ALAN BRAY: Inward Maine
October 12 - November 11, 2017
Todd Watts' solo exhibition, Blanchard Weather Report features 40 photographs that explore our relationship with art and the world we live in.
Todd Watts writes: “The Blanchard Weather Report began in 2014 as a conversation about art and the earth, carried out in pictures over the Internet with friends and colleges around the world. The exhibition are the pictures from that conversation. The images themselves are a combination of lessons from art history with reflections on climate change.”
Todd Watts graduated from the sculpture department at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1971. From 1972 to 1979 he taught photography at his alma mater and at Hunter College. In 1973, he founded an architectural photography company. His clients included Phillip Johnson, I.M. Pei, Richard Polshek, and he was commissioned by Minoru Yamasaki to photograph the construction of the World Trade Center in its final stages. In 1974, he was commissioned by New York’s Lee Witkin Gallery to print Berenice Abbott’s first portfolio. Subsequently, he produced seven more Abbott portfolios in his New York studio. In 1974, he bought a house in Blanchard, Maine; and he, with Jemma Gascoine, moved permanently to Maine in 2000.
Watts’s work—with his exploration of the changing environment, genetics, and resulting cultural ramifications—has been exhibited and collected internationally, including “New Lamps for Old,” at the Grey Gallery in New York, and “Passenger Pigeon,” at the The Museum of Photography in Chicago. Recent Maine exhibitions of his work include: “String too Short to Use,” at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, and the “Honors Show,” at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA). His work is represented in Maine by the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland.
Art New England March April 2017
Mark Wethli: Piper Cub; Sam Cady: Parts of the Whole
Center for Maine Contemporary Art • Rockland, ME • cmcanow.org • Through May 14, 2017 and May 21, 2017
By: Carl Little
Sam Cady, skylight with blue shadow, 1979, oil on shaped canvas, 22 x 48″.
The painter Sam Cady is renowned for his shaped canvases in which, to borrow from the title of this retrospective, parts of the whole are presented, often with trompe-l’oeil precision. The 34 pieces in this show, produced between 1970 and 2016, offer a wide-ranging selection of Cady’s cut-outs, from a construction trailer on Canal Street in New York City to a section of the Knife Edge trail atop Mount Katahdin in northern Maine.
Born in Boothbay Harbor in 1943 and a longtime resident of Friendship in the midcoast, Cady has taken a special interest in coastal motifs. Islands are among his favorite subjects, especially Sand and Little Sand, which lie between Hatchet Cove and Muscongus Bay. He presents them in profile or from a gull’s-eye angle, their edges cut to incorporate spruce trees and their reflections. The illusion is astonishing.
The show also features a group of Cady’s urban images. As a teacher in the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for 25 years, he had the opportunity to study and render the Big Apple in what might be called a synecdochical manner. Two urban towers, midtown Manhattan, 1998, is a dramatic skyward view of shimmering buildings cutting into the sky like a trapezoidal wedge of glass.
Skylight with blue shadow and stairwell roof house, N.Y.C., both from 1979, bring to mind some of Lois Dodd’s city scenes. Like Dodd, Cady is a tonalist when it comes to color, for the most part preferring a quiet palette. Form, space and chiaroscuro guide his aesthetic.
Occasionally Cady will focus on a single object. F Admiration with center button (husband), 1974, a self-standing reproduction of a green upholstered pillow, recalls some of the witty frescos of his contemporary Barbara Sullivan. In several pieces he captures the svelte lines of boats: a dory tipped up on its keel, a single scull that Eakins would have admired for its precision contours.
The exhibition includes a few traditional rectangular paintings, including a New Mexico landscape and a view of a storm at dusk as seen from an airplane window. While appealing, the pieces, through no fault of their own, lack the edgy dynamic of their neighbors. An exception is loading up on the Mississippi at New Orleans, 2015, a small rendering of industrial dock activity worthy of Charles Sheeler.
One of Cady’s earliest pieces in the show, balsa model plane under construction, fuselage, 1974, makes a nice segue to Mark Wethli’s near-concurrent installation, Piper Cub, a full-scale replica of a Piper J-3 aircraft made from pine, birch plywood and aircraft parts. The plane, which was previously displayed at the Coleman Burke Gallery in Brunswick, ME, in 2007, was reassembled for this showing.
Mark Wethli, Piper Cub, 2007, pine, birch
plywood, and aircraft parts, 35 x 22 x 7′. Private collection.
Oldenburgian but without the humor, Piper Cub is a hybrid: an outsize model airplane doubling as a sculpture. The aircraft is mostly seethrough; its warm, yellow wood wings, struts, engine and propeller set on black rubber wheels. The piece has personal significance: Wethli’s pilot father restored a Piper Cub by hand when the artist was a young boy; he also helped his son fabricate the one on view.
Since moving to Rockland in July, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art has returned to offering exhibitions year-round (it had shifted to a seasonal schedule at its former quarters in Rockport in 2009). The new CMCA space provides more room and bigger walls, making it the ideal venue to present the Cady and Wethli works.