We’re still holding on to summer, but the fall art season is underway. There are plenty of strong visual arts shows to add to your to-do list. They start this week in Portland with the First Friday Art Walk and extend north to Freeport, Waterville and Bangor.
“Baskets from the Dawnland: Weaving the Past and Future Together,” on view through Nov. 28, Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland. This newly opened exhibition examines the history of Native American basket-making in Maine and presents the work of present-day makers working to uphold and enhance the traditions.
The exhibition includes examples of baskets over time, the tools used to make them and modern examples from current purveyors of the art form. Since the inception of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance more than two decades ago, the art of basket weaving has returned across Indian country.
This is a small show, but it’s rich in content. Highlights include historical baskets from the society’s collection and modern baskets by Theresa Secord, Jeremy Frey, Sarah Sockbeson, George Neptune and Clara Neptune Keezer.
Secord co-curated the exhibition with Tilly Laskey, a scholar and staff member at the historical society.
Secord hopes this exhibition advances awareness of Maine’s basket-making tradition in southern Maine. “There just isn’t a lot of basket-making knowledge, art and history in this part of the state,” she said. “There are new generations of weavers who are known across the country, but they’re not well known in their own state.”
“Children of the Dawn” screening, noon Sept. 10. This is a work-in-progress screening of the short film, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Adam Mazo. The movie documents the work of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is investigating and acknowledging what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine child welfare system; $5.
Secord leads a workshop and conversation at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15. She will discuss the history and contemporary movement of baskets and basket makers’ self-determination in saving their art. And she’ll conduct a workshop on weaving an ash and sweetgrass bookmark. The talk only is $10; the talk and workshop cost $25.
“Directors’ Cut: Selections of the Maine Art Museum Trail,” through Sept. 20, Portland Museum of Art. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really must check out “Directors’ Cut.” PMA director Mark Bessire asked his art museum colleagues around the state to pick a few pieces from their respective collections for a group show in Portland. The result is an exhibition that represents the Maine ideals of independence, innovation and self-sufficiency.
It’s almost a greatest-hits survey of Maine art, a mini-retrospective of 200 years of culture, told with contributions from eight museums statewide. Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley and the Wyeths are all here, along with the supporting tier of Maine art royalty, from John Marin and Rockwell Kent to Robert Indiana and Alex Katz.
“The Best of Maine Contemporary Art,” Thos. Moser, 149 Main St., Freeport.
This is a museum-quality show in a living room-comfortable setting. Most of the paintings come from a private collection, and many have been shown at the Portland Museum of Art over the years. Artists include Joel Babb, Tom Crotty, Stephen Etnier, Lynn Drexler, Lois Dodd, James Fitzgerald, Connie Hayes, Eric Hopkins, Bernard Langlais, William Manning and Neil Welliver. The show takes on greater meaning following the recent death of Crotty, who attended the June opening. It’s on view through Columbus Day.
“Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler at the Colby College Museum of Art,” opens Sept. 24 in Waterville.
This show presents the Whistler prints and works in other media that Colby acquired as part of the Lunder Collection. As an artist, Whistler traveled widely across Europe, and this show puts his work in context with his travels.
“Anna Hepler: Blind Spot,” University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor, closes Sept. 19.
If you have not been to Bangor, go. Hepler, who has installed previously at the PMA and Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, shows new sculptures and two-dimensional works while exploring forms through patterned woodcuts and soft sculptures.
She also highlights the simplicity of primary forms in wire sculptures, ceramic work and forms crocheted from plastic bags.