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Posted: 2011-04-21

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For the second year in a row, the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art won the Portland Phoenix Best Art Gallery award, as determined by readers. From the Phoenix:  "The ICA had a big year. They brought in a new director (Daniel Fuller), staged impressive off-site video screenings on big screens at Portland Pirates games, and stuffed their gigantic gallery rooms with six heaping platters of conceptual art, from trippy motion-sensor mirrors, towering handblown glass statues, and one very provocative labyrinth. No gallery in Portland covers more ground, takes more chances, or appeals to a broader crowd. Best of all: it's right in the center of town."

Faculty Member Philip Brou wins PMA Purchase Prize

Posted: 2011-04-08

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At the members’ opening reception for the 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial on Wednesday evening, April 6, five prizes were awarded to artists in the exhibition. The Purchase Prizes were awarded four artists: Philip Brou (MECA Painting faculty) for Black Box; James Groleau for Arbil Rubia Riyadh and Sinjar Karbala Basra; Siri Sahaj Kaur for Kristie; and Don Voisine (attended ‘73) for High Time. The Purchase Prizes are chosen by select members of the Museum’s Collection Committee and will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection. The William E. and Helen E. Thon Jurors’ Prize of $4,000 was awarded to artist Michael Shaughnessy for Cascade, Current and Pool (For the Vanquished Falls of the Presumpscot River).

Biennials at the Portland Museum of Art have evolved since 1998 and have gained in popularity as one of the foremost venues for contemporary art in the state. The three jurors—Jim Kempner, Owner and Director of Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York; David Row, a painter based in New York and Maine; and Joanna Marsh, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.—chose 65 works by 47 artists culled from more than 900 applicants. Of the artists chosen, nine have particiapted in previous Biennial exhibitions. The 2011 Biennial is the seventh in a series that showcases the best in today’s art world by artists associated with Maine, from digital video to painting, installation to photography, sculpture to prints, and more. The 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial is on view April 7 through June 5, 2011 at the Portland Museum of Art. 

Image: Black Box by Philip Brou.

FOREST at ICA at MECA

Posted: 2011-04-07

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FOREST will transform the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA into a hive of activity from April 19 to 22. Visual and performing artists, students and friends will develop hands-on programs and activities to engage students and the public in unconventional and imaginative ways.

TUESDAY, APRIL 19

WORKSHOP: Fairy House Building

9am-Noon
Drop-in. All Ages.
Learn how to build small natural habitats from natural materials to attract fairies and their animal friends. Families will be provided with natural materials on site.

FILM SCREENINGS:
9am-8pm

Tree Falling in the Forest
Thomson’s Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest, 2005–2006. For this work, the artist made six one-minute studies of spruce trees falling in a forest in Alberta, Canada, which he separated with lengths of blank leader film that complicate any implicit figure/ground structure. The falling-tree footage is lulling, but the tranquil space the piece creates is nevertheless unstable. It calms, then creates bristling anxieties, calms again, and then makes you anxious again.

I came here on my own
I came here on my own, their current video and performance work-in-progress. The project, which contains two discrete but related pieces, features a series of live duet performances and an accompanying multi-channel video work. Robbinschilds was formed by choreographers, Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs in 2003. The company creates performance and video works for diverse venues including the stage, gallery or "site". Focused on presenting highly visual time-based works, robbinschilds explores the juncture between architecture or place, and human interaction.

Dead River Rough Cut
3:30pm-5:30pm
Bob Wagg and Walter Lane live in a tarpaper shack, hunting, fishing, trapping and logging with oxen. They prefer the sounds of the birds to the roar of highway traffic, and scorn the money-chasing of city life. Covering a period of four seasons in the remote backwoods of Maine, Dead River Rough Cut presents a revealing look at an individual way of life. Wagg  and Lane earn a living and accept their isolation for the independence it allows them. But not everyone would want to draw water from a hole in the ice. They share their reflections about women, politics, taxes, the lone life and death. www.deadriverroughcut.com

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20  

FILM SCREENING: Tree Falling in the Forest + I came here on my own
9am-8pm (All Day Screenings)

SCREEN PRINTING: Raising Forests
Noon-3pm
Drop-in. All Ages.
Raising Forests is an educational interactive piece in which the public is encouraged to screen print their own ‘tree’ that will be installed in the ICA at MECA, collaboratively creating a three-dimensional forest.

