Artists Selected for 2009 Portland Museum of Art Biennial

Maine’s Portland Museum of Art has announced the artists chosen for their exhibition, the 2009 Portland Museum of Art Biennial. A panel of jurors culled 28 pieces from the 3,800 submitted artworks. Of the 970 contributing artists, who hailed from various states throughout the country, 17 were chosen. Jurors spent a week reviewing work this past September in preparation for the biennial, which will be exhibited April 8th through June 7th, 2009.

The panel of jurors who presided over the selection process was comprised of veteran art purveyors—Elizabeth Burke, an art consultant and former co-director of Clementine Gallery in New York; Dan Graham, a video, installation, and performance artist based in New York; and Denise Markonish, curator at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. “The jurors for this biennial were rather exceptional in selecting a smaller group of works for exhibition,” says Susan Danly, Curator of Graphics, Photography, and Contemporary Art at the Portland Museum of Art. “They very much intended to ‘curate’ a specific vision, rather than provide a broad survey.”

The majority of the exhibit is composed of artwork by artists from Maine, since entrants were required to have a personal connection to the state, relevant to the past two years. This does not prevent the work from bearing upon broader cultural and art theoretical issues, assures Danly: “More and more Maine artists are involved in a broad dialogue with other national and international artists. There is no particular ‘Maine’ subject that identifies them as such. Their art engages a broad spectrum of imagery, particularly the landscape and found objects in the built environment, with a sense of the absurd and the mysterious.”

The pieces that will be on display represent a wide range of disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, installation, and video. The exhibit collects established New England artists like Eric Aho, known for semi-abstracted landscapes, and Tanja Alexia Hollander, known for epic landscape photographs. Both artists are previous biennial contributors. Emerging talents are also featured, like Melissa A. Calderón, who creates sculptural installations that speak to cultural assimilation, and Julianna Swaney, who crafts delicate, surreal drawings in minimal compositions. These choices aim to reshape and expound upon the integration of local and national art identity.

This exhibition will mark the sixth biennial hosted by the Portland Museum of Art since 1998. In previous years, the exhibit has garnered significant patronage, and Danly is confident this one will be no different. “The biennial is always one of the best attended exhibitions, drawing not only friends and family of the artists, but students from the Maine College of Art and other art programs throughout the state. It is one of the principal venues for viewing contemporary art in New England.”