ROCKPORT — The Center for Contemporary Art in Rockport will open four new exhibitions on Saturday, Aug. 6, with a public reception for the artists from 4 to 6 p.m.
The exhibitions include “Un/natural Splendor,” with paintings and monotypes by Inka Essenhigh and sculpture by Richard Van Buren; “Burn Drawings and Recent Paintings” by Reese Inman, part of the statewide 2011 Maine Drawing Project; “Stopgap and Steadfast,” an installation and recent drawings and sculpture by Ethan Hayes-Chute; and “Banded Artifacts/Banded Men,” with photographs, sculpture, paintings and drawings by Paul Oberst.
The recent works of Essenhigh and Van Buren refer to the natural world. The extravagant, flowing forms and iridescent surfaces of Van Buren’s latest sculptures are inspired by the light and landscape of the Maine coast. Created from biodegradable thermoplastic and embedded with seashells, they embrace the artificial and the organic equally, suggesting life forms of their own. Essenhigh divides her time between studios in New York and Tenants Harbor. Van Buren lives and works in Perry.
Inman’s art explores the impact of computer technology on everyday life, making elements of digital process visible that are not readily apparent. The artist’s ethereal, lacelike “burn” drawings and colorful “algorithm map” paintings are created through a meticulous retracing by hand of output from computer algorithms, which Inman codes. A graduate of Harvard University, Inman lives and works in Belfast.
Hayes-Chute employs a variety of media, his work suggesting potential living situations based on his concepts of self-sufficiency, self-preservation and self-exclusion. In “Stopgap and Steadfast,” Hayes-Chute has created a new, full-scale, site-specific installation created from found and reclaimed materials, outfitted with recycled and improvised furnishings and day-to-day ephemera and artifacts. He was named the Maine Arts Commission 2011 Visual Arts Fellow and often can be found exploring dumps and perusing secondhand shops for potential objects for constructions. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he recently completed residencies in Norway and Iceland and at the Vermont Studio Center. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Freeport.
Oberst creates objects that make reference to universal themes of ritual and ceremony. Recently he has been “banding” his created objects and photographic subjects in black and white and colored stripes, inspired by the “trickster” gods of the Southwest Pueblo people. In his photographs of banded men and boys, one senses a mysterious rite, interrupted. The subjects’ black and white body paint suggests a unity among races, a coming together of life’s dichotomies. The recent sculptural works in the exhibition resemble found ceremonial artifacts, worn with the patina of use and age, and include a site-specific installation titled “Rockport 8.” Oberst lives in Freedom. The Banded Men photographs are a collaboration of Oberst and photographer Patrick McNamara.
The Center for Maine Contemporary Art is a nonprofit organization advancing contemporary art in Maine through exhibitions and educational programs. It is located at 162 Russell Ave.. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit http://cmcanow.org/.