By Leif Hellstedt
Editor’s note: The Bangor Daily News has partnered with the Telling Room to showcase budding young journalists as they turn a critical eye toward the world in which we live. Read more about the project, and the rest of the students’ pieces, here.
ROCKLAND, Maine — As a celebration of the centennial marking of the passing of the 19th Amendment, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art decided to honor the work of five female artists. The exhibition centered on the presentation of abstract work is quite a range of colors, types of paintings and messages.
Some of the works at the CMCA are plainly incredible. First example: the huge acrylic on paper and collage by Meghan Brady that is displayed in the entrance. Measuring 22.5 feet by 12 feet, 11 inches, it’s a huge work of abstraction that looks like an elephant or a monster looking at you from a 90-degree angle.
Most of the other abstract paintings represent something, someone or many things — like waterfalls, golden teapots, even couches. “Fragments from the Nature Cold” is a mounted canvas painting. The painting has nine different panels ranging from 11 by 12 inches to 5 feet, 2 inches by 3 feet, 5 inches. In this beautiful painting, Inka Essenhigh hides things. For example, a hand and a foot.
While you are in the room with “Fragments from a Nature Cold,” you might as well see Tracy Miller’s “Question Marks.” Can you find the pineapple? The Schmidt drink? In Miller’s paintings, she likes to incorporate a lot of bright-colored familiar objects. They like to use composition and perspective to their advantage to look like the colors are moving across the canvas.
Now let’s turn to Anne Neely, who on the other hand prefers her paintings smaller than Miller’s, which are 4 feet, 10 inches by 5 feet, while Anne Neely’s are 1 foot, 2 inches by 1 foot. She also prefers nature to beer cans. Her paintings are not quite abstraction but not representation either.
Some of her paintings include “After Howard Hodgkins” (which looks like a bookshelf with an old TV in the middle), “Dynamic Stability (which looks like a communal pool with people in it, you can only see their heads) and “Memory” (which I see as a theater with blue curtains and a dog crate in the middle hanging from the ceiling).
Finally, let’s visit Hannah Secord Wade, with her pastels. Her backgrounds are mostly landscapes, and she says “abstraction is being eaten by representation.” “Swan,” one of her few paintings she did not color with pastels, shows a white swan spitting out water. Everything all together, shows what I think is a mound of trash.
If you want a good, abstract, relaxing and cool art exhibit, you can go visit it online at CMCA.org.