Visitors to the University of Maine’s Museum of Art this semester will find three brand new exhibits featuring work from eight new artists from across North America. From Joan Belmar’s otherworldly “Way Stations” compositions to the poplar wood creations of Rachel Hellmann, the Museum of Art brings creative minds together for a new academic year.
One of the exhibits, “Studio Visit,” is a new idea that brings back previously displayed artists with six total new works. The lack of a solid theme helps expand the range of pieces, from geometric compilations of fantastical, hard-edged, boldly colored shapes to chaotic, eccentric forms dashed onto canvas with a wild hand and wilder eye. One of the latter is a featured piece from Alfred Gisholt. It features a deep black background, almost an abyss, accented with shapes with just enough form of their own to suggest to the eye that they could be anything the viewer wants them to be. With “Art Studio 1,” Gisholt seems to have created a piece that could believably be just about anything the viewer wants to see. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the woodworking talents of Rachel Hellmann, who brings three-dimensional works of acrylic on poplar wood to the “Studio Visit” exhibition. “Glance,” a sharply defined creation of a geometric nature, looks almost like an alien creation, something so incredibly unique and fascinating that it seems almost to take up the viewer’s entire eye.
Joan Belmar, on the other hand, is a master of the art of a seemingly entirely new genre. Belmar’s creations make heavy use of circles and almost topographic features. Ranging from circular pieces taller than a person to sheets of paper hardly larger than a placemat, Belmar has created a number of works that bring to mind a combination of NASA-esque topographic maps and a serious acid trip. Overlapping circles make up the background of his pieces, and in some circles, grids are overlaid in an almost three-dimensional pattern. Waves and splashes of ink move over the circles in a pattern reminiscent of the storms on Venus. In one piece, “New Constellations/Red,” one could swear that the background is a satellite image of Jupiter. The Chilean native opens the viewer’s eye to what else might just be out there.
“Circles…suggest, like a Russian doll that contains one inside the other, world or way stations within other worlds,” Belmar says of his pieces.
Two enormous works hang on a wall of their own, circular pieces easily six feet in diameter. They seem to map out a planet arising from an artist’s active mind, something nobody will ever see until the ink splashes down on the paper.
While Belmar brings to life imaginary scenes of an otherworldly galaxy, Nina Jerome takes her inspiration from the very forests of her residence. Her exhibition, titled “Entangled,” showcases the order-in-chaos of nature. One piece, made up of 9 individual panels, measures 7 feet, 6 inches by 7 feet, 6 inches. The enormous grid of panels features a tangle of blue, gray and black vines, throwing themselves about the piece with wild abandon unique to the wilderness of New England. The compositions range from dream-like scenes of invading vines and branches to a beautifully life-like rendering of a tree trunk wound up in reddish vines. This piece, called “Entangled Spring,” is accompanied by a charcoal sketch, “Study for Entangled Spring,” which provides a unique and interesting look in at the progression of a piece that many people might assume was an unplanned product of a creative mind. The bones of “Entangled Spring” are evident in the study, and it is clear that one is the product of another. Though “Entangled Spring” is a depiction of the wild tendencies of the brush, there is a certain harmony in the disarray of the vines swarming around the trunk. It’s an interesting composition and one that is certainly worth a visit on its own.
The UMaine Museum of Art will display these exhibitions until Dec. 21 of this year. From Joanne Freeman’s “Untitled 1,” a small but incredible array of bold colors and hard-edged forms, to the extra-terrestrial dreamscape nature of Joan Belmar’s work, there’s an exhibition for just about every taste. Admission is free, and with its location in Bangor, the Museum of Art is a solid hit for anybody looking for a cultural activity on the weekend.