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2009 Portland Museum of Art Biennial Opens in Maine
Melissa A. Calderón, United States, 1974, Permanence of Pain-1100, 2007, steel, tissue box, tissues, 10 x 3 x 5 1/2 feet. Lent by the artist.

PORTLAND, ME.- This April the Portland Museum of Art will feature 17 artists whose work has been selected for the 2009 Portland Museum of Art Biennial. Last September three jurors chose 29 works culled from a record 970 applicants. Of the 17 artists chosen, seven have participated in previous Biennial exhibitions. The 2009 Portland Museum of Art Biennial is the sixth exhibition in a series that highlights work by both emerging and established artists associated with Maine. The works will represent a wide range of media, from painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography to sculpture, installation, and video. The 2009 Biennial will be on view from April 8 through June 7, 2009 at the Portland Museum of Art.

Each Biennial is uniquely formed by the jurors’ collective vision and the work presented to them. This year more than ever before, the selected works reflect the jurors’ intent to curate the exhibition as a whole and allow for a more intimate experience of each artist’s work, rather than offer a broad survey of the contemporary art scene here.

While the size of the works is diverse, the 2009 Biennial includes three major installations unprecedented in scale from previous Biennials. On entering the Museum’s Great Hall, visitors will encounter a ramshackle structure reminiscent of a hermit’s wooden cabin by Ethan Hayes-Chute. This work will be made from materials scavenged from dumps, woodpiles, recycling centers, landfills, and other overlooked nooks and crannies of southern Maine. Visitors are invited to enter the cabin and voyeuristically examine all of the missing occupant’s belongings. Inside the first gallery, Wade Kavanaugh will transform the space with a cascade of handmade bricks, formed from thousands of stacked sheetrock rectangles. In Falsework, the bricks will create a pathway for the viewer to walk through, making the visitor an active part of this piece. Further into the exhibition, rising to a two-story height, will be Sean Foley’s Menace, a conglomeration of paintings that move across canvases, onto wooden shapes, and directly onto the wall. This installation, in the artist’s own words, is “intended to provoke an imaginative frenzy” and toys with the illusion between 2- and 3-dimensional forms. Foley’s installation for the 2003 Biennial was the recipient of that exhibition’s Purchase Prize and was on view at the Museum until recently.

Biennials at the Portland Museum of Art have evolved since 1998 and have gained popularity as one of the foremost venues for contemporary art in the state. The past three Biennials have attracted record numbers of applicants, posing a difficult task for any juror. The three jurors for the 2009 Biennial are: Elizabeth Burke, 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.

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