Category Archives: Exhibitions

Amy Stacey Curtis: 9 walks

“Some Context (Part 1 of 2)”
By Amy Stacey Curtis

In 1998, I began what would be an 18-year commitment to art-making, nine solo-biennial exhibits from the year 2000 to 2016. In the end, I will have installed 81 large-in-scope, temporary, interactive installations in the vast mills of eight or nine Maine towns. Each solo biennial explores a different theme, while inviting audience to perpetuate its multiple installations.

I committed to this 18-year project to convey our interconnectedness, that we affect everyone and everything while everyone and everything affects us, no matter how small or fleeting the contact. I examine this concept through nine broad related themes—experience (2000), movement (2002), change (2004), sound (2006), light (2008), time (2010), space (2012), matter (2014), and memory (2016)—in hopes that my exploration is thorough, the total of all biennials’ imagery making a cohesive whole.

Three of the video works presented as part of “9 walks” at the Portland Museum of Art, are taken from three previous solo-biennial exhibits: forward II (from CHANGE in 2004 at Brunswick’s Fort Andross), forward V (from TIME in 2010 at Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill), and forward VI (from SPACE in 2012 at Winthrop’s former Carleton Woolen Mill). My exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art gives me opportunity to push even further/learn even more from the ideas behind these works.

Amy Stacey Curtis, Still from "9-hour walk (III)," 2013, video. Courtist of the artist. Copyright Amy Stacey Curtis. Photo copyright Amy Nesbitt.

Amy Stacey Curtis, Process still from 9-hour walk (II), 2013, video. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright Amy Stacey Curtis. Photo copyright Amy Nesbitt.

I am currently working toward my eighth of the nine biennials, MATTER, open for participation October 4-24, 2014 throughout 15,000 to 26,000 square feet of one of Maine’s vast abandoned mill spaces. As with my previous biennials, MATTER will comprise nine large-in-scope, interactive works—each an audience activated experience.

Each solo biennial is a 22-month process. Within the first 5 months of MATTER’s 22-month process (which spanned February 1 through June 21, 2013), I devised its nine installation concepts and began a series of drawings which also support the concept of matter (these happen to be on view at June Fitzpatrick Gallery through November 2, 2013). For the next 15 months, I continue to fundraise, and to bring my installations to fruition while scouting/securing the right space for the work, the space determining the final configuration of several installations. During months 19 and 20 (August and September 2014): I clean and prepare the mill space; transport materials from my studio; install the work…

The Maine community is especially engaged during this time and the exhibit itself, as each biennial re-energizes and brings attention to one of its historic mills. The biennial is open for participation for three weeks within the 21st month (October 2014). During the 22nd month (November 2014), I organize my storage and documentation (update website, video, artist materials, talk, etc.). Then, I rest for two months before beginning the 22-month process for my ninth and final solo biennial, MEMORY.

As with my previous biennials, many of MATTER’s installations require participants’ physical touch, effect or perpetuation while others function through active and purposeful perception. Each installation is accompanied by instructions, an integral part of the experience. Audience is asked to manipulate, maintain, enter, notice, distinguish, recognize–challenged to contemplate matter in new ways (”matter” being something, object, substance, that occupies space, has weight, has gravity, has inertia, has definite or indefinite quantity).

flux IV, 99 spruce posts, steel, audience, 10.6.12-10.26.12 .

The seventh of nine solo-biennial exhibits of installation, SPACE (October 6-26, 2012), was nine interactive installations installed throughout 3 floors (27,500 s.f.) of Winthrop, Maine's Winthrop Commerce Center (formerly Carleton Woolen Mill).

Without the audience’s careful participation, my work is unfinished. My biennials’ installations, in a way, are given over to the audience once each exhibit opens to the public. The work is no longer my own, rather, for each participant, an introspective experience, as I invite participants to touch, move, maintain, change, to be inside, part of, or in close proximity to my work.

In giving my work over to my audience, it requires from me a certain balance of control and surrender. Each installation has a desired progression and result, but through the relinquishing of my work, it sometimes proceeds in a contradictory way. The audience does not always follow instructions, sometimes through interpretation, sometimes through a kind of internal rebellion. This has always been part of my work, and an interesting, powerful contrast to the control I try to maintain with my instructions. In the end, whatever happens, happens.

Following each biennial, my installations exist only through documentation, dialogue, and memory.

