and walnut, and display the artist’s impeccable craftsmanship and inherent joy in the creative process. He utilizes steam-bent techniques for shaping and constructing the complex curves of the varied forms. Bartlett explains his sculptural process as “intuitive and evolutionary.” While the forms are enigmatic, they are also rooted in nature; their character and gestures seem to reference organic flora. A symbiotic relationship exists between the artist’s ideas and his chosen media. The work in his studio evolves in a fluid manner as the unique character of materials inform the final outcome.

Central to Bartlett’s recent works is the introduction of hard-edged painted areas, primarily in black and white. These painted elements, in the form of bands and circular notations, accentuate the curved shapes to create bold and unexpected graphic overlays. Bartlett explains “there is no direct message in his sculptures” and that he “simply hopes to engage and provoke the imagination” through organic and geometric shapes.

Eric Lindveit (American, born 1964) Installation view, Courtesy of the artist

SYLVAN NATURAL HISTORY: ERIC LINDVEIT
May 25 – September 1, 2018

In Sylvan Natural History, New York City-based artist Eric Lindveit exhibits an array of dimensional works on paper in which things aren’t quite as they appear. Inspired by a series of hand-colored illustrated books published in 1842 depicting the flora and fauna of New York, Lindveit has created scaled-up versions of New York City trees. What is surprising is that these enlarged views of varied bark are constructed from pencil, acrylic, flocking, sawdust, paper, and burlap over steel box springs. Lindveit has rendered the details of these trees, and in some cases their blemishes, in striking detail. Many appear to have suffered trauma—branches cut, wounds to the bark, irregular growths, knots, and protuberances, while some serve as hosts to opportunistic fungi.

Some of the sculptures are displayed in crate-like frames that are stacked to create a monumental wall structure. Lindveit explains, “When the work is believable, it becomes somehow real, no matter how improbable. I am making greatly exaggerated composite portraits that combine my interest in surface, identity, entropy, and the skin of paint. They belong to the built environment.” These stacks occupy an entire expanse of wall like an altar, inviting the viewer to see these sculptures in relationship to architecture. We are left to ponder the artifice of a built environment in contrast to our experiences and relationship with the natural world.

Admission to the Museum of Art is FREE in 2018 thanks to the generosity of Deighan Wealth Advisors.

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