UMMA Celebrates 150th with Exhibition that Features Artists with Connection to State

The University of Maine Museum of Art will celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary with an exhibit that features work by internationally recognized artists with strong connections to Maine who have contributed to the state’s artistic history.

“With Ties to Maine” will run from June 19 to September 19 and will showcase more than 20 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection in a wide range of media in primarily 2-D forms such as paintings and photos. A few of the works have belonged to the university since 1948, two years after the collection was founded.

The exhibition will display pieces created by artists including John Marin, Andrew Wyeth, Alex Katz, Berenice Abbott and Neil Welliver who spent significant time in Maine and were inspired by its natural beauty and unique sense of place.

“With Ties to Maine” reflects UMaine’s long history of collecting while sharing the university’s cultural resources with Maine residents and visitors, says George Kinghorn, the museum’s director and curator.

“Maine has such a rich, artistic history,” Kinghorn says. “The museum is delighted to share works by artists who have put Maine on the map internationally.”

Throughout history, Maine has been a destination of creativity for artists who seek refuge in the state for its distinct landscape and lack of outside distractions that allow for contemplative reflection, Kinghorn says, citing Marin and Abbott who set up studios in Maine.

The exhibition also recognizes the support of museum donors throughout the years, such as philanthropists and Bangor residents Adeline and Caroline Wing. The sisters provided some of the museum’s earliest gifts, including “On Bar Island,” a 1946 watercolor by Wyeth gifted to the museum in 1948, which will be included in the show.

Marin’s “A Bit of Cape Split, Maine,” a 1940 watercolor on paper donated by Norma and John C. Marin Jr. in 1957, also will be displayed. Cape Split is located along Maine’s coast in Washington County where Marin had a studio with ocean views, according to Kinghorn.

For photography, works by Abbott, who Kinghorn calls one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, will be on display. Abbott’s photographs documented the rapidly changing architecture of New York City in the 1930s. When Abbott moved to the rural Blanchard, Maine in the 1960s, she began taking photos of Maine’s people, sights and industries Kinghorn says.

Art by contemporary artists, such as Katz and Welliver, who have considered Maine home either full or part time will be included.

UMaine’s growing permanent collection contains more than 3,800 pieces that include realism, pop art, abstract expressionism and cubism, with a concentration in original prints and photography. The collection features artwork created since 1900 with an emphasis on contemporary art (1945–present).

The university’s art collection was established in 1946 by founding museum director and UMaine art professor Vincent Hartgen. The collection became a museum in the 1980s and has been located in downtown Bangor for more than a decade, extending UMaine’s reach and service to the community in keeping with the land grant mission of the university, Kinghorn says, adding the collection belongs to Maine residents.

Art from the museum’s permanent collection — Abbott’s New York City and Maine photos — will be included in a Portland Museum of Art exhibition that runs from May 21 to September 20.

“Directors’ Cut: Selections from the Maine Art Museum Trail,” will present highlights of Maine’s art history from the state’s most-renowned museums. More about Directors’ Cut is on the PMA website.

The University of Maine Museum of Art is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free admission to the museum throughout 2015 is made possible by Penobscot Financial Advisors. More information about the museum is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747