PORTLAND — Children are our most important natural resource and the current exhibit, “Images of Children/Images of Youth,” at the University of New England Art Gallery, is an excellent selection of 100 photographs that remind us of this in many ways. 

The focus is on children from all over the world but most of the photographers have ties with Maine.

Curated by Stephen K. Halpert, the exhibit includes a collection of period and contemporary photographs taken from the UNE archives spanning over many decades, as well as selected works on loan to the exhibition. It will be up until April 1. 

Significant works to see on the first floor include, “Adult and Child in Israel”, a poignant photograph by Judy Glickman Lauder, and a series of Todd Webb works, one titled “Boy with Cap,” which is outstanding and one titled “La Salle Street at Amsterdam,” a famous work by Webb. Another beautiful photograph of a child by Lois Lowry, is located in the center of the first floor gallery; it was used on the cover of her famous children’s book “Number of the Stars,” which won the Newberry Award for Fine Literature in 1991.

Other outstanding photographs to look for on the first floor are: “Refugee Camp” by Robert Pennington, ”Children at the Merrill” and “Kite Trails, Bug Light, South Portland,” by Diane Hudson. A series of Bruce Brown photographs in color of children in India, Paris and Japan are sensitive and beautiful.

Going up the stairs be sure to see Arthur Fink’s “Peaks Island” and a series of photographs by Chansonetta Stanley Emmons. Melonie Bennett’s interesting work,“Boys Having Cleavage,” hangs on the top stairway. Bennett has been published in Down East Maine Magazine and is a significant Maine photographer.

On the second floor an outstanding portrait in black-and-white by Richard Sandifer titled, “Katia,” is magnificent and Ernest Withers’ series of civil rights photographs are outstanding. “Two girls By the Truck,” captured in Freeport, by Jack Montgomery is an interesting work. Barbara Goodbody’s photograph in color of a young tired blueberry worker titled “Heavenly Blueberries” is poignant. Jon Edwards’s work “Eagle Island” and Sean Alonzo Harris’s work ”The Frog Catcher” are visual poems.

Don’t forget the lower gallery. You will see some outstanding pieces; “Miner’s Children” by Berenice Abbott, “River Village Boys” by Marta Morse and a series of photos of young children from Orlando, Maine, by Jane Gilbert

Halpert has been interested in photography professionally for over five decades. He became interested in photography in early childhood because he was surrounded by it in his home. Halpert said in an interview, “I like the immediacy in photography, the same way I like movies.”

Halpert started showing photographs at Westbrook College while teaching English literature. When the Payson Art Gallery was built in 1977 at Westbrook College, Halpert continued hanging exhibits of photography on the campus. The Payson gallery was closed in 1991. In 1996 the University of New England merged with Westbrook College. The gallery was reopened in 1998 and named the UNE Art Gallery, located in Portland.

In August of 2017 the entire photography collection was named in his honor, “The Stephen K. Halpert Photographic Collection at UNE.”

Anne Zill, the director of the UNE Gallery, said in an interview: “It has been an honor to work with Halpert. He is an outstanding curator. I am also so happy that an elevator was installed in 2017, so that the gallery is handicapped accessible. A gift of the gallery was given by Judy and Leonard Lauder in two parts —  one part provided an elevator and the other part is an endowment for the photography collection in Stephen Halpert’s name.”

Walking into the gallery, the focus is on art. You do not notice the elevator; however, it is of major importance because it allows not only students, but the general public including the elderly and handicapped entrance to all three floors.

The whole place is like a small gem that sparkles with creativity. I highly recommend a visit to this interesting exhibit.

The UNE Art Gallery is at 16 Stevens Ave. Gallery hours include: Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 12 to 5 p.m., Thursdays 12 to 7 p.m. And by appointment. Admission is free of charge. FMI: 207-221-4499; www.une.edu/artgallery.

Barbara Goodbody’s photograph of a tired, young blueberry worker titled “Heavenly Blueberries,” is among 100 photographs on display at the University of New England gallery in Portland. The exhibit, titled “Images of Children/Images of Youth,” will hang until April 1. 

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