Sunday, June 3, 2007

Biennial at the Portland Museum

While in Portland, I could not pass up the chance to see the 2007 Biennial at the Portland Museum of Art (which runs thru June 10th!). The exhibition features 98 works by 61 artists, showcasing Maine's contemporary art scene.

Thru the main entrance, on the left wall of the lobby, is a large mural by Sandy Litchfield, it is one of two paintings by the artist in the exhibition. Beautiful and substantial, the paintings vibrate back and forth between representation and abstraction. A recognizable landscape transcends to a welcoming wonderland. Pools of pigments (oil, acrylic and ink) form powerful color harmonies as they appear to both merge and repel. Sandy's work has been inspired "by summers spent on Sebago Lake as a child and in recent years with my family on Moose Pond. In the studio, I make notations of my brief journeys outside. My imagination expands my memories until the possibilities seem endless. But I keep coming back to that walk on a path with its small but remarkable moments of perception and wonder."

Another paramour in the exhibition was a painting by Gail Spaien. Influenced by American Folk Art, the tradition of Indian miniatures, and Minimalism, Spaien’s compositions combine decorative patterning and exquisite rendering to create quiet, peaceful moments. "The act of painting remains vital because it is a physically direct way of translating sensation, values, and context into visual form. My own work is humanistic and as such it is concerned with human feelings. These paintings celebrate life’s poignancy and sensations of quiet pleasure. Sincerity, homeliness, beauty, and comfort are the values embedded in the work." They serve as a much needed escape, a sanctuary.