VISITING ARTIST LECTURE: Cole Caswell
4pm-5pm
An artist lecture by MECA MFA Alum Cole Caswell. Cole uses forms of interpretation to understand the forest as an ecological patch, habitat, and place of exploration.
www.colecaswell.com

WORKSHOP: Permaculture Class
6pm-8pm
Join us for a free permaculture class presented by Portland’s favorite fermentation center/garden laboratory and micro apiary -
Urban Farm Fermentory.

THURSDAY, APRIL 21

FILM SCREENING:Tree Falling in the Forest + I came here on my own
9am-8pm

WORKSHOP: Woodland Crown Workshop
9am-10:30am
Drop-in. All Ages.
"Many hundreds of years ago two children discovered the secret of what the Fairies wore at their parties to celebrate the passing of the Seasons...." Come create a beautiful crown from woodland materials and wildflowers.

WORKSHOP: A Circle’s Journey
3:30PM - 5:30PM
Musicians, artists and scientists, Emilia Dahlin and Aaron Frederick have traveled the world as part of a global journey they took with the organization “Beyond Boundaries” dedicated tto experiential education, cross-cultural community exchange, leadership development and a deep personal and collective inquiry into the pressing issues and needs of our times. Through holding a circle (think: round table discussion) Emelia and Aaron will provide a space to talk about the issues of FOREST in Maine.

LAUNCH + LECTURE: Public Engagement’s Launching and Lineage with guest Khenmo Drolma
6:00PM - 7:30PM
From 6-6:15pm we will be celebrating/announcing the launch of MECA’s new Public Engagement Minor. From 6:15-7pm, Khenmo Drolma, the first Buddhist Abbess in North America started a nunnery in Vermont. She started the Public Engagement work at MECA 22 years ago and we are honored to welcome her back to speak about art, public engagement, art in the world, education and how it all began for her.

FRIDAY, APRIL 22

FILM SCREENING:Tree Falling in the Forest + I came here on my own
9am-8pm

WORKSHOP: Earthday Grow-Your-Own
11am-2pm
Drop-in. All Ages.
Head to the FOREST in the ICA at MECA for a gardening workshop that will get you ready for the springtime growing season. Get your hands dirty while starting seedlings and learn about how to grow your own indoor garden.

SCREEN PRINTING: Raising Forests
4pm-11pm
Drop-in. All Ages.
Raising Forests is an educational interactive piece in which the public is encouraged to screen print their own ‘tree’ that will be installed in the ICA at MECA, collaboratively creating a three-dimensional forest.

FOREST DANCE PARTY
8pm-11pm
The ICA at MECA opens its doors for one of the largest dance parties of the year - FOREST. Pull out your flannel, fairy wings, lumberjack gear. It doesn't matter. Just be there. Dance in trees dj’ed by Ian Paige with prizes for best costume provided by Rogues Gallery. Featuring a photo booth, costume contest, forest inspired food and drink, art making, and lots of nuts and berries.

Blue Wrap Project Runway

Posted: 2011-04-04

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MECA students in Christina Bechstein's 3-D Foundation class used their skills to transform discarded medical supplies into sculptural elements for a fundraiser. For Blue Wrap Project Runway, Partners for World Health recruited artists to create apparel and design elements for a fashion show to raise money for medications in the third world.

Participating MECA students: Liz Long, Rosie Allard, Bobbie Bennett, Sarah Capra, Casie Costanzo, Stephie Farrell, Jodi Ferry, Christina Hill, Haley Merchant, Timeiqua Nixon, Kayla Pinkham, Chris Snowman, David Twiss, Chris Vales, Josiah Webber, Charlotte Whiteley, Eric Wilbur, Gabriella Sturchio, Kyle DiMare, Laura Gertner, Madeline Gantos, Jeremiah Ray, Matt Rand, Molly McDermott, Maggie Muth, Maureen Patrick, Harlan Chrichton,Cynthia Chang, Amanda Merrill, Jessica Wheeler, Isaac Atkins, Lauren Sobolewski, Megan Anthony, Jackie Caswell, Frankie Leonard, Emily Bourne, Trystan Stofel, Lindsay Stevens, Liz Leino, Kayla Richardson, Kaitlin Callender, Cece Cassidy, Adam Schepker, Beth Schneider, Olivia Chartier, Sabrina Volante, Emmalee Dennison,  Nickola Cole, Sheridan Cudworth, Jacquelyn Eftink, Emily Henderson, David Long, Jenny Maas, Gabriel Mangold, Danya Pugliese, Amanda Reddington, Carina Romo, Allen West.
Business Partners: 
Compositions and owner James McBride
Diversified Business Communications 
MECA Alumna: Diane Wren
MECA staff and faculty: Christina Bechstein, Ling-Wen Tsai, Alex Rheault,  Kate Hassett

Article in Maine Sunday Telegram

Image: MECA students Rosie Allard, Sarah Capra, Carly Soos, Liz Long and Judi Ferry stand in front of the nature-inspired art objects they created using blue wrap.

