The Big Picture
CRAFT OF MAINE-March 2010
by Rebecca Falzano
Fund-raising begins for Maine’s first museum dedicated to the photographic arts
Shoshannah White – Sugar, 2010, mixed media: encaustic wax over photograph, 12” x 12”
In early 2009, independent gallery owner Elizabeth Moss had a special exhibition down the street from her Falmouth gallery, in a vacant 4,000-square-foot former furniture showroom. The exhibition was called A Picture’s Worth, and featured 128 photographs by twenty-five Maine photographers. The show was hugely successful; art critic Edgar Allen Beem went on to call it “arguably the best Maine photography show since 2000.”
It was a wakeup call for Moss.
“When I closed that show,” she says, “the twenty-five artists I represented asked me what was next. I didn’t have an answer, but I knew that with so many photography galleries closing, there was a need to do something. Aside from the admirable VoxPhotographs, there was no entity dedicated exclusively to the photographic arts—and certainly no museum dedicated exclusively to exhibiting contemporary, living photo and film makers.”
And so the idea for the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts (MMPA) was born. Moss teamed up with UNE Art Gallery Director Anne Zill and Denise Froehlich, professor of photography and fine art photographer, to showcase the abundance of talented Maine photographic artists from the 1950s to the present. “There is a movement in Maine of photographers creating cutting-edge work. In some ways it mimics what was going on in Maine in the realm of painting 100 years ago,” says Froehlich. “Maine is a mecca in terms of photographic arts,” adds Zill. “And that doesn’t just include photographs, but film and new media as well. We really wanted to push the envelope with the new media we include.”
The model behind the MMPA starts with a museum without walls—a virtual museum—a website where students, art lovers, and everyone else can have photographic art at their fingertips. The goal between now and 2012 is to create an extensive online museum featuring 200 artists with five images each, along with biographical information and other resources. The MMPA will also have a Museums-by-Mail program in which photographic works will be mailed to K-12 classrooms for educational use. In addition, artist interviews will be broadcast via online podcasts. “The advantage of a high-tech 24/7 virtual museum is that we can use new technologies to allow us to experience film and photography from anywhere there is Internet access,” explains Moss. In addition, a handful of special exhibitions a year will be held in empty storefronts or buildings across the state and in other parts of the country.
“Eventually, we will travel works internationally,” says Moss.
Following the development of the virtual museum, the physical space—a 1,200-square-foot salon-style museum on Stevens Avenue in Portland—will sit in the midst of what has been nicknamed “the avenue of lifelong learning” for its abundance of schools, from kindergarten to college. The hope is that MMPA will be a vehicle for students of all ages and that it will play an active role in the community here in Maine and beyond as its collection builds and expands.
For now, Moss, Zill, and Froehlich are busy raising money. Like the museum itself, the fund-raising begins online, at www.kickstarter.com. “We’re asking for small donations to raise money to build the online museum. Even if people can’t donate, we’re hoping they’ll tell their friends. Word of mouth is so important,” says Moss. “When people donate, they are literally founding a museum.”
On April 2, an opening reception will be held featuring fifty photographers and over 100 works for sale to benefit the MMPA. On these pages we bring you a preview of the contemporary, innovative, and cutting-edge photographic artists the museum hopes to showcase.
For more information on fund-raising events for the MMPA, see page 14. To donate, visit mainemuseumofphotographicarts.org.
Capture: Fifty Photographic Artists
Brad Maushart, Mark Ketzler, Melonie Bennett, Denise Froehlich, Scott Peterman, Mark Emerson, Arthur Fink, Barbara Goodbody, Juris Ubans, Tonee Harbert, Brenton Hamilton, Rose Marasco, Shoshannah White, Jay York, Tad Beck, Paul D’Amato, Joe Muir, Ilya Askinazi, Joyce Tenneson, Chris Becker, Corey Daniels, Bernard C. Meyers, John G. Kelley, Luc Demers, Jan Pieter van Voorst van Beest, Peter Ralston, Jared DeSimio, Nicole Wolf, Andy Graham, Jeffrey Becton, Tom Birtwistle, Abigail Cohen, Jonathan Laurence, Judith Glickman, Jason Burch, Jon Kolkin, Mat Thorne, Jon Pelletier, Noah Krell, Raphael DiLuzio, Geoffery Drew, Robert Aller, Cig Harvey,Matt Bagwell, William Wegman
Second from top to bottom: Tonee Harbert, Stones, Hancock County, 2008, digital pigment print, 20” x 20”
Nicole Wolf, Shane, 2009, varnished color pigment print mounted on aluminum, 20” x 30”
Bernard C. Meyers, Roadside Attraction, 2010, pigment on paper, 15” x 22.5” (edition 1/10)