Chris Beneman’s work combines architectural details and fragmented images as a way to build a unique urban landscape. In the printmaking work she uses hand cut stencils and collagraph plates to create monoprints which are sometimes cut apart and reassembled. Working in a space between intention and improvisation, these new shapes often become new stencils to be printed on top of and through. The acrylic paintings in the exhibit are a more direct way of expressing the same intent and allow for a nuanced exploration of neutral tones.
Chris is a graduate of Bates College and has lived and worked in the Greater Portland area since 1981. She has studied printmaking at Haystack, MECA, Mass College of Art, Zea Mays Printmaking, Ballinglen Arts Foundation (Ireland) and the Icelandic Printmaking Association. She has been a member of the Peregrine Press in Portland since 2005 and is also a member of the Boston Printmakers and the Monotype Guild of New England. Her printmaking work was featured in the 2019 book Singular and Serial, Contemporary Monotype and Monoprint, Schiffer Publishing and is in numerous public and private
Skowhegan School Artists
Fineberg Family Community Room
Juliet Karelsen, Guest Curator
The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Artists exhibition at The Maine Jewish Museum features the work of fifteen artists who have attended the internationally renowned school since its inception in 1946. Curated by artist, Skowhegan alumni and Maine resident Juliet Karelsen, the show will span a wide range of Skowhegan time and include work by alumni and faculty starting with the 1950’s and up to the present. The exhibit will showcase painting, video, mixed media, sculpture, fiber art, ceramics, and a site-specific sculpture created especially for the show. Artists included in the show: Alex Katz, Ben Shahn, Julianne Swartz, Neil Goldberg, Lauren Cohen, Abby Shahn, Juliet Karelsen, Natasha Mayers, Gail Spaien, Gina Siepel, Talia Levitt, Naomi Safran-Hon, Rachel Frank, Shadi Harouni and Alex Bradley Cohen.
This exhibition is funded in part by the generosity of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Judy Glickman Lauder, Patty Davidson Reef and The Maine Jewish Museum.
Jody S. Sataloff Art and History Pavilion
Tonee Harbert’s work considers human intervention on the landscape. This developing series from New Mexico invokes history and interpretation by looking at what remains from scenarios that once held meaning or utility. Any purpose imposed on the land leaves a mark which can show a past narrative. These signs/signals inhabit our everyday world, where collectively they can take on the surreal quality of a dream. In the New Mexico landscape the three marks of existence (from Buddhism) come to mind — impermanence, emptiness and imperfection. Harbert uses a 1960’s vintage plastic “Diana” film camera to capture scenes which resonate with his own interpretation of, and experience of moving through the world.
Tonee Harbert, grew up in Oregon, and has lived most of his life in Maine. His photography has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, Portland Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art Museum, Danforth Museum of Art, ICA at Maine College of Art, and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. He’s been awarded a New England Emmy award, his work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, and in books and motion pictures. He is currently based in Roswell, NM.
Gerry Holzman – Artist in Wood
In the late 1990’s, while conducting a personal and intellectual exploration of my long-neglected Eastern European roots, I came across the photographs of Roman Vishniac, a chronicler of Jewish life in pre-World War II Europe. The powerful and provocative photographs in Vishniac’s book, A VANISHED WORLD, affected me profoundly. I was particularly impressed by the portraits of the various artisans–the blacksmiths, the cobblers, the carpenters–and by the bearded scholars with their long flowing coats and their omnipresent books.
For the past twenty years, I have been recording my response to this extraordinary experience. My responses in wood are unlike anything seen before. In some carvings, I have faithfully copied the individuals portrayed in the various photographic records but have placed them in an entirely different setting. In others, I have extracted the figures from within the raw walnut logs where they have dwelt for centuries. In a few pieces, I have simply presented the viewer with the vague outline of a provocative notion.
While these carvings present a window into a world that disappeared in the 20th century, I like to think my work in the 21st century offers vivid proof of Roman Vishniac’s conviction that this vanished world was definitely not a vanquished one. And perhaps, it reinforces an even more important message—“We’re still here.”
