Gail Spaien headshot

Gail Spaien


Dept. : MFA, Painting

Gail Spaien is known for making paintings that depict an idealized view of the natural world and a denial of unpleasant things. Her use of sentimental imagery transforms extreme emotion to a restrained strength. Spaien’s recent body of work examines the symbolism and contradiction embedded in the floral still-life tradition touching on themes of well-being and mortality, labor and leisure, and pleasure and denial. She investigates this traditional genre as a commentary on the complexities of our time and a continuation of her interest in the intersection of nature and culture. For the passing viewer, the work prolongs the fleeting quality of the natural world, offering a moment of repose during a scheduled day.

Gail Spaien is an artist and educator. Through the discipline of painting she interprets the natural world from different perspectives; as observed specimen, as aesthetic concept, as metaphor and as a subject that can represent ephemeral experience. She has been granted numerous fellowships including the Djerassi Foundation Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA, Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, NY and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Spaien’s group exhibitions include the DeCordova Museum of Contemporary Art, in Lincoln, MA, Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, ME, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, in California, Crocker Art Museum, in Sacramento,CA, Jack Meier Gallery in Houston, TX, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA in Portland, ME.

Her one and two person exhibitions include Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, ME, Vanier Gallery in Tuscon, AZ, Aucocisco Gallery in Portland, ME, George Marshall Store Gallery of the Old York Historical Society in York, ME, and Ellen Miller Gallery in Boston, MA. Reviews and mentions in in notable publications include New American Painting (1999, and again in 2015, juror Michelle Grabner); Sharon Butler’s on-line publication Two Coats of Paint (2014), Art New England (2010, 2005), the Portland Press Herald, the Boston Globe, and Down East Magazine. Spaien’s work is in the collections of Fidelity Investments, University of New England, the University of Southern Maine, Intuit Corporation and Portland Museum of Art. Her paintings will be the focus of two upcoming solo exhibitions: Still-Lifes and Botanicals at the Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, ME, and In a Floating World at the Maine Jewish Museum, Portland, ME, and will be included in a new book that features 100 Maine artists entitled Contemporary Perspectives: Maine Art New, published by the University of Maine Press.

She received her BFA from the University of Southern Maine and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and is affiliated with the Miller Yezerski Gallery in Boston and the George Marshall Store Gallery in Maine. She resides with her husband and daughter in South Portland, Maine.

Gail’s Website