Category Archives: Artist Interventions

Artist Interventions: An Experiment in Science, Space, and Photography

By Julia Einstein
Assistant Director of Family and Studio Learning

This week’s Artist Interventions was designed by 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work artist Caleb Charland. On Friday, August 23, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., he’ll bring his science experiments in photography to the PMA.

The artist tests photographic materials—both traditional and unusual—and photographs his light and science demonstrations. This Intervention will be a preview of what visitors will see from Caleb’s work in the Biennial.

Caleb uses the computer screen as a telescope and his photographs of deep space are sourced from the Internet then printed, manipulated, and reproduced in large scale.

We met in the Maine College of Art (MECA) photography lab where Caleb is the current Media Technican & Artist-In-Residence to talk and to plan his upcoming Artist Intervention.

Tell us about your event on Friday.
I am interested in sharing a discovery. I was having a problem with a printer; it was not printing correctly. I tested out a DIY solution and placed the print head over a piece of paper towel soaked in an ammonia-based cleaner (Windex) and it worked to dissolve and clear the clogged ink. I was curious to see if this could have an influence on my printed images and I began a series of work where I dissolved images of deep space acquired from the Internet. The photograph I have in the Biennial is the result of months of these experiments.

In solving an everyday problem, you discovered something exciting.
Yes, and for the purpose of this Artist Intervention I wanted to invite visitors to the museum to assist in a live version of this process. Visitors will help create a unique work by applying my experimental solution to the surface of prints of various colors. And, there will be a video camera recording it all with a live feed to a high definition display monitor. As the colors dissolve and change and mix they will be displayed as a separate experience in the museum.

You choose a very specific location. Where? Why?
The event will take place in the Great Hall of the museum, in a place everyone passes by. Setting up within this high traffic area will attract participants. And, I’m hoping it will set us up for a possibly element of surprise as someone could watch the video and be surprised to discover it is being created right there, in the same space, and participate if they so desired.

I like that the audience participation is part of it. What are your expectations?
There is always an element of surprise in my practice, and I’ve learned that it is often the uncontrollable factors that really make a piece work.

Artist Interventions are made possible by the Peggy L. Osher Education Endowment at the Portland Museum of Art.

Media Sponsor: 94.9 WHOM

21st-Century Maker

By Julia Einstein
Assistant Director of Family and Studio Learning

This month’s Artist Intervention was designed by 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work artist Crystal Cawley. On Friday, July 12 she will transform a museum space into an artist’s studio. Cawley’s work is about her love for material as she collects then manipulates books, postcards, buttons, maps, and fabric into three-dimensional sculpture. You may have seen her summer exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art (CMCA) (on view through July 16!) as part of the exhibition, Dress Shop or in the May issue of Maine Home + Design. Here is a behind the scenes interview on her upcoming Artist Intervention.

Tell us about your Artist Intervention.
The things I make involve laborious—some would say tedious—processes like hand sewing, spinning thread, or some other method of putting things together that requires repetitive action. I will sew on a few pieces at the dining room table of the McLellan House, like my grandmother worked at the old dining table in her basement, where she made beautiful braided rugs out of outgrown worn wool clothing

What is your inspiration?
I start with something tangible. I enjoy responding to what’s already there, something with its own visual history that becomes an important part of what I make of it.

Why did you chosen the McLellan House as the location for your Artist Intervention?
When I visited the galleries to think about what I might do for this program, I wandered around noticing which spaces I felt most comfortable in and where I would enjoy being and working for a few hours. These included a few of the third floor galleries with Contemporary and Modern Art (there were some superb minimalist works to see there) and some of the rooms in the McLellan House (where I would be contentedly surrounded by sumptuous colors and opulent patterns). I decided on the house because the rooms there are more contained and quieter—I get a little worn out and distracted when there’s constant ambient sound as there is in large galleries made of stone and wood.

The Artist Interventions series is about interaction between visitors and art. What are your expectations for the evening?
I am curious about what might happen when visitors come into the dining room and see me embroidering something. Will anyone sit down and start a conversation or ask a question? I am open to talking with anyone who comes in, but I’ll keep sewing as we speak.

Artist Interventions: Crystal Cawley is on Friday, July 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during PMA’s Free Friday evening.

To Do: Artist Interventions with Adriane Herman

By Julia Einstein
Assistant Director of Family and Studio Learning

On Friday, June 28 come the PMA with your to-do lists, grocery lists, list of books to read or any list in your pocket! This month’s Artist Interventions was designed by 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work artist Adriane Herman. She and her team of “markers” will take over a gallery on the third floor with an assembly line, crossing items off your list.

Image credit:

Adriane and I talked about her upcoming Artist Intervention.

You’ve chosen to be near the painting Brushstroke VI by Roy Lichtenstein…
I am excited that the event will take place near Lichtenstein’s relief sculpture because it satirizes and pays homage to the great American tradition of personality-infused marks. I have to credit PMA Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art, Jessica May, who suggested Lichtenstein’s piece as a natural complement to my focus on the marks made when we cross things off our lists. May’s savvy connection is just one reason I’m so excited that the PMA has a contemporary curator and feel so lucky to have had this kind of collaboration from the museum.

And your “markers”?
Yes, there will be a panel of artists to cross items off people’s “to do” lists. It’s a kind of hypothetical public service, a “what if,” if you will.

You selected a great list of artists for your panel. (Lucinda Bliss, Bridget Spaeth, Clint Fulkerson, Alison Hildreth, Ayumi Horie, Jeff Kellar, Deborah Wing-Sproul, Henry Wolyniec, and Alix Lambert)
I’m inviting people to bring pieces of paper to the museum that depict, document, and essentially make up their lives, and offering them the opportunity to have items on those lists crossed out with dynamic marks by artists. The whole thing is a little silly and exaggerated—forced, you might even say! This is an exercise that might give people the chance to experience the relief and release of having everything “done.”

The Artist Intervention series is about interactive engagement in the galleries between visitors, art, and artists. What are your thoughts on this?
On one level I am simply agog about all things to do with lists and I want to talk to people about their lists; on another level I am interested in how this event could help some people see that their lives are relevant to an artist’s work and that my working process, if not finished work, might help them see their own lives in a new and possibly fruitful light. It doesn’t get better than that for me—that kind of symbiosis. We’ll see what happens!

Adriane Herman’s latest work on lists is about the mark made by crossing-out. She studies the details of each crossed-out line, looking at the gesture and for the inherent abstraction. PMA visitors can check out her exhibition, Finish Lines, at Rose Contemporary Gallery in Portland. Make plans to see her work in the 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial: Piece Work when it opens on October 3!