I can't really review the Noriko Sakanishi show at June
Fitzpatrick, partly because the schedule doesn't work out, but also because
I've written about her a lot over the years. I don't have much that's fresh to
Even so, when I got to the show recently, I got more than I
expected. I think Sakanishi is one of the best artists working in Maine today, and this is
one of the best shows I've seen by her.
Ken Noland died a few days ago, here in Maine at Port Clyde. He was nearly the last of a generation of fine painters who were looking at things in similar ways, and easily the most influential. His stripe, chevron and target paintings opened to door to a whole new way of painting for a great many others that came after, including Frank Stella, Sean Scully, Pat Lipsky, Winston Roeth and many more.
The headline in New York Times, reporting the death of Andrew Wyeth at the age of 91, said he was both ‘revered and ridiculed.' That's a fitting phrase to use, not because it's true, but because it was clearly the way Wyeth wanted it.
IFO (Arrival), the big (six by nine feet) 2004 Scott Davis painting often on view at the Portland Museum of Art, is a difficult one and takes some getting used to.
What a number - 970! Nearly a thousand entries for a juried
show in Portland, Maine. It staggers the imagination, but much
of the art world of the twenty-first century is indeed boggling.
Bob Solotaire was a fixture in art in Maine for many years. He was a very good
artist and good guy to have around. He was quirky and odd, but in a good way. I
first met him in Portland in the late 1970's and was struck by the coherence of
his landscapes, particularly the industrial constructions like views of the cement
plant in Thomaston.
The fact that the South Portland tank project was done using mass calls for artists and jury selection from hundreds of entries mark it as a provincial undertaking. In the real world, great projects aren’t done that way. Juries and mass calls are done by local arts organizations and percent-for-art projects.
Here’s the way grownups do it: You get someone who really has deep knowledge of the field, tell them the proposed budget and ask them to name some artists who could do it.
A responder to a previous post questioned my criteria for
making distinctions between good art and bad. Many gallons of ink have been
consumed on this topic, much of it by people a whole lot smarter than me, but
it’s worth considering anyway.
This is not a matter of taste. For instance, my own
preference is for abstract art, but one of the best contemporary painters I
know about is Lois Dodd, a landscape painter.
Paul wrote that my argument that made a direct comparison
from art to newspapers, and by extension if we couldn’t have good newspapers we
shouldn’t bother to have any. The function of newspapers is to provided
information for civic life. A bad newspaper is probably better than no
newspaper at all, although we may find that out soon anyway, for reasons
unrelated to my argument about art.
It’s an article of faith among art
organizations that public art is unquestionably a good thing. The fact is, most
public art is far from a good thing; most of it is plain awful.
Making art good enough to hold its own in a pubic space is special skill, and most artists, even very good artists, can’t do it. Even if
they could, most committees, and Portland’s
is no exception, can’t make a decision for quality art, even if they were
It’s in the nature of newspaper scheduling that you don’t always
get to write about those interesting events, so I haven’t had the time or
column inches to devote to a veteran painter of considerable interest, Charles
DuBack at Jameson Gallery in Portland.
His show ends this weekend, July 26, so here’s a somewhat belated appreciation.
For the past couple of decades or so quite a number of
artists have been trying to push the limits of decency in art. It’s good
business. Remember the piss Christ, the elephant-dung virgin, Mapplethorp’s
special nasties? Feces and bodily functions have been a staple of
All that derives from the artistic career model that grew
out of the avant-garde offending the sensibilities of the bourgeoisie, as
happened in Paris
in the late 19the century when Impressionism and its antecedents descendants
outraged the art public.
Robert Boorstin, a senior executive at Google, notes that
there are now 1.4 billion Internet users, and the number is growing by 250
million a year. Over 10 hours of video are uploaded to You Tube every minute of
every day. There are 3 billion mobile devices in use world wide, with another
billion coming in the next year. Boorstin described it as the largest increase
in expressive capability in history.
Word comes that a Marsden Hartley painting, Lighthouse, has
been sold at auction at Christie’s for $6.31 million, a record for an American
Modernist, as the pioneers of modernist art in this country are known. The previous record was
set for a Georgia O’Keeffe painting for slightly less in 2001.Here in Maine
we count Hartley (1877 - 1943) as one of our own.