PORTLAND — “Inside the Cube: Looking Back Over 40 Years,”  is an amazing exhibit at the University of New England Gallery in Portland, showcasing the wide variety of art in the college’s permanent collection. 

“There was an exhibit showing many works from the permanent collection of the college in 1990, but this is the first exhibit showing the combined collection over the past years to the present day,” Amanda Skinner, exhibit curator said. Skinner, who has been a parttime curator at the gallery,  will take over as manager and curator of the gallery on June 1. 

“This collection may be a surprise to the public,” Skinner added.

“Inside the Cube” refers to the compact structure of the gallery with its clean lines and square shape, designed in 1977 by the architect Tom Larson. The structure has ample hanging space but a small storage area. Therefore, art given to the college was dispersed in different locations throughout the campus. Now the art collection of the college has been united in this exhibit and is a significant surprise.

The works are uplifting — hung beautifully by Kevin Callahan and Ilana Welch. The first work one sees entering the gallery is a magnificent abstract oil painting by Dozier Bell titled “Oculus.” It sets the professional atmosphere on a high bar in the exhibit, and is an elegant piece in the front entrance.

Other significant pieces on the first floor include a sculpture by Bernard Langlais, titled, “Dog with Leg Bandage,” which was found in Biddeford storage. ”Persephone Returning in the Spring,” by Dahlov Ipcar, was found in a storage vault on the Portland campus. Stephen Etnier’s oil on canvas titled, “Man in Boat,” was found in the president’s home in Biddeford, and a large Louise Nevelson sculpture, titled “Moonscape,” was found in the president’s office.

Exciting works to see in the exhibit include: an oil painting by George de Lyra titled “The Developers,” created in 1965, Maurice Utrillo’s work titled, “Pont Neuf, Paris,” a watercolor and gauche, and Stew Henderson’s work, “New Language,” a geometric wall sculpture that appears to be inspired by the American flag. Photographs of merit seen on the top floor include a famous portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay created by Berenice Abbott in 1936 and Ernest Wither’s photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral procession in 1968. Though the photograph represents a tragic event of 50 years ago, the topic of the struggle for equal rights is still relevant today.

On Wednesday May 9 a panel discussion focusing on the history of the gallery was given. Members of the panel who discussed their experiences included:Stephen Halpert (1964-2018) Judy Sobol, former director of the gallery (1981-1991),Gael McKibben former Assistant Director of the gallery (1977—1991), Ann Zill, retiring Director of the gallery (1998-2018)

The UME gallery’s impact has grown over the years. Its central location and elevator give it great accessibility to students and the general public. 

“The campus should not only be a training school for different professions, but an education for life,” Judith Sobol, gallery director from 1981-91, said during a May 9 panel discussion. Art is important in the lives of everyone, she added, reinforcing the gallery’s emphasis on welcoming the public.  

The exhibit is up through July 15.  Gallery hours are noon to 7 p.m. Thursday, and noonto 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The UNE Gallery is at 716 Stevens Ave. There is no admission charge.