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Maine’s Woods exhibit at USM Lewiston-Auburn campus

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Maine’s Woods: Observations by Bert Lincoln Call and Henry David Thoreau; Observations in Bronze by Forest Hart

images: Bert Lincoln Call, “Making Camp,” 1926, 22″ x 30″

exhibit installation view, #6, Forest Hart, “Deer to the Heart,” bronze, life size

exhibit installation view, #12, front, Forest Hart, “Wisdom Speaks,” (ravens), bronze, and (right), “Sir Fox,” bronze, life size

Atrium Art Gallery, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College

September 5 – October 20, 2012

The Atrium Art Gallery at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College begins the academic year with an exhibition of large-format photographs by Bert Lincoln Call and a selection of bronze sculptures by acclaimed artist Forest Hart.

The exhibition features 35 large-format black and white photographs taken by Bert Lincoln Call during the early 1900s accompanied by quotes from Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods. The images reveal an exploration of Maine’s natural and human landscape that was then, and continues to be, in rapid transition. The exhibit is touring under the auspices of the Dexter Historical Society.

Early in its existence, the Dexter Historical Society received a donation of negatives and photos from Bert Lincoln Call, a photographer in Dexter, Maine, from 1886 until the early 1940s. Call’s stock-in-trade was portraiture of local citizens, but his passion was for the woods, lakes, and rivers of northern Maine, which he visited annually. By age 70, Call had traveled to the peak of Mount Katahdin no less than 16 times, lugging the heavy photographic equipment common at the time. His photographic excursions often lasted for many weeks.

Bert Call’s images provide an extraordinary photographic record of the North Woods, often of specific places Thoreau described in his book. Though begun by Call 120 years ago, most of his work has remained unseen. In order to bring this collection to the public, Frank Spizuoco, exhibition curator, contacted photographer Todd Watts in 2007 with the idea of restoring Bert Call’s original negatives and then producing the large scale prints that comprise this exhibition. Watts is in internationally recognized photographer also known for his restoration work including all of Berenice Abbott’s photographs.

Dr. Richard Judd, professor of history at the University of Maine, describes Bert Call’s photographs as having two important historical dimensions. First, they represent a key development in the history of Maine’s tourist industry. Call’s photographs are at the heart of one of the most important developments in the rise of outdoor recreation in the northeast. Second, the Call photographs document a wilderness landscape that had not changed significantly since the 1840s, when Henry David Thoreau’s lyrical essays on the north woods placed the region at the core of the American concept of wilderness.

The website for the exhibit is www.callthoreauexhibit.com

The exhibit installation includes bronze sculpture by Forest Hart, of Monroe, Maine, who specializes in realistic bronzes of wildlife. His work is included in museums, educational institutions, public gardens, parks, zoos and private collections around the country.

From a childhood interest in drawing animals to an early career in advanced taxidermy, Hart eventually settled on exploring cast bronze as a more expressive medium. He produces an impressive list of animals from moose, deer, and bear, to otters, chipmunks, and birds – often in dramatic action. Though his work includes exotic animals from around the world, the exhibition includes those that are indigenous to the Maine woods.

Forest Hart comments, “I have dedicated my life and career to the appreciation and study of wildlife and art. The woods, waters, mountains, and tundra were the classrooms; animals and nature were the teachers; my observations, experience, and imagination are the results.”

Forest Hart’s website is www.foresthart.com

The Atrium Art Gallery features year-round exhibitions of sculpture, painting, drawing, and contemporary crafts and is open to the public free of charge. The “Maine’s Woods” exhibition at USM Lewiston-Auburn College is supported in part by L.L. Bean.

USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College is located at 51 Westminster Street in Lewiston and offers interdisciplinary bachelor and graduate degree programs with both online and on-site classes.

Art Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The exhibit continues through October 20. For more information, contact USM’s Lewiston-Auburn campus at 753-6500.