Sanctuary: The Spring 2019 Issue


Welcome to Spring and the Spring issue of the Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly. Both the issue and the season are a long time coming. Twenty-two artists and writers have shared with us their visions of Sanctuary. Whether it is an actual place, an inner sanctum or known by its absence, art becomes a sanctuary for both artists and the audience.

In addition to our themed essays, we include some surprises that are both timeless and timely.

We are featuring Lucy Lippard‘s essay Home Fires: Activist Art in Maine (Or, You Had To Be There). Written in 2012, the essay is an extensive survey of what artists in Maine were doing to call attention to the issues of the day. They are also the concerns of today, and in these divisive times, some feel the need, more than ever, for activist artists. This essay was originally commissioned to appear in Maine Art New, a selection of essays and artist profiles edited by Edgar Allen Beem and Andres Verzosa, to have been published by the University of Maine Press. Unfortunately the book project was cancelled in February of 2019, but the essay has found a home here.

Ed Beem writes about printmaker Elizabeth Jabar and photographer Sean Alonzo Harris who are socially engaged artists and a part of the resurgence of life in the depressed Waterville downtown.

Philip Lasker writes on co-existing with his wife, Suzanna, and her Muse. “The first thing I should tell you about the Muse is that it doesn’t know I exist,” but he concludes,  “I am thankful to it every day.”

Andy Heck Boyd, in conversation with Kenny Cole, says of his work, “Nothing was traded or sold. I gave them away for free and I paid for shipping too. I threw out a lot of work too. The work I do doesn’t have much or any use to me afterward. So I clear it all out.”

Kathy Weinberg shares her essay written for the CMCA talk series “Who do you Love?” on three artists who are visionaries, and humanists.

Alan Crichton wanders, “stranger in a strange land of Philadelphia,” and finds ecstatic sanctuary. “Where the chaos suddenly shifts between darkness and light to become a new home. A matter of instantly flipped viewpoint.”

Kenny Cole‘s art about Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who entered his country’s embassy in Turkey, never to leave alive. Cole explores how an institutional structure betrayed a collective understanding of its implied sanctuary.

Martha Miller writes that her studio “provided a physical and psychic sanctuary where I needed to be to tell my daughter Lisbeth’s story, a young woman with a chronic debilitating illness, and to share publicly this very private journey with sympathetic others…….We must find these havens where our truth can be set free, witnessed and acknowledged.”

Joan Proudman shares her art. “Motivated by memory,” she allows fragments of narratives to unfold. Her themes, “such as love, loss, failure, triumph, transformation or transcendence, seem to tell the tale of a life.”

Daniel Kany writes about painter Tessa Greene O’Brien’s dream studio and her paintings, about the ideas of home and memory. He sees them as conceptual places that “happen to be exactly shaped like the physical paintings she makes out of it.”

Julie Gray finds the source of endless inspiration “the home of my grandmother, I preserve and honor the histories/stories of each item from her home.”

Daniel Kany talks with artist Olga Merrill about her pictorialist photographs, particularly her images of small harbors shot at quiet, misty hours. For Merrill, these are images of sanctuary — for the boats as well as the fishermen — enhanced by season and time of day.

Carl Little shares three poems and writes about the feeling of sanctuary rooted in places in his childhood, an Eden that was the source for his writing. Away from the world but also a part of it, he says, “I do not wish to undo my past, only to share it.”

Betsy Sholl introduces us to the work of three poets: Dawn Potter, Marcia Brown, and Wendy Herbert, who “sense how fragile sanctuary is…our real home is less in a geographical place and more in the stories we tell”, whosense how that sense of sanctuary is on the verge of historical change”, who “trace(s) how as we age out of our youthful adventurous spirits a little calm, a little peaceful sanctuary that we once dismissed, suddenly seems well–almost welcome.”

Chris Higgins writes about the Winter Garden installation by Kris Sader at UMO, a six-year project begun by gathering botanical “evidence” and burying it on site to capture the winter months, to create “memory” of the environment etched into the fabric. She wanted to “dress the garden in what the garden itself had made.”

Chansonetta Stanley Emmons and Gertrude Fiske, a short essay by Jane Bianco, Farnsworth curator, discusses interior scenes produced by women who worked inside and outside their own homes; the details of these rooms and their occupants form inseparable parts.

Pat and Tony Owen‘s UMVA archives column tells of a 1979 UMVA-sponsored Maine Artists’ Week exhibit. The goal was to create a ‘communal awareness’ because “by and large we create in solitude, the sanctuary of the mind’s eye.”

Serena Sanbourn (for our Insight/Incite feature) attends a conference in Austria about citizen science, and experiences how drawing increases observational powers and interest in and advocacy for the environment.

Member Contributors:

Greg Burns finds “comfort in the unknown.”  Kathleen Noyes has found sanctuary “like a series of nesting dolls encompassing one another.”  Roland Salazar seeks “quiet personal enclaves along Maine’s expansive coast.”  Gail Wartell wonders about “healing and repairing the world, often attempted through social action, but is also done through acts of loving kindness.” Gina Sawin asks “will we get where we need to go?”  C.E.Morse remembers through photographs a visit to many of the historical religious sites in New Mexico. Clara Cohan answers her question “Where do I “go” to find a safe place to Be?”  David Wade goes outside “the grid of schedules, opinion, events, and all the noise.”  Karen Merritt talks about our unease or never settled understanding of whether it is benevolence we’re after or awe.”

Sit back, read and enjoy!

And then take a long walk in the start of this new season.

From the editors,

Natasha Mayers, Nora Tryon, Daniel Kany, Betsy Sholl, Jessica McCarthy Myer, Kathy Weinberg