MFA Alum Exhibitions

Posted: 2011-04-01

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Alexandra Silverthorne MFA '10 will exhibit selections from her series A Building in Which… in a three-person exhibition at the BlackRock Center for the Arts. In addition she is finishing a book of photographs and short writings from her MidNights series.  The book features an essay by Jayme McLellan, Director of Civilian Art Projects, and a discussion with Montreal-based curator Rebecca Duclos. The book will be published in Summer 2011. In August, Silverthorne will participate in HiFi vs. LoFi at Lala Gallery in Lafayette, Indiana.

Image: Photos from Silverthorne's thesis exhibition at the ICA at MECA in 2010.

MECA to Participate in Press Conference and Public Forum on Mural Removal

Posted: 2011-04-01

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Maine College of Art is one of the sponsors of the press conference in Augusta to speak about the need to return artist Judy Taylor's mural to the Department of Labor in Augusta. MECA President Don Tuski will give brief remarks. The press conference and rally will take place in the Hall of Flags in Augusta at noon on April 4.

In addition, the College is one of the sponsors of the public forum entitled “Whose Art Is It?” at the Portland Museum of Art. This will be a round-table discussion about public ownership of public art and the controversial removal of the mural from Maine’s Department of Labor. Participants will include: Mark Bessire, Director of the Portland Museum of Art; Sharon Corwin, Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art; Christina Bechstein, Sculpture Professor and Director of Public Engagement at Maine College of Art; and Chris O’Neil, Government Relations Consultant for the Portland Community Chamber. Invitations were extended to Governor Paul LePage, who is unable to attend and to artist Judy Taylor, who has respectfully declined. A moderator for the forum will be announced next week. This free event is co-sponsored by the Portland Museum of Art, Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin college art museums, and the Maine College of Art. The discussion takes place at the museum on Friday, April 8, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Visiting Monks to Construct Sand Mandala for Compassion

Posted: 2011-04-01

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The Joanne Waxman Library is honored to host Geshe Gendun Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, and Sonam Dhargyal, a former monk and mandala master, while they create "A Sand Mandala for Compassion."  Co-sponsored by MECA and the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine and coordinated by Joan Uraneck in her role as MECA's Intern Chaplain, this event involves the creation of multi-colored sand mandala in the library. The schedule of activities from April 11 to April 17:

Opening ceremony and prayers for peace
April 11th at 2 pm

Daily schedule for April 12 -16
Morning prayers: 8:30am
Mandala creation: 9 am to 4:30 pm
Evening prayers : 4 pm
Dharma talks: 7 pm in Osher Hall

The Closing ceremony and procession to the sea
April 17th at 2 pm:  outside the library

MECA Responds to Mural Removal

Posted: 2011-03-30

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Maine College of Art believes that art and artists play a critical role in society. The removal of the mural from the Department of Labor in Augusta illustrates just how powerful art can be: it can incite controversy, galvanize communities, inspire dialogue, and serve as a catalyst for social change.

As part of their arts education at MECA, our students learn to understand and respect process because it is a crucial component of any civil society.

Governor LePage’s demonstrated lack of respect for the process of commissioning artwork is an act of censorship.

In the original call for art, the Department of Labor asked for a mural in which “the value and dignity of workers and their critical role in creating the wealth of the state and nation should be emphasized. In essence, Maine workers should strongly be portrayed as more than an ‘impersonal cost of production.’” It was the responsibility of the art review committee, consisting of representatives from the Department of Labor, to select the proposal which best met these criteria. They selected Judy Taylor who created the site-specific artwork depicting the requested theme.

Four years later, newly elected Governor LePage reacted to the content of the mural calling it “one-sided” and had it removed it from the lobby of the Department of Labor and asked instead for a neutral decor. Art is not decoration, nor is it neutral. It is provocative and should elicit a response from individuals. It is not created to please all who view it. Art, like democracy, allows for differing opinions, for discourse, for expression of personal beliefs.

