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Skowhegan at Seventy at the PMA This Summer
June 4 through October 10, 2016
Portland, Maine (June 3, 2016)— The Portland Museum of Art and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture—two of the most prominent art institutions in the state of Maine—collaborate on Skowhegan at Seventy, an exhibition that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the school’s founding and showcases work produced at the school or in its honor, including the PMA’s recent acquisition, portfolio titled skowheganBOX no. 2 (2015).
The summer program in central Maine has hosted, as teachers, guest speakers, or students, an astonishing cross-section of the contemporary art world, including Alex Katz, Robert Indiana, Glenn Ligon, Dana Schutz, and countless more—many of whom consider their time in Skowhegan as crucial to the development of their practice. This selection of prints, photographs, and paintings by artists who have taught at or attended Skowhegan comes from the PMA collection and the school’s archives; together, the works offer a glimpse into the nuanced history of contemporary art and its long relationship to the state of Maine.
ABOUT THE SKOWHEGAN SCHOOL OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
In the years after World War II, American artists engaged in a profound transformation of style and sensibility, and experienced an increasingly open reception for their work. University art schools saw an influx of students—many recently returned from war—and were taught by faculty who embraced abstraction and an increasingly urbane vision of modernism. In 1946, four artists from New England returned to Maine and founded the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. The founders—artists Willard Cummings, Charles Cutler, Henry Varnum Poor, and Sidney Simon—wanted to create an American summer program that would combine an unhurried work environment with rigorous training and regular studio visits.
Although the founders were traditionalists in their individual sensibilities, they believed that diversity in all forms was crucial to fostering a vibrant American art community, so they focused on recruiting top students from the premier art schools in the country and brought in visiting artists to help expand the dialogue about art-making. Cummings and his fellow founders saw the opportunity to draw from the rich artistic ferment in Maine by inviting the most prominent artists in their respective fields—many of whom, including Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Jack Levine, already spent part of their summers in Maine—to lecture or teach.
Shortly after a major fire in 1960 destroyed the campus' famed fresco barn, they reorganized the leadership of the school, hiring a professional director and adopting a two-tier approach in which an artist board of governors composed of student and faculty alumni set the educational and programmatic agenda for the school and the trustees support its operations. That structure, allied with an extraordinarily broad and devoted alumni community, has helped ensure the vibrancy of Skowhegan’s program to the present.
Artwork by Skowhegan alumni fills the modern and contemporary galleries of the PMA (along with just about every other museum in America!). Many artists attend Skowhegan early in their careers as students, and others spend time in residence as faculty, lecturers, or guest critics. As a tribute to the outsized influence the school has had on contemporary art, the museum will identify the works in our collection with a special “Skowhegan at Seventy” logo.
Corporate sponsorship is provided by The VIA Agency.
With an extensive collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, the Portland Museum of Art is the cultural heart of Maine. The PMA boasts significant holdings of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine—highlighting the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists. The museum brings it all to life with unparalleled programming. From special members-only events, Free School Tours, and a commitment to family activities, to PMA Films, curator talks, and exclusive tours of the Winslow Homer Studio—it’s all happening at the PMA.
The museum is located at Seven Congress Square in downtown Portland.
Summer Hours (beginning May 30): Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Winter Hours (through May 29): Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for students with I.D. Children 14 and under are always free. Admission is free every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. No admission is required to visit the PMA Café and PMA Store.
Winslow Homer Studio tours are available by reservation. For more information, call (207) 775-6148 or visit portlandmuseum.org. For more information on Your Museum, Reimagined, the PMA’s multiyear project focused on improved access to the museum’s collection, visit portlandmuseum.org/reimagined.