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Indepth Arts News:

"2007 Portland Museum of Art Biennial Opens"
2007-04-12 until 2007-06-10
Portland Museum of Art
Portland, ME, USA

This April, the Portland Museum of Art will honor 61 artists whose work has been selected for the 2007 Portland Museum of Art Biennial. Three jurors chose 98 works—culled from 920 applicants—to represent the best of contemporary art in the state of Maine. The 2007 Biennial is the fifth exhibition in a series that highlights work by both emerging and established artists associated with Maine. The 2007 Portland Museum of Art Biennial will be on view from April 12 through June 10, 2007 at the Portland Museum of Art.

As a series, the Biennial exhibitions create a visual record of Maine’s evolving contemporary art scene and testify to the profound influence that the landscape, traditions, and people of Maine continue to have on living artists. The 2007 Portland Museum of Art Biennial brings more new names and new work to the contemporary art scene in Maine. Only 18 artists have exhibited in previous Biennials and this year’s exhibition includes more video, installation pieces, and photography than ever before. But by far the single largest category for both submissions and works chosen for the show continues to be painting—ranging from the figurative to the abstract.

Nature in its many manifestations has long been a staple of the artistic vocabulary in Maine. But what makes each Biennial different is the seemingly endless and yet inventive ways in which artists explore the implications of human interactions with the environment, both local and beyond. This year’s artists offer up leaves, flies, birdseed, a lone pine tree, strange sea urchins, a praying mantis, garbage dumps, and the aftermath of Katrina as their subjects. New artistic viewpoints also give us ways in which to see and interpret the modern landscape—from an aerial perspective of a credit card company parking lot to a computer circuit board that imitates an urban landscape. Images made from scraps of paper and piles of scrap combine to further remind us of the interface between nature and the man-made world. The 2007 Biennial is all about such intersections—nature and the human presence, abstraction and figuration, humor and seriousness. Understanding just where these aspects of our lives meet is what contemporary art is all about.

Last September, the jurors—Ellen Miller, founder of Miller Block Gallery in Boston; Johnnie Winona Ross, nationally recognized artist and former faculty member of the Maine College of Art; and Judith Stein, freelance curator, art critic, and author—viewed more than 3,680 slides and 37 videos in consideration for this year’s Biennial. A Jurors’ Prize will be announced at the Members’ Opening Reception on April 11, as will one or more purchase prizes awarded by the Museum’s curatorial department, which will add work from the Biennial to the permanent collection. A full-color catalogue highlighting each artist will be published in conjunction with the exhibition and will be available in the Museum Store.

The 2007 Portland Museum of Art Biennial is made possible by Bangor Savings Bank and the William E. and Helen E. Thon Endowment Fund. Media support has been provided by The Portland Phoenix.  

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