Art serves as a mirror that reflects a moment in time. This mural captures a piece of history. Governor LePage did not like what he saw.  By removing the mural, he smashed that mirror – an attempt to rewrite history.

This public mural is meant for the people of Maine. Maine College of Art requests that Governor LePage respect the process by which the artwork was selected and installed.  Put the mural back.


Donald L. Tuski, Ph.D.
President
Maine College of Art
Portland, Maine

Illustration Student Work in Maine Magazine

Posted: 2011-03-24

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Illustration professor Mary Anne Lloyd wanted to give her students professional experience. While classroom assignments are helpful for building skills, she knew that real world assignments would provide a different lesson. So she contacted Ashley O'Brion, the art director of Maine Magazine, to see if there was a chance to collaborate.

Ashley said, "Mary Anne Lloyd pitched the idea to me and I loved it. Our magazine is all about mirroring the talents of the state. We see MECA as an incubator of young talent and wanted to find a way to incorporate the junior Illustration class into a spring issue. Our April poetry section was perfect because we had three opportunities for students' work to be featured. Not to mention, we all know that real world experiences are some of the best tools for teaching."

In the classroom, students create draft illustrations, review them with their professor and peers in a critique and then incorporate feedback to present the next draft. Sometimes that feedback means reworking an existing sketch, other times it means going back and starting from scratch on a whole new idea.

Ashley came to the classroom and asked each student to do three concept sketches. She gave feedback and chose one concept from each student to work into a final piece. She said, "One student created a sketch that I loved. When I received the final, it was a completely different piece. In a classroom situation, not dealing with clients or art directors, that can fly, but in real life, it doesn’t. We sent the student back, over HIS weekend to the drawing board to get that perfect portrait we had seen in his sketches. I think through that experience, he learned how important it is to listen to feedback and incorporate it. It can mean losing a job. As an illustrator, you have to be adaptable. Sometimes you’ll disagree, but at the end of the day, you’re often working for someone, not yourself, and to keep money in the bank, you have to be tuned into your client’s feedback."

In the end, all fourteen juniors submitted sketches. Wyatt Barr, Bridget Dunigan, and Mike Grass were selected to illustrate the article on national poetry month.

ICA Screens Film on Women Pop Artists

Posted: 2011-03-21

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As part on their ongoing film screening series for the year, the ICA at MECA will show the documentary "Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968."

Made as a companion to the traveling exhibition of the same name, the film reflects the depth of women's contribution to the Pop Art movement. Featured artists include Pauline Boty, Faith Ringgold, Marisol Escobar, Idelle Weber and Niki deSaint Phalle.

The film, along with another video by Amsterdam-based artist Maria Pask, will be shown on March 24 at 6pm. Originally scheduled to screen in the ICA at MECA, it will now be shown in Osher Hall.


Students Participate in Blue Wrap Project

Posted: 2011-03-17

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Maine College of Art students will participate in Blue Wrap Project Runway. The project aims to raise funds and awareness about the health care system locally and globally. Maine nurse Elizabeth McLellan is the founder of Partners for World Health, an organization that salvages discarded medical supplies and delivers them to third world countries. One such discarded medical supply is blue wrap, a fabric that is used to keep surgery tools protected and sterilized. Once the tools are used, the wrap is discarded. Thousands of tons are discarded annually. Partners for World Health worked with the local arts community to repurpose the blue wrap into objects of art, design and fashion for a fundraiser. Students were presented with the challenge: What can artists, citizens and problem solvers do to work with this material that will be around for a long time? How to make it beautiful and useful so that in the long term we can prevent the plastic material from clogging up the landfills? Students worked with local designers to create sculptural flowers and vines that will garnish the entryway to the Blue Wrap Project Runway show.

Blue Wrap Project Runway takes place at the Portland Museum of Art on March 30 at 6pm. Admission is $50 and all ticket sales are in advance. To buy your ticket please visit partnersforworldhealth.org or call 207.885.1011. No ticket sales at the door. All funds raised will go towards the purchase of medication for the third world.

