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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: September 12, 2017

Late-summer art openings include illuminated sculptures, painted trees and a collaborative multimedia installation

Written by: Bob Keyes
"Shelter for the Heart" by Joe Hemes Photo courtesy of the artist

“Shelter for the Heart” by Joe Hemes
Photo courtesy of the artist

As we roll toward fall, Maine’s visual arts scene continues to percolate with exhibitions and openings that spotlight new work by established and emerging artists across southern and midcoast Maine.

At George Marshall Store Gallery in York, South Portland architect and sculptor Joe Hemes shows a dozen illuminated sculptures, some stemming from a recent residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and all designed to add ambiance, color and character to an interior space. Hemes began incorporating lighting in his sculptures many years ago. An architect with an eye to subtle detail, he was frustrated with the lack of creative choices in interior lighting.

“So I started making my own,” he said.

His exhibition, “Shelters – New Illuminated Sculptures,” is on view at the George Marshall Store Gallery through Oct. 1. Hemes chose the theme “Shelter,” because the dozen objects represent sacred spaces, altars and sanctuaries, and explore issues of climate change, biodiversity and growth.

The hand-crafted shelters, made with wood, metal and paper, function as sculptural works of art and as interior lights. Gallery curator Mary Harding displays the sculptures in the downstairs dock-level gallery and darkens the room by blocking a window with a heavy curtain and draping the entryway. She wants visitors to experience the exhibition with only the lights of the sculptures themselves, which softly glow in shades of red, blue, green and yellow.

Hemes hopes his illuminated sculptures create a peaceful, chilling atmosphere, satisfying our innate need for sanctuary and light.

“I think it’s getting more and more important for people to unhook from their phone and TVs and computers, and I think these pieces can help do that,” he said. “These can help provide an ambiance to a room, where you can have a glass of wine or have a conversation and listen to music and not be connected to our negative world.”

Hemes began making box-like shelters during an open residency at Haystack, where he had access to all the studios. He started with a series of shelters made with precision-cut 1/8-inch fiberboard that he stitched together with fishing line, twisted copper and hemp. He adorned the surfaces with charts and maps and paint. Most include an interior element aside from the light itself, creating narratives that filter out into the room like ghost spirits, through seams, holes and open spaces.

The work grew larger and more ambitious, with custom-shaped maple legs, iron wheels and a replica of the planetary system. There are acrylic obelisks, ceramic hearts and crystal eggs. He collaborated with his son, Eli Hemes, a Portland glassblower, on one piece. When turned on, one makes a little sound. With another, when the switch is activated, the piece moves ever so slightly on its wheels.

It’s an enchanting show and manages to be both playful and spiritual.

George Marshall Store Gallery, 140 Lindsay Road, York; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; or 207-351-1083.

"On Island" by Leonard Meiselman. Photo courtesy of the artist

“On Island” by Leonard Meiselman.
Photo courtesy
of the artist

On Friday, Green Lion Gallery in Bath opens “Portraits of Trees” by midcoast painter Leonard Meiselman as part of Bath’s last art walk of the season. The opening reception will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, and the show is on view through Oct. 16.

“I grew up on the streets of New York,” Meiselman said in a press release. “In my late teens I got to see the trees on the coast of Maine. I was thrilled to the core of my being. My dream became to live on the coast of Maine and paint the trees.”

He sees himself as a painter of trees, as well as their spokesman. “A portrait is an encoding of love, an act of intimacy, a meditation and a discovery. I’m involved with my subjects in ways I do not fully understand,” he said. “One of the reasons I undertake a painting is to learn what is my relationship, what is my involvement? As an artist I feel a need to speak for the voiceless, to speak for the trees.”

Meiselman studied at the Cooper Union, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan.

Green Lion Gallery, 104 Front St., Bath; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; or 207-844-3770.

As part of RiverJam Fest in Biddeford, a group of local artists will present “Influx: a multimedia installation” at the Pepperell Mill campus. The installation opens Friday, and will evolve over two weeks before concluding Sept. 30.

“There are going to be a lot of people in the city with a lot of things going on, and we saw this as a great opportunity to add to that event, to make it bigger and get people into the mill and familiarize themselves with the mill,” said Sarah Baldwin, one of several artists who will show work inside and outside the mill.

Artists are helping to revitalize the former textile mill and have infused downtown with creative energy. “Influx” captures some of that energy, said Baldwin, who organized the exhibition.

In addition to Baldwin, artists showing work in “Influx” include Alex Mead, Jarid del Deo, Julie K. Gray, Marques Bostic, Michael Evans, Christy Matson, Lucky Bistoury and Ann Thompson. Artists will be at Friday’s opening, and a map will guide visitors to explore the installations and the mill itself.

“Influx” will include finished pieces and work in progress, which will be completed on site over two weeks. Collectively, the art of “Influx” explores the relationship among the mill, the river and the cities that surround them, Baldwin said.

Peppermill Mill, 40 Main St., Biddeford; opening from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday; regular hours, noon to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closing from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 29 as part of the Biddeford-Saco art walk;



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