BANGOR — The mixed-media art of John Bailly, produced in collaboration with poet Richard Blanco, will be featured in an exhibition opening to the public Friday, April 5, at the University of Maine Museum of Art. The exhibition is then available to travel nationally.
“Place of Mind: Works by John Bailly” will run through June 8 at the UMaine Museum of Art, 40 Harlow St.
“Place of Mind” comes to Maine from an exhibition that opened Feb. 21 at ClampArt gallery in New York City, directed by Brian Paul Clamp, and organized in collaboration with University of Maine Museum of Art Director George Kinghorn.
The UMaine exhibition will feature three large-scale paintings and a selection of works on paper from the “Place of Mind” series, including three owned by the university.
Bailly is a French-American painter and printmaker who teaches at Florida International University in Miami. Blanco is the Cuban-American poet from Bethel, selected as the inaugural poet for President Barack Obama.
The pair produced the collaborative project, “Place of Mind,” primarily in 2007. Bailly’s 25 works on paper and paintings are responses to Blanco poems, said Kinghorn. The art and poems “share a common search for sense of identity and place.”
“They started this project as a way to explore the creative process in different media — the visual and literary arts — and how they inform each other,” Kinghorn said. “There was a dialogue between them — a give and take, a call and response.”
Bailly’s works first came to Kinghorn’s attention when he was deputy director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Fla., where a large-scale solo exhibition featured some pieces from the “Place of Mind” series. It was also in Florida that Kinghorn met Blanco.
The year after Kinghorn came to Maine in 2008, he curated the exhibition, “A Bit of Colored Ribbon,” featuring some of Bailly’s newest works, as well as a selection from “Place of Mind.”
Kinghorn also brought Blanco to the University of Maine, where the poet gave readings on campus in collaboration with the English department. The reading at UMMA included the poem, “Looking for The Gulf Motel,” which was published in 2012 and was the title of Blanco’s third book of poetry.
“This is a great opportunity for the museum and the university,” Kinghorn said. “Bailly is an exceptional painter and I have championed his art for many years. Now, three friends working on a project like this is very exciting.”