Because of the independent nature of these projects, the only ways to know the whens and wheres of MATTER and then MEMORY, is to “like” me on Facebook, or better, to be added to my e-mail list or mailing list. Please write me at to add yourself to one or both of these lists. If you have missed my first 7 solo biennials, they are well documented on my website:

A Fresh Look

By Vanessa Nesvig

Recently, we received an email from a patron who noticed something incredible about a work in our collection. The painting, titled John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940) by Portland native Claude Montgomery, is a portrait of the Maine artist and architect and is currently on view in our exhibition The Portland Society of Art and Winslow Homer’s Legacy in Maine. In the portrait, John Calvin Stevens is shown seated in an elegant interior decorated with a small landscape painting in the background to the left of the mantel. This painting-within-a-painting was originally assumed to represent a work by Stevens based on his involvement with the Portland-based painting group The Brush’uns and his dedication to the city’s artistic life.

Now, thanks to the keen eye of a visitor, we realize that this landscape image is not of a painting by John Calvin Stevens but, rather, is the iconic painting The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog by Winslow Homer. Homer’s composition is recognizable by the dark shapes, the glistening of light off of the water, and the halo around the sun—definitive characteristics apparent in the landscape near the mantel.

In 1901, Homer gave The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog to Stevens who asked for “any production of Winslow Homer” as payment for architectural plans he had drawn for Kettle Cove, a cottage at Prouts Neck that Homer used as a summer rental property. (Stevens had also worked on Homer’s studio in 1884 and 1890.) In a letter to Stevens that accompanied the painting, Homer noted, “I am very much surprised and pleased at your bill. This kind of thing occurs seldom in matters of business . . . I can greet you as a brother artist and thank you sincerely. I send you this sketch of mine that I think is appropriate and will please you.”1

1 Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. and William David Barry, “Brother Artists,” Bowdoin, Fall 1988: 18.

Image credits: (Top to bottom) Claude Montgomery, “John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940),” 1935, oil on canvas, 40 x 32 1/2 inches. Gift of the artist.; Winslow Homer, “The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog,” 1894, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 1/4 inches. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester; R.T. Miller Fund.

Mark’s Remarks: A Peek at 2013

We’re jumpstarting 2013 with a renewed focus on contemporary art in its many forms—setting the stage for a broad array of programs that include painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, and installation art. In addition to exciting new collaborations with artists and our community, you will also find a renewed emphasis on our outstanding permanent collection. Galleries will be transformed and collections re-installed in fascinating new ways.

Visit soon, visit often. See you at the PMA!

Mark H.C. Bessire

Lois Dodd: Catching the Light
On view January 17—April 7
To kick off 2013, the PMA is hosting an exhibition highlighting the career of American plein-air painter, Lois Dodd. The exhibition will include images of the places that were most important to her—views of New York City’s Lower East Side from her apartment windows and the woods and gardens of Midcoast Maine.

Alex Katz stated, “Lois is one serious painter.” We couldn’t agree more and hope you join us to celebrate the first career museum retrospective for one of Maine’s most beloved painters.

Voices of Design: 25 Years of Architalx
On view February 2—May 19
Voices of Design will celebrate 25 years of Portland’s Architalx lecture series and showcase the power of design through an interactive exhibition featuring work of some of the world’s leading architects and designers.

Blueberry Rakers: Photographs by David Brooks Stess
On view April 6—May 19
David Brooks Stess has spent two decades photographing and participating in the annual blueberry harvest in northern Maine. Brooks brings the physical aspect and hard realities of the manual labor required for the harvest, to light while also focusing on the relationships and social life in workers’ camps on the edge of the fields.

The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism
On view May 2—September 8
This summer the work of timeless masters Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, and Paul Gauguin, among others, will be on view at the PMA from the renowned William S. Paley Collection at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. We are excited to be the only New England stop for the collection’s 2012-2014 North American tour.

Ahmed Alsoudani: Redacted
On view September 7—December 8
Iraq-born American artist Ahmed Alsoudani’s contemporary works of anguished abstraction approach themes of violence, survival, and history from every angle. We are grateful to have Alsoudani, an alumni of Maine College of Art, back in Maine for a powerful exhibition of the artist’s recent pieces.

Winslow Homer’s Civil War
On view September 7—December 8
This exhibition will draw from the PMA’s own collection of Winslow Homer’s wood-engravings that depict images of the Civil War the artist produced for Harper’s Weekly. The pieces showcase Homer’s unique vision of modern warfare and keen eye for social commentary.

2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial
On view September 26—January 5
We are thrilled, once again, to celebrate the eighth Portland Museum of Art Biennial. The juried exhibition not only features entries from artists who have a meaningful connection to our state, but also will be juried by our new Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art, Jessica May.