Portland Museum of Art 11-19-2016, Portland, Maine

Portland Museum of Art 11-19-2016 

Posted by  Access the profile card for user: David Holmander

 David Holmander  at Monday, November 21, 2016 8:47:34 AM EST

Museum Visit #3 to Portland Museum of Art
November 19th 2016
By Dave Holmander


The Portland Museum of Art, or PMA, is the largest and oldest public art institution in the U.S. state of Maine. Founded as the Portland Society of Art in 1882, it is located in the downtown area known as The Arts District in Portland, Maine.

It turns out that the day of my visit there was to be a walking tour of the museum focusing on sculpture. It in-fact turns out I was the only person who showed. After a brief introduction to my tour guide Docent Hal Norvell himself a sculpture and learning that I was an artist using found objects to create narrative sculpture moved forward with the tour.

The PMA is by comparison a small museum with a limited budge though it boast five or six building one being dedicated to housing the work of Winslow Homer and so named. It’s exhibitions cover the neoclassic to contemporary art as well live and interactive show and readings of poetry etc. Not to be lost is they have a great shop to purchase select items and there snack bar offers some really good food. That alone might be a reason to visit.

By example on the same day I visited the museum there was a marathon reading of Moby Dick by rotation of volunteers. There also was a Illustrator’s Dilemma workshop,  and a film premiere . It is very much endeavoring to live up to it theme Your Museum, Reimagined.

The first of five specific work I wish to mention is The Dead Pearl Diver. 1858 by Benjamin Paul Akers in marble. I question the lighting effects and did Hal  because it is central to a windowed rotunda diminishing any effective optically. It is surrounded by 5 other work also by him. Several observant consideration besides lighting is the vantage point of the viewer assessable from 360 degrees. Considering the view point the impression perceived could be quite different. From the face side one is considerate of the workmanship of the artist and his helpers. Helper, yes, because this final scale up work was completed indirectly by production craft people. From the far side the morbidity of death is experienced.

The next piece is Hero and Leander circa 1949 by Robert Laurent. Like the previous there where several other of his works on display one note worthy because it was in mahogany. The uniqueness of this work poses questions about proportions and scale. One also ask, was the work altered or redesigned because of the size of limestone? Unlike the work of Akers it is direct sculpture.

Next in acrylic and book pages on canvas is the contemporary conceptual work of Lehmann Maupin, Where Do We Go From Here, 2008  He sight a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. titles with the same name and is his attempt to convey that speech through the visual spectrum. Questioning the plight of the poor via economic repression and the distribution of wealth.

The next work I found great soles in because it reminded me of a few artifact which are included in my installation for the next residence. It will not be to the scale of this work but includes pieces of wood from an old railway station blacked by years of decay. Number 139, 2010 again contemporized theme found painted wood by Leonardo Drew.

The last work from the visit by artist Nicole Wittenberg, Lily, 2010 and Untitled, 2010 both Oil on Linen I also found very intriguing because I felt and identify to each. She uses a heavy brush stroke and is very lucid in application. I place her work as Eccentric Sentimentality and though not shown at PMA some work is very provocative.


Her short bio read
Nicole Wittenberg is an American artist based in New York City. She was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters coveted John Koch Award for best young figurative painter in 2012. Wittenberg was born in San Francisco, CA, and received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003. Her work is featured in several prominent collections. She is a teacher at the Bruce High Quality Foundation University and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

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