Fineberg Family Community Room
Penelope Jones embraces architectural structure, surface texture, and color interaction in this exhibition of paintings, drawings, and collages. Her work is inspired by such disparate sources as Ukiyo-e Japanese paintings, boat slip structures, the snaking streams of Maine estuaries, and architectural details from the Alhambra Palace in Spain. She takes great pleasure in precise lines, angular and curved shapes, and spatial ambiguity.
Born and raised in upstate NY, Penelope Jones received a BFA from MECA and an MFA from Cornell University. After a stint living and working in Boston, she moved back to Maine, where she resides and exhibits her work. Since 1992 she has taught visual arts at Cornell University, Bowdoin College, Maine College of Art, University of Southern Maine and SMCC. She has been a part-time lecturer at Bates College for over 20 years.
These pieces from our Current Exhibitions are for sale. View a selection of work
Jody S. Sataloff Art & History Pavilion
Meeting Hall Maine records for posterity the documentation of hundreds of meeting halls found throughout the state. This photographic project began in collaboration with Hauser’s late husband, Andrew S. Flamm (1967-2018). Hauser has continued on with their shared vision to adhere to centered compositions of frontal, side or back views and to sequence the typology of structures into groups. Grids and pairings invite comparison and also create an abstraction of architectural forms. At some sites three-quarter views of the halls were captured to evoke the experience of place. The exhibition also includes work that appropriates signifiers used in ritual activities taking place inside the meeting halls.
In 1981, Hauser forged lasting ties to Maine at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, leading her to return to Maine to paint, using a former Odd Fellows Hall in Mount Vernon. The hall served as an inspiration. Extending her studio time there was the catalyst for winning a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. It was where she and Andrew Flamm first met. They went on to open Odd Fellows Art and Antiques that specialized in vernacular photography and the Material Culture of American Fraternal Organizations which in turn sparked their idea for Meeting Hall Maine.
(Meeting Hall Maine is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.)
These pieces from our Current Exhibitions are for sale. View a selection of work
“My great-great-great grandmother Rachel Mendez De Leon’s (1834-1903) Portuguese ancestors moved to Amsterdam during the Sephardic Immigration in the 17th century because of the inquisition. That does not make me Jewish but my two grandsons are. I feel privileged to have been able to witness them turn from babies into real (wonderful) human beings. Seeing them grow up in the Jewish faith put me in a position as an outside observer. As a photographer, I am also an outsider looking in. I am a bystander documenting the world around me. These ceremonies and rituals I witnessed and photographed were strange and new to me. But they were also loving, warm and inviting. It has been a privilege to document them.”
Jan Pieter van Voorst van Beest is a Fine Arts photographer living in Pownal Maine. He studied photography at the Portland School of Art, and at the Maine Photographic Workshops with Joyce Tenneson and Arnold Newman. The majority of his work can be classified as street/documentary and portrait photography. His work has been published in a variety of magazines and books and has been exhibited in the U.S, the Netherlands, Russia, The Portland Museum of Art, The Bowdoin College Museum, the University of Southern Maine and the Art Gallery at the University of New England.
Exhibition curated by Nancy Davidson, Resident Curator and Elizabeth Ruskin, Ceramicist and Art Collector
Exhibition Opening Scheduled for Thursday, February 4, 2021 12pm-4pm
Located in the Spiegel Gallery and Fineberg Family Community Room –
The exhibition features a selection of work from the Following Artists:
Sondra Bogdonoff – Weavings
Reid Brechner – Ceramic Paintings
Linda Gerson – Paintings
Joe Hemes – Illuminated Sculptures
Jamie Johnston – Wood Sculptures
Lin Lisberger – Wood Sculptures
Elizabeth Ruskin – Ceramic Sculptures
Meryl Ruth – Teapots
Adrienne Sloane – Fiber
Gail Spaien – Paintings
These works of art are for sale …for further information call Nancy Davidson (curator) 207-239-4774
I employ art as a healing mechanism. Art allows people to understand that when they experience the phenomena of psychic trauma, that they are not alone. Psychic trauma is the universal response of humans to their impending death or the death of a loved one.
