University of Maine Museum of Art prepares for two new fall exhibits

The University of Maine Museum of Art will have various art pieces on display throughout the fall season. Photo courtesy of Robin Pelkey, Staff.

The University of Maine Museum of Art will have various art pieces on display throughout the fall season. Photo courtesy of Robin Pelkey, Staff.

Fall is coming and the University of Maine Museum of Art (UMMA) is gearing up for one of their most unique exhibition seasons yet.

Beginning on Sept. 23, UMMA will open two new featured exhibitions that will run until the last day in December: “Contemporary Currents: Nine New Brunswick Artists” and “Phillip Frey: Parallels”.

Phillip Frey, the artist from the latter exhibition, is from Sullivan, Maine and his work includes many different artistic approaches, from abstract to disfigure. Frey’s medium of choice is oil paint.

“The [UMaine Art] Museum has a history of exhibiting the works of significant Maine-based artists,” George Kinghorn, UMMA director, said. “This exhibition is a point of departure from his previous works. He’s most known as a painter of Maine environments and landscapes.”

“Contemporary Currents” features nine artists who were selected by hand by Kinghorn, who also serves as curator of the exhibit. After receiving special permission from the Canadian government, Kinghorn travelled to New Brunswick to access the works of art in the New Brunswick Art Bank.

According to the Government of New Brunswick’s website, the Art Bank “celebrates the province’s excellence in the visual arts through its collection of artwork by New Brunswick artists.” The Art Bank was founded in 1968.

“Basically [the] Canadian government has a longstanding history of supporting artists through this program [the Art Bank]. They acquire works from artists that they maintain…it’s a government art collection…they have quite the quantity of works of art that is [sic] in their care,” Kinghorn said in a telephone interview.

To create “Contemporary Currents”, Kinghorn selected the nine artists by choosing some of their work from the Art Bank, which the artists then supplemented with additional works.

“It’s unique in the sense that it is a collaboration between the [University of Maine] Museum of Art and the government of New Brunswick. We’re pretty confident that this is a first-time collaboration of its type,” Kinghorn said. “This collaboration and partnership with New Brunswick was a really great example of a cross-border collaboration. We worked very closely on many aspects of the organization of the exhibition… [including] the beautiful catalogue which was published by New Brunswick. I wrote the text for the catalogue…it was a joint venture on the publication, which was over 50 pages.”

According to UMMA student intern Patrick Meunier, these nine New Brunswick artists will be receiving international recognition for simply having their pieces displayed at UMMA. Meunier also alluded to some special guests and VIPs from Canada that may be attending the gallery’s opening.

Meunier is a fifth-year student at the University of Maine and he is studying studio art and art education. He says a job like this one, mainly being able to interact with such high-profile pieces, is providing him with invaluable career experience.

“I love being able to contribute to helping get this exhibition going…what’s great about the [UMaine Art] Museum is they collect so many works, like even from famous artists like Pablo Picasso, for example. I got to handle Pablo Picasso[‘s work], which is something very few people will ever do…it’s just like, a great experience for me, being able to interact with something that most people may never touch in their lifetime,” Meunier said.

Meunier thinks that the new exhibitions will be perfect for students to see — students who describe themselves as art-centric and otherwise.

“For non-art majors, it’s a good chance for them to go and see museum exhibitions like this. The University of Maine Museum of Art is not a big museum, it’s not like the Museum of Modern Art. It’s a much smaller space…because it’s such a small gallery, they may dedicate an entire section to a single artist. Why I think it’s important for students to go see it [is] because it’s a contemporary museum, so…they’re going to see…what artists are doing today,” Meunier said. “For art majors especially, it shows them where they can go in the world. They don’t have to have their works accepted at, like, a big museum…they can go and show their art in smaller spaces like galleries on UMMA’s smaller scale.”

Kinghorn agrees.

“What’s beautiful is that the exhibition of nine New Brunswick artists aligns beautifully with our ideals, which is to present the art and ideas of our time,” Kinghorn said. “What is also unique about the exhibition is that it will provide visitors to glimpse the diversity in the art world. We have artists working in a variety of media, from photography to mixed media and working in various genres, from more experimental and conceptual art, to more painting and ceramic pieces.”

UMMA is located at 40 Harlow Street in downtown Bangor and is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to UMMA is free in 2016 and 2017, thanks to their sponsor, Deighan Wealth Advisors. For more information about UMMA and the two new exhibits, please visit their website at www.umma.umaine.edu.

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