We all know about New Year’s resolutions. Here’s a Year’s End resolution: See more art.
Here are five art shows you should see before they close at year’s end. If you have time off over the holidays, that’s one less excuse for not going.
“You Can’t Get There from Here: The 2015 Portland Museum of Art Biennial,” on view through Jan. 3. This curated survey of contemporary art takes an inclusive sweep across the Maine landscape. There are great paintings by Lois Dodd, Dennis Pinette and Gideon Bok, engrossing sculpture by John Bisbee and Randy Regier and fantastic, alluring drawings by Emily Nelligan. Michael Kolster’s photographs are transporting, and the Indian baskets of Jeremy Frey and Theresa Secord are beautiful to behold. Former Bowdoin curator Alison Ferris, curator of the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, assembled a show that is interesting, provocative, witty and fun. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and Fridays until 9, except for Christmas and New Year’s, when the museum is closed.
More than three dozen illustrators associated with Maine College of Art are showing work inspired by “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in the exhibition “Wake up Alice! Contemporary Illustrators Views on Wonderland.” It’s on view through Dec. 31 in the Lewis Gallery at the Portland Public Library at Monument Square. The fact that admission is free is secondary to the most compelling reason to see this show: It demonstrates just how good the illustration scene is in Portland and in Maine, and the role that MECA plays in supporting that community. The artists — Daniel Minter, Scott Nash, Jamie Hogan among them — use the fantastical Lewis Carroll’s story as a starting point, and make way for their imaginations to drive the narrative. We see drawings, paintings, sculpture and video, artfully executed.
Read more: Go down the rabbit hole with “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” at Portland Public Library
To fully appreciate the scope of illustration in Maine today, it’s important to go back to the roots. You can do that with “The Great N.C. Wyeth Caper,” at the Portland Museum of Art through Jan. 3. In addition to being the father of Andrew and grandfather of Jamie, Newell Convers Wyeth was a seriously talented painter, and is best known for illustrating the literary classics “Treasure Island” and “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Six of the Wyeth paintings on view at the PMA were stolen from Portland collector Joe Soley 18 months ago, and have just been recovered and returned to Maine. Four of the six stolen paintings were removed from their frames and ended up in a pawnshop in California. The other two were recovered in Greater Boston. This show is worth seeing if only because it’s a chance to appreciate the talents of a bold, lyrical painter.
If you love paintings because of texture of oil on canvas or the wonder that occurs when certain colors are mixed together and pushed around, you must check out the annual holiday show at Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St., Portland. There is sculpture here, too, but no gallery celebrates color, style and the pure joy of paint quite the way Greenhut does. The holiday show is a group show and features work by the most popular gallery artists: Alison Rector, Alan Magee, Jeff Bye, William Irvine, Linden Frederick, Sarah Knock, Alex Richardson and others. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 5 p.m. Saturday. It will close at 3 p.m. Christmas and New Year’s eves, and is closed on Christmas and New Year’s day.
Finally, make the drive to Frost Gully Gallery in Freeport to see Dahlov Ipcar’s recent paintings. There 40 paintings in all, and 16 are new. Ipcar, 98, is losing her vision and has said this might be her final show. Her new paintings feature the same imaginative wild animals that she has worked with for so many years, and feel similar in subject and tone to her earlier paintings. But the newer work is looser, and lacks some of the definition. The exhibition is up through Dec. 28 at Frost Gully, 1159 U.S. Route 1, Freeport.