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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: July 18, 2017

Two careers on the rise, on view at Elizabeth Moss Galleries

Written by: Bob Keyes
"The Birth of Many", 2017, 70" x 70", acrylic and oil on canvas by Emilie Stark-Menneg Images courtesy of Elizabeth Moss Galleries

“The Birth of Many”, 2017, 70″ x 70″, acrylic and oil on canvas by Emilie Stark-Menneg
Images courtesy of Elizabeth Moss Galleries

Part of the fun of following art in Maine is watching careers evolve. For the next few weeks, visitors to the Elizabeth Moss Galleries have the chance to see the latest paintings by two artists whose careers are on the rise.

Emilie Stark-Menneg and Ellie Barnet are both developing their reputations in Maine and nationally. The artists don’t know each other and hadn’t met until the opening last week. But they seemed like a perfect pair for an exhibition that feels summery and soulful, said gallery owner Elizabeth Moss Civiello.

“When I started to think about the different spheres of connections these artists have in the world of art in Maine and nationally, I thought it would be great to see how those spheres interact and what kind of energy occurs when they mix together,” she said. “They are both extremely personally narrative painters. They are both telling stories about their lives in their artwork. A lot of Ellie’s paintings are memorials to her grandparents, and Emilie’s are these testaments to how wonderful and wild life in Maine can be.”

Barnet, 31, is the granddaughter of the late Modernist artist Will Barnet, who spent much of his life in Maine. He died in 2012, and her grandmother died last fall. Surrounded by an artistic family, Barnet has painted most of her life and began showing her work five years ago. She graduated from the Waynflete School, then Boston University in 2008 and studied at The Art Students League in New York. She lives in Portland and has a studio at Running With Scissors.

Stark-Menneg, 33, is an interdisciplinary artist. She also makes video art and sculpture, and is a performance artist, as well. Her studio is at Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick.

Emilie Stark-Menneg at work. Photo by Nick Benfey

Emilie Stark-Menneg at work.
Photo by Nick Benfey

Stark-Menneg graduated from Cornell University in 2007 and taught at Milton Academy in Massachusetts before moving to Maine. She has shown in Boston and New York and was part of the Portland Museum of Art Biennial in 2015. This winter, the Boston Globe reviewed a solo show at a Boston gallery.

Her paintings in Falmouth scream summer fun. They’re almost sculptural in the way she builds up the paint on her canvas, and the colors are pure joy: pink, green and blue, all awash in neon. “I’m hopelessly attracted to high-intensity colors,” she said. “I can’t stop.”

She calls the show “American Popsicle,” and the name is appropriate: These paintings exude the carefree fun of a sugary summer treat melting in your hands under the sun. It’s there, and then it’s gone. They’re fantastical depictions of summer of Maine, with images of sunbathers, fish and flowers, all flourishing in the joyous dance of summer.

"Inside the Curve", 48" x 36", oil on canvas by Ellie Barnet.

“Inside the Curve”, 48″ x 36″, oil on canvas by Ellie Barnet.

Barnet’s paintings are more muted and reflective, with an earthen palette and quieter theme. These are double-paintings, with images of family members surfacing on backgrounds of landscapes. The show is called “An Art Legacy Reinvisioned,” reflecting Barnet’s attempt to honor her memory of family. But these paintings are universal in theme, and the figures are not meant to be recognizable as individuals. Barnet knows who they are, but she wants people who see the paintings “to have their own conversations with them.”

The death of Barnet’s grandmother last fall triggered a winter’s worth of deeply personal and meaningful work, she said. “When my grandmother passed away, she came out in my work a lot,” Barnet said. “It was a way of dealing with the loss.”

‘AMERICAN POPSICLE,’ EMILIE STARK-MENNEG & ‘AN ART LEGACY REINVISIONED,’ ELLIE BARNET

WHERE: Elizabeth Moss Galleries, 251 Route 1, Falmouth
WHEN: Through Aug. 12; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
INFO: 207-781-2620 or elizabethmossgalleries.com

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