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3 art shows set to savor

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN


BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine Museum of Art will present three new exhibitions beginning Friday, Jan. 16: “A Bit of Colored Ribbon: Works by John Bailly,” “Metaphysics of Landscape: Paintings by Timothy McDowell” and “Gyotaku Prints” by Boshu Nagase.

The exhibits will be displayed at the museum, 40 Harlow St., Bangor. Again this year, admission will be free thanks to the support of Machias Savings Bank.

John Bailly will kick off the new University of Maine Museum of Art Leonard Lecture Series with a presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the museum. He will speak about the evolution of his paintings and provide insight on the diverse sources that inspire his work. RSVP by Friday, Jan. 16, to attend the Jan. 21 reception by calling 561-3350.

“A Bit of Colored Ribbon: Works by John Bailly,” will run through April 1.

Bailly’s mixed media compositions examine the relationship of place and time and the artist’s growing suspicion about the legitimacy of information in current society. His densely layered compositions include a barrage of seemingly unrelated visual images that illustrate his belief that perception is subjective. These works reflect “the chaotic nature of data and information” and the constant stream of images prevalent in our fast-paced world.

Among the diverse subjects in Bailly’s works are depictions of cities derived from ancient maps. These are sites that either have been decisive in shaping world history, conquered culturally or militarily, or literally destroyed.

Juxtaposed with the maps are illustrations of military battles, images derived from anatomy books and directional arrows that represent troop movements.

“A Bit of Colored Ribbon,” which refers to a statement made by Napoleon on national pride, explores the notion that people will go to extreme measures, even conflict and war, to preserve their sense of cultural identity. The exhibition includes a selection from the artist’s Place of Mind series, which is the result of a collaboration with critically acclaimed poet Richard Blanco.

“Metaphysics of Landscape: Paintings by Timothy McDowell” will run through April 1.

McDowell’s paintings reference the historic idiom of landscape painting, but the way in which the artist incorporates varied pictorial elements in his compositions is unmistakably contemporary. Meticulously rendered botanical images such as chrysanthemums, cacti and conifer branches hover weightlessly over transparent layers of colors that evoke an ambiguous atmospheric terrain.

Other elements often woven into McDowell’s compositions include ornamental patterns extracted from Tibetan paintings and French tapestries.

Many of McDowell’s works are created in encaustic, a medium in which ground earth pigments are suspended in heated beeswax, producing surfaces with heightened luminosity and texture. The paintings reflect a spiritual affinity with nature and underscore the artist’s belief that through our individual sense of place we have an “awareness that is cataloged through our eyes, then re-conjured and romanticized by our minds.” McDowell is professor of art at Connecticut College.

“Gyotaku Prints” by Boshu Nagase will run through March 20.

Nagase is the principal living master of the printmaking technique known as “gyotaku.” The term comes from the Japanese nouns for fish, “gyo,” and print or rubbing, “taku.” This Japanese form of printmaking is achieved in one of two ways: direct or indirect.

Direct gyotaku involves painting a fish with sumi ink and then pressing it onto paper resulting in a simple “stamped” print.

With the indirect method the artist places very thin, wet paper or fabric on top of the fish. Colored inks are then applied in multiple layers, creating a rendering far more detailed, luminous, textured and delicate than the direct method. This form of gyotaku printing is featured in the exhibition. These works have been selected from more than 70 prints by Nagase from UMMA’s collection.

Nagase has produced folios of gyotaku of the fish indigenous to the Great Barrier Reef, the Mediterranean Sea and the Antarctic, as well as the marine and freshwater fish of Japan.

The University of Maine Museum of Art is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. For information, call 561-3350.

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