Art focused on traumatic experiences can become a catalyst for healing. After the acute stage has passed, humans bury pain deep in the psyche where it remains unhealed like a cut that becomes infected from within. Psychic pain, like an infection, can erupt at any time. Art provides a conduit to release and heal the phenomena of psychic pain, keeping it from festering under the surface.
Facing death or the death of a loved one causes psychic trauma. This is a universal reaction for all people from the age of about seven on. Seven is when children begin to understand the concept of death. After World War Two, psychiatrists studied holocaust survivors and found that they reported specific experiences (phenomena) which impacted them.
First, the mind shuts down and everything appears white, blank, detached and floating. Second, is acute disorganization. The mind experiences fragmentation of memories, fears, mixed emotions of mundane issues from everyday life. Third, the disorganization decreases in time, but vivid memories reoccur, which can be visual, auditory, and visceral sensory.
The second stage of psychic trauma, acute disorganization, is most evident in the loss or potential loss of a loved one. It is like living in a fractured world. One tries to get back to some type of normalcy, but there is no going back. Survivors have to create a “new normal”, which can take a lifetime to achieve. To achieve a “new normal” one must survive being fractured while handling the mundane chores of everyday life, and one’s professional life in order to see what the future will be like.
Fracturing of Objects
Fracturing of objects that represent memories, dreams, and nightmares are shown in my current work on the pandemic. Fracturing is seen clinically in adults and children who have experienced sudden death of a loved one, received a diagnosis of a fatal disease for themselves or their child, or have lived with a chronic, but potentially fatal disease. People are embarrassed by it, dealing with the fracturing depresses them. It is a continuous burden that the mind works on to put the loss into perspective. By using fracturing in my work, I hope to show people that fracturing is normal, a part of the process that the mind goes through to survive and to heal. At night when we dream, our mind works to put things together. Around 3 a.m. when the world is silent, quiet, and before dawn, if one wake up from a “bad dream”, our mind is super active in thinking about all of the scary issues that are going on.
My studio is full of the images that you see. I am surrounded by the reality of the world outside. At this time to be able to function I am starting a new series called “Hope, Faith and Charity”. This is to keep me sane in a time of insanity. Be safe, be kind, and do your best. Before becoming a full time contemporary artist I was a clinical specialist in nursing in a variety of roles, including as a Public Health Nurse for the Maine CDC.I have worked with MRSA, active TB, and other infections. This is a new pathogen that scares the SH-T out of me. I am not sure why people won’t believe – but until they do COVID 19’s defeat will be long and cost many more lives.
Milly Bachrach RN, MN, MFA
Color Play– Laurie Russo Smith Laurie paints abstract expressionist landscapes on unprimed canvas with a touch of collage. She uses watercolor and other water-based mediums to achieve her colorful paintings. She combines the unpredictability of the wet paint with very controlled lines and shapes.
Laurie Russo-Smith is a 69-year-old Jewish woman. She has lived, traveled and studied art all over the world. Her work has been inspired by a love of landscapes and seascapes…the Swiss Alps, the Berkshires of W. Mass and the coast of Maine. Laurie now lives and works full time as an artist in Saco, Maine.
High Energy – Annette Kearney “I work in silence and I am now confronted with the need for words in reference to my work. As anyone who knows me can attest, silence is not my natural habit. This time of isolation from friends and family, this time of political unrest and uncertainly, have made me realize how essential silence is to my process. I work in silence. There is no radio or music. Dimension, color, shapes are considerations made in silence. In silence, I tend my garden. I take walks and photograph the seasonal changes of Evergreen Ponds. I work in silence and hopefully the work, thoughtfully curated by Nancy Davidson, speaks for itself.”
Annette Kearney has worked for years as a mixed media artist. She studied painting with her friend and mentor Polly Brown. Her degree is in political science and history.
