Friday, April 1, 2011


Portland, Maine is one of those cities that looks like it fell out of snow globe – kind of spherical, yes, but it’s graced with beautiful water views, a killer culinary scene, and of course, great art. On a recent trip to visit a handful of excellent Mainer artists, the Biennial team stopped in at two very tucked away but smart exhibitions. One was in the silent study room at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library (a challenge for a chatty viewer like myself). The Storytellers, curated by Henry Wolyniec, features 8 Maine artists who address the form and content of narrative objects. Highlights included Greta Bank’s (2010 deCordova Biennial Artist) Cashmere Roadkill, a remarkable fusion of Grecian urn painting via meticulous hand-stitched leather-work which comes together in a semi-human figure that signals both the grotesque and beautiful side of humanity. “The piece is the perfect metaphor, the abused flesh fashioned into a statement about abuse” notes Wolyniec. Other notables included Adriane Herman’s Plunder the Influence project that sets out to document people’s bookshelves. The “stacks” site is a must-visit procrastination tool for anyone with a slight hint of intellectual voyeurism in them.

Cashmere Roadkill, detail, by Greta Bank.

The next stop was Portland’s gem – Space – a well-rounded arts space that manages to balance films, music, theater, and fantastic visual art shows making it perhaps one of the strongest alternative art spaces in not only Maine but New England. While we caught the last days of Cannonball Press’s impressive display of fun, cheap prints-for-all, stop in later this month to see The Sketchbook Project, a mobile library of over 10,000 artists’ sketchbooks. Imagine that…

- Dina Deitsch