Monday, June 16, 2014

Portland Museum of Art

Virgil and I and Meridith made a trip to Portland with stops at Bodoin College and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. The mission had two objectives; one to initiate a relationship between the Portland Museum and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton NB- being that there are commonalities in terms of size, distance, and mission between the two galleries. The other was to begin forging an itinerary for a series of dialogues between Virgil and myself on a painting of our selection in the collection of a number of museums in the eastern US. The discussions are to be videotaped and distributed via the internet. The first and prototype of our talks has been completed at the Beaverbrook, on a painting by Graham Sutherland.

Another reason for the trip was that among the exhibited works which were currently on display was a major retrospective of the work of Richard Estes. Now, I am not a fan of photorealism and was prepared to be bored by gratuitous copy work, but I left with more positive feelings. Firstly, it reconfirmed my belief that digital or photographic images just do not provide enough information to carry the reality, message or weight of a visual artwork. One thing that had been missing for me, having never seen a work of Mr. Estes was surface, and scale (the works are mainly fairly large). Another perception was that the intricacy of the works bring the viewer to a heightened visual perceptive experience, and I feel (as I felt) that most would leave the exhibition with more visual awareness of the world than before. And as Virgil pointed out, the works are sometimes composite compositions based on the integration of more than one photographic reference, and so are creatively managed.

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