Day With(out) Art at the PMA

Day With(out) Art at the PMA

This weekend, in recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Portland Museum of Art is joining with the Frannie Peabody Center and participating in A Day With(out) Art. Organized in 1989 in response to the AIDS epidemic, this annual event recognizes the lives and achievements of lost colleagues and friends; encourages caring for all people with AIDS; educates diverse publics about HIV infection; and helps find a cure.

PMA staff members have chosen eight works of art to cover. When you visit the galleries you will see personal reflections accompanying each of these works. By depriving access to these works of art, we invite you to pause and consider the void that AIDS has created in the art world specifically, and our community more broadly. Directly or indirectly, the AIDS crisis impacts us all. With such devastating loss, symbolized here by shrouded works of art, we are left to imagine how the world would be different today if all who have succumbed to this disease were still with us.

I chose to cover Marsden’s Hartley’s Kinsman FallsPrior to becoming the self-appointed “painter from Maine,” Hartley had lived in Europe for almost 15 years. In the years before WWII, when Berlin was a place known for its liberal attitude towards homosexuality, Hartley experienced freedom to be himself, perhaps for the first time in his life. There, he developed a strong, intimate connection with Karl von Freyburg, a German lieutenant. Sadly, von Freyburg died less than a year after they met, leaving Hartley in shock and mourning. Hartley would eventually return to the United States, and specifically his home state of Maine, focusing his artistic output on conveying the visual energy of the natural world. There is no evidence to suggest that he lived with the same openness he experienced in Berlin, leaving me to wonder what his life would have been like if he was free to fully be himself.

In addition to participating in a Day With(out) Art, the PMA is honoring World AIDS Day in several other ways. At 6:30 p.m. Gia Drew, program director of EqualityMaine, joins us for a special community conversation in the exhibition Nan Goldin, with a particular focus on Nan’s work in relationship to HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQ and arts communities. In the Bernard Osher Foundation Auditorium at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., PMA Films presents B.P.M. (Beats Per Minute), a moving and inspiring film about a Paris chapter of AIDS activist organization ACT UP in the early 1990s. And across the street from the PMA, in Congress Square Park, there is a 5:15 p.m. candlelight vigil.

I believe that art offers an opportunity to reflect on our place in the world, and perhaps more than ever, can help us find ways to learn compassion and empathy for others. Our participation in a Day With(out) Art is one way we can pause, and find compassion for all those impacted by the AIDS epidemic. I hope you will join us.

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November 29, 2017
Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Interpretation

As the Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Interpretation, Jenn strives to provide opportunities for visitors to make meaningful connections with art. Having worked in museums for over 15 years, she has come to believe that a museum can be a playful place where we explore creativity from the past and present to inform our future. Jenn loves exploring art, nature, food and drink with her husband and young daughter.