Alice Spencer: For many years I have used handwoven textiles-their patterns, structures and stories-as a reference in my work. In this body of work, I draw on 19th century Uzbek ikat textiles. These glorious tie-dyed weavings were used primarily for women’s coats and featured repeated symmetrical motifs.
The patterns in my work are made, literally, from the ground up. I sun print the shadows of sticks, grass and weeds then choose parts of the prints to mirror-reflect and add to the first parts. The resulting bilateral forms are made into stencils. Each pattern in the work is built using multiple stencils.
I began making this work almost 4 years ago when I returned to my studio after several years of absence. We had a new president and the world around me felt precarious. Each day in the studio offered a kind of counternarrative, confirming the continued presence of balance, beauty and order.
The work in this show honors the Jewish artisans in 19th century Bukhara who were the master dyers of ikat textiles and the unsung collaborators in one of the world’s most vibrant textile traditions. Each painting in this exhibit uses indigo blue, the color for which they were best known.
Hungarian-born Maine resident, Miklos Pogany, is a prolific artist with an impressive exhibition history and work in the permanent collections of many major museums. A master of multiple media, Pogany creates vivid works based on nature and the built environment, exploring and pushing the parameters of each medium. The artist describes his motivation as follows: “I react to wonder, desires, conflicts, meanings, memories, revenge, sexuality, love and death. I gather all these fragments and make some personal sense of it all. Pogany views his role as an artist to be that of both record keeper and conjurer, both to document history and to evoke wonder.
Pogany’s work is in the collections of museums throughout the country and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Fogg Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and the Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris).
In “What We Look At” Jane Sutherland and Alex Sax, mother and daughter, present a dialogue in art. Included in the exhibit are oil, gouache and pastel paintings of everyday objects, hand-made dolls, and portraits of woman artists by Sutherland. Works included by Sax are mixed media sculptures,drawings and paintings of everyday objects, flora and fauna, and animals from her historical fiction stories. The details of their observations reveal the complexity and often unnoticed richness of the world. This is the second collaboration between Alex Sax and Jane Sutherland. In 2002 they presented The Crane Project at Vassos Gallery, Silvermine, CT dedicated to saving these endangered birds world-wide. “What We Look At” is dedicated to women’s activism to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment securing equal voting rights for women.
Jane Sutherland is Professor Emerita at Fairfield University. From 1998 – 2014, she was the author of “Technical Q&A” in American Artist Magazine, and Artist in Residence at the Summer Seminars of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in Colorado Springs. Sutherland received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and MFA from Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico, and is an alumna of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her art has been exhibited in the U.S. and in Mexico and is in many private and public collections. She resides in Southport, Connecticut.
Alex Sax teaches privately and part-time at the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Weir Farm.Sax received a BA from Hamilton College and MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her temporary and permanent installations have been exhibited in New York, Connecticut and Maine. She resides in Yarmouth, ME.
“Pieces of You,” is a collection of work that draws on Meghan Nathanson’s impulse to piece together new life from what might otherwise have beendiscarded. Her work explores themes such as inner and outer freedom, body language and social justice, expressing her interpretations in the colorsthrough which she experiences the world.
Meghan’s journey as a visual artist began in NYC where she received training in figure drawing through the Art Students League of New York as well as painting at The New School. She currently works primarily in mixed media, transforming large, figurative pencil drawings into sculptural collage,applying the torn papers from repurposed wall-calendars onto the drawings in a painterly fashion. Some of her largest creations are composed of hundreds of pieces, each carefully selected, gently torn and massaged together with a polymer medium.
Meghan Nathanson’s Show will also include works by Special Guest Sculptor, Clara Cohan.