Portland Press Herald article

Author Talk and Booksigning for Book on Hinduism

Posted: 2011-03-15

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Phil Goldberg will give a talk about his new book, just out from Doubleday, "American Veda: From Emerson and The Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West". This will be a fun talk about Goldberg's look into the popular history of how Hinduism has influenced American culture, in the past and right now. The talk will be followed by a book signing. This event is co-sponsored by the Academic Studies Department at MECA, The Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, Sadhana Meditation Center, and Longfellow Books. The talk will be held in Osher Hall on March 28 at 7pm. Admission is free.

Students Participate in Craftboston

Posted: 2011-03-15

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Woodworking & Furniture Design students will work with faculty member Matt Hutton during the month of March to prepare a booth for Craftboston. Presented annually by the Society of Arts and Crafts, this event features 200 contemporary craft artists. Craftboston brings together the finest professional artists working in craft today, emerging artists from leading schools and universities, international artists, book sellers, non-profit craft organizations and educational lectures. The show will take place March 25-27, 2011 at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center.

Image: Painted ash piece by junior John Nelson.

Illustration Student Exhibition at Art Haus

Posted: 2011-03-07

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Eleven Illustration seniors will exhibit their work at Art Haus on Pleasant Street in Portland. The show "10 x 10 by 11" includes work by Alysa Avery, Seamus Doherty, Thomas Dowling, Erica Gammon, Juliana Lawrence, Cynthia Norrie, Briana Ring, Joe Rosshirt, Elise Smorcewski, Lori Stebbins and Bret Weese. All work is 10 x 10 inches. Styles are diverse and evidence a broad range of interests and formats.  Imaginary and invented creatures and characters, landscapes and figures in watercolor and acrylic paint, digital media, and three dimensional sculptured objects are among illustrations in various formats such as editorial, children's book, cartoon, representational, horror, and fantasy.

Visiting Artist: Sara Singh

Posted: 2011-03-07

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Artist Sara Singh will screen her documentary "The Sky Below" in Osher Hall on April 7 at 3:30pm. The film is a contemporary exploration of the creation of Pakistan and the 1947 Partition of the Indian Subcontinent. weaving together 5000 years of culture, while investigating the lingering after-effects of this six-decade old political divide, most tragically witnessed by Kashmir. With her life in the hands of strangers and sometimes gunmen, Singh traveled from the desert of Kutch to the snowy mountains of Kashmir; and from the seaside city of Karachi to the spare but volatile terrain of the Khyber Pass.

Photo Students in Boston Exhibition

Posted: 2011-03-07

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Four MECA photographers were juried into the Photographic Resource Center Student Exhibition in Boston. Students Emma Sampson, Beatrice Abbott, Gabriella Sturchio, and Graham Almstead will display work at PRC from April 14 through May 8. The show highlights student photography from colleges and universities throughout New England.

Image credit: Emma Sampson

Professor Jamie Hogan Illustrates New Book

Posted: 2011-03-01

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Professor and Peaks Island resident Jamie Hogan illustrated "Ice Harbor Mittens," a Maine tale of adventure on the sea by author Robin Hansen. Hansen, who was born on Great Diamond Island, wrote the book about the connection between knitting and island life. Hogan's original illustrations for the book are  on display at Knit Wit in Portland until March 13. Both Peaks Island and Great Diamond Island can be accessed by taking the Casco Bay Ferry, located in downtown Portland. "The folks here and icy waters were great inspiration for my art for Ice Harbor Mittens," said Hogan.

Visiting Artist: Ellen Driscoll

Posted: 2011-02-25

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Visiting Artist Ellen Driscoll will give a free pubic lecture on March 11 at 6pm in the ICA at MECA. Driscoll's sculptures, drawings, and installations explore resource consumption and material lineage. Her latest multi-part, multi-year project, FASTFORWARDFOSSIL highlights the relationship between water and oil consumption and was displayed at the Smack Mellon Gallery in Brooklyn, NY and Frederike Taylor Gallery, New York, NY. Driscoll's previous work includes installations such as “The Loophole of Retreat” (Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris), and “Passionate Attitudes” (Threadwaxing Space, New York), public art projects such as “As Above, So Below” for Grand Central Terminal, a suite of 20 mosaic and glass works for the tunnels at 45th, 47th and 48th streets, “Catching the Drift”, a women’s restroom for the Smith College Museum of Art, and “Aqueous Humour”, a kinetic sculpture for the South Boston Maritime Park. Driscoll has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Anonymous Was a Woman, the LEF Foundation, and Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute. Ellen Driscoll is currently the head of the sculpture department at Rhode Island School of Design.