Monthly Archives: July 2009

Black and White

By Josiah Webber
YourSpace High School Intern

Call of the Coast at the Portland Museum of Art is a glimpse into the lives of New England artists when they lived in one of the four art colonies. As you look around, you lose yourself in mesmerizing paintings. There are a variety of subjects in the paintings from fishermen and boats to houses and seascapes.

While I was walking through the gallery, I noticed one picture that seemed oddly different from the rest. It is called Monhegan Island by Louis Lozowick. This picture shows a mountainside descending into the water where a boat floats away from the shore. It is a very detailed picture, but at the same time, it is very simple and soothing. It has no color, just different shades of black and white. It reminds me of an oriental-style ink painting the way it has wave-like rhythm. The tree in the left-hand corner and the waves behind the boat flow smoothly, in contrast to the rough rocks. I enjoy this type of art, because I like the simplicity of black and white. When a picture is in black and white, it is easier to focus less on the colors and more on the subject of the picture.

My internship at the Museum has given me a lot of work to do. I have worked in the ARTREK program helping with the little kids for a week. It was a very new, but good experience for me, and I feel like I learned a lot in the short amount of time I spent there. I have also learned a lot about the Museum just from spending so much time here, and I have started to become familiar with a lot of the paintings and exhibits.

Image credit: Louis Lozowick, (United States (born Russia), 1892–1973), Monhegan Island, 1946, lithograph, 13 5/16 x 8 13/16 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Museum purchase, 2009.5.1.

Contrasting the Coast

By Sidney Dritz
YourSpace High School Intern

Walking through the Call of the Coast exhibition, it’s almost impossible not to get overwhelmed by the variety of styles, media, and colors; from the impressionists in the first few rooms with their feathery strokes and oil on canvas, to the two pieces that caught my attention the most in the adjacent gallery: Leo Meissner’s Crevasse and James Fitzgerald’s Black Head, Monhegan. The two works are startling, eye-catching depictions of Monhegan’s rocky shoreline, but otherwise have little to tie them together.

Meissner’s Crevasse is an intricate linocut, which shades each individual rock by facing the hundreds of tiny lines that fill it in into different directions. The meticulously delicate lines and the painful degree of detail set my head spinning. There in a small, unassuming frame, in tidy monochrome, sits a picture so microscopically detailed that it’s hard to believe it was produced by human hands.

Fitzgerald’s painting, by contrast, is a study in broad strokes and sweeping effects. The enormous cliff of Monhegan’s Black Head is rendered imposingly, with the charcoal outlines and dramatic watercolors making the scene more immediate than any amount of painstaking detail could do. Both works use the techniques they employ to their greatest effect; I think that much is plain. While there is little visual similarity between them, the two pieces are linked by the combination of skill and originality, which is represented in both. While the entire collection is magnificent, these two pieces stood out to me as the only ones that were entirely dissimilar to all surrounding works.

My experience in the Museum is pretty well characterized by my stint in the Call of the Coast exhibition, actually; a kind of bewildered awe at the excess of visual stimulation, which, in my summer, had hitherto been of a much more mundane kind. I suppose that would be true of anyone, though—who in the world spends his or her days surrounded by such astounding artwork? Well, I’ve been meeting several individuals who do, and so far, the experience has been a great one.

Image credits:
James Fitzgerald, Black Head, Monhegan, circa 1954, graphite and watercolor on paper, 31 x 23 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of Anne and Edgar Hubert, 1992.9.8.

Leo Meissner, Crevasse, 1934, linocut on wove paper, 17 9/16 x 13 9/16 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Museum purchase, 1985.17.

Made Up My Mind

By Morgan Ditmars
YourSpace High School Intern

The Portland Museum of Art has a new exhibition called Call of the Coast. This exhibition is made up of artwork from some of the art colonies in New England. This exhibit includes artists such as Edward Hopper, Childe Hassam, Rockwell Kent, and George Bellows, as well as many other New England artists.

The whole exhibit is beautiful with its seascapes and its impressionist collection, but nothing stood out to me more than the painting by Rockwell Kent, Wreck of the D. T. Sheridan (circa 1949). The piece was an awe-inspiring seascape about the beached tugboat, the D. T. Sheridan. It’s captivating color and real-life story caught my attention right away. I chose this piece of work because it looked so real to me. It made me feel like I was there—on a beach on a beautiful summer day with the seagulls squawking and trying to steal my lunch. This piece set a mood, it was not just a piece hanging on a wall…it was an experience.

During my Internship with the Museum, we get a week of studio time, which is great, except we need a theme for all of the art we do. And, if you knew me, you would know that it is very difficult to make up my mind. I was lost, and had no idea what I was going to do until I saw Call of the Coast exhibit. Now, I think that I am going to do coastal views and pictures. The Rockwell Kent painting really inspired me to not only make up my mind, but also hopefully make extraordinary art. The experience has been a joy so far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Image credit: Rockwell Kent (United States, 1882–1971)Wreck of the D. T. Sheridan, circa 1949, oil on canvas, 27 3/8 x 43 7/8 inches, Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Elizabeth B. Noyce.