Summer art at Bates: Exhibits will showcase multiple dimensions of drawing, offer inside look at Wyeths

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LEWISTON— Long recognized for the strength of its drawing collection, the Bates College Museum of Art will reveal multiple dimensions of that medium in major exhibitions this summer.

“Emerging Dis/Order: Drawings by Amy Stacey Curtis, Alison Hildreth and Andrea Sulzer” will feature new work by Maine artists who explore themes of memory and loss, order and chaos, and emerging and converging human behavior. The exhibit is part of a statewide initiative exploring the art of drawing.

“Andrew and Jamie Wyeth: Selections from the Private Collection of Victoria Browning Wyeth” will display drawings, watercolors and illustrated letters from one of America’s most famous artist families.

The show was assembled from the personal collection of Victoria Browning Wyeth, a member of the Bates class of 2001, and includes portraits of family members and neighbors now known as models for Andrew Wyeth, as well as Maine and Pennsylvania landscapes.

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“Emerging Dis/Order” will open with a museum reception at 4 p.m. Friday, June 10, and run through Sept. 10. Victoria Wyeth will open the Wyeth exhibition with a lecture at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, immediately followed by a reception in the museum at 4 o’clock. The exhibition will run through Oct. 2.

“Selected Drawings and Photographs from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection” will be on view through Aug. 30 in the museum’s Synergy Space. Located in the Olin Art Center, 75 Russell St., the museum is open to the public at no cost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

 Drawing the line

“Emerging Dis/Order” is part of 2011’s “Where to Draw the Line: The Maine Drawing Project,” a statewide visual arts initiative, developed by the Maine Curators Group. As part of the project, museums and galleries across Maine are offering exhibitions that focus on the process of drawing and how artists use it as a vehicle for creating diverse forms of visual expression.

Curtis, best known for her interactive “solo-biennial” installations in unused mill spaces throughout Maine, has previously used drawings to support her themed installation projects. More recently, however, she has become fascinated with the possibilities of drawing as a medium in its own right.

Hildreth, familiar to Maine audiences as a printmaker and painter, is known for such drawings as “Forthrights and Meanders,” which are both narrative and journey. An artist interested in exploring interconnections between species and intersections between art and science, she said that “making art is my journal, a record of what compels and absorbs me. It is a method of questioning, investigating and discovering.”

Sulzer is acclaimed for making exceptionally detailed drawings that imbue dense, repetitive marks with what she described as “vertiginous, unsettling sense of space.” She said she is interested in “the way that memory fractures, distorts and collapses time and, in particular, how modern memory is overwhelmed by fragments that are impossible to ground in personal experience.”

“The Maine Drawing Project serves two purposes,” said William Low, curator at the Bates museum. “First, it’s an opportunity for Maine art institutions to show the extent of the wonderful drawing collections that audiences do not often see. Second, it’s an effort to show the variety of artwork being produced by contemporary artists who are using drawing in new and interesting ways.

“Drawings are often an overlooked and underappreciated medium,” Low said, often regarded as only practice for finished works of art in other media. But many artists draw as their primary medium. And drawing is not just pencil on paper.”

To learn more about the Maine Drawing Project, visit chitna.asap.um.maine.edu/mainedrawing/

More on Wyeth, Hartley shows

“One of the truly exciting aspects about working with Victoria’s collection is that many of the drawings have never been exhibited before,” said Low said.

The exhibit, which includes sketchbooks and early studies for prominent paintings, affords “a rare opportunity to work with a collection that explores the working process of Andrew Wyeth,” he added.

The collection is of particular interest also because of its personal nature, including  illustrated personal correspondence between Andrew Wyeth and his granddaughter. “It’s a pleasure to work with Victoria, whose enthusiasm and intimacy with the works brings extraordinary insight,” Low said.

Like the Wyeth show, “Selected Drawings and Photographs from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection” consists primarily of drawings. “Together, the exhibitions offer an extraordinary opportunity to view drawings by generations of artists with a strong association to Maine,” said Dan Mills, director of the Bates museum.

This untitled piece was done in colored pencil by Andrea Sulzer earlier this year.

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