From Aug. 4 to Dec. 23, the Zillman Art Museum (ZAM), previously the University of Maine Museum of Art, is showing their summer and fall exhibitions featuring artists JoAnne Carson, Marcie Jan Bronstein and selections from the museum’s permanent collection, Maine Inspired: Art Luminaries at the Bicentennial. Encompassing a wide array of mediums including sculpture, watercolor, etchings and photographs, ZAM appeals to every audience during this show.
Bronstein’s “Being Here” allows the viewer to escape through her sensitive usage of negative space in her collection of watercolor paintings and tranquil spaces. The use of organic architecture and natural tones which are seen behind layered veils ground the viewer as an invitation to observe and explore the narrative behind her abstract sense of place.
“Some pieces are abstract in the sense, but they open up a lot of possibilities to the viewer, as some look almost architectural, others look like stairs, rope ladders and polished sea stones,” George Kinghorn, ZAM’s Director and Curator, said. “In many, there are portals where you simultaneously look at, and beyond the piece to go through portals seen in her compositions which are absences of watercolor.”
As a local artist from Belfast, the body of Bronstein’s works were created specifically for the current exhibition, and are being seen publicly for the first time.
Carson’s “Wood Nymphs” showcases large, whimsical sculptures which take viewers by surprise. With incredible attention to detail, Brooklyn-based Carson carefully freezes fairy-tale scenes both in vivid color and neutral, striking tones, making her work fun and accessible for those of all ages.
“As you come in, you navigate around the piece called ‘Chlorophylia.’ It’s a large-scale piece where [Carson’s] very inventively used different types of materials from plaster and fabric to Sculpey-type clay. She combines a lot of different types of materials, which is characteristic of her work,” Kinghorn explains. “There’s a bit of trickery when you look at her pieces because you might see a large cross-section of a tree, but it’s actually all created by the artist, sculpted using different materials including resin, then hand-painted. It is a bit of a visual surprise.”
Aside from her sculptures, Carson’s exhibition features preparatory drawings, reflecting her work in two dimensions prior to her three-dimensional compositions, allowing the audience to visualize the artistic process behind the final form.
The ZAM’s permanent collection, “Maine Inspired: Art Luminaries at the Bicentennial,” features an array of both significant Maine-based and Maine-inspired artists who have brought international acclaim to the state’s historic artistic significance. The works include Andrew Wyeth’s watercolors, two of Winslow Homer’s exquisite etchings and John Marin, featured both in watercolor and prints. Several pieces from current Maine-based artist Alex Katz are also featured.
Additionally, included in the permanent collection exhibit, ZAM features a small-scale pop art show in honor of Linda Zillman, both an art historian who has written on Andy Warhol and a vital part of the Zillman Art Museum and the University of Maine, who enabled the construction of five new galleries to nearly double the size of the ZAM through a transformative donation. The show also features artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
Aside from the construction of the additional five galleries to host both featured artists and permanent collection exhibitions, ZAM looks forward to opening a new immersive video installation by Gene Fleece in their Zillman Gallery in three weeks and continuing with their regularly scheduled seasonal shows in January.
In the meantime, visitors are welcome to visit in-person at no cost of admission, a perfect outing for students and families during this unusual time.
“Right now, it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of very different approaches to subject matter and media because we’ve got everything from sculpture to watercolor, to prints and original paintings,” Kinghorn said. “For students, it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of different types of media and subject matter represented at the museum. Knowing that social activities are more challenging, it makes for a great outing to come down and enjoy the resources the museum has and walk around downtown.”
For more information regarding the ZAM and its galleries, artists, and events, visit https://zam.umaine.edu/, or view their Facebook at @ZAMatUMaine and Instagram at @zillmanartmuseum.