Try art for lunch at UMMA

Posted Nov. 12, 2008, at 6:09 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:54 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Art lovers and those who want to learn more about what the University of Maine Museum of Art has to offer need only to remember this: Art at Noon, the first Monday of each month when museum staff conduct tours of current exhibits and talk about the art.

“This is a casual, informal event,” said George Kinghorn, director of the museum at 40 Harlow St., during the first Art at Noon session on Nov. 3. He encouraged attendees to ask questions and comment during the tour.

Kinghorn walked a half-dozen people through “Reclaimed: Works by Mildred Johnson and David McLaughlin” and “Celebrities & Socialites: Photographs by Andy Warhol.”

In reference to the Johnson and McLaughlin exhibit, Kinghorn said that UMMA hasn’t done an exhibit featuring sculpture in many years.

“We wanted to do a sculpture show of artists who live and work in Maine,” he said. Johnson lives in Brunswick and McLaughlin in Liberty.

Kinghorn said that in designing an exhibit, he likes to work directly with the artists. “I visited Johnson’s and McLaughlin’s studios and investigated the possibilities,” he said.

Both artists, Kinghorn said, are “paying attention to and honoring the found objects used in their sculptures. This show is about the artist as a collector of oddities.”

Johnson uses wood, books, metal wheels, the remnants of an old rake and shovel and even a snippet of a photograph in her work.

McLaughlin, who owns an old cannery in Liberty filled with tons of metal objects, uses that bounty in his sculptures.

His “Portable Sphere” consists of rusted metal rings welded together to fashion a sphere mounted on a chassis held up by metal wheels, its airy construction belying the weight of the metal from which it is created.

It sits on the museum floor, along with another cartlike sculpture filled with rusted metal pieces such as logging chains, pickax heads and an old toolbox.

“We wanted to take sculpture off the pedestal and put it on the floor so viewers can walk around it and experience it from different points of view,” Kinghorn said.

Both Johnson and McLauglin, Kinghorn said, carefully select each object, which has its own history. They give those objects a new history as components of the sculpture.

In July, UMMA was the recipient from the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts of 150 rarely seen photographs snapped by artist Andy Warhol.

The Warhol Foundation’s Photographic Legacy Program donated more than 28,000 Warhol images to 189 college and university museums throughout the United States.

Thirteen of those newly acquired Warhol photographs, snapped in color with a Polaroid camera or in black-and-white with a Minolta automatic single-lens reflex camera, are now on display at UMMA.

The exhibit, “Celebrities and Socialites: Photographs by Andy Warhol,” features portraits of golfer Jack Nicklaus, actress Farah Fawcett and actress Margaret Hamilton, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz.” The photos are from the 1970s and 1980s.

Warhol was more famous for his silk-screen portraits of movie screen icons such as Marilyn Monroe. He was one of the leading figures of American Pop Art, creating images of a Campbell’s Soup can and a Brillo Pads box.

The next Art at Noon is set for Monday, Dec. 1, when Gina Platt of the museum staff will give a tour and explanation of the exhibit “Angelo Ippolito.” Ippolito was an important figure in the New York School of Abstract Expressionism.

Art at Noon is free and open to the public and usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes.

“Reclaimed” and “Celebrities and Socialites” run through Jan. 3. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free through Dec. 31. For information, call the museum at 561-3350 or visit www.umma.umaine.edu.

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