“This project started as an exercise in letting go of control. There was no planning. I went into my studio, picked out a piece of wood, and started carving long sweeping ridges. I saw a ﬁgure emerging. I picked up another piece of wood, and the same thing happened. As each ﬁgure emerge, it became clear that these entities had a collective purpose. They were representatives of diverse cultures, ethnic groups, animal-spirits, young and old…all coming together.>
Victoria Elbroch’s latest work is derived from comparing a human life to nature’s cycles. She draws trees encountered in world travels and is irresistibly drawn to the resilience and symbolism they represent. Rooted in the earth but reaching for the sky. She incorporates pods and seeds into her work as she continues to explore the aging process, the sharing of family stories and the embracing of time left. She feels fortunate to be in the autumnal, dispersal stage of her life span, rich in nature’s abundance with time to wander, appreciate, share and celebrate it’s bounty.
A noted Maine photographer… Since age 13 Robinov had been fascinated by photography and had as a long-term goal to grow from a “picture taker” to a photographer. His photographs tell stories which capture ”Moments.” During his lifetime he created projects and developed fund raising that have supported causes:The Maine Cancer Foundation. Cancer Community Center, Spring Harbor Health, Jewish Family Services and many more. We miss Jerry but share many “Moments” during this exhibition.
Harold Garde, Maine Master painter and printmaker, showing in Portland for the first time in 20 years. Addendum is a good title for this exhibit, says Garde, who jokes about searching for his birth certificate to find the expiration date. His body of work, spanning 60 years, is in permanent museum collections throughout the country, highlighted by a comprehensive retrospective and a permanent installation at the Museum of Florida Art.
Featured in the gallery of the Maine Jewish Museum is a group of never before shown large non-figurative canvases completed this summer in Garde’s Belfast, Maine studio.
Complementing the canvases will be a selection of Strappo monotypes. Smaller in scale and more intimate, these pieces will be presented in a manner that allows the viewer to appreciate the slick plastic surface that is the hallmark of prints made with the Strappo technique which Garde developed, named, and teaches.
More than 1,000 Portland ‘weavers’, 75 spinners, and 20 organizations worked together to create an Abraham’s tent for the Welcoming the Stranger multimedia installation opening at the Maine Jewish Museum, September 3, 2015, 5pm – 7pm.
The exhibit highlights the treatment of immigrants in Portland during the 1920’s with their treatment today. Artist Jo Israelson, a Portland native, has spent 2 years researching the history of the House Island Quarantine and Immigration station and how the city “welcomed” those who arrived there.
Jo Israelson is nationally known sculptor, filmmaker and site specific installation artist. She grew up on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine. Her art often focuses on a little known moment in history that reflects a larger issue within a contemporary context. Her exhibit will highlight two distinct but parallel immigrations: the Jews arriving in Portland a century ago and the Somali immigrants arriving today. Members of Maine Fiberarts will provide expertise and assistance in the creation of the community based weaving that will become part of the installation. www.joisraelson.com www.thestonepath.wordpress.com
“I work in silence and I am now confronted with the need for words in reference to my work. As anyone who knows me can attest, silence is not my natural habit. This time of isolation from friends and family, this time of political unrest and uncertainty, have made me realize how essential silence is to the process.
I work in silence. There is no radio or music. Dimension, color, shape are considerations made in silence.
In silence, I tend my garden. I take walks and photograph the seasonal changes of Evergreen Ponds. I work in silence and hopefully the work, thoughtfully curated by Nancy Davidson, speaks for itself.”
Annette Kearney has worked for years as a mixed media artist. She studied painting with her friend and mentor Polly Brown. Her degree is in politcal science and history.
Laurie paints abstract expressionist landscapes on unprimed canvas with a touch of collage. She uses watercolor and other water-based mediums to achieve her colorful paintings. She combines the unpredictability of the wet paint with very controlled lines and shapes.
Laurie Russo-Smith is a 69-year old Jewish woman. She has lived, traveled, and studied art all over the world. Her work has been inspired by a love of landscapes and seascapes…the Swiss Apls, the Berkshires of W. Mass and the coast of Maine. Laurie now lives and works full time as an artist in Saco, Maine.
This is your last chance to own a menorah by Lisa Pierce. Lisa has been exhibiting her animal menorahs at the Maine Jewish Museum and New York Jewish Museum for many years. We are fortunate to offer the last 3 available for sale.