Museum’s Fall Open House draws crowds

The Colby College Museum of Art reopened its doors to the public through its Fall Open House on Thursday, September 24, 2015. From 6 to 6:30 p.m., visitors could meet and mingle in the William D. Adam’s Gallery, surrounded by artist Peter Soriano’s new installation: “Permanent Maintenance”. Accompanied by food, drink, and light music, nearly 200 guests both from the College and the surrounding Maine area enjoyed a very cosmopolitan ambiance. Notable guests in attendance were artist Peter Soriano and  the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies Fellow, Justin McCann.

The Open House celebrated the opening of four new exhibits: “Aesthetic Harmonies: Whistler in Context”; “Brand-New & Terrific Alex Katz in the 1950s”; “From the Studio: New Works by Faculty Artists”; and “Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler”.

Director and Chief Curator of the Museum Sharon Corwin opened the night’s events with an introduction to the four exhibits as well as to the speakers for the night: McCann and daughter of Peter Soriano, Francesca Soriano ‘16.

As put by Mirken Coordinator of Education and Public Programs Matt R. Timme, the exhibit “Whistler and the World” portrayed 57 of James Whistler’s works while “Aesthetic Harmonies” explored Whistler’s influence on the rest of the 20th century art world and beyond. McCann took guests on a tour of “Whistler and the World”, works collected by alumnus Peter and wife Paula Lunder over 15 years, starting at the first and most iconic piece: Chelsea in Ice. Upon walking into the Upper Jette Galleries, the first piece that meets the viewer’s eye is a bleak, icy portrayal of the River Thames in London, England in February.

Chelsea in Ice captures Whistler’s style of taking everyday surroundings and making them beautiful abstractions in his own unique way. Whistler contrasts the naturescape with hints of industrialized London in the background. Born in Massachusetts, Whistler moved to St. Petersburg, Russia when his father, a famous engineer, was commissioned to construct a railroad for Czar Nicholas I. After his father’s death, Whistler attended the United States Military Academy at West Point but eventually dropped out to move to Paris, France. In 1855, Whistler got to know Gustave Courbet, the father of the Realist Movement, and soon found himself portraying the urban Parisian cityscape.

The exhibit “Aesthetic HMuseumopeningWEBarmonies” was curated by Colby Associate Professor of Art Tanya Sheehan and the students in her class “Whistler in Context,” Maria Bowe ’15, Catherine Maguire ’15, Caroline Pelham ’17, Francesca Soriano ’16, Veronica Vesnaver ’15, and Marina Wells ’15. Not only does this exhibit explore Whistler’s influences, it also looks more closely at the context source for Whistler himself, who was very inspired by the English Grand Manor Portrait Artist William Hogarth.

Upon walking down the stairs to the ground floor, one will see the exhibit “From the Studio”: a collection of artwork by faculty at Colby. This exhibit displays the work of Assistant Professor of Art Bradley Borthwick, Professor of Art Bevin Engman, Associate Professor of Art Gary Green, Associate Professor of Art Garry Mitchell, and Associate Professor of Art Scott Reed. For more information, one can attend the Faculty Panel Discussion moderated by the Chief Curator of the Portland Museum of Art, Jessica May, this Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on Whistler, there is a symposium, titled “Nature and Nation”, starting at 9 a.m. on October 15, 2015 which will explore the experience of American artists working abroad.