Both sides of the camera

By Jessica Bloch, BDN Staff
Posted June 30, 2010, at 5:46 p.m.

As a fine-art photographer, Judith Ellis Glickman is comfortable behind the camera. She has plenty of experience in front of it, too, when she served as a subject of her father’s photography.

But in one of the exhibitions recently mounted in the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, Glickman’s role as a collector of images is the focus.

“Both Sides of the Camera: Photographs from the Collection of Judith Ellis Glickman,” includes more than 40 black-and-white photographs from Glickman’s extensive and varied collection, is one of three shows which opened recently and will close Sept. 18.

The photography exhibit is on display at the same time as “Ceremonies of Mud: New Paintings by Alfredo Gisholt,” and “Cloudscapes: A Selection from the Permanent Collection.”

UMMA director and curator George Kinghorn, along with Portland Museum of Art curator Susan Danly, selected among the hundreds of images in Glickman’s collection for the exhibit, which also appeared at the Portland museum in 2007 and 2008.

Glickman, the daughter of Irving Bennett Ellis, who was a noted California pictorialist photographer, is known as a photographer in her own right. Glickman’s personal work deals with the Holocaust period of history, specifically the rescue of the Jews of Denmark.

There are no such images in the UMMA show — although two of her own photographs are included — but there is a wide variety of other subject matter, organized under subject headers such as “Seeing Stars: Artists and Actors,” “Inside and Outside,” “The Classics,” “Documents of Life” and “The Ties that Bind.”

There are photographs of the famous (Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso, Ella Fitzgerald) and the destitute (the people of Tigre, Ethiopia). There are interiors and exteriors, still lives and action shots, spontaneous moments and styled scenes, everyday life and special religious rituals.

“[The collection is] very eclectic, which is actually really indicative of my passion and love of photography,” said Glickman, who grew up in California and now lives in Cape Elizabeth. “I am a photographer, I grew up in photography, my father’s passion was photography, and through the years I have always been acquiring and collecting images that I really, really love.”

The exhibit includes the work of photography legends such as Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, Edward Steichen, William Wegman, William Klein, Jerry Uelsmann and Dorothea Lange, whose “Migrant Mother” is one of the most famous images in the history of photography.

“It captured an era,” Glickman said.

Glickman also collects the work of Maine photographers and others with connections to the Pine Tree State, including George Daniell, Melonie Bennett, Todd Webb and Paul Caponigro.

“I think Maine, historically, has always drawn artists to our gorgeous state,” she said. “The work today that’s being done is outstanding.”

While the exhibition of Glickman’s collection is dominated by black and white, Gisholt’s paintings are vibrant in their color, brushwork and subject matter. The exhibition, in the Edward D. Leonard III and Sandra Blake Leonard Gallery, consists of four large-scale paintings and several smaller studies.

Gisholt’s influences include Picasso, Matisse, Goya and Titian, and those impressions of those masters are evident considering the outstretched limbs, bright colors and animals in the chaotic world of Gisholt’s work.

However, he doesn’t intend for the paintings to be a riff on anything that has come before.

“I want it to be part of a tradition, the thing that I inherit in painting,” said Gisholt, a native of Mexico who now teaches at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. “I think [the Picasso masterpiece] ‘Guernica’ is a very important painting and Goya is a very important painter. My work is somewhat referential but it allows me to go to a place of imagination, coupled with my experience.”

That experience includes the use of images such as skeleton imagery that one might see at a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico.

To Kinghorn, the images seem like the party that took a bad turn.

“In these paintings, it’s almost like these celebratory occasions go terribly wrong and result in this pile-up of figures and animals,” he said.

IF YOU GO

The University of Maine Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. The museum is at 40 Harlow St. in Bangor. For information, call 561-3350 or go to www.umma.umaine.edu.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/06/30/living/both-sides-of-the-camera/ printed on August 2, 2014