Contemporary Collaborations: Artist and Master Printer at the Portland Museum of Art features fine art prints by 30 artists who worked with master printers to create lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, aquatints, silkscreens, monotypes and mixed media multiples of all kinds. Most if not all of the artists have Maine connections, but this is by no means a provincial little Maine print show. Featured artists include Will Barnet, Jonathan Borofsky, Lesley Dill, David Driskell, Richard Estes, Charlie Hewitt, Alison Hildreth, Robert Indiana, Yvonne Jacquette, Alex Katz, Tim Rollins, Johnnie Winona Ross, David Row, and John Walker, all artists with established reputations and extensive national and international exhibition histories.
What Contemporary Collaborations does is call attention to the role of master printers, the equivalent in the fine art world of the cinematographer in film, in helping artists who are primarily painters to translate their visual vocabulary from paint to print. The exhibition was the brainchild of curator and collector Bruce Brown, Maine’s one-man band of printmaking. Brown’s own print collection was exhibited at Portland Museum of Art in 2000 as Lasting Impressions. When he retired as curator of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in 2006, Brown, a selfless and well-loved champion of contemporary art, inspired virtually every art institution in the state to undertake a Maine Print Project in which 25 museums and galleries mounted coordinated print exhibitions. The Maine Print Project resulted in David P. Becker’s definitive study, The Imprint of Place: Maine Printmaking, 1800-2005 (Down East Books, $35).
The exhibition begins in the museum’s elevator lobby where Maine native Tim Rollins, who achieved fame in New York for his collaborations with at-risk teenagers he called Kids of Survival (KOS), shows a photolithograph called “Midsummer’s Night Dream” that he made in collaboration with A Company of Girls, a local theater project, and master print Alex Kahn of the Maine College of Art. Johnnie Winona Ross, who taught for many years at MECA before relocating to New Mexico, contributes a very subtle abstract grid chine coll