Any juried group exhibition is bound to be something of an eclectic grab bag. That’s just the nature of the beast. But the I-95 Triennial at the University of Maine Museum of Art (in downtown Bangor, not on the Orono campus, April 23 to June 12) is shaping up to be even more eclectic than most owing to the unusual nature of the eligibility requirements.
Museum director George Kinghorn, who came to UMMA from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida in 2008, explains that the I-95 Triennial was an attempt “to come up with an innovative exhibition opportunity for artists working along the I-95 corridor from Providence, Rhode Island to the south to the northern terminus in Houlton, Maine.” Artists who live and work within 50 miles of Interstate-95 were invited to apply, though Connecticut was not included.
Subtitled A Survey from Four New England States, the triennial drew submissions from 144 artists from which jurors selected 44 – 22 from Massachusetts, 18 from Maine, three from Rhode Island, and one from New Hampshire. The jury consisted of Kinghorn, painter and art professor John Bailly from Florida International University, and artist and art professor Wendy Wischer from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida. In an unusual move, the jury for the New England survey actually met in Miami at the southern terminus of I-95.
Within the wide array of mediums selected, the triennial identified four distinct pockets. There is color photography by Stella Johnson, Steven Smith, Lisa Kessler, Rania Matar, Linda Eastman, and Blake Ogden. There’s art of social commentary by artists such as Sarah Bliss, Walter Kopec, Marcy Pope and Barbara Sullivan. This being Maine, there is also a representaive sampling of landscape art by James Mullen, Richard Raiselis, Stephen Remick, and Ken Sahr. And there’s an abstract contingent that includes Resa Blatman, Ingrid Ellison, Joseph Haroutunian, Antoinette Winters, Patricia Brace, and Gabriella D’Italia.
As with any open juried show, there are lots of artists to be discovered. Of the 44 in the exhibition, I was only familiar with the work of four – Haroutunian, Mullen, Sullivan, and Emily Leonard Trenholm. I was pleased to seen that Trenholm’s Fairfield Porter-esque painterly realist paintings had been selected since I have know her since she was a little girl. And Trenholm covers a lot of New England bases, having grown up in Maine and studied at the University of New Hampshire and Boston University.
Perhaps because triennial announcements were sent to universities and art schools, there are a lot of art academics included. There are also a lot of Boston area photographers. But whatever your interests or tastes, the I-95 Triennial provides an excellent occasion to discover the often overlooked University of Maine Museum of Art. The exhibition will fill all of the museum’s galleries.
[University of Maine Museum of Art, 40 Harlow St., Bangor ME, 207-561-3350.]